Memo from Michael Cooke and Irene Gentle details new editorial positions.

The following memo was sent to Toronto Star staff on Nov. 25, 2016 from Michael Cooke, editor, and Irene Gentle, managing editor.


Very happy to announce some terrific new moves in the newsroom.

Dave Washburn will begin an exciting new role as acting sports editor, starting Monday. Dave joined the Star newsroom in 2015 for the launch of the tablet and has been working closely with Jennifer Quinn and Patrick Ho during some of the more exciting sporting times in Toronto’s recent history thanks to the playoff runs of the Blue Jays, Raptors and TFC. He was especially appreciated in that role for his knowledge, organization, attention to detail and great headlines.Before joining the Star, Dave was the National Deputy Sports Editor for Postmedia’s centralized office in Hamilton, where he helped oversee planning and production for sports sections across the country while balancing the specific local story interest of each market. Dave honed his editing skills and love for coffee during his decade working on sports pages for his hometown Ottawa Sun before leaving to join Postmedia’s former wire service, starting out as a sports copy editor and reporter and rising to interim sports editor before its sudden closure. We are very much looking forward to Dave bringing his enthusiasm and deep sports knowledge to the assigning and coverage planning aspects of the department in his new role.

We will appoint a permanent sports editor in the near future and encourage expressions of the interest in the role.

Josh Rubin will be temporarily seconded to a new role as acting sports deputy. Since starting at the Star in 1994, Josh has worked in a variety of reporting and editing roles across the newsroom, including, most recently, his short turn on the digital desk, where he moved after 18 months as city assignment editor. He has previously worked in sports, covering everything from the Raptors, Blue Jays and junior hockey to soccer in Cameroon, as well as the first women’s boxing match in Ontario history. He has had several editing roles in the sports department, on both the production and assignment side. Some of Josh’s other roles at the Star have included time in the business section, as a reporter, and two stints running the section when it was between business editors. Since 2006, he’s bravely tackled the onerous work of covering Toronto’s beer scene. He starts his new role on Monday.

Garnet Fraser will take his shockingly deep well of salacious celeb knowledge and gleeful eye for sharp breaking news to his new role as deputy entertainment editor. Having come to the Star from points west in 2000, Garnet has toggled back and forth between editing news and entertainment since then, often scheming to get a byline on the side in now-defunct sections such as boom, ID, Buzz and Metropolis. (He might be something of a jinx.) Amid his adventures in city news assigning and editing, including writing the most entertaining turn notes in the building, he kept his hand in the ent world recently by creating the weekly Stargazing spread. He looks forward to his third full-time stint in the department.His new role begins in January.

Alex Ballingall will join our mighty Ottawa bureau, where presumably they will help reveal to him the arcane arts of federal politics and he will reveal to them the admirable Ballingall chill.  Alex came to the Star as an intern in September 2012. Since: then he helped snap photos of dignitaries and CFL fans with Vinnie Talotta at the 100th Grey Cup, took part in a lengthy series of stories on Ontario’s unlicensed daycare system, covered the aftermath of the L’Isle-Verte seniors’ home fire, reported on the 2014 Quebec provincial election, and did a stint in sports covering basketball and was part of the Star’s Pan Am Games reporting squad. He has a penchant for weird stories and features. Some of the standouts include the story of the Wagner twins and their search for liver transplants, the controversial origin story of the pool noddle (sorry, “water woggle”), the three-part saga of a pizza war in Vaughan, and most recently, the long tale of a schizophrenic stabber Sean Clifton’s journey toward redemption. I am truly excited to see Alex bring his tremendous talent and story sensibility to the Ottawa file. And the inevitable confusion caused by having two people named Alex B in the bureau.

He starts his new role in January.

Ray Beauchemin will deepen his crucial role on the news desk as deputy news editor. Ray brings more than (mumble mumble) years of journalism to the role, and has been at the Star for more than a year. He arrived here after 10-plus years as foreign editor of the Montreal Gazette, running the foreign desk of The National in Abu Dhabi. Upon his return to Canada, he became news editor of Postmedia Editorial Services in Hamilton. Having worked both sides in the business — newsroom and centralized editing — gives him a unique perspective on print production. He will do a terrific job standing guard for our journalism in print amid the challenging and ongoing transition of the desk as part of the newsroom reshaping. The position starts immediately.

These moves are the latest in a long line of new opportunities in the newsroom over the past couple of months. Your participation in the town halls, the more than 100 one-on-one meetings and emailed insights have been crucial. You have helped create a more agile, platform-neutral newsroom focused on mission-critical journalism that tells the stories of our city and makes a difference. Thank you very much for all your many important insights.

We are poised to have a terrific and ambitious 2017.

H.G. Watson was J-Source's managing editor from 2015 to 2018. She is a journalist based in Toronto. You can learn more about her at