CBC's Don Newman signing off on final Politics broadcast
Being a journalist has been an honour, a great responsibility and a lot of fun, CBC-TV's Don Newman said Friday morning as the news veteran prepared for the final broadcast of his daily Newsworld program Politics.
Newman, senior parliamentary editor of CBC News, is retiring at month's end after 33 years at the public broadcaster.
"It's been a great run. I joined in 1976, and I've had a great time ever since," Newman, 68, said Friday morning.
"There's an old saying that if you can find a job that you like, you'll never do a day's work in your life. And I don't think I've done a lick of work in the past 33 years, but I've sure had a lot of fun."
Newman's journalism career has spanned four decades, including opening CTV's Washington bureau in 1972 and reporting on the Watergate scandal, helping launch CBC's all-news channel Newsworld in 1989 and covering significant Canadian stories such as the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement and the failed Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords.
The Ottawa-based Newman says he's been surprised by the reaction since revealing his intention to retire earlier this spring.
"I've been overwhelmed, really, by the response. My heart is not swelling with pride, just with affection and thanks for all of the kind words that have been said to me, all of the messages," he said, adding that his career has relied on "great people off-camera" who have supported him.
"I must admit, they do most of the hard work and we [on-air personalities] get all the credit," he said.
"At the end of the day, it's the news and the information and the stories that matter a lot more than we do."
Newman has received many accolades over the years, including the Order of Canada, the National Press Club's Charles Lynch Award for national affairs coverage and the Gordon Sinclair Award for broadcast journalism.
"Journalism is part of democracy, and democracy is the most important thing we have in this world," he said. "It doesn't work without a free press and free television and free radio.
"To be part of that is really a great honour, but it's a great responsibility too. It can also be a lot of fun. When you put the three together, it's hard not to have a passion for it."
Politicians paid tribute to the seasoned broadcaster in Ottawa on Friday, after the Speaker of the House of Commons invited Newman to be in the gallery for Question Period.
"I don't think anyone will be able to say 'the spin stops here' the way Don does," NDP Leader Jack Layton said.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff hailed Newman as "a journalist and a gentleman, a lion of the press gallery" as well as "tough, fair and balanced."
"Bravo, Don; you brought honour to your profession," he added.
CBC management has said that the program Politics will continue on Newsworld this fall and that Newman has agreed to return in some capacity for future elections and political coverage.