Kevin Donovan talking to first-year journalism students
Three years into his career... "I realized the best thing you can do is get out of the office." But back in those days there was more money for journalists to travel
Donovan explains when he went St. Kitt's to cover Ben Johnson's steroid use as a young journalist
"What do you do when you're really depressed in the Caribbean? You go to the pharmacy" says Donovan
Donovan was upset his story made page A19 rather than the front page
He talks about how the newsroom used to have printing presses right there in the building.
"I've obtained records," Donovan says, "and thats complete bullshit by the way." Donovan says when explaining his Ben Johnson. But his trick had work and they admitted to it. "You're allowed to bluff in Journalism," Donovan explains.
Donovan started talking about the Ben Johnson story because he is teaming up with Rob Ford's campaign.
223 Edenbridge.... Donovan gives Ford's address saying you should go check it out.
He started tweeting "Cops at Fords house" because there are citizen journalists, Donovan says
Nonstop exhilarating and exhausting is how Donovan explains the Ford story
Question from crowd asking if the Ford story is too much, too excessive? Donovan answers that it is in the sense that it is exhausting
Donovan didn't go to journalism school, rather he went to tried to get into politics in high school but lost to every single person
"The newspaper takes anyone," he says so he joined in grade 10. He got an office with a couch and coffee maker
He went to Western and was the editor of the Gazette, fighting against the man because thats what journalists do, he says
"Although I didn't go to journalism school I was fortunate to be hired at The Star," says Donovan.
His first day at The Star he showed up four hours early and accidentally ended up in the women's washroom.
His advice: Don't say I want to be an investigative reporter or foreign correspondence
Rather, you should tell them you want to talk to people. "I can't wait to go out there and get on the other side of that yellow police tape."
"You've got to be prepared to do the shit work," warns Donovan
Another tip: relationship journalism, which is you know people. "I try hard when I get to know somebody in the story I try to keep up with them."
Long story short, he was able to get information from the Garrison Ball last year when Ford was kicked out because of the people he knew
Another note of advice: When you're trying to track down these types of stories, you need to find the gossiper.
Journalists young and old have a tendency to think that people they do their stories won't see it... so that's why Donovan is completely honest.
Audience Question: How do you stand up to the man while being neutral and objective?
Donovan Answer: Let's be honest, we're trying to tell stories about people in administration, government, law office, city hall, etc they don't want told. They are the "man", I think we're asking them questions on behalf of the people..That's how I reconcile it.
"I'm not on a crusade," said Donovan about Ford.
Audience Question: How crucial is it as a journalist to stay in the same city? Donovan says it is very important.
He says it it totally possible to form new relationships in a new city
Audience Question: Do you think the Ford video will ever surface?
Donovan says yes, he believes they know where a copy is. It should come out in the Lisi extortion case.
"I believe he has made his brand. He goes out and parties"
Donovan says he is working on a story about a recent thing Ford did, although he won't tell the audience. He says it should help him in the polls when it surfaces.
"We will publish it but we are aware of what it will do," says Donovan. He also says that if Tory or Chow did this, it would ruin them.
Donovan explains the backlash he got after releasing the first information of the crack video.
Audience question about why not buying crack video but bought murder rant video
The sender of rant video sent a watermarked two second clip of the video as proof.
Dangerous part of it: 1 of the three sources said "I gave you Sandra Lici and you didn't give me anything for it." He wanted money since The Star gave money for the Ford video
Audience Question: Are you upset you didn't buy the crack video?
Donovan says no just in case the owner was linked to the drug and gun community. It would be too stressful
Audience Question: How do you feel about whistleblowers?
He loves them but a true whistleblower works inside an organization. If they want to reveal their name then it's probably not good information.
An example is : ORNGE scandal
The only way of secrecy is promising the source that you would never reveal and that they know you would go to jail for not revealing it. "I wish I would go to jail that way I would be famous."
Advice: don't write their name down and (for the whisteblowerd) don't gather information from work
"This should've been over the day we published it," says Donovan about the Ford story. The reason it's still a story is because Ford stayed in office.
"I'm known as the Rob Ford reporter."
The Star newsroom has these big screens with colour-coded notes that say how popular a story is and who is reading it.
A very vicious Ford nation - usually women over 50, Donovan says
He's covered two wars, Gulf War and Afghanistan. So it helps to ease the fear of meeting up with people with the crack video. "The biggest fear is failure," Donovan says.
"I have self published a book that is really good"
It's called The Dead Times
"It's all drawn from stuff," he says. Donovan explains that he took from everyone he's ever known
Advice: As an intern don't just sit and stare at your computer. "What would impress me would be to never see that person but see their story on the front page."
Advice: on an interview, charm the shit out of the editors. Tell them your plan and bedazzle them.
"Schmoozing is how you get the relationship with sources that will like you. People like to hear nice things about themselves," says Donovan
"When you become an intern you should do everything you're told to do and a billion things more," says Donovan
"We are in an industry that is on the cusp of something way better or not good," says Donovan
Last question: Has Rob Ford ever given you feedback?
Answer: No, but he's trying so hard "I call them and they hang up right away and that's just their policy. I would like to know what they think."
A journalism professor says during an assignment she had her students call up a councillor. Doug Ford called students back but Olivia Chow did not.