An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die.


TODAY: Feature writer and editor Jason McBride

Jason McBride currently works as a freelance writer and editor in Toronto. He is a former editor at Toronto Life magazine and Coach House books, and his work has appeared in the National Post,, and The Globe and Mail. He recently became a senior editor of Toronto Standard, a new online news site that focuses on city life, urban affairs, culture and design.

Janet Malcom: The Journalist and The Murderer  (1990)

Required reading, of course, for every journalist, but also for every wary subject who's sat before a digital recorder. If you've read it once, read it again; its lessons bear constant repetition. While The New Yorker has obviously produced, nurtured and harboured some of the greatest magazine reporters of the last century--my personal pantheon includes Mitchell, Liebling, McPhee, Orlean, Friend--Malcolm might still be my favourite.

Spy magazine, Nest magazine

Spy--without which, there would be no Vanity Fair (as we now know it), New York (as we now know it), The Awl (as we now know it) or Toronto Life (as we now know it). Thankfully, for those of you who, like me, missed it the first time around, Google has digitized every issue of the magazine and made them available for free. Nest is the even-more missed shelter magazine whose remarkable, eccentric design (one issue cut into a trapezoid, another entirely plaid-themed) was matched only by the singular contributors (John Waters, Eileen Myles, Amy Sedaris et al.) literary editor Matthew Stadler summoned each month. You'll have to take out a second mortgage now to buy a complete set on eBay.

Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide : edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call

I never studied journalism. What little I know about the profession I've learned through trial-and-error, the patient guidance of certain editors, and books like this one. It overflows with unbelievably useful advice: how to conduct interviews, organizing your notes, making a living as a freelancer, etc. Those offering the advice are the titans of the field: among others, Tracy Kidder, Gay Talese, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc--whose section is helpfully titled "(Narrative) J School for People Who Never Went."

Posted on April 29, 2011


We finally made it! Come out to celebrate the release of our Summer 2011 issue. There will be drinking, dancing, mingling, laughing, crying and all sorts of other emotional stuff.

Also, we'll have plenty of copies of the magazine on hand and you'll have a chance to meet the whole masthead, who spent the last eight months slaving away. Don't miss out!

 RSVP on Facebook here.

Posted on April 27, 2011

Kathy Vey is editor-in-chief of OpenFile, Canada’s first collaborative local news site. Vey grew up in Toronto’s east end and has worked for The Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Sun and Canadian Gardening magazine. She also spent many years at the Toronto Star, holding positions like deputy city editor, restaurant critic and assistant national editor. She credits a fellowship she had at the Knight Digital Media Centre in summer 2009 in Berkely, CA, with helping her decide to make the jump online.


Gene Weingarten: "Fatal Distraction"  (The Washington Post, 2009)
"This piece is not easy to read at all. It was published two years ago by a staff writer at The Washington Post and won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The thing is, I know this writer primarily as a humour columnist. He still does a lot of offbeat pieces, but in this one he tackled the issue of people who accidentally forget their children in the backseats of their cars. Whenever this sort of thing happens everyone stops and asks, 'How could you do that to your child?' This is a truly gut-wrenching story, and I don’t recommend it to anyone who’s having a bad day.

The research on this piece is really quite remarkable, though. And he doesn’t demonise these people. 'Fatal Distraction' is really an unflinching look at the horror of what these people have done as parents, as humans and how they come to terms with it…or don’t. Your child is gone; your child has died in one of the most awful ways, and you’re the cause of it. It’s not the sort of thing we as a society tend to examine. I think we’d rather not think about it, but this is a really admirable piece and it deserved the Pulitzer. I think journalists should read it to see what you can accomplish by examining stuff that, at first glance, you would probably resist examining."

Markus Schwabe: Beaver Attack (CBC Radio, Dec. 5, 1997)

"This CBC piece is the story of a trucker in Northern B.C. who had a fateful encounter with a beaver one rainy night. Essentially all the interviewer had to do was ask the opening question. Then this guy, Penn Powell, just runs with the story. It’s the sort of thing you pray for—one great quote after another, and it’s delivered in this robust Canadian accent.

He’s got a couple of great lines in there about the beaver going for his 'honeymoon jewels.' There’s another spot where the trucker is doing hand-to-hand combat with this attacking beaver and the trucker says he reached down and the beaver’s 'got no ears on him.' Every time I hear that I just lose it because it’s colourful, it’s tailor-made for radio. It’s a classic."

Paul Pritchard: Robert Dziekanski tasering footage (2007)

"Photographers used to have this saying, “F/8 and be there” (F/8 refers to the camera’s aperture). It means sometimes news just happens and you just have to be there to witness it. So no matter how much digging you do, no matter how much running around or how great your sources are, sometimes it just doesn’t matter. This piece, which you can find on YouTube, is an example of that.

