And then there were none.....
Suddenly, after several days of rushing from venue to venue on the Concordia Campus, I find myself sitting down to write my final blog instalment.
My conference ended with a session on political biography, featuring four panelists -- among them, famed writer Peter C. Newman, and John English, the editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and recently, the author of a biography of Pierre Trudeau.
It was remarkable to listen to the panel, particularly these two senior members of the panel, as they recounted insiders' stories of the lives of the politicians whom we know consider the giants of 20th century politics -- Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and John Diefenbaker.
In a way, however, it made me lament the end of the days of almost unlimited access to our political leaders.
There's an anecdote I like to tell about sitting in the newsroom of the Calgary Herald, back when I was a news reporter. I was a young man, and I was complaining about the layers of PR that I had to cut through to even reach someone at the Calgary Police Service for comment.
A longtime city editor, and one of my mentors in the newsroom came by and regaled me of tales of what it was like when he was a cub reporter. Decades ago, he would start his day by heading down to the Police Chief's office, where, unannounced, he would sit in the chief's office and the two would share shots of scotch and ponder who might have really killed the victim of whatever murder the force was investigating at the time.
How times have changed. Today, biographers face diminishing access to politicians, and also, with the advent of email, the disappearance of the lengthy, and often telling, correspondences that past biographers relied upon to gain insights into their subjects.
One of the panelists, Adam Chapnick, said he feels political biography has a bright future, particularly because of the public's continuing appetite for it.
The question is, with all these challenges facing them, will tomorrow's biographers be able to feed this appetite?
Anyhow, with this post, my conference comes to an end. I fly home tonight, and hopefully, will have photos and audio from my interviews available on the website in the coming days.
Until then, thanks for reading!
Posted: 01/06/2010 3:46:36 PM
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