Sinclair Foundation wishes a happy 90th to Gordon Sinclair’s pal Don Johnston

Don Johnston – the long-time news director of CFRB and founding member of the Gordon Sinclair Foundation – is turning 90. As a longstanding colleague and close friend of the controversial broadcaster, Johnston was a driving force in the movement to raise funds and set up a charitable foundation in Gordon Sinclair’s honour after the broadcaster’s death in 1984. 

Since then, Johnston has been a stalwart member of the Foundation, which initially offered a scholarship to young journalism graduates and since 2011 has awarded the annual $15,000 Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary to support a research and reporting trip by an early career Canadian journalist who has recently graduated from one of Canada’s journalism programs.

The members of the Gordon Sinclair Foundation would normally have met in early June for their annual board meeting and could have used the occasion to wish Don all the best on his 90th birthday on June 6. But because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the annual Roving Reporter Bursary competition was delayed. (The call for applications closed on June 1 and the outcome of the competition will be announced this summer). Nonetheless, board members wanted to extend their good wishes to Don. 

“Don has been a steady presence on the Foundation’s board from the very beginning, helping us to enshrine the memory of his friend Gordon Sinclair by giving young journalists the chance to embark on the kind of reporting adventure for which Sinclair was famous,’’ said Allan Thompson, the President of the Foundation and the incoming head of Carleton University’s journalism program.

As the news director at CFRB, Don had the challenge of managing the outspoken Sinclair. 

“There was nobody like him—the crackling energy, the curiosity, the little barbs and observations on life,” Don recalled at the time of Sinclair’s death.

Gordon Sinclair informed, agitated and entertained generations of Canadians and Americans too as reporter and commentator in the newspaper and on radio and TV. He began his career as a roving reporter for the Toronto Star and became a legendary journalist, author, radio commentator and television panelist on CBC’s Front Page Challenge who until his death in 1984 was one of Canada’s most enduring celebrities. 

Indeed, while he is little known to today’s young journalists, he was arguably one of the most famous Canadian journalists of his time, a household word. He died May 17, 1984 at the age of 84 shortly after collapsing on his way home from his daily radio broadcasts on CFRB radio.

The original Gordon Sinclair Fellowship was established in 1986 after friends of the late broadcaster created the Gordon Sinclair Foundation and a university scholarship for recent journalism graduates to honour his memory. The stated purpose of the original award was to encourage a recent journalism graduate to embark on another year of study that would enrich them as journalists. The award was presented 22 times in the years that followed.

In 2011, the Gordon Sinclair Foundation decided to review its mandate and examine the contribution the annual award was making to journalism. After some deliberation, a decision was made to revamp the annual competition. The Foundation decided to use the endowment to support a different type of award, but one still very much in keeping with the spirit of the kind of adventurous journalism Gordon Sinclair came to represent.

The new Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary was established to support a research and reporting trip by an early career Canadian journalist who has recently graduated from one of Canada’s journalism programs.

Don’s niece, Mary Pickett, got in touch with the Foundation to say that she wanted to recognize her uncle’s milestone birthday by making a donation to the Gordon Sinclair Foundation, to help support young journalists.

“Because of Don’s great respect for Gordon Sinclair and his long involvement with the Foundation, making a donation to the Foundation in Don’s honor seemed a very appropriate way to celebrate Don’s 90th birthday,” she said.

Annie Burns-Pieper, 2017 Roving Reporter Bursary winner, to report from Madagascar

TORONTO (June 12, 2017) – Journalist Annie Burns-Pieper will use the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary to travel to Madagascar to report on US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule – which bans foreign aid to groups that perform or promote abortion – and how it has impacted global health programs, specifically family planning and women’s health services.

The Gordon Sinclair Foundation awarded the bursary today at its annual meeting, in Toronto. Burns-Pieper, a 31-year-old investigative reporter who has worked as a producer with CBC’s Investigative Unit, CTV’s W5 and Global 16×9, plans to use the $15,000 bursary to examine how the loss of USAID funding has impacted women, their families as well as aid organizations in Madagascar. The Canadian government has pledged $20 million to sexual health and family planning initiatives to try to offset the loss of USAID funding. Burns-Pieper will follow Marie Stopes International and other groups which have recently lost funding as a result of the Mexico City Policy, or Global Gag Rule.

2017 bursary winner Annie Burns-Pieper

“The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule has brought Canadian attention to the issue of reproductive health aid,” said Burns-Pieper. It’s estimated that from 2017-2020 USAID funded programs in Madagascar would have prevented more than one million unintended pregnancies, and averted almost 340,000 abortions and more than 2,200 maternal deaths.

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.

Burns-Pieper is a graduate of the Masters of Journalism program at Ryerson University, in Toronto. She also has an MSc in Global History from the London School of Economics and a BA from Dalhousie University.

Burns-Pieper has proven her ability to take the lead on stories of national interest as reporter and producer on Canada’s top investigative broadcast teams. In recent years she has led investigations into alleged mistreatment of pregnant women in Canadian delivery rooms, dangerous building materials used in schools and other public buildings and the Alberta wild horse cull. In 2015, she led a cross-platform investigation into inpatient suicide in Canadian hospitals for CTV W5.

The legendary Gordon Sinclair

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.

In recent years, bursary winners have used the award to document stories anywhere from the Middle East to Northern Canada. Burns-Pieper is a seasoned young reporter who also has experience living and working abroad. Prior to her studies in journalism she worked in both Guatemala and Morocco and has travelled extensively around Latin America and Asia.

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.

 

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For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Brett Popplewell, Executive Director – Gordon Sinclair Foundation

brett.popplewell@carleton.ca  / 416-826-0542

Annie Burns-Pieper annieburnspieper@gmail.com   / 416-262-2393

 

2016 Roving Reporter Bursary winner will report on Syrian refugees in Lebanon

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.

Corbett Hancey
Bursary winner Corbett Hancey

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.

The legendary Gordon Sinclair
The legendary Gordon Sinclair

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.

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For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Brett Popplewell, Executive Director – Gordon Sinclair Foundation
brett.popplewell@carleton.ca  / 416-826-0542

Corbett Hancey  Corbett.Hancey@gmail.com   / 416-993-3784

Gordon Sinclair Foundation meets June 16 to announce Bursary winner

The board of directors of the Gordon Sinclair Foundation meets in Toronto on Thursday, June 16 for the foundation’s annual general meeting and to announce this year’s winner of the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary.

sinclair pith helmet sinclair pith helmetThe 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.

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.

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 she prepares for her reporting trip and then to consider their work for publication or broadcast.

CBC-Radio’s Tapestry airs 23-minute documentary by Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter bursary winner

Another great piece of work by 2015 Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter bursary winner Jodie Martinson has been broadcast on the CBC-Radio program Tapestry.

jodie tapestry

Jodie used the bursary to follow singer Khari McClelland’s journey in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Detroit as he sought music that could help him understand more about the lives of escaped slaves, such as his own great-great-great grandmother Kizzy.

“In these challenging times for journalism, I can’t imagine how I would have been able to do this story without the support of the Gordon Sinclair Foundation,” Jodie said. “It has been such a positive experience for me to take six weeks in the field, and create a piece for a variety of platforms.”

Jodie’s remarkable work went to air just as the Gordon Sinclair Foundation launches the competition for the 2016 Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary. The $15,000 bursary was created in memory of Gordon Sinclair, who made his name gallivanting around the world for the Toronto Star in the 1930s. 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.

You can find full details of the bursary competition at www.gordonsinclairfoundation.ca