Veteran newspaper editor Neil Reynolds, aged 72, died of cancer on Sunday. He is being remembered as one of the finest journalists in the country for his many contributions in newspapers across Canada.
Born in Kingston, Ont., Reynolds was a high-school dropout who became city editor and assistant managing editor at the Toronto Star in the 1970s, Postmedia News reported. He then left the newspaper and returned to his hometown where he joined the Kingston Whig-Standard and took on the top job in 1978, The Globe and Mail reported.
“He was the great editor of Canada from the mid-'70s to the early-2000s because of his ability to improve papers,” said the Whig’s former editor Harvey Schachter.
“The Whig was really the start,” Schachter said in an obituary for Reynolds. “Why the Whig stood out is he took it from a pretty mundane paper to being the top small-town paper in North America.”
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In 1995, Reynolds joined the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and Saint John Times-Globe, and in 1996 he joined the Ottawa Citizen as editor. He then joined the Vancouver Sun in 2000 and worked there for three years. In 2009, he returned to the Telegraph-Journal as an editor-at-large. Reynolds was also a columnist for The Globe and Mail.
“He went place after place and suddenly they would seem to be perked up and winning awards,” Schachter said. “Every paper he went to it was noticeably improved. Neil was No. 1 over his career.”
Under Reynolds’ leadership, the Telegraph-Journal won several National Newspaper Awards and received a Michener citation in 1994 for a series for a series of stories about exiled Acadians and founding families in New Brunswick, the newspaper reported. Jim Irving, co-CEO of J.D. Irving Limited, and his father, J.K. Irving, -- who own the Telegraph-Journal -- described Reynolds as an “outstanding journalist and dedicated publisher who made a great contribution” to Brunswick News in that article.
“We will miss his good judgment and skill,” they said. “The newspapers were better because of his high standards for reporting and most especially for his passion to mentor and grow the talents of many young reporters.”
Meanwhile Michael Davies, former Whig-Standard owner and publisher, recalled Reynolds’ years at the newspaper “exceptional.” “We call his time at The Whig ‘the golden year,” Davies said.
“To the end, he remained bullish on the future of the printed newspaper. Unlike many observers, he believed online media will never completely displace ink on paper,” the Telegraph-Journal reported.
“He loved challenging orthodoxy. He loved delighting and infuriating readers,” said the Globe’s editor-in-chief John Stackhouse. "Those who dealt with Neil know he was a true gentleman, mature and decent in every way."
Here is some of the social media reaction following his death:
Very sad to hear about the passing of Neil Reynolds. A journalist's journalist and always a friend to any media colleague seeking advice.— Peter Mansbridge (@petermansbridge) May 19, 2013
Neil Reynolds made enormous changes to the Citizen in 1997: some brilliant, some bizarre, and all of them interesting.— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) May 19, 2013
Neil Reynolds, journalist par excellence, and Libertarian candidate, died on Sunday, 19 May 2013. Neil’s obituary... fb.me/2KJsJcexO— Katrina Chowne (@kyachtic) May 22, 2013
Obituary: Neil Reynolds, an editor who never ran with the pack ottawacitizen.com/news/ottawa/Ob… Never heard a bad word said about this gent. RIP.— Chris Selley (@cselley) May 19, 2013
*Photo screenshot of Globe and Mail image