Canada’s most famous female journalists on The Honest Talk
At The Honest Talk we’ve been fortunate to speak with several well-known women in Canada’s media landscape.
These journalists give voice to the people whose stories they tell, while also leading by example to ensure women journalists will have a continuing and growing presence in our newsrooms and our society.
Vassy Kapelos is one of the best-known figures in Canadian media and politics. An award-winning journalist, she hosted Power and Politics on CBC for five years before recently announcing a move to CTV News, where she now serves as Chief Political Correspondent and hosts not one, but two shows: Question Period and Power Play.
About her career choice: “I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to report or be a journalist. I always had an interest in politics, so I pursued it in undergrad and in graduate studies, but I didn’t really know exactly what I would do with it.”
About juggling a small child and big job: “[My husband] will have to sacrifice to see me achieve my dreams. I’m really grateful that he’s willing to do that.”
We’re all people. We’re not just our careers…. I know the significance and importance of having other stuff in your life.Vassy Kapelos
About online harassment: “It was the hardest part of starting my old job. I was inundated with it, and it was about everything: the way I looked, the way I spoke, my intellectual capacity, you name it. I have gone from a place five years ago where I would come home literally crying and just feeling so worn down to nothing … [and now] I am not affected by it at all. The key change I made when I went on my mat leave, I got off Twitter, and prior to that I had muted my own mentions…. I still use [Twitter] like a wire service, but I don’t read what people say.”
Anne-Marie Mediwake is an award-winning national journalist, and current co-host of Your Morning on CTV. She has worked at every major television news organization in the country, reporting on some of the biggest news stories of our time. She is a reporter, a mom of triplets, and a friend to morning people everywhere.
About saying ‘no’ to opportunities: “I remember the first time I made a choice, when I said ‘no’ to something. It was to go to the Olympics when they were in Vancouver, and I had just started at CBC, and they had asked if I would go and host, but that meant being gone for six weeks. And I knew I could not leave. My husband is amazing, but he would be alone with three two-and-a-half-year-olds. I thought, ‘I’ve just shot my career in the foot.’ And it didn’t end my career. It’s nice to be a journalist and a woman now and a broadcaster now. That choice wasn’t always available to women before me, but I think it’s a sign of progress that I was able to make that choice.”
About choices as a working mom: “You have to know what is important to you. And you have to know what is high value to you. And that doesn’t mean to say that my career wasn’t high value. For me, it just meant at that stage I had made a commitment to be able to be present for them and also be able to do a great job at what I wanted to have as a career. I could voice that. And it didn’t have to end my career. And I felt a lot of gratitude. Because there were a lot of women who fought just to have a space in the room.”
About diversity in media: “My hope is in this next phase of diversity and inclusion, that it’s not just visual diversity, but it’s actual inclusion, meaning culture is important and relevant to conversations and to coverage. More and more I see the need for it, because as networks hire people that visually look different, we want to make sure that we sound and connect differently as well, because diversity isn’t just about skin colour. And if we make it just about skin colour, then we’re missing the point.”
Rosemary Barton, the first woman to serve as Chief Political Correspondent for CBC News, is an award-winning and long-time political journalist. She is well known for breaking political news, asking tough questions, and being an inspiration to many young women across Canada. Rosemary is committed, brave, and bold.
About being trolled on social media: “I am much tougher than I was before…. That part of the space is not enjoyable…. It is unnecessary and it’s an unfortunate part of that world, but I think if you better understand how you are using it and set some parameters for yourself, I think it is still useful. The minute I find it no longer useful, I will no longer do it.”
“I don’t need people’s comments, positive or negative, to keep me focused on my job and to tell me who I am. I know who I am. I don’t need their feedback one way or the other to keep going. I try not to get caught up in positive comments either, to be frank…. You can’t give too much power to either side.”
About journalism as a career: “One thing I wish I had known is this is not a job. It’s not even a career. It’s a way of life. You can choose to do it differently…. There are some parts of journalism where you can work 9 to 5, but I wouldn’t say that anybody in the parliamentary bureau can choose to do that. You’re on from the minute you wake up, reading, to the minute you go to bed, responding to things. I was at a medical appointment the other day texting the prime minister’s office about something, trying to confirm some news.… When you are in a bureau like this, you’re pretty much breathing it if you want to be good at your job.”
It’s a lifestyle, and some things suffer…. It’s a job where you have to be present all the time.Rosemary Barton
Sangita Patel was an on-air host with Entertainment Tonight Canada, host of HGTV’s Home to Win, and Canada’s Covergirl ambassador.
But Sangita wasn’t always set on a career in TV. In fact, she’s an electrical engineer, but also a dedicated mother, wife, philanthropist, and fitness enthusiast — a true example that women can achieve multiple goals in different fields, and that sometimes the best laid plans need to be thrown out the window.
Key takeaways Sangita shared with us:
- “I always leave every door open and try something new.”
- “Women are great at advocating for other people, but they’re not great at advocating for themselves when it comes to negotiations.”
- “You deserve it. You’re allowed to grow. You deserve everything you work for.”
Farah Nasser is an award-winning journalist and the weekend anchor at Global National. She is a woman who has worked at every level of Canadian media, covering major stories here at home and abroad. Farah is also a wife, a mom, an active community volunteer, and a daughter of immigrants to Canada.
About racism and inequity: “I think it’s important to be honest and to recognize who we really are and who we were and who we hope to be in the future and how things can change and evolve.”
I really believe that there is going to be a change. I think it’s happening now, and I’m actually quite excited for the next generation.Farah Nasser
“We are so focused on our own lives — we have blinders on — that we don’t see what’s happening in the world. I’m really passionate about being a global citizen…. I still have time to … elevate people’s voices to a broader audience.”
Here at The Honest Talk we’re committed to delivering the stories you want to hear in a factual, balanced, and engaging way. We’re inspired in this work by women journalists like the guests featured above.