Headliners: Alumni who have truly made a mark

The Ryerson Journalism Alumni Association honours exemplary media professionals who have completed at least one year of the school’s journalism program.



Paul Workman

Since January of 2009, Paul Workman has been at the helm of CTV National News’ U.S. coverage from Washington. With more than 30 years in  journalism, this former student of the 1973 cohort helped Canadians understand a variety of notable news events, including: the revolution in Eastern Europe, the death of Princess Diana, the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the fall of Pakistan’s former president Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Brian Stewart

This 1964 grad is known for his show, CBC News: Our World, his many acclaimed international documentaries, and his standout reports for CBC’s The National from 1974 to 2010. A Gemini winner for Canada’s Best Overall Broadcast Journalist, Stewart is noted for his ability to bring compassion and humanity to foreign coverage. Now retired from daily journalism, he is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

Christie Blatchford

This 1973 alumnus is best known for her column at The National Post. Known for her strong opinions and indefatigable pen, Blatchford has written for all four Toronto-based newspapers. With a National Newspaper Award for column writing and a Governor-General’s Literary Award in 2008 for her book Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army, Christie Blatchford is a consummate example of speaking up for what you believe in.


Rosie DiManno

Toronto Star columnist DiManno left Ryerson to work at the newspaper in 1975. She was fired two years later, but came back in 1983 after working as a freelance magazine journalist. Before she launched her must-read A2 Star news column in 1993, she had held several roles at the paper, including foreign correspondent, entertainment reporter, sports reporter and feature writer. DiManno, is also author of Coach: The Pat Burns Story and Glory Jays, Canada’s World Champions.

Marissa Nelson

A 2001 graduate, Nelson has focused her career on helping legacy media companies adapt themselves to the digital age. She’s gone from operating an innovative digital training program at the Hamilton Spectator to running the Toronto Star’s digital properties. Marissa is currently the Senior Director of Digital Media for CBC News and Centres, Canada’s leading digital news source. She leads the strategic planning, development and delivery of all of the digital content and products for CBC News.

Graeme Smith

A 2009 graduate, Smith is currently a political officer at the United Nations and a former senior analyst at the International Crisis Group in Afghanistan. He previously served as a foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mail, with postings in Moscow, Kandahar, Delhi and Istanbul. He won an Emmy in 2009, for a video series that recorded the opinions of Taliban fighters. His bestselling book The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan won the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust prize for non- fiction.


Shelley Ambrose

From the graduating class of 1987, Shelley Ambrose is currently the executive director of the Walrus Foundation and co-publisher of the Walrus Magazine. She has also worked as a reporter for The Globe and Mail and Windsor Star. She also produced CBC’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski for more than a decade. She is a founder of the Lakefield Literary Festival and is the recipient of the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.

Ernest Tucker

Ernest Tucker, a 1954 graduate, has reported and edited a number of papers both in his native Bermuda and in Canada during his career. In October 1961, Tucker worked as an editor in the CBC’s Toronto newsroom and edited The West Indian Reporter, Toronto’s first black newspaper. After receiving his master’s degree, Tucker taught broadcast journalism at John Abbott College. During the 36 years he taught at the college, Tucker wrote two novels.

Zarqa Nawaz

A 1992 graduate, Nawaz created the television series Little Mosque on the Prairie, CBC’s highest-rated sitcom. She also wrote and directed the award-winning documentary Me and the Mosque. She’s written comedy pilots and short films as well, including Mecca, Indiana for ABC, BBQ MUSLIMS, and Random Check. Nawaz, who also has a B.Sc from the University of Toronto, has four children and a husband stashed away in Regina, Sask. Photo by Mark Taylor.

Randy Starkman

Randy Starkman started at the RSJ in 1979, but left during his second year when he was hired full-time at United Press Canada. The reporter, who once filed for The Eyeopener, had a rich career which included receiving two national newspaper awards, covering 12 Olympic Games and exposing Ben Johnson’s second positive steroid test. Starkman died suddenly of pneumonia in 2012.

Robyn Doolittle

A 2006 graduate, Doolittle is now a reporter at the Globe and Mail. Before that, she spent several years at the Toronto Star. Her reporting included stories about the frequent domestic calls at former Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s home, Ford’s declining workload and his struggle with substance abuse. She is one of two Canadian reporters who have seen a video of Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine. Photo by Tim Finlan.

Maggie Siggins

A 1965 graduate, Siggins is a journalist, author and filmmaker. She has worked as a reporter both in newspapers and television, and she has written for many magazines. She is the author of fourteen award-winning books. Siggins has also written and produced more than thirty documentaries for her company, Four Square Entertainment. Siggins is the recipient of a Southam Fellowship, the Max Bell Chair in Journalism, and the Beijing Broadcast Institute Chair for graduate journalism students.

Don Obe

From the class of 1959, a former chair and professor emeritus of magazine journalism at the Ryerson School of Journalism, Obe’s career has included time as editor-in- chief at The Canadian and Toronto Life magazines. He is the recipient of a gold medal in National Magazine Awards for ethical writing and in 1993 was awarded the industry’s highest honour, the National Magazine Award for Outstanding Achievement. Photo by John Reeves.

Kenny Yum

A 1998 graduate, Yum has spent his career in digital journalism and has worked for national news sites as an editor, manager and strategist. Kenny helped launch The Globe and Mail’s website in 2000, eventually serving as editor of globeandmail.com. He helped spearhead the relaunch of The Financial Post and The National Post’s digital properties in 2007 and currently serves as Managing Editor at AOL Canada where he oversees HuffPost Canada, AOL.ca and AOL’s other editorial properties.

Kevin Tibbles

A 1979 graduate, Tibbles is an NBC correspondent in Chicago. His experience includes reporting from war zones and covering international news. He’s received multiple awards for his work, including four Emmys. Before NBC, Tibbles was a national correspondent for CBC, covering several notable assignments including Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the first Gulf War. With the CBC, Tibbles was based in Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal. Photo by Virginia Sherwood.

Jim Sheppard

A 1971 graduate, Sheppard has been a reporter, editor, correspondent, supervisor and newsroom manager in locations ranging from Saskatoon to Moscow. He was one of the first senior journalists anywhere to recognize the possibilities of the Internet and he oversaw development of washingtonpost.com, ABCNews.com and globeandmail.com. That was after reporting about wars, famine, the fall of the Berlin Wall and apartheid in South Africa.

Gagandeep Ghuman

A 2009 graduate, Ghuman moved from India to study journalism at Ryerson. In 2010, he started The Squamish Reporter as a local news blog. His reporting brought threats from the municipal government to reveal sources, along with accolades from the community. The blog grew into a public service journalism magazine. He’s been shortlisted for the Canadian Association of Journalist’s investigative journalism award two years in a row.

Michelle Shephard

A 1996 graduate and now Toronto Star’s National Security correspondent, Shephard is a three-time National Newspaper Awards winner. She’s part of the Star’s 2002 winning team for the Gov. Gen.’s Michener Award for Public Service Journalism. Shephard was associate producer on the Oscar-nominated Under Fire: Journalists in Combat. She’s written two books about her reporting.

© Carys Mills