The Globe and Mail has won two Jack Webster Awards – one for an investigation into the failure of police oversight bodies to hold officers accountable and another for coverage of arts institutions challenged by cultural controversies.
The awards, handed out by the Jack Webster Foundation at an event Tuesday evening in Vancouver, honour British Columbia journalists. The Globe was a finalist in five categories.
Reporter Nancy Macdonald won in the investigative journalism category for a data-driven look at how police officers’ refusal to co-operate with investigations into their conduct stifles the work of oversight agencies. Mike Hager was also part of the winning entry for a subsequent follow-up story about the death of a B.C. man at the hands of police.
Marsha Lederman won in the new category of arts coverage for a collection of pieces that included a story about the debate over the future of the Royal BC Museum and a column about the risk of U.S.-style book bans coming to Canada.
“These awards and nominations showcase our commitment to British Columbia and journalism that matters,” said Globe and Mail editor-in-chief David Walmsley.
The Narwhal won three awards and Global BC won two, while the Vancouver Sun, the Tyee, the Hakai Institute, Hakai Magazine, RedFM, IndigiNews and the Vancouver Tech Journal each won one.
Frequent Globe and Mail contributor Frances Bula, whose work focuses on urban issues and city politics, was honoured with the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award. The Global Reporting Centre received the Bill Good Award and Sophie Lui of Global BC won the Shelley Fralic Award.
For The Globe’s investigation into police accountability, Ms. Macdonald reviewed thousands of cases in which oversight agencies were called in after people were killed or seriously injured by the police.
She found that police officers seldom participate in those investigations, either by sitting down for interviews or providing their notes, and in B.C. that type of co-operation is almost non-existent. The result is a system in which officers rarely face criminal charges, and in some cases the public never learns what actually happened because the only people who know those details keep quiet.
Mr. Hager wrote a follow-up story after he obtained an RCMP investigators’ report into the death of Myles Gray, who died after a confrontation with Vancouver police. The investigator found that the officers’ union had directed them not to take notes about the incident and also found union representatives had edited one statement.
Ms. Lederman, who spent years as The Globe’s Western arts reporter before moving full-time into column writing, wrote a series of pieces that explored how arts and cultural institutions have increasingly found themselves at the centre of controversy.
Those included a reported essay about the potential for Canada to see American-style book bans and how to fight a chilling increase in censorship. She wrote about the B.C. government’s decision, later reversed, to build a new Royal BC Museum and close the existing site for years during construction.
She wrote from a B.C. literary festival about the reaction to the attack on Salman Rushdie at an event in New York, and defended Vancouver’s arts and culture sector after criticism from a prominent podcaster.
The Globe’s other nominations included Andrea Woo’s investigation into the decline of cancer care in B.C., which was a finalist in the health category; a digital feature from Ms. Macdonald and freelance journalist Melissa Renwick about Canadian surfer Erin Brooks, which was a finalist in the multimedia category; and Mr. Hager was a finalist in the legal journalism category for his work profiling prolific offender Mohammed Majidpour and the problems the case revealed in Canada’s bail system.