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The Narwhal takes home Webster award for excellence in multimedia journalism

Our data-driven, on-the-ground feature detailing the immense work of Indigenous guardians along the Central Coast of B.C. was recognized at the province’s top journalism event

We are thrilled to share that reporter Jimmy Thomson’s feature detailing the ambitious, life-saving work of Indigenous guardians has won a 2022 Webster award for excellence in multimedia journalism. Thomson won the award Thursday evening at an event celebrating outstanding reporting across B.C.

Carol Linnitt, The Narwhal’s executive editor, said she’s grateful to see such an immense effort celebrated.

“The guardians feature was a new challenge for our team and while the endeavour always felt worthwhile and rewarding, having Jimmy’s piece recognized by our colleagues in this way makes the experience all the richer.”

The piece, more than two years in the making, began with a question: could we illustrate the scope of the work of guardians who are filling a monitoring and conservation gap? 

The answer was yes. Thomson touched base with three nations along B.C.’s Central Coast, and they all collected plenty of data out on patrol. 

“I asked the Heiltsuk, Wuikinuxv and Kitasoo/Xai’Xais if they would be willing to share that data, and, incredibly, they all did,” Thomson told me earlier this year. “I’m still blown away by that openness — try asking the Coast Guard or the Parks people for data sometime. I did, and, well, you didn’t see any in the story [from them], now did you?”

And so, with patrol data in hand, we got to work. Coupled with Thomson’s week-long reporting trip to Wuikinuxv territory, we told a story not just about the data, but about guardians who were reinforcing sovereignty and stewarding their traditional territories.

The finished feature has it all: layered and interactive maps, drone footage, video interviews, satellite imagery and good old-fashioned reporting and photography — a team effort to put together a piece that we hoped would do justice to the magnitude of the work these guardians are putting in, in such a vast and beautiful region.

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“It can be difficult to explain how a single piece of journalism can take years to pull off. From generating ideas to planning travel during a pandemic to gathering datasets to building out new technical capabilities on a website — it takes a very dedicated team to produce an immersive multimedia feature like this,” Linnitt said.

“The Narwhal is supported by thousands of members who value high-quality journalism and I hope they celebrate this award win, too.”

“Our team is also immensely grateful to Humber College’s StoryLab and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for supporting this resource-intensive project. Beautiful and meaningful journalism is costly to create but worth every penny.”

The Narwhal’s award-winning feature was nominated alongside Global News’ data-driven look at how the pandemic changed B.C., as well as The Globe and Mail’s story on a highway that was wiped out by last year’s atmospheric river.

The Webster Awards are an annual celebration of outstanding B.C. journalism organized by the Jack Webster Foundation, which was created in the name of the longtime reporter after his retirement in 1986. All the winners from this year’s awards can be found here.

We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?
We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

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