Peter Desbarats

CanWest Global Fellow in Media
September 1, 2007 - December 31, 2007

Peter DesbaratsTeaching

During his term as Fellow, Desbarats taught JOU 728 Media and Politics in the Graduate Program in Journalism.


Peter Desbarats was Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Western from 1981 to 1997. Prior to joining Western, he worked as a print and television journalist for 30 years, primarily covering politics. His last media positions before entering academia were as national affairs columnist for The Toronto Star and Ottawa Bureau Chief and co-anchor for Global Television.

During the final years of his appointment at Western, Desbarats was seconded to serve as one of three commissioners of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia. This inquiry was appointed by the Canadian government to investigate misconduct by Canadian soldiers in Somalia in 1992-93. The experience formed the basis for Desbarats' book Somalia Cover-Up – A Commissioner's Journal (1997).

Desbarats has authored a number of research reports for federal inquiries examining aspects of media and communications and is cited frequently in the media as an authority on Canadian journalism. He is the author of the journalism text Guide to Canadian News Media (1996).

In addition to his work as a journalist, Desbarats has published widely in a variety of genres, including children's books, plays, and political analysis, including a best-selling biography of René Lévesque (1976). His most recent plays, the political comedies Her Worship (2002) and The Practical Joke (2005), were produced on the McManus Stage of the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.

Desbarats was a Director of the Canadian Journalism Foundation, was the founding Chair of its annual Excellence Award, and served on its adjudication committee. He was also a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and in 2006 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Desbarats named to Grantham Prize jury


Peter Desbarats, former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Western (1981 to 1997) and CanWest Global Fellow in Media for September 2007 - December 2007 in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, has been named a juror for the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment.

This is the third year of competition for this prestigious prize, which provides a $75,000 cash award annually to a journalist or a team of journalists in North America in recognition of exemplary reporting on the environment.

Desbarats joins four current Grantham Prize jurors: Jury Chair Philip Meyer, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication; David Boardman, executive editor of the Seattle Times; Diane Hawkins-Cox, senior producer with the CNN Science & Technology Unit in Atlanta, Georgia; and Robert B. Semple, Jr., associate editor of the editorial page, The New York Times.

"Peter Desbarats brings a great wealth of journalism and educational experience to the Grantham Prize jury," said Jury Chair Philip Meyer. "His outstanding reputation and standing among Canadian journalists will be invaluable to the Prize in identifying exceptional environmental journalism entries across the country."

Desbarats currently serves as CanWest Global Fellow in Media in FIMS, and is teaching a course on media and politics in the Graduate Program in Journalism. In addition, he continues to write occasional political commentary for The Globe and Mail and remains active on a number of boards and committees, including the Canadian Journalism Foundation and the Canadian Media Research Consortium, among others. In 2006, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

To learn more, visit the Grantham Prize website.