Monday, 15 January 2007

Remembering Jamie

Does Quebecor consider a promise to a dying young man expendable fluff, something that can be eliminated with the stroke of a bookkeeper's pen?

It would seem so now that the Toronto Sun's annual Jamie Westcott Memorial Award for crime reporting has been quietly eliminated by the media conglomerate, a decision attributed to cost-saving cutbacks.

Jamie Westcott won four newspaper awards in his three short years in the Sun newsroom, all the while battling cancer with the same bravado as our national hero, Terry Fox.

Before Jamie died at 25 on June 13, 1989, the Sun told him he would not be forgotten; an annual award for crime reporting would be awarded in his name.

Jamie's father, Clare Westcott, said knowing he wouldn't be forgotten meant the world to Jamie, whose goal in the last few years of his life was to succeed as a newsman.

Sun colleagues applauded the gesture and the awards were presented through the 1990's.

There is no heart, or soul, left at Sun Media if a promise to a dying man can't be honoured.

If Quebecor's goal is to sever all ties to Doug Creighton and the glory days of the Toronto Sun, when Sun "Family" meant something, it is succeeding in a most shameful manner.

A comment posted by Dennis Earl to Toronto Sun Family: 1971 - 2007 at January 16, 2007:

I very much enjoyed the tributes to the Westcott family. Out of curiosity, I did a Google search and found something that I'd like to add to the story.

The day after Jamie's death from cancer, two members of the 34th Parliament of Ontario noted the tragedy with kind remarks during an afternoon session of the Legislative Assembly. First up was Cochrane South MP Alan William Pope (PC):

"I note with regret the passing of James Westcott, a police reporter with the Toronto Sun. While a high school student, Jamie was recognized for his contributions to his school through numerous awards and distinctions that he earned while he attended that school in London. He was an excellent student.

"In his all-too-brief journalism career, through hard work and dedication, he shared or received himself numerous awards and citations. He was a credit to his profession, which in return respected him. He was a source of pride to his family, who loved him. He carried his pain and the effects of his disease with dignity until his life ended at the age of 25.

"To his mother and dad, Virginia and Clare, whom many of us know so well, and to all his family and friends, all members of the Legislative Assembly offer our sincerest condolences at the passing of Jamie Westcott."

Then, later on, Richard Frank Johnson, the NDP member representing Scarborough West, said: "I wish to briefly join the comments by the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) about the very sad passing of Jamie Westcott, which most of us have read about in the papers today. He was a young 25-year-old reporter, and in connection with this House, the son of a servant of this place for many, many years - Clare Westcott, a constituent of mine.

"Along with his wife, Virginia, he is, I am sure, suffering a great deal, as do all families that have a premature death of this sort strike them. On behalf of our caucus colleagues, I would like to pass on our condolences to that family today in this time of need."

Pretty amazing that a 25-year-old journalist, already successful and highly decorated, would inspire two politicians of different philosophical persuasions to acknowledge his death in the classy, graceful manner that they did.

Dennis Earl - The Writings of Dennis Earl

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