By Regan Reid
Kirk Makin has been a court reporter for The Globe and Mail for over three decades. He has covered countless cases, read tens of thousands of judgments and spent numerous hours talking to lawyers. It may not sound ideal to some, but Makin says he has loved it since his first day on the job.
The Globe and Mail hired him as an intern in 1979 and within three months he was assigned to the Queen’s Park bureau. Though he says he floundered in that position, he was quickly moved to the courts bureau – where he’s been ever since.
Makin credits his long and successful career to one year spent working as an editor of a certain campus newspaper – The Eyeopener.
“I will always attribute the fact that I stayed in journalism, finished the program and have the job I have, to The Eyeopener,” he says.
Makin was in his second year studying journalism at Ryerson when he was elected editor of The Eye in 1978. From that point on, he immersed himself in the newspaper, often working 80-hour weeks.
“To me, Ryerson was The Eyeopener. That’s where I got educated,” he says.
He learned the ins and outs of journalism, but also some important lessons about himself. Not the least of which being, he never wanted to be in management again.
“I didn’t like the way I could pressure people to produce and come through – and I mean, people do have to come through at a newspaper,” he says “But I’d rather be a friend . . . and a colleague than a boss.”
Whether he was a friend or a boss, Makin is proud of his time at The Eye and he can’t help but praise the efforts of his team – many of whom are successful journalists today.
“We were just always trying to sort of reach further and higher,” he says “We’d do 24-page papers and say, ‘Let’s do 28.’ We even had a 32 – which is huge.”
One of his favourite memories of his time at the paper was when The Eye and a number of student activists (who he describes as “young communists”) took over the administration building to protest tuition fees.
Makin and his comrades occupied the building for four days, effectively grinding the institution to a halt.
“The President, the Vice President – we had their offices. There were about 50 to 100 of us occupying at any given time,” he laughs. “So that was exciting.”
So what advice does Makin have for aspiring journalists?
“Number one: go to The Eyeopener. I mean it. I would be nothing without The Eyeopener. That is the total truth.”