Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award
Jim HarrisonAn extraordinary BC broadcaster is the 2007 recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation's Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jim Harrison has defined news radio in Kamloops for more than three decades, where he has been CHNL's News Director since 1975. And his reporting has in turn helped to define Kamloops itself to people all across Canada.
In addition to in-the-trenches reporting and supervising a staff of nine, Harrison has written and delivered a daily 90-second Editorial Comment five days a week since 1975; it adds up to more than 8,000 editorials. On his open line shows, Harrison has interviewed every BC Premier since Dave Barrett, and every Prime Minister since John Turner. He's been a mentor to the likes of the CBC's Diana Swain, CTV's Lisa Rossington, and TSN's Cory Woron.
Harrison is no stranger to either Jack Webster or to the awards created to honour the legendary BC broadcaster's contribution to excellence in BC journalism.
"Jack would sometimes broadcast from NL, and what impressed me about him was that, in person, he was the opposite of his public persona ? very quiet, thoughtful and polite.
"Winning the Hutchison has just come out of the blue," said Harrison. "and because it's not something I sought, it's that much more special."
In 2003, Harrison led a CHNL team to win a Jack Webster Award for best radio reporting for stories about a government worker's murderous rampage. But the standout experience for Harrison was the series of forests fires in 2003. Robbie Dunn, President of NL Broadcasting Ltd., recalls Harrison staying on air for 16 hours a day for days at a time. "We all rolled up our sleeves for what had to be done," Harrison recalls. "It was a difficult period, but an awfully rewarding one."
As for those astounding 8,000 editorials, Harrison recalls the prospect was "terrifying" at first, but he soon adapted. "I don't get as personal as I did at the beginning, and now I leave it to the end of the day so I can be more timely."
George Garrett, retired CKNW reporter and himself a Bruce Hutchison recipient, says Harrison's great strength is the "credibility he's earned with every newsmaker he's covered, from politicians to labour leaders and community activists. He earns people's trust, and that's why he's got their home phone numbers."
"Jim follows the basic tenets of accuracy, fairness and balance, but this is even harder to do in a smaller community where you're in a fishbowl."
Gord MacDonald, Senior News Editor at CKNW has known Harrison for 25 years. "Jim's a guy with old-fashioned manners and work ethic who has done something that is disappearing in radio newsrooms ? original work. Breaking stories takes a tremendous amount of hard work, especially in a smaller market, and yet Jim has taken a big time approach that has led his newsroom to punch well above its weight."
"Jim is as enthusiastic about doing great things today as he was 34 years ago." Dunn says. "Getting the story first, providing objective reporting and doing it at a high level is Jim's life."
See the dinner presentation video for Jim Harrison.
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