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By Daniel Sellers

By quarter to nine last Thursday night, the crowd at the back of Toronto’s Esplanade Bier Markt had thinned into discrete, scattered clusters. The party launching the Spring 2014 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism was over, and members of funk and soul cover band Soular were beginning to set up their gear. Lead singer Dione Taylor paused in front of the stage for a moment and watched.

A couple of hours earlier, the space where she now stood was occupied by a long table on which overlapping copies of the new Review—at 110 pages, the longest in the magazine’s history—were arranged into several wide fans. Students, family, friends, faculty and journalists mingled over drinks and helped themselves to appetizers from trays carried aloft and circulating the room. Harvey Cashore, senior producer of CBC News’s special investigations unit (and a past Review profile subject himself), chatted with a couple of members of this year’s masthead. Cashore grinned, impishly. “Where’s the Rob Ford room?” he asked, a reference to one of the mayor’s infamous nights of alleged excess. Told that bar staff had been asked that question already but wouldn’t give up any information, Cashore cast his eyes around the party. “A whole roomful of journalists—somebody ought to be able to figure it out.”

Seemingly, there was little appetite for the assignment, and little time. About half an hour later, Reviewinstructor Tim Falconer managed to gain the attention of most of the crowd and initiate the part of the evening devoted to speeches. He quoted Brian Stewart, former senior correspondent for CBC’s The National. “It’s always puzzled me how the Review is always so good,” Stewart recently told Falconer on a visit to the magazine’s lab.

Building and maintaining that reputation has taken significant contributions of time and expertise from a number of people, and the launch party’s second and final speaker, editor Megan Jones, waited out intermittent applause while thanking a laundry list of this year’s helpers: the magazine’s art director and designer, its lawyer and a dozen different story editors.

When the speeches were about to begin, Cashore glanced at his watch and said that he couldn’t stay much longer. But before he left, he told a story from the years he spent investigating the Airbus affair. For a time, he worked with German reporter John Goetz, and the two made it their summer goal in 1999 to get their hands on former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s bank statements. However unlikely their success was at the outset, three months later they had the documents. “Half the battle,” Cashore said, standing in front of the magazine table, “is having the confidence to know that you can do it.”

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Posted on March 24, 2014