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Our Meeting with Robert Benzie

We were thrilled to meet Robert Benzie, Bureau Chief of the Toronto Star, and long-time Ontario journalist!

After 10 months of watching Mr. Benzie in action during daily scrums, we were happy to wear our journalist caps for the meeting and ask him questions about his career, approaches to writing stories, and advice for early-career journalists.

Mr. Benzie spoke about his foray into journalism which started at the Toronto Sun and the Ottawa Sun. In 1998, he helped launch The National Post as the Deputy Toronto Editor. He later joined the Toronto Star in 2003 covering provincial politics. Throughout his career, Mr. Benzie described his experience covering countless elections and leadership contests at federal, provincial, and municipal levels; recounting funny memories on campaign trails, historic moments at the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and chaotic newsroom stories over the years. It was refreshing to hear Benzie’s honest takes on the behind-the-scenes world of provincial politics, and the changes he has witnessed over the years.

In addition, Mr. Benzie emphasized the importance of non-partisanship within his role, even talking about his choice not to vote in any provincial election he is covering. We were inspired by his commitment to the integrity of the reporting process, as well as his commitment to building rapport and trust with members of all parties.

As we wrapped up the session, we asked him about his thoughts on the use of social media in provincial journalism. He shared the ways that social media can both hinder meaningful discourse and promote purposeful engagement amongst readers. Mr. Benzie also shared tips for early-career journalists in our cohort hoping to break into the industry, reminding us of the value of the political acuity we have learned throughout our time as OLIP interns that we will carry on into our future careers.

Thank you, Mr. Benzie, for your quick-witted answers and for sharing your time and thoughts with us!

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