The chief news anchor for CTV Ottawa, Graham Richardson, knew from the age of fifteen that he wanted to work in television news, cover politics and become a network anchor.
After graduating from Queens University with a B.A., Graham attended the University of King’s College in Halifax to obtain his Bachelor of Journalism in 1993. His first job was as assignment editor and reporter for CBC Calgary.
For eight years Graham covered Calgary and Edmonton during the early years of Premier Ralph Klein. He was then hired as the Queen’s Park bureau chief and anchor for Global News in Toronto in 2001, eventually becoming the national correspondent, and later a reporter for CTV Toronto. In 2005, he was appointed the bureau chief for CTV National News in Los Angeles.
Returning to Canada as parliamentary correspondent for CTV National News, Graham was hired as the chief news anchor for CTV Ottawa eight years ago. The momentous events in his twenty-five-year career include covering the Michael Jackson trial, space-shuttle landings, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, G-8 meetings, and he has reported from around the globe.
What event that you covered has stayed with you? I will never forget the smell after the category 5 Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), which hit 90,000 square miles off the Gulf Coast and caused $125 billion in damages.
We went into Houston the next day and saw thousands of desperate people with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The social order disintegrated quickly within 24 hours as there was no electricity, clean water, gas, and no access to cash or credit cards. People’s lives were completely turned upside down by the force of Mother Nature and it was truly shocking.
How do you stay informed about the news? I subscribe to the New Yorker and read as much as I can online, consuming the New York Times, The Washington Post and watching CTV National News. I record all three American newscasts at supper hour, and watch NBC Nightly News every night. I subscribe to the Ottawa Citizen and strongly believe that one should pay for good journalism.
What is the most challenging part of your job? Convincing the sceptics that no one is pulling our strings and that we are tough, but fair. No one is telling CTV News what to report and what not to report. In this time of information everywhere, I believe that the mainstream media—the broadcasts of record, the people who employ professional journalists—our role is to sift what is important, what matters, what is relevant.
What is your take on fake news? President Trump is very good at getting attention and cutting through noise using this label. Journalists make mistakes but they don’t make up stories, and if they do they are fired. When there is a negative story about him his defense is to label it fake even if the facts are accurate.
I think Richard Nixon would call Watergate fake in 2018 and it certainly wasn’t. Fake news people argue that there is an industry-wide practice to mislead the public for partisan reasons and it is absurd. There is incredibly tough coverage on an unconventional President who is breaking all the rules and revelling in it. This label is designed to shut down hard-hitting questions and coverage.
What does your future hold? My future holds this for the foreseeable future, and if we are covering local news, I am thrilled to be here. Journalism has changed as consumption is at an all-time high. Business models have been squeezed and there are fewer reporters on the streets than ever before. That is not good for democracy and for what is happening in our cities and our towns. As much as the industry is challenged, people still want to know what happens around the corner, in City Hall and in their city.
GRAHAM RICHARDSON’S FAVOURITE THINGS:
Leisure activity: Biking
Place to escape:
Food: Steak and beer
Beckta Dining & Wine
Guilty pleasure: Craft beer