Governor General Romeo LeBlanc, left, presents Neil Reynolds, publisher and editor of the Telgraph Journal and Times Globe of Saint John, New Brunswick, with The Canadian Journalism Foundation award for excellence in journalism in Ottawa at Rideau Hall in May 1996.
Photo Credit: PC / FRED CHARTRAND

Neil Reynolds dies at 72

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A legendary Canadian newspaperman died over the weekend.

Neil Reynolds, a high-school dropout who rose to become city editor and assistant managing editor of the Toronto Star in the 1970s and later served as an editor and publisher at newspapers across the country, passed away from cancer in Ottawa on Sunday. He was 72.

Mr. Reynolds was beloved by reporters working under him, granting them the freedom to tell stories as they saw fit and avoiding the safe and predictable.

Scott Anderson, who worked under Mr. Reynolds at three newspapers, called Mr. Reynolds “the archetype of a writer’s editor and a reader’s editor.

“Neil believed strongly that journalism done well is really literature, and it has all the characteristics of literature. It has real plot, it has character development, strong characters. It exists on a moral plane and it tells real truths, not always in obvious ways.”

A native of Kingston, Ontario., Mr. Reynolds worked his way through several newsrooms before rising to city editor’s job at the Toronto Star. He left that job abruptly to take a posting at his hometown newspaper, the Whig-Standard.
In 1978, he was promoted to the paper’s top job and set about transforming the Whig-Standard, emphasizing strong, intellectually rigourous writing. During his tenure at the Whig-Standard, the paper won a series of National Newspaper Awards for investigative reporting, editorials and critical writing.

In 1992, Mr. Reynolds left the paper to run two other small papers, the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and Saint John Times-Globe.

In 1996, at the invitation of Conrad Black, Mr. Reynolds joined the Southam chain as editor of the Ottawa Citizen. In 2000, the Canadian Journalism Foundation awarded the Citizen an award for excellence, calling it an example of journalism “that has broken away from the pack.”

Mr. Reynolds moved to the Vancouver Sun in 2000, where he remained until 2003.
He then moved to back Ottawa, where in 2007, he and his wife, Donna, bought Diplomat & International Canada, a magazine published in Canada’s capital. In September 2009, he became editor-at-large of three daily newspapers owned by Brunswick News, including the Telegraph-Jounnal.

He ended ended his career as a columnist for the Report on Business section of the Globe and Mail, writing what would be his final column in the summer of 2012.

He leaves his wife, Donna Jacobs, three children, and grandchildren as well as devoted journalists across Canada.

Said Russell Mills, the publisher of the Ottawa Citizen when Mr. Reynolds served as editor: “When you picked up a newspaper that Neil Reynolds was editing, it was less predictable than any other newspaper in the country.”

 

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