AJAs 2016 Finalists


Slug/Label Tyler Richards
Date Aired or Published December 8, 2016
Media outlet where first aired or published: The Coast
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Halifax
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Tyler Richards was a basketball hero and community saviour to some; a drug dealer and inveterate thug to others. The St. Francis Xavier University point guard and Atlantic University Sport all-star was murdered in Halifax last April—the highest-profile of the city’s 17 murders of 2016. The year of the gun. Richards’s story was one of myth±an African Nova Scotian male from a poor inner city neighbourhood who excelled in school, volunteered endlessly, reigned at basketball and earned a university scholarship. But, along the way, something went wrong. Tyler was found bound and shot at age 29 with no job, a couple of credits shy of his degree, and named in multiple charges for assault, weapons and trafficking. The comments sections on news stories about Richards’s death sang good riddance. Meanwhile, his community installed a two-storey mural in his honour—Tyler as an angel and champion. There were dozens of stories written about Richards after his death. None went as deep as this one. In her immersive profile, longtime Coast freelance writer Lezlie Lowe looks at the life of Richards and what it means to grow up poor and black in Nova Scotia. “Before the murder and after: the life of Tyler Richards” asks a question we can each pose to ourselves: Do someone’s worst choices outweigh their best?

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

To dig deep, Lezlie Lowe needed to gain access and trust in a community she is not a part of and learn intimate details about a man she never met. To write with balance, she needed to see-saw between the competing narratives of Tyler as a saint and Tyler as a villain. This story took six months of research and writing, a huge commitment for a freelancer. Besides paying Lowe her standard per-word rate, The Coast paid for the retrieval and copying of some of Richards’s court records—which constitutes the only extraordinary resources The Coast contributed to the story.

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