UBC Journalism students celebrate journalism awards

UBC Journalism students and faculty have been honoured with six awards at the annual Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPA), taking four gold and two silver awards for excellence in digital journalism.

Students won gold for best podcast, best photo journalism, best video and best feel good story. The two silver wins were for best photo journalism and best local community news/sports.

The COPA 2022 winners were announced on Feb. 9 at an in-person event held in Toronto that was also webcast. Described as the preeminent industry showcase of the Canadian publishing industry, now in its 14th year, this year’s finalists included 72 publishers across Canada.

“Journalism training should be reflective of what is expected of journalists in the industry,” said school director Kamal Al-Solaylee. Reflecting on the student awards, he added, “it suggests to us that the school is on the right track.”

The Thunderbird strikes again

Four of the awards were for UBC Journalism’s student publication, The Thunderbird. It showcases graduate students’ work from the Integrated Journalism course.

Photo: Marieta-Rita Osezua

This year, the student publication received two gold awards and two silver awards, making it the publication’s most successful year to date.

Sonal Gupta received a gold award for Best Video Content in the academic category for journalism schools for her video on students reflecting on learning journalism. The project was supervised by associate professor Kathryn Gretsinger.

“The project captured the journey of how other students’ and my journey evolved; what we thought journalism was coming into the program, and how that shifted. And that shift continues to happen,” Gupta said.

Josh Kozelj and Marieta-Rita Osezua also took home gold for Best Feel Good Story (Academic), supervised by Gretsinger and adjunct professor Frances Bula. The story highlighted the “pandemic book boom” and the rise of independent mobile bookstores over the pandemic.

Photo: Sara Williscraft

Elizabeth MacDonald and Sara Williscraft took silver in Best Photo Journalism (Academic) for reporting on post-flood recovery in Merritt, B.C.

In the media category for news organizations, Shaurya Kshatri’s story on drone-led reforestation was recognised with a silver for Best Local Community News/Sports.

Students garnered two additional nominations. Hafsa Maqsood was nominated for Best Multicultural Story (Academic) for her reporting on the far-reaching consequences of Afghan’s economic collapse on Afghan-Canadians.

In the media category, Felicia Chiapetta was nominated for Best Daily News/Sports Coverage for her coverage on the employment struggles of B.C.’s forestry.

Global impact

The remaining two gold COPAs recognised the work of students taking the school’s Global Reporting Program (GRP).

They were honoured for Best Photo Journalism (Academic) and Best Podcast (Academic) for work produced as part of the GRP’s Beyond School project. The students who participated in the project are Logan Turner, Ben Mussett, Maria Joe Athie Martinez, Kassidie Cornell, Candice Lipski, Braela Kwan, Asim Muhammad Ameen, Alison St. Pierre, and Hina Imam.

The GRP is a course at the school that brings together UBC students with students at partner institutions to collaborate on in-depth journalism projects.

The Beyond School project was conducted between December 2019 and February 2020. Students and faculty traveled to four countries – Norway, Nepal, Kenya, and Pakistan – to investigate novel approaches to teaching and learning.