By Lisa Cumming
After graduating from the Ryerson School of Journalism, Don Gibb, Joy Malbon and Suhana Meharchand pursued successful careers in journalism. Now, they can add “Headliner” to their resumes, the honour the Ryerson Journalism Alumni Association bestows on illustrious alumni.
They were celebrated at the school’s Nov. 30 awards ceremony at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Gibb is a 1968 graduate who retired from a long teaching career at the School after more than 20 years as a reporter and editor at The London Free Press. Meharchand graduated in 1986 before accelerating through a broadcast career that included hosting various national CBC news programs. Malbon, an 1982 grad, has been based in Washington for CTV’s National News since 2005.
The Headliners represent the Ryerson School of Journalism’s hall of fame. The RJAA has named 22 recipients since 2013, when the school celebrated its inaugural ”Headliners” as part of its 60th anniversary.
With thousands of alumni and former students, choosing the Headliners is a daunting task. “Even just selecting a short list for this award is extremely difficult as the Ryerson School of Journalism has had so many amazing people,” said Amanda Cupido, former president of the RJAA. “We always have a lot of debate and struggle within our association when deciding who we put forward.”
While Gibb, Malbon and Meharchand are traditional print and broadcast journalists, the RJAA has named winners who took digital career paths. And it has also shown a willingness to consider non-journalism candidates. The selection committee gave the nod to the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Zarqa Nawaz, a ’92 grad, in 2013.
“It’s very broad who we’re picking,” Cupido said. “We want to recognize grads who are making a mark in their industry, and that can be any industry.”
Any former student can submit a nominee, usually during the summer. (Nominees need only to have completed one full year in the journalism program at the undergraduate or graduate level). An RJAA committee then creates a short list and chooses two or three winners.
“We launched the Headliners awards in 2013 and it was long overdue. We are so happy to be able to acknowledge the successes of those who’ve come through,” Cupido said. “It’s just amazing to see how many successful people have passed through the School of Journalism.”