News stories are like collective memories, encapsulating the most iconic moments in recent history around the world. But to those who work in journalism, up-close involvement with these stories can also be life-changing. In That’s Why I’m a Journalist, veteran broadcaster Mark Bulgutch interviews 44 prominent Canadian journalists, who each share their behind-the-scenes accounts of some of the most memorable stories of their careers and describe the moment that made them say to themselves, That’s why I’m a journalist.”
Although many of the contributors’ stories are related to their roles in the most high-profile events of the 20th and 21st centuries, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to 9/11, here too are reflections on quieter and more intimate moments that had a deep personal impact. Peter Mansbridge talks about a trip to Vimy Ridge on the hundredth anniversary of World War I, Adrienne Arsenault recalls bringing together old friends separated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Terence McKenna recounts what it’s like to worry about being kidnapped as part of the job and Wendy Mesley reflects on the satisfaction of asking tough questionsand uncovering the truth.
Together, these enthralling and varied accounts provide an intimate understanding of the people we see on camera and hear on the radio. As Bulgutch argues, modern journalism is undergoing existential threats. News has never been more accessible yet, paradoxically, important news has become harder to find, often buried by pseudo-news of celebrity, lifestyle tips and the latest viral video of a water-skiing squirrel. The stories in this book serve as reminders of the importance of real journalists and real journalism.
Mark Bulgutch’s own entry into journalism started with a paper route. After journalism school, he worked for the CBC News for over 35 years. He was the senior editor of The National for 11 years and retired as Senior Executive Producer of TV News, which put him in the control room for all major special events, from election nights to commemorations of Remembrance Day. He is the recipient of 14 Gemini awards, 4 RTNDA Awards, the Canadian Journalism Foundation Award of Excellence and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award. He currently lives in Toronto, ON.