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Joe's Basketball Diaries Earns Double Accolades from IABC

Joe’s Basketball Diaries, a limited web series hosted by the Munk School’s Ralph and Roz Halbert Professor of Innovation, Joseph Wong, has won two communications awards from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). For their exceptional work in audio/visual communication, the team members behind the series were recognized with an Ovation Award of Excellence in Communication Skills for Audio/Visual at a ceremony on May 4. They have also been named recipients of the IABC’s Gold Quill Award of Excellence, which will be formally conferred at a ceremony on June 6.

Housed on U of T’s YouTube channel, the bi-weekly series focuses on the bigger stories behind our favourite sport: basketball. As host — and an avid Raptors fan — Wong brings a unique approach to storytelling, coupled with a willingness to tackle complex subjects with authenticity and depth.

“I've always been really impressed by how the culture of basketball has tried to push the needle on really important discussions around racism, sexism, misogyny and so forth,” says Wong.

Each half-hour episode includes guests from both the University and beyond, who share their perspectives on pressing topics like mental health, racism, globalization and women in sports. Guests of the show have included three-time Olympian Miranda Ayim, former Toronto Raptors basketball coach Nick Nurse and Canadian actor Simu Liu. Wong also speaks with people making an impact on the community level, like Fitriya Mohamed, co-founder of the Muslim Women’s Summer Basketball League; and Clement Chu, president and founder of the Chinese Canadian Youth Athletics Association. “The guests have brought such richness to the conversation,” says Wong. “It’s great to have voices on the frontlines being amplified.”

The show’s reception has resonated with the U of T community too. For the team behind the show, they are most proud of the response from alumni and the public who say just how proud they are that the University is tackling these difficult issues in an accessible way.

“This series is unique for the University in so many ways. It’s a long-form series and a tri-campus production. We strived to try new things throughout the first season,” says Lisa Lightbourn, who, along with U of T’s Anna Weigt-Bienzle, is a producer for the show.  “To be able to share this win with the entire team that is Joe’s Basketball Diaries is amazing. I’m so proud of the all the connections this series has made in- and outside of the University. At U of T, we are poised so well to have the conversations about big issues that we tackle on the show. Civil discourse and a safe place to discuss pressing issues matters now more than ever.”

With past winners such as Sun Life Financial, The Regional Municipality of York and Microsoft Canada, the IABC’s Ovation and Gold Quill Award honors the dedication, innovation and passion of communicators on a local and global scale. 

“These awards are an extraordinary recognition of the work the team put in, the creativity they invested and risks they took. This was kind of off-the-wall idea. And everything from having the Vice President International of the university be the host and then tackling hard topics, like anti-Asian racism and gender and sport. I'm so happy that their work is being recognized by their peers, locally and internationally.”

Watch all episodes of Joe's Basketball Diaries