AJAs 2016 Finalists


Date Aired or Published Sept. 21, 2016
Media outlet where first aired or published: www.theguardian.pe.ca
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Charlottetown, PE
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

On the morning of Sept. 21, 2016, The Guardian's early morning digital editor, Nigel Armstrong, heard school bus drivers talking on the scanner about needing to pick up children from some P.E.I. schools due to some kind of threat. Armstrong placed a call to Charlottetown city police and soon learned that the issue was a bomb threat made against all P.E.I. schools. More than 19,000 Island children were being moved from their schools to safe zones. Soon, all available newsroom staff were on the job -- many of whom had children in school that day who they had to juggle picking up while covering the breaking news. Armstrong continued to update the developing story online, while Teresa Wright put together a main story to file to TC Media newspaper sites in Atlantic Canada. Wright, along with Ryan Ross attended a noon-hour briefing by law enforcement and school officials. Ross live streamed this news conference and another one later in the afternoon to The Guardian's website and later took the lifestream footage to edit into a video. Wright spoke to parents and RCMP about the threat itself, as well as the unprecedented, logistical challenge of evacuating all the schools and having the children safely reunited with their parents. The Guardian's intern, Evan Ceretti, followed the same story from the post-secondary education facilities' perspective, while Jim Day interviewed the teachers' union. All writers posted to Facebook and Twitter, keeping those followers informed about the latest coming out of these interviews. Editorial writer Bill McGuire crafted an editorial on the historical event, while other editors compiled the information coming in via news releases and phone calls to the newsroom. TC Media partners in Summerside also contributed to the coverage, including interviewing a psychiatrist about how to talk to children about the day, which was upsetting to many -- even though the threat eventually proved groundless. As stated earlier, many of the newsroom staff had logistical and emotional challenges with their own children that day, but everyone pulled together to file to the website and produce five solid pages of coverage in the next day's Guardian. Website hits on Sept. 21 spike far beyond The Guardian's usual daily traffic as Islanders sought the latest and best information on what was an unusual day for this so-called "gentle island".

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

Every available reporter and editor took part in the coverage, which topped The Guardian website all day. As well, the Guardian ran 5 full pages of print stories the next day, as well as writing an editorial on the topic. TC Media colleagues at the Journal Pioneer in Summerside, P.E.I., also filed a couple of those stories, while The Guardian filed and continued to update a regional story for TC Media papers in Atlantic Canada.

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