Michener Awards Foundation to honor star John Honderich

Former Toronto Star editor and publisher John Honderich will posthumously receive the 2022 Michener Awards Foundation’s Michener-Baxter Prize.

The award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to Canadian journalism, was also presented to former Montreal Gazette Editorial Director Norman Webster and the international media development organization Journalists for Human Rights.

Coming from a legendary media family (his father, Beland, was appointed editor-in-chief of the Star in 1955), Honderich was considered a champion of journalism, reporting, and progressive values. He died in February of a heart attack, leaving his family to accept and recognize the award on his behalf.

Honderich, who served as president of Torstar Corp. until its sale to NordStar Capital in 2020, was involved in various aspects of the journalism world, often helping out behind the scenes. He was a member of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and received the 2019 Canadian Foundation for Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his devoted stewardship of the craft.

“When Canadian Press was floundering, he was there. When little J-Source was struggling, he was there. When the Michener Awards Foundation was in financial straits, he was there, gathering donors and serving on the board for 26 years,” he said. Michener Awards Foundation in a press release. “He was the force behind the Atkinson Public Policy Fellowship, one of several vehicles he supported in pursuit of a social justice agenda. He was an early patron of the Canadian Nieman Fellowship, joining as a trustee in 2001 and serving on the Selection Committee since 2005.”

Robin Honderich, his son and director of editorial analysis and content monetization at Star, felt that if his father were still alive, he would have been delighted to receive this award. He also mentioned that since Wednesday would have been her father’s birthday, it feels like a “really nice early birthday present.”

“In my dad’s next book, he describes the Michener Awards as ‘arguably the most important journalism award in the country.’ He continues to express the great pride he felt every time a Torstar property was nominated,” said Robin. “Accepting this honor would surely have been one of his proudest moments. Our only regret is that he is no longer with us to enjoy it.”

“John was willing to roll up his sleeves and get the job done. He represented journalism at its best, always investing in the public interest and never succumbing to fear,” the press release says.

The award was established in 1983 and has only been awarded to eight Canadians since its inception. This year’s awards were special as it was the first time the Michener-Baxter Awards received nominations from the public.

The three Michener-Baxter Prizes will be presented at a ceremony this fall, along with the Michener Prize and the Michener Fellowships.


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