A broadcast journalist, host, Emmy winner, prolific war correspondent and an iconic face of Canadian media coverage for decades, Ann Medina was inducted into the CBC News Hall of Fame on Monday.
In a ceremony that included her family and was hosted by CBC reporters Nahlah Ayed and Adrienne Arsenault, Medina became the ninth member of the Hall of Fame since its inception in 2014. She was chosen to be “a woman of ‘influence that has broken the ceiling many times over,’ reads a plaque honoring his contributions.
“For those who dared to follow, Ann Medina led the way,” he concluded.
Medina, who was present at the ceremony, grew up in New York and first studied philosophy before beginning her journalism career in Chicago in the 1960s as a reporter. Soon after, she became a network producer for NBC News, then a correspondent and producer for ABC News.
After winning two Emmys in the United States, she moved to Canada to marry journalist and radio operator Jack McGaw. The two met in 1974 when, as an ABC correspondent, Medina was sent to Ottawa to cover a no-confidence vote for the government of then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, with McGaw as producer.
WATCH | Ann Medina reports from Syria 39 years ago:
They married the following year, just before Medina was hired by CBC to work on News magazine. The two parted ways amicably eight years later, with “the only point of contention [being] Max, our parrot,” she told The Globe and Mail for McGaw’s 2012 obituary. Medina, who has always loved birds, kept the animal.
She quickly made a name for herself as a journalist who humanized stories from all walks of life, on all parts of the planet – covering places as diverse as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Mali, China , Nicaragua and more during his long career at CBC. .
She moved on to the successor news and documentary program The newspaper after News magazineand extensively covered the civil war in Lebanon – under and around mortar shells and bullets.
His reporting from outside the war zone helped inform a generation of Canadians about the conflict, with a series of stories that often went further than any contemporary in the region.
“Ann Medina has become a national superstar, proving two things we should avoid: one, support your journalists. Two, if you build it, they will come,” said Canadian journalist Mark Starowicz, former executive producer of The newspaper, said during the ceremony.
“Ann Medina thrived on fundamental journalism – her talent – and her sympathy for the human condition.”
Digital Archive18:02Reporting abroad: what are you packing?
“Your audacity, your reality, was for someone like me a license, to let me believe that I could try and maybe it would be okay,” added Arsenault, calling Medina “the baddest badasse ever. adorned this place”.
“You knocked down the doors for us,” she continued. “And I promise you we’ll stand at those doors, and we’ll hold those hinges tight, and we’ll keep them tight. Not just for them, but for you.”
“I was fired and now this. It’s just crazy!’
The newspaper – which began with two women as hosts and no male co-hosts, a first in Canada – ended in 1992 after the death of host Barbara Frum and was merged into the program The National. Medina had already partially switched to another program, Saturday reportas a host in 1986 – although his three-year contract was both prematurely and controversially terminated, just six months after his debut.
“I can only say that I am totally overwhelmed by it all,” Medina said at Monday’s ceremony when accepting his induction. “And you just found out – I got fired and now this. It’s just crazy!”
Medina went on to thank CBC and the selection committee for this honor, before talking about the importance of journalistic integrity and the trust established between broadcasters and their audiences.
As a journalist herself, she says, she always strove to share what she had seen and what she knew — never how she felt. She said there was a growing risk of public alienation due to political decisions, from the left and right sides of the spectrum, leaking into the news.
She said those decisions can, and have, found their way into the news through both biased reporting and behind-the-scenes decisions. And when the public feels influenced by these decisions, she says, it breaks the trust between them and the world of journalism.
“CTV betrayed that trust by firing Lisa LaFlamme,” Medina said, referring to the news anchor’s contract termination earlier this year. “And I believe the CBC betrayed that trust by firing The newspaper.”
“These days we see how precious that trust can be to the very fabric of democracy,” she continued.
Giving advice to future journalists, Medina said they only need a few things: stamina, a smile that can connect with “the person behind, what I call, their costumes”, and a cast iron stomach – which, she said, makes her one of the few foreign correspondents in The newspaper to never get sick (“I will always thank my mom for letting me eat dirt,” she added).
Finally, she said, you need a “facilitator” — a supportive home to offer resources and protection for an inquisitive mind to collect and share stories.
“I’m here because CBC allowed me to be a journalist,” she said. “CBC gave me the freedom to be a journalist.”