Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Top 20 Under 40 – Daniel Dale

Daniel Dale is Toronto’s acting City Hall bureau chief, covering Rob Ford for the past 3 years.

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: March 13th, 2014 in Culture » Society » Interviews

Shalom Life is proud to present our 4th annual Top 20 Under 40 list. Over the next 20 days, we will showcase 20 individuals of diverse talents and backgrounds that have made a significant contribution to their field both locally and globally. From entrepreneurs to philanthropists, entertainers to doctors, this list places a spotlight on a small sampling of the spectacular, innovative, and passionate Jews that call Toronto home.

Top 20 Under 40: Daniel Dale

Age: 28

Since joining the Toronto Star in 2008, Thornhill’s Daniel Dale has found himself immersed in a world far more controversial, exciting, high-profile, and troubling than one would expect of an acting City Hall bureau chief.

While most City Hall reporters expect to primarily cover municipal concerns including infrastructure, taxes, arts and culture, and perhaps an election every 4 years, Dale investigates and discusses drug abuse, alcoholism, criminal scandals, and police raids… all thanks to Toronto’s current mayor, Rob Ford.

Since Ford became Toronto’s mayor, Dale has been on the City Hall beat covering all the antics that have subsequently become international news, and oft-times satire. Late last year, Dale even became the subject of one of his own stories after Mayor Ford insinuated that he was a pedophile… right in the midst of admitting to crack cocaine use, referencing his wife’s vagina, and extra-marital cheating allegations.

Prior to landing his full-time gig at the Star, Dale interned in the Washington bureau of the Houston Chronicle and at the Guelph Mercury, where he covered sports. He has a BBA from the Sculich School of Business at York University, has won a National Newspaper Award, two Goff Penny awards for top young Canadian journalist, and two Ontario Newspaper Awards.

Dale joined us in conversation regarding his Rob Ford gig at the Star, his plans for the future, his interest in the Arab world and his obsession with colleague Robyn Doolittle’s “obese fluffy orange Pomeranian, Chester.”

ASHLEY BAYLEN (AB): When you’re asked “what you do”, how do you normally respond?

DANIEL DALE (DD): I say “I’m a newspaper reporter.” I don’t mention that I cover Rob Ford, because then I’m in a conversation about Rob Ford, and eventually the whole table is arguing about Rob Ford.

AB: What would you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

DD: I don’t think I’ve done anything that would qualify as a great accomplishment. I’m happy with the work I’ve done on the city hall beat – I’ve felt lucky to have the opportunity to cover this once-in-a-lifetime story, and to be in a position to bring important information to light, to hold politicians to account for their words and actions.

AB: When you’re not working, where can we find you?

DD: At a Raptors game, Indian or Ethiopian restaurant, on my computer reading articles, or rapping vulgar rap songs at Bar+Karaoke. And most often watching bad basketball games on my couch while trying not to fall asleep in my clothes.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How about 20?

DD: Five years, I’d like to be at the Star, writing articles. Twenty years, I really don’t know. With the newspaper industry in the shape it’s in, it’s hard to project that far into the future.

AB: Why did you chose to become involved in the industry you work in? Was there a specific moment or epiphany?

DD: Yeah! I went to business school, and I found it pretty soul-crushing. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done that made me unhappy, and I wondered what I could do that would be less depressing. I decided to do an American Jewish World Service group volunteer trip to Ukraine, and my group was filled with wonderful people who were pursuing meaningful things in their own lives. I thought a lot about what that thing would be for me, and it occurred to me while hanging out with them that I’d find journalism meaningful – I’ve always loved writing and newspapers. I started covering York football and basketball for the campus paper as soon as I got home, then applied for dozens of journalism internships. I got one interview, with the Guelph Mercury, and their awesome editor, a guy named Phil Andrews, decided to take a chance on me despite my lack of knowledge and experience. I spent a great summer covering sports in Guelph, then took a year off school to move to Washington, DC and do internships as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a researcher at the think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Then I got a summer internship at the Star, and it all worked out from there.

Read the second half of our conversation with Daniel Dale on page 2!

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