The Province takes major journalism prize with Operation Phoenix series
Series focused on Downtown Eastside
The Province was a big winner at the 24th annual Jack Webster Awards dinner on Monday night.
Operation Phoenix — a yearlong investigative series that shone a light on the problems of homelessness, addiction and mental illness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside — won the Webster for best feature story in print.
The 200-page spread, published between February 2009 and January 2010, was the largest project ever undertaken by the newspaper.
“This was a wonderful project,” said editor in chief Wayne Moriarty. “You don’t go into these things to win awards. We work every day to produce wonderful journalism.
“If along the way we are honoured by our peers, we have to accept that with heartfelt gratitude.
“The team that worked on this project was an amazing group of people,” he said.
Operation Phoenix’s sustained focus on problems in the Downtown Eastside spurred dialogue on such controversial issues as harm reduction, gentrification and the welfare system.
It asked government and society what they could do to make a difference.
It revealed inspiring stories of generosity and kindness, as well as evocative tales of tragedy and triumph of the neighbourhood’s resilient citizens.
In the series’ final instalment, The Province launched Phoenix’s legacy project, partnering with the Downtown Community Court, Vancouver Community College, Sprott-Shaw Community College and Outward Bound Canada to offer 14 offenders a chance to go back to school and get out of their destructive cycle of crime and drug addiction.
In May, Operation Phoenix won a National Newspaper Award in the Special Project category.
Operation Phoenix’s award-winning team included: deputy editor Ros Guggi; reporters David Carrigg, Cheryl Chan, Lora Grindlay and Elaine O’Connor; columnists Ethan Baron and Jon Ferry; photographer Arlen Redekop; graphic artist Ginger Sedlarova; editors John Fuller and Erik Rolfsen, and assistant to the editor Lesa Chu.
CKNW 980 and Global B.C. also collaborated with The Province on the project.
The Province also was a finalist in the best online reporting category for O’Connor’s B.C. Without Borders project, which told the stories of many British Columbians helping others in developing countries.
Province sportswriters Terry Bell and Jason Botchford were part of the Canwest News Service team nominated for best news reporting of the year in print for their coverage of the sudden death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run in Whistler before the Winter Olympics.
Celebrated sportswriter and broadcaster Jim Taylor was this year’s winner of the Bruce Hutchis on Lifetime Achievement Award.
The annual Jack Webster Awards honour excellence in B.C. journalism.