Manotick Messenger has big year at provincial newspaper awards

The Manotick Messenger has had one of its best year ever at the Ontario Community Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Competition.

The Ontario Community Newspaper Association (OCNA) held its virtual awards gala Friday afternoon. The Messenger was a top-three finalist for three awards, winning two first place awards, and placing third in another. There are close to 300 community newspapers in Ontario.

The Messenger’s sister publication, the Barrhaven Independent, also won a pair of creative advertising awards.

A story by Manotick Messenger editor on his battle with bone marrow cancer won the award for Best Feature Story in the province.

The Manotick Messenger won a provincial award for Best Feature Story.

In February, 2020, Morris gave Messenger readers a detailed account of what he went through both physically and mentally during his battle with multiple myeloma, an incurable bone marrow cancer. In ‘A Battle Fought, A Battle Won,’ he told the story of how he thought he had a concussion after a hitting his head on the seatbelt shoulder strap clip in a minor fender bender at a stop sign. He eventually went to the Kemptville General Hospital to get checked out, and was shocked to learn that a tumor caused by bone marrow cancer had eaten a large chunk of his skull. Within weeks, Morris was rushed into emergency brain surgery at the Ottawa Civic Hospital’s neuro centre, as the tumor had penetrated his brain and was about 36-48 hours away from claiming his life.

“It was a positive story,” Morris said. “People associate cancer with doom and gloom, but I wanted to share my story because cancer may change your day-to-day life, but it doesn’t have to change who you are or take away your spirit, your passions or your sense of humour. Beating cancer isn’t surviving, beating cancer is how you live your life every day.”

A feature story on country music star Brett Kissel, which ran in the Manotick Messenger, and the Barrhaven Independent, won the award for the Best Arts and Entertainment story in the province. Kissel gave a heartfelt interview about what it has been like to be a performer during the COVID-19 pandemic. He gave three drive-in concerts at the Richmond Fairgrounds in September, and the feature not only previewed the concert but also gave Kissel the opportunity to express his love of visiting the Ottawa area and share some special memories of playing at the Richmond Fair over the past decade.

Morris was also up for the Ontario Humour Columnist of the Year Award. This was the 13th time in the past 16 years that his From the Other Side column has been a finalist for the award. It was not Lucky 13 for Morris, however, as he finished third in the category.

Skyler Fraser, who is the graphics manager for the Messenger and Independent, was a finalist for two awards – Best Creative Ad and Best In-House Promotion. The ad, which came out on the 30th anniversary of the first issue of the Barrhaven Independent, won first place for Best In-House Promotion and second place for Best Creative ad.