Memo: Toronto Star announces more newsroom changes
The following memo was sent to Toronto Star staff on Nov. 18, 2016 from Michael Cooke, editor, and Irene Gentle, managing editor.
I am very happy to announce some further changes in the newsroom.
Patrick Ho will bring his digital-first style and strong talent for rewrite and coaching newer reporters to a new breaking news/enterprise deputy role. Prior to his last five years as Deputy Sports Editor, during which he helped oversee too many Olympics plus some Blue Jay and raptors playoff runs, Patrick was Deputy Foreign Editor where he spent much time learning about Sarah Palin and Silvio Berlusconi’s personal life. Before that, he spent almost a decade in the city department, embracing the hustle-bustle of the assignment desk, quarterbacking municipal and federal election coverage, as well as taking charge of the radio room program. He will be a fantastic addition to this important team. He will start his new role near year end.
Serena Willoughby will bring her deep digital background and demonstrated skill at directing and shaping local news to her new breaking news/enterprise deputy role, reporting to Jennifer Quinn. Serena joined the Star in 2008 working on the digital desk where she moved through a number of roles as homepage editor, social media editor and in online features. In 2013 she was part of a team that won the NNA in the Multimedia Feature category for Known to Police, an analysis of the practice of carding and the racial undertones behind who gets stopped. In 2014 she moved to the City department where she worked on the assignment desk, working closely with interns and general assignment reporters and with reporters on the courts, legal affairs and police beats. All the work she has done in these areas, including her ability to seemingly to magically take care of what needs taking care of, makes her a tremendous benefit to the department. She starts her new role on Monday.
Jennifer Yang will launch an exciting new Identity and Inequality beat for the Star. She joined the newsroom in 2009 as a year-long intern and immediately distinguished herself as part of the G20 team that won an NNA for breaking news in 2010, the same year she won an NNA for her explanatory piece on the 33 trapped miners in Chile. For the past four years, Jennifer has covered the global health beat, writing about everything from Bhutan’s first psychiatrist to the search for underwater antibiotics in Iceland. When the Ebola epidemic began in 2014, she was the first Canadian reporter to travel to West Africa and report on the outbreak on the ground. As the Star’s new identity and inequality reporter, Jennifer will tackle issues relating to race, gender, sexual orientation and other identities, with a focus on investigations and features that explore the complexities of these incredibly timely subjects that are at the centre of much of today’s social and political conversations. She will report with the social justice team in the beats, bureaus and columnists area, starting immediately.
Allan Woods will continue his fantastic reporting on non-political, non-Ontario national news and enterprise reporting, now for the breaking news/enterprise desk. Allan has been a tremendous leader in big breaking news, reporting from the centre of some of our biggest stories, and sometimes leading a team in the field. Examples include the Haiti earthquake, the horrific Lac-Megantic train disaster and the pre-death interview with ISIS wannabe and explosives enthusiast Aaron Driver. He has covered half a dozen federal and provincial elections.
Allan was a radio-roomer while at Ryerson University. He went to Ottawa with the National Post in 2005, joined the Star in 2007 and moved to Montreal in 2012.
He is probably best known in some circles for asking Stephen Harper at the kick off of the 2005-06 election if he “loved Canada” as much as his opponent Paul Martin did. He answered that he believed the country had “great potential”—a stumble that he later recovered from to become prime minister.
He will add strong, national news heft and deep journalistic knowledge to the department, from his Montreal base, starting immediately.
Jacques Gallant will formalize and expand upon his stellar work with a new Legal Affairs beat. He started at the Star as a summer intern in 2012, and became a permanent staff reporter in 2015. In his time at the Star, he has been on scene for major stories including the Lac-Megantic disaster, the deadly seniors’ residence fire in Isle-Verte, mass murder in Calgary and a shooting at the Brampton courthouse. He was part of the team nominated for a 2014 National Newspaper Award for investigating allegations of sexual assault against Jian Ghomeshi. For the past year and a half, in a stream of front page stories, he has primarily focused his work on legal affairs coverage, writing about everything from access to justice issues, to doctors who continue to practise after sexually abusing their patients, and the level of secrecy that continues to shroud the investigations into police-related fatalities in Ontario. He is always up for a good confrontation with a surly courthouse staffer. He will report with the justice team in the beats, bureaus and columnists area, starting immediately.
Please join me in congratulating Patrick, Serena, Jennifer, Allan and Jacques in these new moves and/or roles.
There will be more announcements in the near future. Once again, thank you all for the insight you provided to help us reshape the newsroom together, to double down on the journalism that makes a difference, with the vision, ambition and power the Star is known for. Our strength is the newsroom – thank you for helping make it the best it can be.
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 hgwatson.com.