Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award
Shelley FralicShelley Fralic, whose 41-year career as a writer and as an editor helped define news in British Columbia, will receive the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Jack Webster Awards dinner Oct. 20.
Fralic, 63, a passionate defender both of newspapers and journalism, even as they underwent metamorphic changes in the digital age, retired from The Vancouver Sun earlier this year.
Fralic joins 26 of B.C.'s finest journalists who have also received the award, named after the longtime Vancouver Sun writer and editorialist. From sports and business to lifestyle to news and investigations, there was not a beat or a department in which Fralic did not work.
Fralic operated in a newsroom that moved, ever so gradually, from one dominated by men to one where the top positions were occupied by women, including Patricia Graham, who won the "Hutch" in 2012.
First an assistant features editor, Fralic soon became a deputy editor, deputy managing editor and eventually executive editor at The Sun, in which she oversaw the administration of the newsroom.
But a writer at heart, Fralic chafed to tell stories, and when given the opportunity, turned to being a columnist. Whether it was roasting the Ministry of Education for abandoning fundamental math and creating "generations of institutional illiterates" or writing a self-effacing column about her own shopping habits, Fralic often hit a nerve with readers. Sometimes a raw nerve.
It is that willingness to speak plainly that has allowed Fralic to define both her writing and a management style in a business where ethics and public service are bookends to a craft often misunderstood by the public. When she started in 1975 - in the human resources department - the clack-clack-clack of typewriters could still be heard in cavernous newsrooms populated by hundreds of people.
By the time she left, "free" online aggregator news sites were challenging newspapers for relevancy all the while stealing, without credit, the products generated by those newsrooms. It irritates Fralic to no end that newspapers are undervalued.
"This," she said, tapping her newspapers, "is what still brings in the money. This is what people read. This is the source of all that stuff on the Internet."
Scott Macrae, a Jack Webster Foundation Co-Chair and former Vancouver Sun managing editor said in a statement: "In a digital age, Shelly Fralic embodied the traditional journalism values that made Jack Webster tick."
Vancouver Sun Editor in Chief Harold Munro said Fralic was "the heart of the newsroom for decades. She was a generous mentor to me and so many others, with a passion for journalism, and The Vancouver Sun in particular."
Fralic says she gets her strong streak of opinion from her mother. But she is also a relative of Nellie McClung, the famous Canadian feminist, author and politician who with four others challenged Canadian law around whether women were "qualified persons" to sit in the Senate.
In her house, in which as a single mother she raised two children, she packed much of Vancouver's early newspaper history salvaged from The Sun and Province when the two newspapers moved downtown in July 1997. Among the treasures is the original name plate for The Sun that was bolted to the front of the Beaux-Arts Sun Tower on Beatty Street, the newspaper's first home.
— Jeff Lee, The Vancouver Sun Excerpted with permission from The Vancouver Sun
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