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In a year filled with many great pieces of journalism, Globe reporters and editors share why certain stories really stand out

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A compilation of images and illustrations from stories picked by Globe staff of their most memorable for 2018. Top row (L-R): Mikaël Kingsbury at the 2018 Winter Olympics, George and Shirley Brickenden, an illustration for a story on the difficulty in ending a pregnancy in Nova Scotia, Tim Kiladze with his husband and newborn daughter. Bottom row (L-R): Security forces in in China's Xinjiang, an aerial image of the Toronto van attack, an illustration of van attack victims.

Medically assisted death allows couple married almost 73 years to die together

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George and Shirley Brickenden, are photographed in their Toronto apartment on March 21 2018. The couple (George is 95 years old and Shirley is 94) who have been married for around seventy years, have been granted permission to receive assisted deaths at the same time. Members of their extended family are flying in from around the world to be there (although not in the actual room) when George and Shirley pass. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)Fred Lum

George and Shirley Brickenden met in Halifax in 1944. He was in the Navy, she in the Air Force. Their first date was described like a fairy tale. On March 27, the two died holding hands in their own bed in a Toronto retirement home drawing their last breaths at almost the same time. The couple is one of a few in Canada to receive a doctor-assisted death together, and the first to speak about it publicly.

Business reporter Tim Kiladze selected this story by health reporter Kelly Grant as the one that stands out the most to him:

“In a year with never-ending news, this piece cut through the noise. After seven decades years together, a married couple died holding hands, with their children watching from the foot of the bed. It is an unforgettable story of medically assisted deaths, and of why it meant so much for the couple to die together.”

Murder on the prairies: Murder, lies and a missing deer head

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Illustration for After the Fire by Jana G. PrudenMatt Rota/The Globe and Mail

In October, Jana Pruden published a feature headlined “Murder on the Prairies: Fire, lies and a missing deer head.” On a cold December night in 2013, three people died in a house fire in a small town in Alberta. It soon became clear that it wasn’t an accident. Amid a tangle of strange theories and mounting evidence, disturbing clues ultimately led investigators to the killers and a dark truth.

Deputy opinion editor Mark Medley has picked this piece as the one that stands out the most to him from 2018:

“If I taught journalism, on the first day of school I’d hand my students a print-out of Jana G. Pruden’s Murder on the Prairies and walk out of class, never to return. (Yes, I’d be a lousy teacher.) Her true-crime saga contains everything I look for in a feature. It’s all there in the first few grafs, in fact: the way she evokes the harsh landscape (“A light snow was falling and it was bitterly cold, sound waves bending and refracting in the air, seeming to amplify every noise”); a poet’s command of the language (“You would have been able to see it well before dawn if you lived across those fields, or if you happened to be travelling one of those dark and deserted highways: a spot of fire burning bright on the horizon, hot orange flames licking upward to the sky, a house disintegrating into embers below”); a creeping sense of dread (“A dog barking. A gunshot.”) Her chronicle of the crimes of Jason Klaus is a novel in miniature, a clear-eyed exploration of the evil humans can do, and one of the most powerful pieces of journalism I read this year.”

I wanted an abortion in Nova Scotia, but all around, barriers still remained

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Illustration by Winnie T. Frick

The Globe’s Atlantic bureau chief Jessica Leeder, who now lives in Halifax, is married, has two kids and needed to end a pregnancy. Technically, this is the best time in history to try to get an abortion if you live in Nova Scotia, but as she discovered, it is basically impossible if you are fewer than eight weeks pregnant.

Latin America correspondent Stephanie Nolen selected this piece:

“As I raced through the words – “I was 36 and a married mother of two, and I needed to end a pregnancy” – I was struck by how rarely abortion, a health procedure that 23,000 Canadian women will access this year, is spoken of frankly, and normally, in terms anything other than political. I appreciated the way Jessica wrote honestly about finding herself in an unwanted pregnancy. And while I knew abortion access was unequal across Canada and complicated in the Maritimes, rural areas and the North – it was staggering to read just how much trouble she, a person whose professional life is built on finding information and making things work, had in accessing the service. It was an indictment of Canada’s health sector, an eloquent testimony to how it fails women. “Technically, it is the best time in history to try to get an abortion if you live here,” Jessica wrote. But the theoretical improvements in access were irrelevant for her, and for thousands of other women. The story left me furious, with my heart aching for Jessica and her family – and grateful for her willingness to bare her own experience to scrutiny, to show just how broken the reproductive health service is for women with the misfortune to live anywhere outside a few big cities.”

Inside China’s campaign against the Uyghurs

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A police officer stands behind a large metal shield in Turpan, in China's Xinjiang, where security forces have a very visible presence.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

The Globe’s Asia correspondent, Nathan VanderKlippe, has been extensively covering the troubling situation with the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority in China’s western Xinjian region, for a few years. He has reported on how the Chinese government has seized hundreds of thousands of people from their families – on the sole basis of their ethnicity – and forced them into re-education camps. He interviewed people who were in the camps, reporting they were forced to shout slogans loyal to the Communist Party, cameras followed their every move, even into toilets, some received unknown medicines and others attempted suicide. In 2017, while Mr. VanderKlippe was trying to conduct interviews, he was detained, had his computer seized and was then released, but was followed out of town. Last month, he was tailed and police threatened to arrest him for reporting in the region. This in a county that has more journalists in prison than any other in the world, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Africa bureau chief, Geoffrey York, selected Mr. VanderKlippe’s reporting as the most memorable:

“As a former Beijing correspondent myself, I understand and appreciate the extraordinary difficulty of this reporting. Nathan had to endure a constant barrage of police harassment, surveillance, intimidation and other attempts to disrupt and shut down his research. I experienced some of this myself in my stint in Beijing (2002 to 2008), but the surveillance and harassment have grown worse since then. The saga of the indoctrination camps is remarkably important for the world’s understanding of China and how it responds to internal challenges, and it has great implications for China’s future direction. Nathan’s coverage this year has shone a spotlight on a scandal that Beijing would prefer to conceal.”

