How I left journalism to write a public health column

How I left journalism to write a public health column

Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’

Toronto Community Health at SickKids, a division of Toronto Public Health, has published an open letter to public health professionals, which includes a guest column by a former journalist who regularly writes about health issues. Here, the former editor and publisher of The Star offers her own perspective on what the open letter said about women’s health and women’s reproductive rights, and she explains why she left journalism to spend more time with her family.

As a female journalist, there are things about journalism that are very appealing — I enjoy the variety of my work and the personal connection with my readers and colleagues. But there is also a darker side to my job. I’ve never known the level of abuse that some women journalists experience at the hands of their male counterparts. Sometimes they are threatened or retaliated against, and sometimes they’re physically threatened or abused. This is a very common occurrence in the newsroom.

There are hundreds of articles published each day. It is a challenging environment for many women and some of them are the ones who make the biggest impacts. When I began reporting on reproductive health, I was surprised to have this level of hostility and abuse. It was never a topic that I wrote about or covered — but I’m now seeing it quite frequently.

So I decided to take a look at my own experience when I left the newsroom. I decided to go back to the Toronto Star to see what had happened and to write my own open letter to my fellow TPS readers and the public health sector.

After leaving journalism, I was asked by my editor and publisher, Barbara McIvor, if I wanted to write a public health column. I was initially hesitant. I was afraid it would only be the usual fare of being the only female editor with a female column.

I was then asked if I wanted to write something more personal, like a how-to column, or a commentary that would be less about women’s health and more about what was happening in our city. I was more concerned with whether I wanted to write something less personal than I wanted to write something more.

It was important to me that I felt comfortable

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