My experience is built on 9 years as a CBC TV reporter of more than 1,000 CBC TV stories, including video-journalist work for The National, and an award-winning overseas documentary work in China.
I dig deep into investigations with hard-to-get interviews and FOI requests. Two of my reports have been used in the Canadian Parliament and B.C. legislature. I’ve learned from Fifth Estate colleaagues on how organize large volumes of investigative information, and used these skills to probe B.C.’s grizzly hunting regime, and Winnipeg’s crack cocaine drug trade for example.
I am currently the senior reporter for the National Observer.
Inspired by Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” show, I went for spin with Green Party candidate (and former meteorologist for CBC’s The National) Claire Martin to talk up her candidacy and the federal election.
While travelling to the remote central B.C. coast to cover an explosive Heiltsuk First Nation herring dispute, I climbed aboard Pacific Wild’s Habitat vessel to witness their world-class photography of the area’s stunning wildlife, which includes orcas, porpoises, wolves and grizzlies. Wrote a feature story, and produced this video:
Prior to returning to journalism, I produced these two UBC videos to promote the Faculty of Forestry to Aboriginal students.
Recently, an internationally renown violinist friend of mine, Yi-Jia Susanne Hou, recorded a very special performance with the London Symphony Orchestra. It was a touching tribute to her parents — including Alec Hou who once performed for China’s Chairman Mao — but also a goodbye to a $6-million violin on loan to her. I generated overwhelming media attention for her story, including CBC TV and Radio, CTV, Global TV, Chinese press, and a front-page treatment in the Globe & Mail.
“My reporting career started with a van crash in Africa.“
Journalism is an addiction. I’m drawn to the intimacy of common, eccentric and preeminent people in the midst of real dramas. I love probing for the essential sound bite. And I get an adrenaline shot when I shoot a perfect visual moment bursting with colour, emotion and story.
My own reporting tale began when I was still in the Ryerson journalism school in Toronto. My Ugandan student friend and I travelled to his home country in 2004 to shoot a TV feature about the explosive growth of road traffic injuries in Africa. Ironically, our van crashed on the highway, nearly killing us. We sold the documentary to a national TV program, and I earned a CBC TV reporter gig.
For nearly a decade, I shot, edited and wrote a 1,000-plus TV stories for CBC’s airwaves. I pet a polar bear; investigated a crack cocaine dealer; and saw the unearthing of a prairie sea monster not seen in 80 million years. On weekends, I also filed for The National.
A CBC highlight was “Return to Shanghai” —an award-winning documentary I shot and produced in China about a Canadian virtuoso violinist —my friend Yi-Jia Susanne Hou. The tale tracks her family’s history —from her father Alec’s playing for Chairman Mao, through Alec’s persecution, to Susanne’s training in Canada from age 4, to today. It’s a touching story about love, music and what it takes to become world class.
Around 2006, when the inconvenient truth about climate change loomed large, it became clear mass media was missing the story. A planetary threat, confirmed by 98% of climate scientists as human-caused, was downplayed. For a time, I was a CBC environment reporter. But my own environment reports were usually buried in the TV lineup long after crime, commercials and the weather. And this was Canada’s public broadcaster, not Fox News.
So I resigned and headed for the B.C. coast —with its stunning beauty and gritty enviro politics. I was searching for bolder ways to communicate sustainability stories, and for a time, I consulted as a video producer and a public relations adviser on clean tech and First Nations projects.
But journalism kept calling my name. I am now the senior reporter for the National Observer, where I track energy and the environment stories across Canada. In the fall of 2014, I extensively covered the Burnaby Mountain story from the courtrooms to the urban forest pipeline clashes, where an astonishing 100 people were arrested.
I’ll now be headed to Paris for the COP21 UN climate summit in November 2015.
I also teach TV journalism at Pull Focus Film School in Vancouver.