It's raining Atlantic Journalism Awards

Not April Fool's: The Coast scoops up a handful of AJA nominations.

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From Fort Mac to Ralph's Place, Coast writers like to go the extra mile for you, and a batch of Coasties have just been recognized for their efforts. The short-list of nominations for the 2014 Atlantic Journalism Awards came out yesterday, with four Coast projects up for local journalism's biggest prize—a plaque plus a year of east-coast bragging rights.

Hilary Beaumont is nominated in the AJA's Enterprise Reporting: Print category for her October 2, 2014 piece "The always-on stalker." The story details how a Halifax women and her friend have been targets of years of online and offline harassment from the woman's ex:
Unaware of the online activity, Nicole and Kim moved on with their lives. In late 2012, Nicole signed up for a dating site. A man messaged her about a rape fantasy. She wasn't into that, she told him. He wrote back that he thought he knew her already. He asked if she lived at a certain address on that quiet residential street in central Halifax.

It turned out this was the man who, two years earlier, had visited her home intending to attack her. Immediately she suspected her ex-boyfriend was involved. "Because of the way he acted out against me, physically and with other stuff, I knew it was him," she says.

The man from the dating site sent her the email correspondence he had with a person pretending to be Nicole and requesting a rape fantasy. She recognized Adam's email address. Reading the correspondence, she believes he tried to trick a stranger into raping her.

Ariane Hanlon is contending for the Business Reporting prize for her February 6 cover story. "The business of bare: Inside Ralph's Place" profiles Khalil Nasrallah, owner of the family business that just happens to be the last strip club in the province:
The place is worn but impeccably clean, smelling faintly of detergent. At the front of the room a wooden stage is raised. On it two metal poles reach up to the ceiling, circled by scuff marks left behind by the dancers' shoes when they perform with their feet in the air. Apart from the stage, Ralph's Place looks like a typical North American diner—complete with VLTs at the back, dispensers for candy and peanuts and vinyl seating. Just add a few couches and a bar that rents hookahs.

A bartender is wiping her counter. She has a pink bandana wrapped around her forehead and two stars tattooed on her neck. A bikini is visible under her tank top. A newcomer to Nova Scotia, she was surprised by the province's no-contact policy at strip clubs.

"I've worked at strip clubs in Alberta where you can touch, and I think no-contact is great. I mean, you don't want some stranger putting their hands all over you!"

A whole team of Coast talent, lead by arts editor Stephanie Johns, is up for the Best Multimedia Feature AJA. In the December 11 paper, we devoted the entire issue to a look at the economic and emotional ties between Fort McMurray and Halifax, going so far as to rename The Coast "The Sands" on the cover, confusing a shocking number of local readers in the process. To give online readers, especially Alberta-based ones, special treatment too, we created a multimedia website separate from our regular site, with gorgeous design and Erica Bulter's audio postcards to bring the sounds of home out west. Head to the site at "Fort Mac to Halifax: Living with Canada's worst commute," where you can enjoy not just the electronic additions but the Veronica Simmonds feature at its core:
Jason Fraser is calling from the Calgary airport on the way to his latest welding job in Fort McMurray. His home is in Tantallon, with his girlfriend Daniela Gansemer and their pets, Butch the loyal shepherd and River the little munchkin cat. Like so many Nova Scotians, Fraser lives a sort of half-life—working in Alberta, but living here.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m constantly in transition and my life is on hold. When I think about it, it is pretty disheartening, depressing at times, but that’s why I try not to think about it I guess,” Fraser says. “That’s the best way to do it.”

Last but not least, Coast food and life editor Allison Saunders spearheaded a group effort—involving Coast designers Elliott Magill and Ryan Chisholm, plus me—to distill a whole province-full of activities and destinations into one attractive newspaper spread. That's an easier-said-than-done task, but "The ultimate road trip" was a hit with readers when it came out in the June 19 Hot Summer Guide, making the work worth it. Then came another endorsement: During a session at last summer's Association of Alternative Newsmedia convention, designer Jandos Rothstein singled out "Roadtrip" for praise. And Rothstein just happens to be creative director the the Washington City Paper, runner-up for "World's Best Designed Newspaper". Now "Roadtrip" is nominated for the Best Page Presentation: Newspaper AJA. It might not be "World's Best Designed Newspaper," but we are pretty stoked.

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