'Welcome to the Broadcast': How Anglicanism Helped Make News Anchor Don Newman a Class Act on Parliament Hill

By Swift, Diana | Anglican Journal, April 2014 | Go to article overview

'Welcome to the Broadcast': How Anglicanism Helped Make News Anchor Don Newman a Class Act on Parliament Hill


Swift, Diana, Anglican Journal


FOR MORE than three decades, Don Newman held what he considers the best job in television: senior parliamentary editor for the CBC and anchor of such influential programs as This Week in Parliament and Politics. Prime ministers, opposition leaders, premiers and kingmakers would drop in on the savvy Newman to chat about the pivotal issues of the day--knowing they'd be held to account unsparingly but in an evenhanded and decent way.

Newman attributes a large part of his respected reportage to his Anglican upbringing in Canada and in England, where, as the son of a banker, he attended daily chapel for five and a half years at a London private school. "There's no doubt that what I learned as an Anglican is an important part of who I am. What the church tells you is that whatever you do, there is something else in your life. God is a force in your life," he says in his trademark orotund voice.

Newman agrees that while he was holding top politicians feet to the fire of uncompromising scrutiny--"Democracy works best when you have a vigorous free press"--he always strove to be fair, restrained and non-personal. "And I tried never to be a sensationalist"

Today his Anglican devotion varies in its intensity, he admits. 'But at age 73, 1 think I have a right to vary in intensity."

Newman is also thankful to the church for helping him survive two life-altering personal tragedies. In 1992, his 20-year-old son, Lincoln, died while under anesthesia for dental surgery. Less than three years later, he lost his beloved wife, Audrey-Ann, to ovarian cancer. Those events shook his belief in a personal, petitionable God. He now interprets God more deistically, as a universal force that, metaphorically, is "almost like a huge electrical current. We're the lights that plug into it, and if we plug in, we can do infinitely more," he says, echoing the words of the "Glory to God" doxology. …

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