AJAs 2018 Finalists

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Slug/Label
Date Aired or Published November 2018
Media outlet where first aired or published: The Deep
Name of Program:
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List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Cash and Burn started with an Access to Information request: a list of companies that received money through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program. Orpheus Interactive stood out on that list among many companies that had failed to repay their ACOA debts. Before its collapse, Orpheus had been celebrated in the press, yet had failed thoroughly and left behind angry creditors. How did a “can’t miss opportunity” tank so badly? I called and emailed people connected to Orpheus. Hardly anyone would speak on the record. But, speaking on background, at least three people repeated a similar line: Orpheus isn’t the story, they said. James Drage is the story. That led to my investigation of Drage himself. I combed through hundreds and hundreds of court documents from the dozens of lawsuits filed against Drage and his companies, dating back years. That process led me to the many people who’ve sued him over outstanding debts, failed businesses, and broken promises. The story required dozens of interviews--on the record, off the record, and on background. Many sources were hesitant to be interviewed at all, embarrassed to admit they'd lost money to Drage. Bringing those sources into the fold required a careful approach. I had to build a level of trust with them before proceeding very far. In all, the result is a story with relevance beyond Drage himself. It reveals potential problems in the stewardship of public money through agencies like ACOA and Nova Scotia Business Inc.

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

The research, writing, editing, fact checking, and lawyering of this piece spanned 10 months.

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