UBC j-school racks up six Canadian Online Publishing Award nominations

UBC journalism students and faculty have received six nominations in the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs).

The school’s prestigious International Reporting Program nabbed three nominations, while its new interdisciplinary social media course also received a nod. The other two finalists are for work for the TheThunderbird.ca produced by first-year students.

This is a record number of nominations for the school. The graduate school received five nominations in 2012 and five in 2011.

The UBC School of Journalism tallied more nominations than any other journalism school. The Ryerson School of Journalism has five.

UBC journalism students and faculty are competing for Best Online-Only Publication, Best Video or Multimedia Feature, Best Online-Only Article or Series of Articles and Best Use of Social Media. Most of the nominations are in the blue division, which is the business-to-business, professional association, farm and scholarly category. The nominated projects were all produced as part of the courses offered by the graduate school.

International program receives recognition

The International Reporting Program at UBC earned three COPA nods for globe-spanning projects on illegal logging and the availability of painkillers in medical settings.

The program, run as a course for second-year journalism students, aims to report on under-represented stories from all corners of the world.

Two nominations went to The Pain Project, a series of stories on patients suffering without proper treatment for their pain. The project was recognized in the best overall online-only website category and category of best video or multimedia feature.

Another nomination for best video or multimedia feature went to “Cut,” an investigation of illegal logging in Indonesia, Russia and Cameroon and the possible solutions for this global dilemma. The Centre for Digital Media partnered with the International Reporting Program for this investigation.

Student website continues awards streak

Two of this year’s nominations were bestowed upon first-year students for work on the school’s student website, TheThunderbird.ca.

TheThunderbird.ca features news and analysis from students in a variety of media, from articles to audio files to videos. In past years, the website has twice won gold in the best video or multimedia feature category.

Maryse Zeidler, this year’s nominee for best video or multimedia feature, created an atmospheric audio slideshow to accompany her feature article on Vancouver’s underground art venues.

The Thunderbird’s other nomination was in the category of best articles or series of articles. Jeremy Cothran and Blake Murphy teamed up to cover challenges of technology students trying to enter the professional field.  Jimmy Thomson and Garrett Hinchey wrote about one charity’s efforts to create employment opportunities in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. Matthew Parsons and Sebastian Salamanca profiled “noise musicians” who make ordinary items, like trash cans and computers, sing.

Nod for social media collaboration

This year’s debut social media course is one of the finalists for best use of social media.

The pioneering course partnered journalism students with colleagues from the UBC Sauder School of Business to developed strategic social media plans for major news outlets like the Vancouver Sun and CBC Music.

The nominated team developed a social media plan for Vancouver Magazine for its annual restaurant awards, under the direction of professors Alfred Hermida and Paul Cubbon.

The team included three journalism students—Suzanne Ahearne, Mike Wallberg and Sachi Wickramasinghe—and two business students, Lisa Andrews and Whitney Lindskog. UBC journalism graduate Jennifer Giesbrecht acted as assistant editor to the project.

UBC alumni among the competition

Now well into their careers, alumni of the UBC journalism program are also racking up nominations for their professional work.

Sunny Freeman, from the class of 2008, and Fabiola Carletti, from the class of 2011, were each awarded a COPA nomination this year as part of their respective news organizations.

Freeman, a national reporter for the Huffington Post and AOL Canada, joins her colleagues as nominees for best news coverage.

Carletti, a cross-platform associate producer, for CBC Radio’s Q, is part of the CBC News team nominated for best use of social media.

COPA winners will be announced at a November 13th awards party in Toronto. Launched in 2009, the Canadian Online Publishing Awards describe themselves as “the premier awards program for editorial-based digital publishers in Canada.” Entries are judged by a panel of digital publishing experts from Canada and the U.S. The UBC Graduate School of Journalism brought home a COPA in 2010, a gold and a silver in 2011, and another gold in 2012.