WiFi HiFi is saddened to announce the passing of Christie Blatchford, a long-time and well-respected Canadian journalist who had, at one point in time in her career, worked for all of the major daily newspapers in Toronto, most recently with National Post. She passed away from cancer at the age of 68.
Blatchford was known for her passionate and heartfelt reporting. She started in sports, but moved on to cover major crimes, Canadian soldiers, and other pressing and intense topics. She often developed personal relationships with those she wrote about and took every story seriously, determined to get it right, be the first, and make an impact on readers.
Journalism was in her blood: her grandfather was a sports writer for the Toronto Star and Vancouver Sun and her uncle a news editor of the Star. She graduated from Ryerson as the leading journalism graduate and secured a job at the Globe and Mail in 1973. She then worked at the Toronto Star in 1977 and then moved to the Toronto Sun in 1982. She was one of the first employees hired when the National Post was formed in 1998. Her last article for the Post and with the Postmedia chain was published in October, covering her feelings on Trudeau's re-election.
In its heartfelt tribute to the journalist, the National Post called her a "tenacious voice for victims, a thorn to the smug." The article recalls how Blatchford could often be seen weeping in court as she covered stories of child abuse and neglect, and even once lending a victim she covered money and helping get him back on his feet after a trial was over. She fought with editors to ensure her stories made the front page (and often won), and stood her ground at all costs, even deciding to leave the Globe and Mail when the newspaper made cuts to her column without advising her first. "It wasn't just about ego," reads the tribute. "She cared deeply about the stories she worked on, the people in them and the issues they revealed, and she wanted others to care as well." She was polarizing: readers either loved her or hated her, but her reporting made sure they took a stance one way or the other.
She traveled often for her work, most notably to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006 where she covered the war. "Month after harrowing month," Col. Ian Hope tells the Post, "she accompanied us through fields, attacks and ambushes, witnessing the most intense combat Canadians have seen since Korea, and filing incredibly vivid and accurate reports." Blatchford said the time she spent in Afghanistan gave her the most profound stories of her life, and the ones that had the most meaning. She wrote several non-fiction books about the experience, including Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army, which won a 2008 Governor-General's Literary Award.
Born in Rouyn-Noranda, a small town in Quebec, Blatchford married and divorced twice but never had children. She did, however, treat her bull terrier Obie like a child. Prior to her death, she had hoped to cover the Yonge St. van attack trial and to write a story about the funny side of cancer. She sadly did not get the opportunity to do either.
She had a reputation for throwing amazing parties, having a foul mouth, and being a fantastic mentor to up-and-coming journalists. "She was unafraid and unapologetic about her views," freelance journalist Jen Gerson told the Post. "It was inspiring for me."
Referred to by many as simply "Blatch," her prose on the pages will surely be missed by readers, as will her steadfast dedication to honest, quality journalism. She took pride in a craft that is often taken for granted. Today, just about anyone can call themselves "writers" or "reporters." But are they? By the high standards that Blatchford has set, not by a mile.
Read the full, touching tribute at National Post.