The Globe and Mail took home three top honours – led by a pair of wins for columnist Gary Mason – at British Columbia's premier journalism awards Wednesday.
It was The Globe's strongest showing since launching a separate B.C. edition a decade ago.
"Vancouver is The Globe's largest bureau and the work done by our short-listed and winning entries is proof positive of our commitment to this vibrant and growing market," said editor-in-chief David Walmsley. "We will continue to tell the incredible story of British Columbia with passion and intelligence."
Mr. Mason received the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jack Webster Awards banquet in Vancouver and also won the prize for best feature (print) category while The Globe's Justine Hunter won the excellence in digital journalism prize.
Presented by the Jack Webster Foundation, named after a long-time radio and television broadcaster, the awards recognize the work of B.C.-based journalists in print, radio, television and online.
Mr. Mason began his journalism career in 1981 as a summer intern for The Canadian Press, and later worked in various roles for the Victoria Times-Colonist and The Vancouver Sun, where he worked for 19 years. He has been a national-affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail since 2005. Mr. Mason has won two National Newspaper Awards and six Jack Webster Awards, including Commentator of the Year in 2010.
He also won the prize this year for best feature (print) for a ground-breaking series of columns about the decline of the B.C. Cancer Agency, one of the province's most cherished institutions. The quick resignations of two consecutive presidents led him to discover deep-seated problems that had been festering for more than a decade. The columns broke major news and made headlines around the medical world, setting off heated exchanges in the provincial legislature.
Ms. Hunter won the excellence in digital journalism prize for a feature about a project that has seen aboriginal people partner with Google to map out their heritage using Google Earth. The story, which was accompanied by photos, a map and video, reveal how First Nations members and anthropologists with the University of Victoria hope the technology would allow them to connect with aboriginal youth and non-aboriginals, as well as bolster outstanding land claims.
Globe journalists were also finalists in the category of best news reporting of the year (print) for their coverage of a spill that saw thousands of litres of heavy fuel oil leak into Vancouver's Burrard Inlet from the MV Marathassa, soiling birds, threatening sea life and staining the city's prized beaches. Almost immediately, the incident also raised serious questions about the federal government's ability to clean up marine spills in a province that is debating the future of oil pipelines and increased tanker traffic.
The Globe's work on the file included an inside look at how the cleanup unfolded, coverage of the uncomfortable finger-pointing between the city, the province and Ottawa, the debate about what exactly constitutes a "world-class" spill response, a story that cast doubt on the Coast Guard's public defence of its own response, and previous concerns among U.S. officials about Canada's ability to clean up a spill. The team up for the award included Ms. Hunter, Sunny Dhillon, Mr. Mason, Mike Hager and Stanley Tromp.