A Dad’s discovery: Raising a child is thankless work

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Tim Kiladze, left, with daughter Eva and husband Matt.

Within moments of Eva’s birth, she was placed on her dad’s chest. Her father, business reporter Tim Kiladze, wrote about the joys and struggles of parenthood in February. He ended up taking 10 months of parental leave and in doing so experienced a realm most men never see. He writes that the serenity of the hours after the birth was short-lived and quickly turned into a chaotic year. The experience was so Earth shattering that it has permanently altered his worldview. Parenting is the bedrock of our society, but is largely invisible to those who haven’t been immersed in it.

Atlantic bureau chief Jessica Leeder selected this as her most memorable story of the year:

“This piece brought me to tears, but not for the reasons you might think. The piece did open a very private window into the difficult journey same-sex fathers face on their way to becoming parents. More than this, though, it was Tim’s confession of being brought to his knees by the sometimes mundane and mind-searing bits of early-stage parenting (actually, one crying jag took him right down onto his back “with my arms spread out, like Jesus on the cross, repeating to myself, ‘I surrender.’”) that took me right down with him. To have a man relay his impressions of early-stage parenting in a way that is so akin to the experiences so many women confess – and often only in the relative safety of closed Facebook groups – was simply (although incredibly) humanizing. In fact, you should stop what you’re doing right now and go read it.”

Tales from the Toronto van attack

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Heather Buchanan

In April, a man driving a white van mounted a sidewalk at a busy intersection in northern Toronto and struck a number of people. The driver then sped for several blocks plowing down pedestrians in what Toronto’s police chief called a “deliberate” killing rampage. By the time the van was stopped and the driver arrested, 10 people were dead and more than a dozen injured.

Sports writer Cathal Kelly selected one of the many stories that came out of this horrific incident as his most memorable:

“Among all the remarkable stories told in The Globe this past year, Tales From the Van Attack stood out to me. The small details in its many accounts of that day – a ringing phone that would never be answered, the sidewalk strewn with shoes – intensified the tragedy. The small acts of kindness – people who held someone’s hand as they died, or got down on their knees to pray with them – made it bearable. The piece was a window into a city’s soul, for worse and for better.”

Assistant national editor Madeleine White selected this story from the van attack:

“I vividly remember first noticing that a van had hit some pedestrians at Yonge and Finch. Before too long, we have almost 10 reporters on scene. My job was to co-ordinate with everyone in the field to make sure we covered every possible angle and found as many witnesses as possible. As the week wore on, I continued to work with these reporters and some of our colleagues in our bureaus to reconstruct a timeline of what happened that day. At one point in the week, I found myself drawing a detailed map of that part of Yonge Street on one of the newsroom’s white boards so we could visualize how the chaos unfolded. This feature is the culmination of that first week of reporting. You won’t find a better story on this tragedy.”

King of the hill: the perilous pursuit of glory and gold

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Mikaël Kingsbury, a Canadian moguls skier, is expected to win gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

In February, Canadian athletes set a record by winning 29 medals at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. One of those medals was won by mogul skier Mikaël Kingsbury, who won gold after finishing second four years earlier. In December, he won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete of 2018 and is the most accomplished mogul skier of all time. Leading up to the Olympics, The Globe’s interactive team took an in-depth look at where he shines and why he is so good.

The Globe’s head of visual journalism Matt Frehner selected this piece as his most memorable of 2018:

"In the summer of 2017, videographer Timothy Moore visited an Olympics preview with Team Canada in Calgary. The whirlwind day gave us access to athletes across the spectrum – from skiing and sledding to hockey and curling – and would end up forming the basis of an explanatory series we launched in the buildup to Pyeongchang.

Moore, in collaboration with designer Christopher Manza, created works of visual journalism that not only push the boundaries of what’s possible with digital stories, but are also just super fun.

Our profile of mogul superstar Mikaël Kingsbury led to hiring an action-sport videographer (who can ski, film, and fly a drone at the same time), and animating frame-by-frame the mechanics of a cork 1440.

We also asked sledding athletes to visualize their full run on camera, which offered a glimpse into the intense mental preparation needed to compete at an elite level, and the complex physics at play on an Olympic track."

When the #MeToo reckoning came for Canadian arts

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TORONTO, APRIL 20, 2016 -- Albert Schultz, Soulpepper Theatre's artistic director in the Distillery District. Glenn Lowson photo for The Globe and MailGlenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

In March, Western Arts Correspondent Marsha Lederman wrote about how the #MeToo movement has led to a reckoning in boardrooms. Ms. Lederman speaks to board members across the country and writes that, for them, looking the other way is no longer an option.

Deputy Arts Editor Barry Hertz picked it as his most memorable read of 2018:

“If there was one story dominating the Canadian arts industry in 2018, it was how the landscape would be affected by the burgeoning #MeToo conversation. As Marsha Lederman reports here, the country’s largest cultural institutions have now found themselves in a new, unwanted spotlight, scrutinized for their handling of toxic allegations, or for allowing an organizational structure that may have enabled generations of bad behaviour.

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