Vivian Smith

CanWest Global Fellow in Media
September 1, 2008 - December 31, 2008

Vivian SmithTeaching

During her term as Fellow, Smith taught JOU 9727 Media Organizations in the Graduate Program in Journalism.


Vivian Smith is a veteran journalist, teacher and editorial consultant who has spent nearly 30 years writing about Canada and Canadians.

She has a long association with Western, graduating with a BA in French in 1975, and earning an MA – and the Dean’s Medal – at Western’s School of Journalism in 1977. She has served on the school’s advisory committee, and taught feature-writing at Western last year. In 1993, Smith joined with full-time Western journalism faculty to teach Kenyan women journalists in Nairobi.

“It is wonderful to be returning to Western as the CanWest Global fellowship holder,” said Smith, who now lives in Victoria, B.C. “I hope to be as helpful to the next generation of journalists as my Western instructors were for me.”

Smith came to the fellowship with a strong background in reporting and editing, meticulous about the quality of journalism she produces and edits. She is known in the industry as an inspiring coach of staff in newsrooms, working with editors, reporters and managers to hone their skills. A particular strength is her ability to direct and work with young, inexperienced reporters. “Coaching is hugely rewarding work. On-the-job training inspires journalists at all levels of experience to keep doing their best work for the public,” Smith said.

After many years at the Globe and Mail in Toronto, Ms. Smith began a freelance writing career in 1994, along with journalism instruction and consulting. She wrote a newspaper column,The Power Years, about baby-boomer issues, and has contributed to national publications from Maclean’s to the National Post to Canadian Living.

Smith held many posts in The Globe’s newsroom, advancing to become National Beats Editor. She wrote the paper's Family column, produced special reports for the news and business departments, was front-page features editor in Report On Business, and, as a reporter, covered social trends, consumer issues, business profiles and general assignment news.

While National Beats Editor, Smith also headed coverage for Toronto, served on the management committee and was a founding member of its Women's Readership Committee. As National Edition Editor, she toured Canada to talk to community, business and political leaders about the paper’s national vision.

During her fellowship, Smith taught a course in newsroom organization, as well as conducted research into the relationship between the demographics of newsrooms and what makes news. “I want to explore how mid-life, mid-career journalists in particular feel about their impact on editorial decisions, and how that affects public discourse and policies,” said Smith. “This is an area that I think will interest journalists, students, media owners, and, most importantly members of the Canadian public, who pay to read or listen to our words every day.”