FOCUS congratulates two of its regular writers—Russ Francis and Stephen Hume—on winning 2022 Jack Webster Awards, announced on November 3, 2022.
RUSS FRANCIS won a Webster for Excellence in Environmental Reporting for the second year in a row, this time for his story “Electric Vehicles: Will they Really Drive Us to a Better Planet?”
In 2021, Francis won the award for his story “One in 7 deaths of Canadians are due to fossil fuel particles, which also help viruses invade our bodies”.
Francis has been a regular contributor to FOCUS for over five years. He previously held staff positions with Monday Magazine and several large dailies, including the Vancouver Sun. His freelance pieces have been published in various publications worldwide. At Monday Magazine, in 2000, he won a Webster award of distinction, with T.K. Demmings and Ross Crockford, for a Victoria city hall story, and won wide praise for helping end a highly questionable city deal with a California developer, through his Arena Deathwatch column. In 2008, he enrolled in UVic’s Master of Public Administration program, subsequently working as a BC government analyst for 10 years in various ministries. He returned to reporting in 2018, concentrating on energy policy and the climate emergency for Focus.
In learning of the award, Russ commented: “Congratulations to the other finalists, Nathan Griffiths at the Vancouver Sun and Province, and Jude Isabella at Hakai Magazine. Both excellent! And, of course, thanks to Leslie Campbell and David Broadland at Focus Magazine for their continuing advice and support.
Stephen Hume won the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award for his 5 decades of journalism with publications like the Edmonton Journal and Vancouver Sun.
As the Webster Award tribute notes, “Over a journalistic career spanning half a century (and still going strong), Stephen Hume has been an Arctic Correspondent, Editor-in-Chief, General Manager, published poet and author of seven books, a journalism instructor at Vancouver Island university and for 30-plus years a beloved columnist for The Vancouver Sun and now for Focus on Victoria magazine. Mr. Hume has a deep love for and knowledge about British Columbia—its natural beauty, abundant wildlife, complex history, rich resources, diverse people. He has travelled every region of our vast province, telling stories from small towns and big cities, about everyday folks and powerful leaders. Hume demonstrates mastery of long-form feature writing, weaving many threads of a story together into a multi-layered whole informed by deep historical knowledge and current context. His skill and insight has won him many fans of his columns over the years and numerous journalism awards including, but not limited to the Southam President’s Award for commentary, many national newspaper award citations, and a Webster Award in 2000.”
There’s a wonderful video interview with (and tribute to) Stephen, available about 13.5 minutes into the awards ceremony, which can be viewed here. A list of Stephen Hume’s many reports and essays in Focus is here.
Other winners included CBC Victoria for Excellence in Health Reporting for “A Crisis in Care: The Family Doctor Shortage in Greater Victoria”, and Victoria’s Andrew MacLeod of the Tyee for his story “FOI Reveals a Problem-Plagued BC $8.9-Million Tech Project”. See the complete list of award finalists, with links to all their articles here.
Named for influential reporter and commentator Jack Webster, who worked in print, radio and television, the awards are presented annually by the Webster Foundation whose mission is to foster and celebrate excellence in journalism to protect the public interest for British Columbians.
Leslie Campbell is the editor of FOCUS—and pleased and proud to work with Russ and Stephen and other excellent writers dedicated to investigating important regional issues.