Travers Debates ensure legacy of Canadian journalist lives on

NDP MP Megan Leslie (left), former Liberal leader Bob Rae and Hélène Buzzetti of Le Devoir share a laugh at the Travers Debates.(Chris Roussakis Photo)

The Travers Debates is a great example of how journalists and politicians can share a light-hearted evening – all in the name of a good cause.

The second annual Travers Debates – which raises money for the R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship – was held on Oct. 22 at the National Arts Centre and pulled in $60,000.

While the debate topics were hot – there were lots of laughs.

“It’s not a night of heavy speeches about policy,” says Peter Calamai, an adjunct research professor in Carleton’s journalism school who was part of the event’s organizing committee. “And, it plays to a particular audience here in town.”

The fellowship, administered by Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication, is named in honour of Jim Travers – a foreign correspondent, editor and award-winning Toronto Star columnist.

It’s valued at $25,000 and funds a significant reporting project by a Canadian journalist.

Debating teams argued both sides of two topics: the state of democracy in Canada and whether journalists and politicians should be allowed to work in each other’s fields.

“You want to make people understand the issues and $25,000 allows reporters to do something substantial – not just fly in for a day or two,” he says. “Reporters spend weeks on the ground and the subjects have a large human aspect. It matters in terms of looking after our fellow citizens of the world.”

Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc, who teamed up with the Huffington Post’s Althia Raj, says he wanted to be involved because he knew Travers personally.

“I knew and admired Jim forever,” LeBlanc says. “He was a journalist everybody liked and respected.”

He adds that the event is a great opportunity to honour the late Canadian journalist and the field of foreign corresponding.

Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae moderated the two debates.

Rae says he also knew Travers personally for decades and wanted to be involved in an event that celebrates his memory.

“Jim was a good friend of mine and I admired him as a human being and journalist,” he says. “I wanted to keep supporting his memory and what he stood for as a journalist.”

He adds the fundraiser supports important journalistic work that makes an impact both in Canada and internationally.

“It gives people a chance to experience the full world of journalism that Jim knew,” Rae says. “This is a chance to celebrate what he did and give younger journalists the same opportunity.”

Chris Waddell, director of Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication, is also part of the panel that chooses the fellowship recipient every year. The 2013 recipient was Mike Blanchfield of The Canadian Press.

Waddell says the Travers Debates means that the fellowship can continue on in the future – and preserve the memory of a great Canadian journalist.

“We hope this will continue for a long period of time, and keep people remembering the great work Jim did,” Waddell says. “It’s great to see his impact can continue on.”

http://www.carleton.ca/journalism/awards-and-scholarships/r-james-travers-foreign-corresponding-fellowship/

This entry was written by Kristy Strauss and posted in the issue. Bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media: http://carletonnow.carleton.ca/?p=11425

Kristy Strauss

By Kristy Strauss

Kristy Strauss graduated from Carleton's journalism program in 2009. She is a regular contributor to Carleton Now. She has worked as a reporter for the Kemptville Advance. She currently reports for EMC Ottawa South.

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