AJAs 2016 Finalists


Slug/Label Beaumont-Hamel
Date Aired or Published May/JUne issue
Media outlet where first aired or published: Saltscapes
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

As a periodical publishing only seven times annually we, and most other magazines, are continually challenged by the need to find an alternative angle on stories so compelling that we must cover them—knowing the mainstream daily media will as well. The totally avoidable tragedy of Beaumont-Hamel—at a time when young men from “the colonies” and from the lower echelons of British society were considered nothing more than canon fodder by aloof generals from the upper classes—has remained an open sore on the fabric of the history of Newfoundland and Labrador (rivaled only by the great seal hunt disaster of 1914 when 132 men died of exposure on the ice). So, in our May/June issue last year (the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel was July 1st ) we managed to get ahead of the pack and find a solid journalist able to put a very personal spin on the story. Bob Wakeham of St. John’s, now retired, enjoyed a long newspaper and television career—but, more importantly, he was able to articulate and to demonstrate how the trauma of this First World War event permeated communities and families (including his) all across the island and became embedded in the collective psyche of Newfoundlanders. Through Bob’s words, and the family photographs he provided, we were able to transform impersonal; “soldiers, troops, infantrymen” back into the naïve young men and boys that they really were, many from small rural communities. We stripped off their uniforms and told their story as sons and brothers and just ordinary people to whom anyone can relate. A century after the fact, readers told us they were moved to tears. How many magazine articles accomplished that last year?

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

Logistically, this was a relatively simple piece in that the writer was depending upon his own personal recollections and easily available research. The major effort was in editor-writer collaboration in order to achieve a strong emotional response from the reader.

Return to list of finalists