The Vancouver Courier had a golden glow Saturday night as it swept nearly every award category in which it was nominated at the annual Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards.
The Courier, nominated for seven awards for writing, photography and cartoons, took home five gold and two silver awards for its best showing ever at the annual event, which recognizes the best in community newspapers in B.C. and the Yukon. The Courier was one of the most honoured newspapers of the night at the Saturday ceremony, held at the River Rock Resort in Richmond.
The Courier's coverage of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot earned two gold awards. Reporter Mike Howell took home the gold for best feature series for three feature stories on the troubled June 15 night. In his speech, Howell noted the importance of the Courier's commitment to long-form journalism and praised the work of fellow Courier staffers in covering the riot. He also gave a nod to Courier photographer Dan Toulgoet, whose front page image of flames erupting high over the riot crowd won gold for best spots news photography. Toulgoet noted in his speech that working the night of the riot was the first time he had taken a punch in the face while on the job.
Reporter Naoibh O'Connor took home gold for environmental initiative for her story on an innovative program at Grandview elementary school. According to the terms of the award, the program will receive a $1,000 disbursement to help continue its work.
Frequent Courier contributor Bob Mackin won gold for best sports writing for his feature story on the contentious history of B.C. Place as it strove to finish its expensive refit and new roof. Mackin took time in his acceptance speech to remember former North Shore News reporter Michael Becker, who passed away earlier this year, for his inspiration early in Mackin's career. He also thanked Dean Broughton, his former editor at 24 Hours.
Longtime Courier columnist and cartoonist Geoff Olson won gold and his first Ma Murray for his cartoon about the canine welcome in heaven for the instigator of the slaughter of sled dogs after the 2010 Olympics. As a cartoonist whose targets frequently include politicians, Olson thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Christy Clark for providing him with fodder.
Rounding out the Courier's tally, Courier columnist Mark Hasiuk won silver for best columnist on the strength of columns about the cynical use of Chinatown by civic election candidates and last year's lengthy casino relocation hearings.
Courier editor Barry Link also won silver for best editorial for his November 2011 piece exhorting Vancouver voters to cast their ballot in the civic election.
The Courier's seven awards were the most of any newspaper in the awards. Other newspapers with strong showings included Monday Magazine of Victoria, The Yukon News and the North Shore News.