Raylene Knutson

Howard Green talks about his all-time favourite pieces of journalism

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An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die.


TODAY: Broadcaster and documentary filmmaker Howard Green

Howard Green is a journalist, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker. He is anchor of the Business News Network’s Headline and Market Call, and the director, writer and co-producer of the Gemini Award-winning documentary The Investigation of Swissair 111.

Robert MacNeil: The Right Place at the Right Time (1982)
“The title says it all. Robert MacNeil truly was in the right place at the right time. He was in Dallas when President Kennedy was shot; he was in Berlin when the Wall was put up; and in Cuba during the missile crisis. What stuck with me about this book is MacNeil’s sensible, thoughtful and civilized approach to journalism, especially in how he approaches and reports on people. It’s a touchstone on how to practise journalism, and I’ve gone back and reread it a few times throughout my career.”

Paul Hamann: Fourteen Days in May (1987)
“Documentaries have been a huge part of my professional life. I saw this BBC documentary in Philadelphia in 1988 at Input, an international public-television conference. It’s a startlingly emotional film about a Mississippi inmate on death row and the final 14 days of his life before he is executed. You really get to know this man, the doubt surrounding the crime he is convicted of, the inmate’s family and the guy who runs the prison. You get inside these people’s lives, inside their heads, and the clock is ticking down the whole time, and then you’re with him, that night, the night of his execution. There is an unbelievable scene where the film crew says goodbye. It is one of those films that you watch and then have to go for a long walk to clear your head because it was so powerful.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves (2009)
“I have this book dog-eared on my desk and have had the author on my program. It’s a fly-on-the-wall book about the financial crisis and its meltdown. You really get a feel for what key people in Washington and Wall Street were doing, what they were saying to each other, what meetings they went to, what phone calls they had and what they were thinking, minute by minute. It’s very much like watching a documentary. What could be more vivid than former treasury secretary Henry Paulson vomiting in his office as he dealt with the crushing stress? It is a real page-turner of a crisis occurring before your eyes, and the speed at which it was researched and written was astonishing.”


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