In honor of National Newspaper Week, News Media Canada launched its first-ever illustrated book—Champions.
The book recognizes notable Canadians from the newspaper print and digital news media industry. It is a collection of 24 inspirational stories from people across Canada, and includes Kevin Weedmark, editor and publisher of The World-Spectator in Moosomin.
“We wanted to focus on people who worked or currently work in newspapers because this is a celebration of National Newspaper Week,” said Kelly Levson of News Media Canada.
“We are in the 83rd year of National Newspaper Week. We started this (book) last year to recognize the champions of truth in our industry.
“The people behind the press, they like to write the stories and not be the stories, but we felt it was important to really spotlight the work that people in the industry do, and that was really the seed that generated this Champions of the Truth project.”
Levson said the target audience for the book is the next generation of people who may have an interest in pursuing a career in news media.
“We wanted to try and make the younger generation aware of all of the possibilities there are in newspapers in news media,” she said.
“The book was created with that in mind. We tried to make it very visual, when people see a copy of the book, they’ll see there’s a huge emphasis on the illustrations.
“We wanted it to be very visual because the younger generation is very visual, and we didn’t want to overload them, we tried to keep it brief.
“The goal was to make it accessible and interesting to ages 12 to 24. As younger school kids are starting to think about what interests them, all the way up to people who are in J-school right now, and reinforcing some of the choices that they’ve made or are looking at.
“Inspiring the next generation was really important to us, and I’m hoping it really shines through with how the book was written and illustrated.”
Kevin Weedmark featured in Champions book
One of the 24 stories that was included in the illustrated Champions book was local editor and publisher Kevin Weedmark.
Weedmark’s story in the book highlights his 30 years of experience in the news media industry, focusing on his storytelling from rural Saskatchewan up to his reporting from across the globe.
The book also recognizes the impact Weedmark has made to the Moosomin community through his work of investigative journalism, and being an active member in the community.
“There were specific criteria about what makes a champion of the truth, and some of it was focused on supporting your community,” said Levson.
“Some of it was what you bring to local news and the information you bring to people in your community. Also to make sure they’re informed, and to be engaged with them.”
Champions is intended to show readers, and upcoming journalists, that the print and digital world of newspapers will continue to evolve, said Levson.
“I don’t think newspapers are going away, I think young people just need to be aware that there are rewarding opportunities in it,” she said.
“The people in this book, they did this for a reason, they’re dedicated, they’re passionate, they really put the community first.
“Even Kevin’s quote in the book, ‘there’s nothing magical about Moosomin,’ but really when you put your community first, that’s what makes people want to read you. That’s what makes the jobs, the content, and the paper successful.”
Weedmark’s quote in the book stated, “There’s nothing magical about Moosomin or what we’ve done here, that you couldn’t do anywhere. I mean, a proper newspaper that’s there to serve its community first is going to be successful.”
Levson explained how News Media Canada picked whose stories would be included in the Champions.
“We when out with a call for nominations back at the beginning of this year, and it was an open call. We ended up with 113 nominations and we had a judging panel review all of them and come up with our final list of 24 stories.
“Some of the Champions are families, there’s more than 24 people in it, but there are 24 stories. We thought it was really important to showcase a really diverse range of roles, like publishers, editors, journalists, we’ve got a cartoonist, a photographer. We wanted to really illustrate that there’s so much that goes on at a newspaper.”
Importance of visual elements in newspapers
The artist who created the illustrations behind each person’s story in the Champions book, also wrote a statement explaining the intentions behind each of the visual representations.
“Our artist, Rachel Joanis was amazing. She created these illustrations and when she sent them to us, she gave us some of her thought process as to why she included certain elements and why they were significant,” said Levson.
“It was so amazing that we thought it was really important to include an artist statement with every illustration because visual arts is a huge part of newspapers as well.
“Also, it really gives insight into what’s in the background of each photo and why certain colors were chosen, and what the design represents.
“It shows what’s important to these champions and what makes them who they are. I’m thrilled we are able to include this artists statements and have a focus on the graphic elements in the book as well.”
In addition to the visual elements of the book, it also consists of a diverse range of people who worked, or currently work, in the newspaper print and digital news media industry across Canada.
“We also that it was important to be geographically representative. We tried to encourage the judges to look at people across the country in different types of markets, large and small, east and west,” she said.
“We also have a lot of different languages, we’ve got English, French, one of them speaks Mohawk, there’s one who’s Punjabi. We’ve got different languages, different cultures, different roles.
“We tried to also have a good representation from both men and women. There are people from larger papers, daily papers, as well as smaller and community papers.
“Kevin was one of our champions from the community newspaper side. We have a few who are from larger newspapers, there’s one from the Globe and Mail, we’ve got some from Quebec, we’ve got some of the biggest papers and some of the smallest.”
Reading of the book to MacLeod students
The Champions book will be launched on Oct. 1. Levson said copies of the book will be given to schools in communities across the country, including MacLeod Elementary School, for a reading.
People can also buy the book at championsofthetruth.ca. All proceeds from the sale of Champions will be donated to First Book Canada.
“We’re also partenering with First Book Canada because we thought it was important to give back,” said Levson.
“Their focus meshes perfectly with what we’re doing because they really want to get books into the hands of kids. Part of what we’re doing with them is some book readings.
“They’re co-ordinating some virtual book readings in selected schools, we’re trying to do it in markets where we have champions, and one of them is in Moosomin.
“Part of the program is every kid will get a book, everyone in the class will get a copy of the Champions book. They’ll get a virtual reading of the book and then they will do an activity.
“I think it’s really exciting that they’re going to do book readings. MacLeod asked for 50 or 60 books, two classrooms are going to take part, it’s going to be amazing.”
The virtual book reading at MacLeod Elementary School will take place on Thursday, October 19 at 1 pm.
By Sierra D’Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Oct 02, 2023