AJAs 2017 Finalists


Slug/Label Show of Work
Date Aired or Published Feb. 8, 2017 / Oct. 20, 2017 / March 24, 2017
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC News - Nova Scotia, The National and News Network
Name of Program: CBC Nova Scotia News, The National and CBC News Network
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Bedford, NS / Louisbourg, NS / March 24, 2017
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio): 7:02

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Bedford Magazine Threat This exclusive investigation took more than a month to prepare. Brett Ruskin received a tip about fire risk at the ammunition magazine in Bedford, and began sifting through documents. To adequately research this story, Brett spoke with former staff and firefighters, both on the record and off. He condensed the details and wrote the story as simply as possible. The story's presentation included custom graphics and a self-shot stand-up at the ammunitions depot gate. The primary difficulty Brett encountered with this story was sorting through bureaucratic spin to get to the core truth. There were many sources that had their own agendas. This story tried to share only the facts, and hold the authorities accountable. Another difficulty was access to visuals, which was resolved when Brett negotiated to have access to the ammunition depot itself. Defending Louisbourg This story took Brett Ruskin to Cape Breton to report on a new threat faced by the Fortress of Lousibourg: rising water levels. This beautifully shot piece was recorded over two days and required weeks of advance planning. The writing in this piece makes repeated references to "battles" and "defence" tactics, as a way to draw themes from the fortress' past forward to the present. Brett also thoroughly researched the historic site, determining which areas were most at risk and why. The presentation included a self-shot on-camera standup along the coast, under difficult windy conditions. The main difficulty arose from logistics. The site is so remote (for reporters from Halifax), and Parks Canada cancelled and postponed access numerous times. To capture all the images (for example the opening sequence), Brett hiked down to the water's edge at sunset with all his gear. There was an added challenge presenting the story live, since there were limited locations along the coast where the cell signal was strong enough for live hits. Icy Workout Two brothers from Lake Echo, N.S. invited CBC videojournalist Brett Ruskin to watch their uniquely Canadian exercise regime. Brett jumped right in -- literally -- and joined them to submerge in an ice-covered lake. Brett researched the story by collecting videos from the brothers' social media accounts, and wrote to those visuals. Subtle presentation decisions (such as the sound-up emerging from the water and slide transition during the pushups) helped to draw in the viewer.

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

Bedford Magazine Threat The visuals used in this story ranged from the fire service's mock emergency, to the unloading of an actual torpedo from a navy frigate which Brett spotted after repeated drive-bys over many days. The visuals were all shot by Brett, with the exception of the interview in Ottawa. As for resources used, Brett spent time searching through lengthy documents and reports. He shot the story over the course of two days, and then wrote and edited it the following day for CBC The National. Defending Louisbourg One of this piece's strengths is its beautiful audio and visuals. Brett spent many hours on the site, the capture the right noise of waves or movement of sheep and tourists. Visually portraying a project that hadn't started yet was also a significant challenge, overcome by creative use of transitions and pans. Finally, capturing clear audio was an ongoing battle, with the nonstop coastal winds. The CBC afforded Brett occasional times to work on this story over the series of weeks it took to organize. Then, Brett travelled to the site, arrived on a Thursday afternoon and shot part of the story. He shot the rest on Friday, wrote and voiced the piece, edited it on a laptop in the field, and sent it to Toronto to air on the National that night. Icy Workout Brett faced numerous logistical challenges. The story was filmed on a very windy day, requiring careful microphone placement out on the lake. He also used three cameras shooting simultaneously. Following the icy dunk, Brett had to retrieve and pack up all that gear before getting warm inside. Judging the proper camera placements for this story was a key to its success, whether it was the pushup framing, or the multiple camera angles at the lake. Brett also had to factor in the sun's location and wind direction -- both critical factors to capture clean and clear imagery and audio. Overall, the resources used included the multiple cameras; one afternoon of filming, writing and editing; and a bit of bravery to hop in the frigid water.

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