Award-winning journalist David Akin is a familiar face to Canadians who follow federal and electoral politics. In his 35-year journalism career, Akin has been a member of the inaugural staff of the National Post, was a contributing writer for The Globe and Mail, and served as Parliamentary Bureau Chief for Sun Media. He’s currently the Chief Political Correspondent for Global News where his work is featured across Global News programs, on Corus Radio stations and on GlobalNews.ca
Follow him @davidakin.
What is it like to be a political correspondent?
It’s the best job in the world. I’ve met and interviewed the world’s richest men — Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos — but I often report on how we as a country are doing to help our poorest and most disadvantaged. My assignments have taken me inside 10 Downing Street, ringside at Guantanamo Bay terror trials, and across Canada’s gorgeous Arctic, from Pangnirtung to Resolute Bay to Whitehorse and many stops in between. I may not know what I’m going to cover when I wake up but I do know that I’m going to meet interesting people doing interesting things.
How do you decide what stories to cover?
By and large, we let our wire service partners cover off what we call “news-of-the-day” or “commodity” news. If we’re going to be involved in ‘news-of-the-day’ coverage, we’ll look for an interesting angle or something that provides our audience with new context or analysis. We’re always looking for exclusives, and we spend a lot of time trying to see what new trends we can discover for our audience. But at the end of the day, we want stories that get our audience talking about what we’ve done.
How does social media factor into your work?
Social media is a very significant factor in my work both for newsgathering and publishing. Twitter is an indispensable tool for keeping up on the things I need to know about and it’s reasonably helpful in pushing my content to audiences. Facebook has a ways to go to be an indispensable tool for newsgathering but it is by far the most valuable tool for our organization when we want to distribute our content on social networks. Snapchat is pretty useless as a newsgathering or personal publishing app. The emerging app that seems to have some traction is Instagram. It’s become very popular with the political players I cover and the numbers I get on my personal account when I publish content is pretty impressive. I am active as well on LinkedIn which is increasingly become the nine-to-five version of Facebook — not a lot of “friends and family” content but a lot of sharing of content about people’s professional lives.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It invariably begins with a pre-dawn scan of what my colleagues have just published and a review of what other news organizations are doing. All of that happens usually on my desktop but sometimes on my phone as I go through Twitter, the websites of our organization and others and — because I’m an old-timer — a look at what’s on the front pages of newspapers from Vancouver to St. John’s. From there, I’m at our bureau on Parliament Hill by about 9:00 a.m., most days. If our Prime Minister is attending Question Period in the House of Commons, I’ll try to be in the House for that at 2:00 p.m. If I’m contributing to that day’s Global National newscast, I’ll spend the back half of the afternoon editing and writing and then I’m homeward bound by about 6:00 p.m., where I usually have a little ‘homework’ (catch up reading reports or work on data projects).
What’s your number one tip for PR people?
Global National has, on a good night, a million people watching. Globalnews.ca has the second largest online audience of any news organization in the country. I expect a public relations person to be very familiar with the programming and content of such a market leader. When I get cold pitches, it is abundantly clear who is paying attention to what we do and who is not.
What was your favourite story to work on?
Tough question. I’ve been a journalist for more than 30 years now so the list of ‘favourite stories’ is a mighty long one. But generally speaking, elections — of all kinds — are my favourite stories. I love being on campaign buses and planes. I love the energy voters bring to election campaigns and the enthusiasm politicians of all stripes bring to the contest. And election nights for me are like the Grey Cups for football fans. I’ve covered five federal elections and about two dozen provincial elections and I am very much looking forward to being a big part of Global’s mix for coverage of provincial elections next year in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. And I (like every major political party) am already working on the next federal general election in 2019.
What’s the story/interview you’d most like to cover?
I was a technology reporter from 1994-2005 and while I interviewed most of the legends who pioneered great advances in digital and Internet technology — from Tim Berners-Lee to Bob Metcalfe to Napster inventor Sean Parker — the one interview I never got was with Steve Jobs. (And, of course, that’s an interview I’ll now never get.) I think Jobs is one of the most fascinating people to have ever lived during my lifetime and since I — and millions of others — now spend most of my professional day in the digital world he and Apple created, I would love to have been able to talk to him about that. As far as the story I’d most like to cover — it’s the next federal election and I’m covering it right now.
First website you load in the morning?
My Nuzzel feed, which you can find here.
Beverage(s) of choice?
Coffee by the quart through the day. And a quart of beer at the end of some days.