UBC journalism class wins top North American award

Ten students from the UBC Graduate School of Journalism’s International Reporting class, led by former 60 Minutes producer and UBC Associate Professor Peter Klein, have won a top U.S. journalism award.

Their news documentary on electronic waste, which aired on the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE/World last year, has won the Society for Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award.

The documentary, Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground, has also been nominated for another US prize, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in the International Category.

This is the first time that Canadian students have been recognized for two such prestigious awards for journalism excellence.

“It is a tremendous honour for a new, innovative Canadian journalism program to be recognized for graduating some of the top young journalists in North America,” said Graduate School of Journalism Director and Associate Professor Mary Lynn Young.

Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground garnered the most visits to the FRONTLINE/World website of any other video project in 2009. During the course of the project, students traced the path of electronic waste from Canada to various areas of the world, and in the process discovered discarded hard drives that contained US National Defense contracts.

“People work their entire careers to get either of these awards,” said Klein, “so it’s pretty special that our students achieved this recognition for the great work they’ve done.”

The Livingston award has previously recognized future journalism greats such as New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and New Yorker editor David Remnick in the early stages of their careers.

The Ghana documentary project was part of a course funded by a $1 million gift from Mindset Social Innovation Foundation. The foundation provides opportunities for graduate students to study international reporting techniques in the field and to produce professional journalism on under-covered global issues.

The 10 students receiving the award are:

  • Heba Abou Elasaad – Kuwait City, Kuwait
  • Shira Bick – Vancouver, B.C.
  • Ian Bickis – Ottawa, Ontario
  • Krysia Collyer – Greely, Ontario
  • Allison Cross – Nanaimo, B.C.
  • Daniel Haves – London, Ontario
  • Doerthe Keilholz – Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Jodie Martinson – Calgary, Alberta
  • Blake Sifton – St. Thomas, Ontario
  • Leslie Young – Kanata, Ontario

Watch clips from “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground” here: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804

Learn more about UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism at journalism.ubc.ca and the documentary project at http://ow.ly/1Glqh.