In honour of Ms. Donaldson’s fine contributions, CBC established the Joan Donaldson CBC News Scholarship, following the journalist’s untimely death. The Scholarship has been awarded annually since 1999. Approximately 100 scholars have completed the program, including representatives of visible minorities and Aboriginal communities who uncover and contribute different stories and perspectives. Up to eight scholars are chosen each year from amongst the numerous candidates applying through nine eligible Canadian universities and colleges. Applicants must exhibit exceptional academic performance, aptitude and engagement; have strong potential for producing journalism enlightened by intelligent observation, command of facts, understanding of context, and clarity of expression; and a genuine interest in the ideals and practice of public interest journalism at CBC. An additional scholarship is reserved for a graduating meteorological student who is invited to work at the CBC News Weather Centre.
Those who are successful in the rigorous application process receive a $2,000 award, training and an intensive four-month paid internship at CBC News during which their potential for future employment is assessed. Scholars are given the opportunity to work throughout the CBC News service — including at CBC News Network, CBC Radio news, CBC.ca online news, current affairs, and in regional newsrooms from Vancouver to Yellowknife to St. John’s. Each year, about half of the scholars gain permanent or part-time employment with CBC, while the remainder contributes their new skills to different institutions.
CBC audiences are well-acquainted with many of the Joan Donaldson scholars from over the years. Working at CBC News in Toronto are: Connie Walker, an Aboriginal reporter from the Okanese First Nation in Saskatchewan, producer for Episode 2 of CBC’s 8th Fire and videojournalist for 8th Fire Dispatches; Deana Sumanac, an arts reporter with strong interests in literature and music; Jeff Semple, videojournalist; and Genevieve Tomney, Redmond Shannon, and Zulekha Nathoo, reporters. Other esteemed scholars include: Lily Boisson and Alexandra Hunnings, at CBC News Network; and Lyndsay Duncombe, reporter and producer at CBC’s Los Angeles bureau.
The 2012 recipients show great promise as well, including Christy Climenhaga (B.Sc., specialisation in Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta), a meteorologist who interned at the CBC News Weather Centre and has now been hired for on-air work at CBC Yellowknife; and Lisa Laventure (BA, Political Science, Concordia University; MA, Journalism, University of Western Ontario), a bilingual producer at CBC News: The National.
And how does the Joan Donaldson CBC News Scholarship benefit Canada? These scholars are the best and the brightest of the next generation of journalists. They have chosen to pursue public-interest journalism and they will go on to help citizens understand what is happening at their doorstep, in their communities and country, and in the world beyond.