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International Reporting Program takes home three COPAs

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Two classes of UBC Graduate School of Journalism students, studying international reporting, won the country’s highest award in online journalism, the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAs), for multimedia documentaries.

The students, all fellows of the school’s International Reporting Program (IRP), travelled around the world reporting on under-covered global issues, and returned with powerful stories that have received international attention.

CUT, a year-long reporting project about the environmental and social costs of illegal logging, won the gold award for the best video or multimedia feature in the green category, beating out major news organizations like the Toronto Star, La Presse and the Canadian Press. CUT’s website, which features an apartment filled with typical household objects made of wood, tells the story of where that wood came from, and takes the visitor to places as diverse as Cameroon, Indonesia and the Russian Far East. An excerpt of the documentary project was featured in The New York Times The site was produced by IRP students in collaboration with students at the Centre for Digital Media and at the International University in Moscow.

The Pain Project, a series of stories on patients suffering without proper access to morphine, won the gold award for the best video or multimedia feature in the blue category, as well as the silver award in the best overall online-only publication website category.

The Pain Project’s website contains the documentary, extra videos, an interactive map that shows how access to morphine is distributed throughout the world, supplemental sidebars and a timeline of pain treatment. The project has been featured in CBS’s Sunday Morning, Al Jazeera’s People & Power and Global News’s 16×9. The documentary was narrated by Canadian actor and director William B. Davis.

“When we established the International Reporting Program six years ago, our first and foremost goal was to help students learn the challenging craft of global reporting in the field,” said Prof. Peter Klein, founder of the IRP and director of the School of Journalism. “I’m so proud of the students, not just for doing really solid journalism, but also for finding creative ways of presenting their stories.”

The three awards represent a record for the School of Journalism. The j-school won one award in 2012 and two in 2011.

Launched in 2009, the Canadian Online Publishing Awards recognize Canada’s best editorial and design work in digital publications including websites, tablet editions, digital replicas and apps.

All the winners were announced at a November 13 awards party in Toronto.