In the midst of a long reporting and editing career, Jim Travers worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa and the Middle East.Now, a $25,000 fellowship in his name will finance significant foreign reporting projects by Canadian journalists. Peter Calamai has the details on the R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship.

Jim Travers — celebrated as columnist, editor and reporter — cared passionately about Canada and its place in the world. He believed that Canadians deserved to hear about the world from journalists who were knowledgeable both about Canada and about the countries where they were reporting.

In short, Jim Travers thought in-depth foreign corresponding was a necessity, not a luxury. In our increasingly interconnected world, he would say, all news is local news. Although that belief was forged during Travers’ six years as a Southam News correspondent in Africa and the Middle East, he continued to espouse it through his subsequent career as general manager of the news service, editor of the Ottawa Citizen, executive managing editor of the Toronto Star and — for the last decade — the Star’s award-winning national affairs columnist.

Jim Travers died suddenly March 3 in Ottawa from complications after surgery to remove his spleen. So he was not around to see the “foreign” news of Libya become local news as Canadian forces joined in enforcing the no-fly zone or the “foreign” news of Japan’s post-tsunami trials redefine the debate over nuclear energy in Ontario.

Travers’ unexpected death galvanized friends, colleagues and admirers to commemorate his ideals and passion by creating the R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship. The Fellowship exists to finance significant foreign reporting projects by Canadian journalists — staffers, freelancers or students –– through an annual award of $25,000 to cover travel, reporting and research expenses and a stipend.

Creation of the Fellowship was announced March 8 at a memorial service for Travers attended by more than 500 people at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa. A seven-member steering committee of friends, journalist colleagues and family members has set its sights on raising $500,000, an amount that would allow the award to be endowed in perpetuity. Initial pledges exceed $200,000 but the bulk of that money has not yet been received.

The committee also decided the first Fellowship will be awarded in 2012 even if the $500,000 goal has not yet been met. Details of the competition are expected to be announced this fall. The award will be administered by Carleton University through its School of Journalism and Communication in the Faculty of Public Affairs.
Further details and instructions on how to donate are available at