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Editorial: Well done, Mr. Swan

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  • June 27, 2019

It’s impolite to brag, we’re told, so our apologies off the top for this boastful editorial.

The Catholic Register has won hundreds of awards over its long history but few have made us more proud than the honour bestowed on associate editor Michael Swan June 21 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Swan, among the most prolific writers in religious media today, was named Writer of the Year for 2018 by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The CPA hands out a lengthy list of awards each year. Most entries recognize a single article, photograph or page layout. Writer of the Year, however, assesses a large body of work and honours “exemplary service” based on “demonstrated talent, creativity, thoroughness and effectiveness” over the course of 12 months. 

Many who have followed Swan’s work at The Register over the past 20 years may share our view that this honour is long overdue. Talent, creativity, thoroughness and effectiveness have long been hallmarks of his work. He’s won too many media awards to count. But this one is particularly noteworthy because it measures not only the weight of his contributions throughout 2018, but because it comes at a time when the Church abuse scandals have placed Catholic media in general in the spotlight.

Journalism is a very Christian profession because good reporting is all about truth — uncovering truth, understanding truth, telling truth. The abuse and coverup scandals in the Church made 2018 a year in which truth-telling was never more important or more challenging for members of Catholic media who are inherently respectful of Church institutions and hierarchy. 

So to be recognized among Catholic newspapers as the continent’s top writer at a time when the demand for professional excellence has never been higher is indeed a special tribute. It is recognition that over the past two decades — years that have taken him on assignment to Africa, the Middle East, the Amazon and across Canada — Swan has become established as one of North America’s most talented, versatile and accomplished Catholic journalists. 

He generates more than 150 articles annually, writing news, analysis and features, most times up against tight deadlines, on an array of national and international topics. In addition to enterprise and talent — almost everything he writes flows from his own ideas and initiative — Swan moves easily between hard news and long-form features, and most times takes his own photographs, for which he has won many awards.

As the judges recognized, he is coming off a particularly strong year, highlighted by articles related to the Church’s sexual abuse scandal, euthanasia proposals at Sick Kids Hospital and criminal charges stemming from alleged student assault at St. Michael’s College School. During a difficult year to be a Catholic journalist, no one did it better.

In our humble opinion, that’s something to brag about.

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