UBC J-school partners with The Globe and Mail

A team of 10 UBC journalism students investigating the global effects of shrimp farming has partnered with The Globe and Mail to produce a web video project for the paper’s food series, which launched Nov. 20.

The students, as part of the International Reporting program led by associate professor Peter Klein, addressed a key component of the Globe series, investigating the impact of industrial shrimp production on the environment and the consumer.

This is the second project of UBC¹s International Reporting program. The first documentary, “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground,” was produced in partnership with PBC Frontline/World, and it won an Emmy Award in September for magazine investigative reporting.

“We’ve very excited to be partnering with such a respected Canadian news organization this year,” said Klein, a former 60 Minutes producer. “It’s a testament to the reporting and storytelling abilities of our students that our students were entrusted to participate in this high-profile series.”

The student team included: Alexis Stoymenoff, Brandi Cowen, Darren Fleet, Faiza Khan, Karen Moxley, Kate Allen, Kerry Blackadar, Magally Zelaya, Rebecca TeBrake, Sarah Berman. Sarah Stenabaugh and Erin Empey assisted in production of the series in Canada. Adjunct professor Trisha Sorrels Doyle and instructor Dan McKinney helped to lead production of the piece.

Klein said the students did some creative and courageous reporting in Thailand, including interviews with exploited Burmese migrants who work in the shrimp industry. They also documented the underwater effects of shrimp runoff on the country’s precious reefs and reported on how the clearcutting of coastal forests by shrimp farmers contributed to the effects of the 2004 tsunami. “This is classic investigative journalism, the kind of reporting that rarely gets done anymore on international topics,” said Klein. “And the students made the story relevant back home in Canada by discovering that tainted shrimp from Thailand is getting into our country because of lax inspections.”

The School also produced a micro-site to showcase student work on the project, supervised by Alfred Hermida, assistant professor in charge of the School¹s digital media stream. The site, http://www.internationalreporting.org/shrimp/, incorporates videos, a timeline and map highlighting the impact of shrimp farming in Thailand.

This is part of a new partnership between the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and The Globe and Mail. Although this is a first in Canada, collaborations like this are part of growing trend with major media outlets and universities in North America. The New York Times has worked closely with Columbia University students, and The Bay Citizen has partnered with UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

“These partnerships are a great opportunity for students to have global research experiences,” said UBC J-school director and associate professor Mary Lynn Young. The International Reporting class was the result of a gift from Alison Lawton’s Mindset Foundation to UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Her gift launched Canada’s first course to send journalism students abroad to cover important and under-reported issues.