Opinion: Gentleman George, an inspiration for every young reporter

Opinion: Gentleman George, an inspiration for every young reporter
CBC archives
George Garrett, pictured here reporting in 1998, was described by colleagues and friends as kind and a man of high integrity.

Many words have been written in praise of George Garrett, the legendary CKNW radio reporter who died this week. He was beloved by all of us of a certain age in this profession.

He was a superb reporter. He loved the craft and chased stories like a demon. He often scooped the rest of us in newspapers and TV because he built contacts – and they respected him as well as those inside the journalistic tent.

George was a gentleman. Kindly. Respectful. Fair. Honest.

All the attributes of a great journalist. He wasn’t a pit bull of a journalist, a Gotcha type of one-sided reporter. He was always at pains to get both sides of a story. Tenacious and hard working.

British Columbia and journalism were lucky to have him, and learn from him.

I got to know George well over the years, and we loved chatting about this or that story. He was never cruel or vindictive about colleagues but often praised younger journalists and veteran reporters too.

We were at the Jack Webster Journalism Awards a few years back and he told me how knocked out he was by the quality of the submissions from across the news spectrum. Not just the traditional big newspapers and TV and radio stations, but also newer online sites and smaller news outlets.

The future, he said, was in good hands.

I liked that. The wily old veteran, not singing the song of the good old days, but predicting a strong journalistic tomorrow.

George was a family man and contributed to my book about the joys of grandfatherhood. He loved being a father and a grandfather. He wasn’t the hard-bitten journalist heading to the bar after work, but someone who valued those closest to him. It made him a better reporter, one with the common touch as well as more than a touch of humanity.

He also put the story first. It was never about George. He got the facts, and was endlessly curious.

In this Tik-Tok age of fake news George was the real deal.

I adored him, with his goofy smile and his intelligent eyes and ever-inquiring mind.

He was one of the true journalistic greats. An inspiration for anyone wishing to be a reporter, and a symbol of what news coverage should be: simple, straightforward and honest.

News with integrity.

Gentleman George. We were lucky to have you.


Veteran journalist Ian Haysom is consulting editor with CHEK Media

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