Release Date: March 22, 2010
Media Contact: Dale Johnson, External Relations
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Director of Al Jazeera English to deliver landmark 30th Anniversary James M. Minifie Lecture

Tony Burman, managing director of Al Jazeera's English-language international news channel (AJE), will deliver the 30th Annual James M. Minifie Lecture, hosted by the School of Journalism at the University of Regina. The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m., in the Education Auditorium.

Burman will deliver a talk entitled "Turning the world back on: Journalism and the new global reality."

"The Minifie Lecture has long been noted as one of the most prestigious lecture series at the University of Regina and annually draws an audience of hundreds," says Head of the School of Journalism, Mitch Diamantopoulos. "With Al Jazeera English now cleared for broadcast in Canada, this year's speaker will address some timely and important issues for Canadian democrats, including war-journalism, press freedoms, and media globalization."

This year's lecture will coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the School of Journalism and the launch of the new book Thirty Years of Journalism and Democracy:  The Minifie Lectures, 1981-2010. Published by the Canadian Plains Research Center, in cooperation with the School of Journalism, the book contains each of the 30 Minifie lectures, including lectures by such noted journalists and dignitaries as Pamela Wallin, Valerie Pringle, Peter Mansbridge, Lloyd Robertson, Rex Murphy, Adrienne Clarkson, Evan Solomon, Kevin Newman and Terry Milewski. Partial proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Minifie Lecturer's Scholarship, which will be granted to eligible students at the School of Journalism.

Burman has been in his current role since May 2008. During this period, AJE-currently being broadcast in 150 million households in more than 100 countries-has provided exclusive coverage of the Israeli/Gaza conflict as well as groundbreaking news and programming from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. From 2000 to 2007, Burman was editor-in-chief and executive director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC News) and initiated the successful integration of CBC's radio, TV and online operations.  In a 35-year career with the CBC, he was an award-winning news and documentary producer with field experience in 30 countries. His programs have been seen in a dozen countries, and he has received more than 100 awards for programming and network achievements in Canada, the US, the UK, France, Monaco and Argentina.

James M. Minifie, one of Canada's most courageous journalists, was born in Burton-on-Trent, England in 1900. His father was a hay and feed dealer who joined the adventurous pioneers then immigrating to Canada in 1909. The family homesteaded at Vanguard, near Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

As a boy, James M. Minifie shared in the sparse comforts and many hardships of early prairie life. His father had led the campaign for the tiny school where he attended lessons after early morning farm chores. At the age of 16, he talked his way into the Canadian Army, serving in Europe during the First World War.

On his return to Canada, he attended Regina College, forerunner of the University of Regina. He went on to the University of Saskatchewan, graduating in 1923; studied at Oriel College at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar; and finished his education at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Minifie's career as a journalist began in 1929 when he joined the staff of the New York Herald Tribune as a reporter, subsequently becoming a Paris correspondent. During the Spanish Civil War he was captured by Franco's forces and returned to Paris when released. Later, he went to Rome to report on Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator.

In the Second World War, Minifie reported the Battle of Britain from London. While watching an air raid during the Blitz, shattered glass from the blast of a German bomb cost him an eye. Transferred to Washington, he joined the Office of Strategic Services and at war's end was awarded the American Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the Allied cause.

Soon after, James M. Minifie's long association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation began as he became a Washington correspondent. For 15 years, first on radio, then on television, he built up a large following of devoted listeners and viewers who waited for the famous, "This is James M. Minifie ..."

He wrote several highly regarded books before being overtaken by illness in 1968. Moving to Victoria, B.C., because of poor health, he died in 1974. In June 1980, the James M. Minifie Fund was set up to help support the School of Journalism at the University of Regina. The fund has provided the school with modern facilities for classes in all aspects of journalism.

There is no cost to attend the lecture. A reception and book launch will follow the formal program. Free parking is available in the "M" areas of Lots 6, 14 and 17.