AJAs 2016 Finalists

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Date Aired or Published Sept. 9, 2016
Media outlet where first aired or published: While bits and pieces of the story were fed to the Telegraph-Journal for daily publication, this story and sidebar was the culmination of breaking news coverage published for the first time in The Tribune - Campbellton's local newspaper.
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Campbellton
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

On the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 4, I drove from Campbellton to Carleton-sur-Mer, Que., about 45 minutes away, meaning to have a rest. I bought some food and a few local beers at the supermarket, and walked far down a beach where I set up in solitude next to the sea with my book and a bonfire. Because the sun was so bright, I didn’t look at my phone. Eventually, the sun went over the hill, and I looked at my phone. A friend had posted on Facebook that a helicopter had crashed into the Restigouche River at Flatlands, west of Campbellton. I quickly headed on the 15-minute walk back to the car. I couldn’t contact our other reporter -- his cellphone had recently broken, and he was out umpiring baseball. At my car, I immediately called the RCMP provincial contact in Fredericton, and left a message. To my surprise, I got a call back when I had driven less than a kilometre. I have an app on my phone that records calls, including those coming over Bluetooth as I drive. I conducted the interview as I drove, and pulled into a coffee shop. Luckily, I had my laptop with me in the trunk, and using my phone as a hub, I set up outside in the dark at a picnic table. Another friend on Facebook had a fuzzy photo of the tail of the helicopter in the Restigouche River, taken from a distance before it got dark. I got his permission to use it, cropped it, and did a first web hit online from the picnic table. The friend also had the telephone number of an eyewitness to the crash, but I couldn’t reach her. That night, emergency crews wouldn’t let me near the crash scene in the river, and it was too dark to take photos anyway. The helicopter had taken out a main line between New Brunswick and Quebec, and the power was out in all that area. Doing searches, I discovered a posting in French on Facebook from a Quebec City baseball team, on its verified account, linked to its official webpage, confirming the names of those aboard. I updated the web hit. The next day, I was at the scene early. Walking along the river bank until I got chased away by police, I got some good photos with a telescopic lens. I started to do interviews including with a representative of the baseball team. (Because my phone records calls, I was able to record callbacks while in the field.) I found the eyewitness who had seen the helicopter hit the power lines and fall into the river. Throughout the week, I kept updating the story as I spoke to more people. It was several days before the helicopter pieces were removed. I wanted to be there when it happened so I had to stick close to the scene. I was on the “beach” most of the time (a rocky shore). I was there when the helicopter parts were finally pulled out of the river by investigators, which allowed for much better photos and some video. I worked entirely alone, as the other reporter had to handle all other local news including a fatal fire. What appeared on Sept. 9 was the culmination of my week’s work, and the first published account in print in the local newspaper of the crash.

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

Tim Jaques worked tirelessly from Sunday night through to the Friday publication of his story, constantly updating the story online, feeding bits and pieces to the provincial newspaper, conducting interviews, hiking through the woods to take photos, and contacting emergency official for updates on the investigation.

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