UBC Journalism community shine at the 2020 Webster Awards

Alumni, students and faculty of the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media took home two journalism awards and one student journalism award at the 2020 Jack Webster Awards. 

Winners included adjunct professor Tamara Baluja, alumni Jodie Martinson, Wawmeesh Hamilton, Alex Migdal, Gian Paolo Mendoza, Lien Yeung, Maryse Zeidler, Michelle Ghoussoub, Eva Uguen-Csenge and second year student Paloma Pacheco.

Associate professor Candis Callison was named as the recipient of the 2020 Bill Good Award, recognizing the positive impacts of her journalism in B.C. communities. 

Alum Stefan Labbé received a professional development fellowship.

The Jack Webster Awards were established in 1986 in honour of B.C. reporter Jack Webster and honours journalists for their excellence and commitment towards journalism.

Range of winners

The winners of the 34th annual Jack Webster awards were announced in an online awards ceremony on Dec. 8, 2020. 

Candis Callison, associate professor at the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media and the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies was recognized with this year’s Bill Good Award for her contribution to the province’s journalism community. 

“It is an honour to receive this award,” Callison said. “When I think back to the late 1990s and the launch of Vancouver Television, there have been so many changes to the ways we think about and do journalism since then. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to play so many different roles over the last two and half decades – from the daily practice of journalism to thinking and writing about climate change, ethics, history, and new digital transformations as an academic and teaching a whole new era of young journalists.” 

“The things that remain the same are my commitments to asking who journalism serves, whose voices get heard, which stories matter and why,” she said.

The Bill Good Award honours an individual or organization that makes significant contributions to the province’s journalism community or to a community’s enrichment via journalism.

Second year student Paloma Pacheco won one of this year’s five student Jack Webster awards, given to students based on their journalism experience and an essay they write discussing the importance of journalism and their career goals. 

“I’m so honoured and grateful to have been chosen to receive this award. The Jack Webster Foundation does so much to support the journalism industry in our province and their support of journalism education and student journalists is such an important part of that,” said Pacheco, after receiving the award.

“This award feels like affirmation of the work I am doing and gives me renewed hope for my future in the profession,” she said. 

Each of the student winners will receive $2,000 towards school tuition.

Alumni Stefan Labbé who graduated in 2017 received one of the three Jack Webster Foundation Professional Development Fellowships.

Labbé who is a digital reporter at Tri-City News will attend the Poynter Institute to take the course Summit for Reporters and Editors. Labbé’s fellowship is in the name of the late B.C. reporter, Don Matheson, whose estate endowed professional development awards for B.C. born journalists.

Ten nominations for the UBC Journalism community

This year, faculty, students and alumni received ten nominations across seven categories, namely, Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Reporting; Community Reporting; City Mike Award (Commentator of the Year); Business, Industry, Labour & Economics Award; Digital Journalism; Feature/Enterprise Reporting – Print/Online and Feature/Enterprise Reporting – Radio/Podcast/Audio. 

Alumni Jodie Martinson won the Webster for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Reporting for her story When is Enough Enough? A CBC Town Hall from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for CBC Vancouver. Martinson worked alongside a team that hosted a 90-minute live Townhall in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood where crime, open drug use, and homelessness are at the worst points they’ve ever been.

Alumni Wawmeesh Hamilton was part of a team that won Best Feature/Enterprise Reporting – Radio/Podcast for their story Not Alone. The story followed a Haisla man working on a model to help people in his community who are struggling with addiction get into treatment for CBC Radio, The Current. Hamilton was also nominated for the City Mike Award (Commentator of the Year) for his work at CBC Vancouver, Urban Nation where he covers urban Indigenous people in Metro Vancouver and in towns across B.C.

Asper Visiting professor Angela Sterritt was nominated in the same category for her story Racism at BMO for CBC Vancouver. Also nominated in the Best Feature/Enterprise Reporting – Radio/Podcast category was adjunct professor Francesca Fionda. Fionda was part of a team that produced The data on us for Attention Control/CTV that explored how Canadian political parties used data to manipulate votes.

The Jack Webster Award for Excellence in Digital Journalism was taken home by CBC British Columbia’s web team for their series on tracking COVID-19 in B.C which included adjunct professor Tamara Baluja and alumni Alex Migdal, Gian Paolo Mendoza, Lien Yeung, Maryse Zeidler, Michelle Ghoussoub and Eva Uguen-Csenge. 

Nominated in the same category was second year student Mashal Butt for COVID-19 Multimedia Explainers for The Tyee. Butt was part of a team which included adjunct professor David Beers and alumni Robyn Smith and Chris Cheung. The series, made in collaboration with Avo Media was an attempt to help B.C. residents make sense of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alumna Katie Hyslop was nominated in the Best Feature/Enterprise Reporting – Online/Print category for her story Undone: A Newcomer’s Story—the tragic story of Farid, a gay refugee who took his life in 2017—for The Tyee.

Alumni Jimmy Thompson was a finalist in the Excellence in Business, Industry, Labour & Economics Reporting category for his story ‘You’re out there alone’: whistleblowers say workplace abuse hides true impacts of B.C.’s trawl fishery for The Narwhal. Thompson’s investigation revealed a culture of intimidation and harassment that has resulted in the vast and systematic under-reporting of deep-sea fish harvested from B.C.’s coastal waters.

Alumni Lindsay Sample was nominated in the Jack Webster Award for Community Reporting category sharing Indigenous news and perspectives in the Okanagan for IndigiNews Okanagan.

UBC Journalism director and professor, Alfred Hermida, served as a member of the jury for the awards.