Paul Pritchard wasn’t a journalist, but he managed to catch all of the RCMP encounter on his camera. He was just shooting video not knowing what was going to happen. News just happened and he happened to be there; but because was there, and because he was a witness, it changed the way tasers are used in Canada. In fact it ended up changing his life. He was awarded the first citizen journalism award by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. The last thing I heard was that he’s attending journalism school in Nova Scotia. He wasn’t a trained journalist, but it’s still an important piece of journalism."

Like this? Read more Must-Lists. 
Sportscaster James Duthie 
Journalist Linden MacIntyre
Online Editor Marissa Nelson  

Posted on April 26, 2011

Facebook launched a new Journalists on Facebook page on Tuesday, intended to help reporters find sources and advance their stories. According to Justin Osofsky, director of media partnerships, “the Page will provide journalists with best practices for integrating the latest Facebook products with their work and connecting with the Facebook audience of more than 500 million people.”

This is nothing shockingly new, of course. Back in 2007 the Poynter Institute created the group “Journalists and Facebook” as an experiment (which has since devolved into spam). Both Facebook and Twitter have pages devoted to the media in general.

The company also announced a global series of workshops, starting on April 27th at their headquarters in California. In the meantime, the Journalists on Facebook page currently offers a few simple tips to getting started with the social network. For something a little more in-depth, check out Mashable’s guide for journalists, as well as this guide to Facebook security.

Posted on April 08, 2011

"Why literary magazines should fold."

That was the title of a blog posted by poet and essayist Michael Lista on the National Post last week, discussing the Canadian Periodical Fund (a consolidation of the Canadian Magazine Fund and the Publishing Assistance Program subsidies, which were replaced for the first time in 2010). Recently, one literary magazine did just that. Crow Toes Quarterly,  the B.C.-based children’s arts and literature e-zine (with limited edition print issues) has closed after 4 years and 16 issues. The magazine is self-described as “playfully-dark” and it’s sure to make note on its homepage that you will not find any “fluffy bunnies” or “puppies” in the publication. The issues are filled with playful illustrations, given a twisted touch, and even somewhat morbid cover illustrations, such as an issue that features a young woman falling from a rooftop. At least the recommended audience was ages nine and up.

In early 2009 the government announced the Canadian Periodical Find (CPF). It’s intended to provide financial assistance to Canadian print magazines, non-daily newspapers and digital periodicals, enabling them to overcome market disadvantages and continue to provide Canadian readers with the content they choose to read. It is said to “relocate funding to small and mid-sized titles to support a diversity of Canadian magazines and newspapers throughout the country.” But when the application guidelines for the CPF were released in early 2010, Canadian book-trade magazine Quill & Quire commented on the fact that small literary magazines were getting left behind.

According to Lista in his recent piece on the subsidy, its creation will lead to more literary magazines going broke. Only magazines with a yearly circulation of 5,000 copies or more are eligible for funding under this subsidy, and many literary mags don’t meet that benchmark. He notes that some titles have already begun raising prices or reducing page counts to balance the budget. That’s not to say that the demise of Crow Toes Quarterly is a result of this subsidy—or lack thereof, when it comes to literary magazines. But the future of magazines like it may not be much brighter.

Christopher Millin, the magazine’s creator and publisher, left some final words on its website. He wrote that despite the financial problems they faced, which is also attributed as the reason for the publication’s closure, Millin believes Crow Toes has succeeded in showcasing some of the greatest writers and artists in the world, “even if you’ve never seen their books on the shelves at Chapters or Barnes & Noble.” And while Crow Toes Quarterly is no longer publishing, they’re still offering back-issues for sale: e-zine editions selling for $5 an issue, and the print editions selling for $8.


Posted on April 06, 2011

Here at the RRJ, we're taking a time off our busy production to update you on the latest in radio news.

In recognition of his exceptional journalistic career, the late CityNews anchor and voice of Citytv, Mark Dailey, will be honoured with the 2011 RTNDA Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be accepted by Mark's wife, Kim Dailey, and Vice President, News/Executive Producer, Tina Cortese at the RTNDA Central Regional Awards Banquet in Waterloo on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

Across the pond, British radio launched a new online radio portal just before the weekend - including commercial radio outlets and the BBC. The new site, dubbed UK Radioplayer, promises to offer HD streams.

In less happy news, an Orlando Public broadcaster (WMFE) has shut down its TV studio, citing a $300,000 shortfall in donations. However, WMFE resident Jose Fajardo has stated that the station will focus on "sustaining and building the most profitable part of [their] business", the FM radio station.

Meanwhile in sports, TSN continues to promote its new radio format, announcing that reporter James Cybalski has been tapped to host a new afternoon program on TSN radio. Cybalski, formerly of the Score, earned a 2010 Gemini for his work at the Whistler Olympics. TSN appears to be grooming him for bigger duties - pitting him against FAN 590 afternoon fixture Bob McCown.

Also, for more election coverage check out CBC’s the House with Kathleen Petty. CBC's National Affairs Editor Chris Hall and political reporter for The Toronto Star Susan Delacourt talk party leaders and their opening remarks.

Posted on April 04, 2011