UBC Journalism faculty and alumni took home four awards at the 30th annual Jack Webster Awards.
Associate professor Peter Klein and alumni Alberto Mendoza-Galina, Keith Rozendal, Clea Machold and Katelyn Verstraten won the Science, Technology, Health and Environment award for Million Dollar Meds, a multimedia documentary series looking at the cost of drugs for rare diseases.
“Winning this award with my incredibly talented professors and fellow former students was the thrill of my professional life so far and an incredible honour,” said Verstraten.
“I just kept on thinking of the families we worked with – families who still inspire me with their bravery and courage in the face of medical challenges. This award is really for them.”
The project was led by Klein in collaboration with journalist Gary Marcuse and Professor Larry Lynd of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department. It was created by school faculty and alumnni as part of a five-year initiative by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research’s New Emerging Team for Rare Diseases.
“The fact that a student project could beat out dozens of professional journalism projects in such a competitive category is a testament to the level of journalism education at our school,” said Klein.
“The students who worked on this project studied this complex topic deeply, in partnership with leading scholars, and produced a work of exceptional journalism on a challenging topic.”
Awards for alumna and adjuncts
The Jack Webster Awards were established in 1986 to recognize excellence in reporting by British Columbia-based journalists, in honour of B.C. reporter Jack Webster.
The winners of the 30th annual Jack Webster Awards were announced at a dinner on October 20, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.
Fellow UBC School of Journalism alumna Catherine Rolfsen won Best Feature Story for Radio for her work on CBC Vancouver’s Finding Refuge series for The Early Edition.
Adjunct professor Duncan McCue received the award for Best Feature Story on TV for his reporting on The Hooker Monologues for CBC. McCue teaches the Reporting in Indigenous Communities course at the UBC School of Journalism. During his acceptance speech, he acknowledged that the Webster Awards took place on traditional and ancestral Indigenous land.
Recently appointed adjunct professor J.B. MacKinnon won the Best Feature Story in the print category for the Hakai Magazine piece, The Whale Dying on the Mountain. MacKinnon currently co-teaches the Feature Writing course, where students have been able to learn from his experience in writing the piece as well as work on their own feature stories with his editorial guidance.
UBC faculty and alumni saw a total of eight nominations across six categories, with all three nominations in the Science, Technology, Health and Environment category.
First-year student Sophie Gray was also awarded the student journalism award by the Jack Webster Foundation. Gray was chosen as one of five students to receive this year’s award. It recognizes students in British Columbia who have demonstrated their passion and dedication to the profession of journalism. The award comes with $2,000, which goes towards tuition at each winner’s school.
“The success of our graduates and faculty reflects the dedication of all of us at the school to foster and encourage the next generation of journalists,” said UBC School of Journalism director, Alfred Hermida, who was a judge in the Excellence in Digital Journalism category.
The ceremony celebrated Shelley Fralic’s 41-year career at The Vancouver Sun with the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award. The Globe and Mail, CBC and CTV Vancouver were among the other award recipients.