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Mediacheck

Tyee Reporter Lands Prize

Mining expose garners top honour for young journos in North America.

By David Beers 26 Mar 2007 | TheTyee.ca

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee.

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Winner Kendyl Salcito

Reporter Kendyl Salcito has received one of North America's most prestigious prizes for young journalists for a politically explosive story published in The Tyee.

Salcito was awarded the David S. Barr Award for social justice journalism for her report "War Brewing Over Mining Rights in Rural BC" which ran in The Tyee on June 14 of last year. The story profiled landowners angry at the B.C. government for making it easier for mineral prospectors to cheaply buy mineral rights to their land and then prospect without permission.

Salcito chronicled the tense stand-off between ranchers in the Vernon area and a self-proclaimed prospector who roamed and spray painted markings on their property.

In 2002 the B.C. Liberal government changed laws so that prospectors could buy subsurface rights for 17 cents an acre over the Internet, and weakened restrictions on how much care they needed to take when exploring for minerals on private property. Elsewhere in B.C., as Salcito reported in the award-winning piece and follow-up stories, mineral prospectors have commandeered a Kamloops family's property to mine for kitty litter material; staked an historic Quesnel ranch for open pit coal mining; and punched livestock-crippling, 60-foot deep holes in search of barite on a private ranch in the Okanagan Valley. Salcito's reporting included the fact that the donations from mining firms top any other industry giving to money to the B.C. Liberals.

Judges for the Barr Award, which is sponsored by the Newspaper Guild, called Salcito's article "shocking" as well as "an important public policy story" that was "thoroughly reported" and "well written." Salcito's report was picked up by CBC's As It Happens and even attracted the interest of producers at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Her report prompted a letter to The Tyee from then Minister of Mining William Bennett, which was published along with a response from Salcito.

Salcito, who is 24 and just finishing her graduate degree in journalism at the University of British Columbia, will begin an internship with Newsweek in New York this summer. She is the first student at a Canadian school to win the David S. Barr prize, which includes $1500, and she will be given it on May 3 at the Freedom Award banquet in Washington D.C. The press release counted 55 entries "competing this year for the award, which was instituted in 1999 in memory of David S. Barr, who died suddenly in 1997. For a quarter of a century, Barr served as The Newspaper Guild's general counsel, mentor, role model and institutional memory."

When the congratulatory call from Barr Award people came, Salcito was thrilled -- but like any good journalist, she was a bit skeptical. "Did I really win? That's fantastic, thank you very, VERY much!! You have made my week. . . . But really -- did I win?"

Look for more reporting in The Tyee on the ongoing conflict between landowners and mineral prospectors in the weeks ahead.

Related Tyee stories:

 [Tyee]

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