Hamilton Spectator staffers Hayes and Frketich are two among 13 nominees during the journalism award season

By Jennifer Goldasic


RSJ grad Molly Hayes

Molly Hayes

It’s awards season and Ryerson journalism graduates once again pepper the finalist lists for their work in a variety of publications.

The 68th annual National Newspaper Awards will be held on May 5 in Toronto and the 63rd annual Ontario Newspaper Awards will be announced April 29, in Hamilton.

Finalists for each award were named in March.

Molly Hayes, who graduated from the School in 2012 with a Bachelor of Journalism degree, was nominated for Ontario Newspapers Awards in the feature writing, news and health reporting categories

The three nominations especially recognize her coverage of the Tim Bosma trial and in-depth coverage of the opioid crisis for The Hamilton Spectator.

“I am thrilled to be recognized for my work, but am especially pleased to be nominated for a feature I wrote with my colleague at the time, Al MacRury, about Fentanyl and the tragic loss of his son Brendan to the deadly drug last summer. I know this project meant a lot to Al, personally, and so I’m glad to gee it get this nomination,” she says.

Hayes’ colleague at The Hamilton Spectator, Joanna Frketich, is nominated for two Ontario Newspaper Awards in the education reporting categories for a five-part series called Danger Zone. It revealed, “alarmingly low vaccination rates at Hamilton schools and the risk it poses to the community at large,” says Frketich, 1998 graduate.

An analysis of the numbers showed all but one Hamilton high school is at risk of potentially deadly outbreaks of infectious disease because too few students are vaccinated.

“I spent 18 months working to obtain school-by-school vaccination rates from the province and the city’s public health department that have never been publicly disclosed in Hamilton before.”

The series included interactive graphics allowing the public to access the data.  Frketich says she hopes her findings are enough to influence a change in low vaccination rates.

In the health writing category, Frketich is nominated for breaking a number of exclusive stories in 2016 on Hamilton hospitals.

“Hamilton’s hospitals control nearly $2 billion worth of public dollars and serve a population of 2.5 million people. As The Spectator’s health reporter, I am their main watchdog,” she says.

Other finalists are listed below:


NNA Awards:

Theresa Boyle, Toronto Star

Beat Reporting: Coverage of health issues


Bruce Livesey, National Observer

Business: Coverage of the Irving family dominance in New Brunswick


Ann Hui, Globe and Mail

Explanatory Work: Probing  the treatment of hens and the resulting egg products


Sheryl Ubelacker, Canadian Press

Project of the Year: Stories of indigenous Canadians terrorized by the emotional and physical impact of sexual abuse


Paul Hunter, Toronto Star

Sports: Series on the dangers of boxing and its grim legacy


Sarah Petrescu, Victoria Times

Project of the Year: Five-day series on an overdose crisis


ONA Awards:

Joanna Frketich, Hamilton Spectator

Education Reporting, Health News& Lifestyle Reporting


Molly Hayes, Hamilton Spectator

Health News& Lifestyle Reporting, Del Bell Memorial Award: Feature Writing, General News Feature


Jane Sims, London Free Press

Spot News Reporting


Barry Gray, Hamilton Spectator

Spot News Photography, Richard Sutton Award: Photojournalist of the Year


Peter Hendra, Kingston Whig-Standard

Arts& Entertainment Writing


John Law, Niagara Falls Review

Arts& Entertainment Writing


Jim Moodie, Sudbury Star

Arts &Entertainment Writing