TORONTO (June 16, 2016) – Journalist Corbett Hancey will use the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary to travel to Lebanon to explore how the country is coping with the influx of refugees and the pressures of the Syrian civil war.
The Gordon Sinclair Foundation awarded the bursary today at its annual meeting, in Toronto. Hancey, who has worked for Vice Media and the CBC since completing his studies, plans to use the $15,000 bursary to examine such issues as the challenges faced by the health and education sectors in Lebanon because of the presence of millions of Syrian refugees.
“Lebanon’s small size and huge number of refugees means it’s arguably under more strain than any other refugee-hosting country,” Hancey said. “Canada made a specific commitment to help lessen that burden and stabilize the country. So for me this is a chance to look at the impact Canada can have in a country whose ability to help an extremely vulnerable group is stretched to the limit.”
“Without this bursary, a trip like this just wouldn’t be possible for someone in my position,” Hancey added. “The extended stay allows me to get a feel for the place and the stories in a way reporters who stay just a few days don’t get the opportunity to experience. For a young journalist, it’s the chance of a lifetime.”
The Roving Reporter Bursary was created in memory of Gordon Sinclair, who made his name gallivanting around the world for the Toronto Star in the 1930s. The bursary replaces a university scholarship for journalism students that has been given out annually since 1986 by the Gordon Sinclair Foundation, established by friends of the remarkable journalist, author, radio commentator and television personality who until his death in 1984, was one of Canada’s most enduring celebrities. He earned that celebrity during a career that included periods with the Toronto Star, CFRB radio and as a panelist on CBC’s long-running news quiz program Front Page Challenge.
Hancey is a graduate of the Bachelor of Journalism program at King’s College, in Halifax, the city where he grew up. He also has a BA from McGill and a Masters in Intelligence and International Security from the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London.
As a journalist, Hancey is just completing a one-year stint as a researcher for Vice Media. At Vice he researched and developed eight 30-minute episodes for a new TV documentary series called Cyberwar. He also worked for several years as a producer with CBC’s News Now.
At a time when most news organizations have cut back on travel, the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary is meant to support a major research and reporting trip by an early career Canadian journalist who has within the past five years graduated from one of Canada’s university-level journalism programs. The purpose of the $15,000 bursary is to encourage a young journalist to get off the beaten track and to spend a considerable period – a minimum of six weeks – away on a reporting assignment.
For the last few years, bursary winners have used the award to document stories in Canada. Hancey is the first recipient in some time to travel abroad. (And for that matter, Hancey is the first bursary winner to have been a contestant on the quiz show Jeopardy).
Applicants to the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary were invited to submit a proposal to travel abroad or to a region of Canada that is not usually well covered by the media and to research and then prepare a substantial body of journalistic work on an important issue.
Two of Sinclair’s former employers – the Toronto Star and the CBC – are associated with the bursary and have undertaken to provide mentorship by senior editors to the bursary winner as he prepares for his reporting trip and then to consider the work for publication or broadcast.