SOME THINGS ABOUT ME
After 40 years as an award-winning columnist, blogger, producer and reporter for CBC and the Toronto Star, I am now a freelance writer.
My professional experience spans all forms of print, the web and broadcast. My MBA (Marketing, Honours) gives me the unique ability to translate complex ideas into accessible copy. My research skills are strong, my prose powerful. I love the web, and was an early adopter of social media.
Contact me to hear more about how I can help you with compelling storytelling and messages with impact.
Many years ago, a CBC producer gave me this advice: "It's a small country. The more tricks you can produce on your resume, the more opportunities you will have."
I have done just about everything there is to do in journalism.
At age 8, I sold my first piece to the children's magazine Highlights. I would go on, as an adult, to contribute to ROB Magazine, Flare and other publications. In high school, I interned at Montreal's CJAD Radio where I had the thrill of working on the live broadcast of 1968 election. After that, I reported for the Sunday Express, a now-defunct Montreal tabloid newspaper where I also learned to make double entendres under pictures of half-naked Page 3 girls. You know the kind of cheeky stuff I mean.
In 1974, I joined Columbia Pictures TV as a researcher. I have some wild stories about getting up close and personal with rock'n'rollers, authors, actors and directors. Imagine being in a London hotel room with the hungover Keith Moon and Oliver Reed fresh off the set of Ken Russell's Tommy.
After that I wrote, produced, reported and hosted fulltime for CBC, both TV and radio, first for Montreal's daily Newswatch and then in Toronto on Venture. Somewhere in there, I managed to earn an honours MBA in market research, while also writing news and reviews for the show biz trade legend, Variety. I somehow squeezed in freelance research and writing for the fifth estate, Front Page Challenge and even Sesame Street, creating French-language segments.
In 1989, I joined the Toronto Star as broadcast critic/columnist while also a panelist on TV and radio programmes. I was a regular on Peter Gzowski's Morningside, The Jane Hawtin Show on WTN and CBC-TV's Midday plus a frequent guest on both of TVO's networks, English-language and en francais.
From 1991-1993, I was based in Montreal as a columnist, news and feature writer for the Star. It was in the wake of the Meech Accord and during the Charlottetown debate, an exciting time to be covering politics.
When I returned to Toronto, I was fulltime on the media beat and, in 1996, I won a National Newspaper Award for critical writing. I would later be co-nominated for investigative reporting.
In 2002, I began co-hosting Inside Media for CBC Newsworld, just in time for the attack on Iraq. It may have been the most fun period of my entire career ... despite the double job duty.
In 2005, I became The Star's first blogger, and both my blogs won awards from my peers. I was among the paper's social media pioneers, and I even led Twitter training sessions for my colleagues. On October 30, 2014, the day before I retired from the Star -- but not from writing -- I tweeted #BeenRapedNeverReported which went viral, and landed on many lists of the Top 10 hashtags of the year.
Now that I am a freelance writer, I am seeking to make use of my experience, talent and skills ... and I look forward to new challenges with the word.
Since leaving The Star ...
The #BeenRapedNeverReported phenom led to a lot of work, including a 3100-word feature on #hashtagfeminism for Elle Canada. I am currently consulting on a number of related multi-media projects.
I've written for Rabble, The Tyee and Canadaland.
My columns have also appeared in Toronto's alternative weekly, Now Magazine.
I am a weekly contributor to Al Jazeera English's opinion pages which is a great international platform, with a high readership based in Canada.
In between, I have talked to community groups and students, and appeared as a commentator on TV and radio.
And, of course, I tweet. A lot.
The Toronto Star: 1989-2014
You can read my stories for the Star, at least those written in the past seven years or so, by clicking here.
My media columns, which were penned prior to 2007 when I became a columnist in the Life section, were picked up by other websites such as Common Dreams while ColdType produced two eBooks of my 2003 scribblings, Broadsides and Critical Mass.
My 2013 eBook Escorts: Love for Sale in Toronto was the top-selling Toronto Star Dispatch. (Sex sells, ya know.)
Unfortunately, my original blogs, Azerbic (media) and Broadsides (politics, media and women's issues) were vapourized when www.thestar.ca was redesigned in 2013. However, fragments remain on the Internet Wayback Machine here and here.
Television & Radio
In 2002, CBC Newsworld launched Inside Media, a weekly hour which had me facing off with Matthew Fraser, then-columnist with the National Post. We were on fire -- mostly with each other -- and the ratings reflected that. (Ask me about the Hummer incident!) We drew one of the biggest audiences on the all-news cable channel at a time when the news media were at their militaristic worst ... during the Bush and Cheney attack on Iraq. Fish. Barrel. Boom.
Before that, I was a weekly panelist/commentator on programs such as CBC Radio's Morningside and And Now the Details as well as CBC-TV's Midday and WTN's The Jane Hawtin Show. I also made frequent appearances on CTV's Canada AM, TVO's Studio 2 (now The Agenda) and citytv's BreakfastTelevision. Because I am bilingual, I was often asked to go on Radio-Canada and TFO.
Prior to joining the Star in 1989, I was an on-air producer for CBC-TV's business show, Venture. I spent six years as a reporter for CBC Newswatch in Montreal after starting out as a researcher for the local Documentary Unit and investigative newsmagazine, the fifth estate.