renowned editors of canadian newspapers: black jack robinson

John R. Robinson

Awhile back, I posted some browning profiles of prominent Canadian newspaper editors. Here's the last of the Toronto-related pieces, featuring long-time Telegram editor John "Black Jack" Robinson. As historian Jesse Edgar Middleton once noted, Robinson spared no mercy for municipal politicians "who showed signs of ‘wobbling’ or seemed unduly eager for self-aggrandisement."

According to Telegram chronicler Ron Poulton, the best description of Robinson was provided by longtime Mail and Empire/Globe and Mail columnist J.V. McAree, "who envisioned him hurrying through the streets with a gait like an Indian on the trail, eyes down, pockets stuffed with newspapers, coat everlastingly flapping. He sometimes passed his own daughters without seeing them. Friends who haled him were grabbed in passing and coaxed to keep up. McAree thought that Robinson was colour-blind to all shades between black and white. 'Either a thing was something to thank God for or it was an outrage.'"

His daughter Judith followed in his journalistic footsteps, joining the Globe the same year he died. During the 1930s she became a prominent political columnist, arousing the ire of the federal government for criticizing its heavy-handed attempts to censor the press during the early days of World War II. She ended up at the Telegram, serving as the paper's chief Ottawa columnist until her death in 1961.

Additional material from The Paper Tyrant by Ron Poulton (Toronto: Clarke Irwin, 1971).


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