Peter Mansbridge’s Commencement Address

Canada's most cherished newsman made a surprise appearance at PanU's spring grad

There are gentlemen. And then there’s Peter Mansbridge. The most cherished voice in Canadian news, Mansbridge made a surprise “commencement speech” of sorts at our Spring ’20 Grad. He offered an inspirational message on the importance of writing and journalism in times of crisis, drawing from his 50 years in the business of media and publishing, most of which were spent anchoring CBC The National.

Peter kindly stuck around for an hour-long AMA. As he took questions from the PanU community, we learned a lot about Mr. News that we didn’t know.

We learned that he got his career start at 19 while waiting to catch a flight. ; someone from CBC told him he had a great voice that should be on the radio, and so it was—the very next day. We learned of his thousands of interviews the one “that went most off the rails” was with the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher.” We learned that he has a little bit of FOMO right now, as the biggest story of our lifetimes plays out before us, and that his DIY podcast The Bridge ruffled some feathers at the CBC because of his insistence on keeping it independent.

Lastly, we learned that he’s loved airplanes since childhood. As a show of thanks we presented him with an Honourary Aviation Licence from Pandemic University. (Don’t worry! We were clear to remind him that we’re neither an accredited university nor pilot school, and that he should not, under any circumstances, attempt to operate an aircraft with this licence.) He was nevertheless a good sport about it. “I’ll print this and frame this and put it right beside my doctorate from Trump University,” he said.

Here’s Peter’s commencement address and his AMA with the Class of Stay Home 2020.

Peter Mansbridge’s Commencement Address

How did you handle covering difficult stories, and how would you handle one that just doesn’t stop like the pandemic?

Question from Rosa Sana

What’s your advice for managing life and work when big news events overlap with big personal events?

Question from Lys Morton

As we transition from one unified story about the pandemic to many, what value can we take from the fragmented stories we’ll find that comes out of this pandemic?

Question from Jennifer Cockrall-King

What were your best and worst moments in the profession?

Question from Peter Jarvis

What books have you been reading in quarantine?

Question from Julie Rohr

What have you learned from podcasting?

Question from Natasha Chiam

Is long-form TV journalism a good training ground for long-form narrative journalism?

Question from Margo Harper

Who were your writing and journalism mentors?

Question from Pamela Young

Be honest, do you have FOMO right now?

Question from Omar Mouallem