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.
A strategist, technologist, journalist, editor and a leading thinker on digital transformation in media, David Skok worked as managing editor and vice-president of digital for the Boston Globe, where he led the digital transformation efforts of the organization. Previously, David was the co-creator and director of digital for Global News, where he launched and built Globalnews.ca. David was the 2012 Martin Wise Goodman Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, the first digital journalist in Canada selected for this honor. He is on the selection committee for the Canadian Journalism Foundation awards and has served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism.
Wendy Mesley began her career in 1979, first with CFCF in Montreal, before moving to CBC-TV as a legislative reporter, based in Quebec City. In 1985, she headed to Ottawa as the CBC's first female correspondent to cover the prime minister. In 1994, Mesley helped create and hosted Undercurrents, a program that examined the media/marketing world. A long-time host of CBC's flagship news program The National on Friday and Sunday evenings, Mesley has won three Gemini Awards for her work, and in 2017 won Best News Host or Interviewer at the Canadian Screen Awards. Mesley was honoured in 2006 with the John Drainie Award, for her contribution to Canadian broadcasting.
A two-time Gemini Award nominee, this 1986 grad has hosted numerous CBC News programs, including Saturday Report and weekend programs on CBC Newsworld. Suhana has also worked for CHCH-TV in Hamilton and CJOH in Ottawa, but most might remember her as host of What's New, the CBC's news and current affairs program for youth. Suhana is also heavily involved with the Starlight Children's Foundation, the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons and the Hospital for Sick Children. Her attention toward community building and inclusive, thoughtful journalism is inspiring: she is the recipient of a Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.
This Ryerson all-star graduated in 1968, and after outstanding work as a bureau reporter, city hall reporter, editorial writer, assignment editor, and city editor for The London Free Press, Don returned to the Ryerson as a professor in 1988. He was named Ryerson’s Professor of the Year in 1991 and received a second teaching award based on his students’ nomination in 1996; that same year, he was honoured by the Canadian Association of Journalists for his outstanding contribution to journalism. An enthusiastic educator, Don has been a visiting writing coach at the Globe and Mail for the past 25 years, and continues to teach young journalists how to perfect their craft.
Joy is an '82 grad who has previously served as CTV's Bureau Chief in the Atlantic, Winnipeg and London; her careful guidance helps Canadians unlock the international repercussions behind seemingly national events, from Nova Soctia's Westray Mine disaster to Princess Diana's death, the Boston bombings, and the Bush and Obama administrations. Currently, she occupies the same position in Washington. Malbon has an RTNDA award for continuing coverage for Hurricane Ike (with Jim Macdonald, Brad Fulton) in 2008, and just the kind of analytical skill that distinguishes a great reporter from a good one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.