AJAs 2017 Finalists


Slug/Label Transgender Athletes, Pet Taxi, Pepsi Lobster
Date Aired or Published
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC New Brunswick
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Dear Atlantic Journalism Awards, It would be a huge honour to have stories from my first year as a full-fledged reporter deemed worthy of the Jim MacNeill New Journalist Award. Let me tell you a little bit about myself and my work. I joined CBC New Brunswick three weeks after graduating from St. Thomas University in May 2017. That summer, I wrote Transgender athletes thwarted in pursuit of university sports, a story that takes our audience far beyond the locker room or the final score. It’s a story about Alex and Jacob, two transgender athletes who were forced to give up the sports they love to transition into men. Alex agreed to be interviewed when I called him in June. Finding other sources, however, was extremely challenging. Not many athletes in Canada identify openly as transgender, and those who do, shy away from reporters. A human kinetics professor at St. Francis Xavier University confirmed this as she struggled to find Canadian trans athletes for her own research. I wanted to go beyond Alex’s story, so I persisted, calling sources and trying to find athletes willing to talk. Alex found Jacob through an Instagram support group and after I interviewed him, I realized the issue went beyond New Brunswick’s borders. For the next 15 days, I was calling and emailing representatives from U Sports, the governing body of university sport in Canada, while I also worked on other stories for CBC New Brunswick. I could have gone with a one-sided piece and said U Sports would not respond. Perhaps I also could have gone with just one athlete's voice. But I wanted answers. And I wanted to show that the issue was not isolated to one STU soccer player, that other athletes faced the same difficult choices. For this story, I also worked on the television piece and crafted a script for CBC’s Information Morning shows in Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John. That same summer, I also wrote a series of business stories about student entrepreneurs who were creating their own jobs, rather than applying for them. I searched the province for students who were opting for the creative route. It took a lot of phone calls and emails because many had already left for their hometowns, but I was able to find four students with compelling stories to tell. A ruff ride: UNB student opens dog taxi in Fredericton was the most-read story of the series. And it went beyond digital, radio and even television. I produced a Facebook Live broadcast, which brought the students together to talk to each other about their experiences. This was an example of creativity and ingenuity in telling stories in a multi-platform world. A few months later, I came across a photo on social media of a lobster’s claw with a Pepsi can imprinted on it. I called the Grand Manan woman who took the photo. Not only did she catch lobster off the island in the Bay of Fundy, but she was also a Pepsi fan. She found the lobster hilarious. Her fishermen friends, she said, found the “Pepsi lobster” funny, too. But I did not want to hand readers a piece of comic relief, so instead I wrote an insightful story about pollution in our oceans. We held off publishing Grand Manan fisherman finds lobster with Pepsi can imprinted on claw that day because I was looking for experts who could take the story beyond the amusing photo and offer context to what the woman discovered. The story went up the next day, once I had the interview, and it quickly went viral. It was picked up by media outlets around the world, including Time, National Geographic, the Globe and Mail and the Guardian. Even Teen Vogue wrote about the Pepsi Lobster. In the end, my story became CBC New Brunswick’s most-read story of 2017. More than that, it became a story people would remember.

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

I was allowed to work on the transgender athletes story as a side project for a few weeks. It took me almost one month to complete. The student entrepreneur series took about three weeks, but the pet taxi story was the first completed. I did so in one day. The Pepsi lobster story took two days to complete as explained above.

Return to list of finalists