Monday, 2 April 2007

Re Rob Lamberti

Rob Lamberti has been living the dream as a big city tabloid crime reporter for 22 years.

He is "Sun 12" to the Toronto Sun police desk when out covering the streets of Toronto in his car. That is the radio number he inherited from Henry Stancu in 1985 when Henry decided to chase ambulances for the Toronto Star.

Rob is a special breed of journalist. Most police beat reporters burn out after a few years of constant exposure to murder, mayhem, missing kids and highway carnage. The Toronto Star's legendary Jocko Thomas was an exception, as was Cal Millar.

After 22 years on the cop desk, the award-winning crime reporter still breathes in harmony with police and ambulance dispatch calls waiting for the next big story. His competitive nature has won him numerous awards, including Toronto and Etobicoke Fire Department Awards, Edward Dunlop Awards and a few Jamie Westcott Memorial Awards.

Rob, who has shared police desk duties with a lot of colleagues over the years, fondly remembers working with Jamie Westcott and Mark Stewart, two dedicated award-winning crime reporters taken much too soon by cancer. Jamie was 25, Mark was 38.

"They are missed," says Rob.

Rob's views on reporting on crime?

"I have always thought crime reporting was fairly black and white. You are either alive or dead. The only grey area tends to be what condition the victim is in. There are politics involved in policing, but I am more interested in writing about life on the streets."

Make that writing about life on the streets and watching
Homicide: Life on the Streets, one of his favourite cop shows.

More than most citizens, Rob is in tune with a city in turmoil.

"Crack has changed the city. It has also become less civil and more gang oriented. The city lost a great opportunity to deal with gangs when the police force disbanded its street crime unit because of political expediency and correctness. Now, it's too late."

Rob has also seen turmoil at the Sun he loves with a passion. Newsroom changes that have diminished the tabloid's ability to compete as a major daily newspaper.

That is why he is chair of the newsroom's Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild unit, working with entertainment writer Jim Slotek, who is the new vice-chair.

Rob says as journalists, they want a "
better workplace, one where we stand united against the competition to get the best stories and provide the best coverage, but instead we stand united trying to survive another day."

Rob says beating the competition is the ultimate high for journalists and he remembers the Sun police desk doing just that repeatedly when it had ample staff.

His cop desk highs?

"There were several moments, such as the arrest of two of the four killers of TD teller Nancy Kidd. We had front page exclusive coverage, while the rest of the media knew nothing.

"We had front page exclusive coverage of the gangland-style hit on Eddy Melo, while the rest of the media knew nothing.

"There were the tragic murders of two children in an arson by their violent father in Scarborough. I had the exclusive interview with the victims' mom and grandparents. The grandfather was a retired Toronto fire captain."

The irony of working the police beat is the violence you abhor earns you a paycheque.

So how does a veteran crime reporter unwind at the end of a shift?

Rob collects comics, but not just any comics.

"I have been collecting on-and-off since I was a kid. Favourites include the Marvel universe of characters, but
I have also come to appreciate others, depending on the artist, such as Neal Adams, Jack "King" Kirby, Steve Ditko and others.

Crime comics, not so much.

"Crime comics usually have cool covers with the gangsters' molls, always with pronounced headlights, but the stories were often poorly written and drawn."

Rob the family man shares his life with Siobhan Moore. She doesn't mind him talking shop because most of her working life has involved journalism. That is how they met. She was a Sun assistant city editor and newsroom chats developed into a lasting relationship.

"Friendly chit-chat led to bigger and better things," says Rob.

That's a big 10-4, Sun 12.

1 comment:

  1. Any update on John Givelas? did he actually have his car taken as is the case for the average Joe.
    When is his court date or are we in for another Jaffer special !!! what a joke.