For nearly a week in June, the city of Toronto transformed itself into a city I didn’t recognize. In its infinite wisdom, the Canadian federal government decided that downtown Toronto should be the site of the fourth G20 Summit. Now, when I say “downtown Toronto”, I don’t mean some desolate part of the city with a handful of inhabitants that closes up shop at 5 p.m. On the contrary.
Stephen Harper chose the Metro Toronto Convention Centre — smack dab in Toronto’s downtown core — as the site of the G20, despite much ballyhooing from citizens, city government officials, and even the liberally-biased media (oh, who are they kidding — they loved it). With guests such as President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, President Jintao, Chancellor Merkell, President Medvedev, and a slew of other leaders, and their legions of delegates, and the additional invited heads of state from such economic powerhouses as Ethiopia, Malawi, Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain, and Vietnam, it goes without saying that Toronto turned into a police state. In other words, it was pure chaos.
I’ve done a lot of fantastic things during my time in Canada, but one of them now officially stands out among the rest. I don’t know if I mentioned it here, but I lived within one of the three G20 security perimeters, complete with a 5 mile, 10′ solid steel fence erected just for the occasion. To help chronicle the impact of the summit on ordinary citizens leading up to, during, and after the event, the CBC decided to invite ten community bloggers to write for their newly-created-just-for-the-summit G20 Street Level blog. Amazingly, I was one of the ten selected and, needless to say, was beyond thrilled.
As I was fairly busy traversing a city filled with 15,000 police officers imported from every other province in the country and being trapped by scores of said police officers in their finest riot gear, I did not really have time to cross-post my CBC articles on my personal blog. In the meantime, though, you can check out my contributions on the CBC’s web site. You’re welcome.
Brace yourself for the best part, though: not only was I selected to write for the CBC, or to be interviewed on CBC Television during the summit (which I was — thrice), but our “little blog that could” recently received some serious accolades. We won a Canadian Online Publishing Award for “Best Community Feature” AND were named as a finalist in the “Community Collaboration” category for the Online News Association Awards!
Let us take pause for one moment to discuss the Online News Association Awards. We’re talking about competitors such as the New York Times. And CNN.com. And the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, AP, and NPR, to name a few. We were nominated in the category of “Breaking News: Large Site” and, for our category, were up against such journalistic monstrosities as CNN.com (for coverage of Haiti), the New York Times (also for coverage of Haiti), the Seattle Times, and Boston.com. Essentially, we were up against the big boys.
While we didn’t ultimately win, we were the only Canadian finalists among all those big boys which, in my humble opinion, is all kinds of awesome. Journalism. Innovation. Excellence, indeed.
While I certainly recognize that the whole “community blog” thing wasn’t my idea, I am certain that, for the first time ever, I played an itty-bitty role in contributing to something seriously important. I’m happy for Canada, excited for the CBC, and extremely proud of myself.