More accolades for Rob Wipond

By Leslie Campbell, October 2012

Longtime Focus journalist is a finalist for 3 Jack Webster Awards.


Each year, the Jack Webster Foundation sends out notification by email to the three finalists in each of the 12 categories of Jack Webster Awards. When I saw the first one announcing Rob Wipond was a finalist in the Community Reporting category for two pieces he wrote on the RCMP’s and VicPD’s Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) programs, I wasn’t surprised. The stories, written earlier this year, garnered tremendous attention on our website from all over the planet. And after Rob, Christopher Parsons and Kevin McArthur took the research done for the story and presented it as a brief to Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, she launched an investigation into the way the program is operating here in Victoria. It was great that the Websters had noticed.

But 20 minutes after that first email came in, a second one appeared. Rob was also a finalist in the Science, Technology, Health and Environment category for his feature-length story on the overuse of antipsychotics in BC long-term care facilities. “Crisis Behind Closed Doors,” which we published in our June 2011 edition, had also been a finalist for both a National Magazine Award and a Western Magazine Award earlier this year. By then I had a very big smile on my face for Rob.

That second email sent me looking through the lists of all the finalists since 1987 when the Websters began. I noticed that the number of times an individual had been a finalist for two different Websters in any given year was a pretty rare event. And then “ping!” Another email. Another announcement that Rob was once again a finalist, this time in the Excellence in Legal Journalism category for his story, “Kathleen’s Demise: A Cautionary Tale” from our July/August 2011 edition. I have to say that this was one of the very best hours I’ve ever spent in the 24 years since I started Focus.

As far as I have been able to determine, Rob is the first person to be a finalist for three different categories of journalism in a single year at the Websters—a wonderful acknowledgment of his depth and skill as a writer. He’s an inspiration to all of us at Focus. 

He’s not the only Victoria journalist going to the Websters in November. He’ll be joined by the Times Colonist’s Cindy E. Harnett and Rob Shaw, who are finalists in the Best News Reporting (Print) category for their co-created story “VIHA’s Secret Job.”

Good luck to all three of you!

Leslie Campbell is the founding editor of Focus Magazine.