Oct. 25, 2006
Jim Junkin is well known as CTV Toronto’s veteran Police Beat reporter.
Written by: Erika Hogerwaard
He broadcasts live from grisly, emotional and often frightening crime scenes, reporting stories about mysterious dead bodies, fatal car wrecks, murdered children and a man charged with almost 300 sex-related crimes.
Yet Jim Junkin, crime reporter for CTV Toronto, insists his job isn’t dangerous.
“I get to stand back. There’s a million cops around, nobody shoots at me. I’m a pretty happy guy,” said Junkin, when asked whether he thought reporting crime in Toronto was unsafe.
“There’s that distance. I get to go to a crime scene and leave when I want to and there’s always police around,” Junkin continued.
“My attitude is that they don’t pay enough for me to get in harm’s way.”
On Oct. 25, 2006, Junkin took a day off from his 37-year career at CTV to discuss a variety of issues associated with his life as a television crime reporter with journalism students at Centennial College.
Junkin’s career in broadcasting began when he was 15 and a Grade 11 dropout, when he made around $300 a month working as a DJ at a local radio station in Oakville. Financial interests led him to look for additional work.
“I applied to CTV – or CFTO back then – and I was actually just looking for part-time work because I wasn’t making very much money in radio,” Junkin said.
“But anyway, they said, ‘We’ve got an opening, come on down.”
Junkin was hired at the TV station in 1969 for $12,000 a year, and spent the next 12 years at CTV anchoring the weekend news and reporting the daily news. In the mid-1980s he became the station’s police reporter, and in 2005, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Radio-TV News Directors Association of Canada.
Junkin currently reports crime for the noon and 6 p.m. local news on CTV, as well as reporting for CTV Newsnet and the network’s Internet broadcasts.
So how does someone with a limited education maintain such a vaulted status in the competitive field of broadcast journalism?
“If I’m good at it then it means job security, because life basically is based on performance. You show up every day and you do a great job,” said Junkin. “I decided that I was going to be as good as I could get.”
“I’ve probably got 300 people across town who would love to come and do my job, and do it cheaper. So that’s why I’ve got to go out and ‘get ‘er,’ because they’d be happy to hire those guys.”
For Junkin, getting “‘er” involves numerous things – following tips from a variety of sources, such as the various police divisions and departments; cultivating and maintaining dependable relationships with valuable sources, including Staff Inspector Brian Raybould, unit commander of Toronto’s homicide squad; and importantly, retaining a sense of professionalism and focus in a field that would leave many overwhelmed.
“There was a fire one time, and this poor little girl was pulled out of the fire and literally had the skin dripping off of her, and one of my camera guys just lost it. He had to go home,” said Junkin, when asked if he’d ever lost control while reporting. “I was there, I saw it too, but I thought, ‘You’ve got to get a grip,’ because I had to be on TV in 20 minutes.”
“I could have left, but pros don’t leave. That’s my focus, that’s what I’m here for. You deal with it later.”
Junkin had plenty of advice for the fledgling journalists, from tips on how to start building relationships with integral police sources to recommendations for reporting on contentious issues such as race, grieving families and anonymous leads.
Before leaving to cruise the streets on his motorcycle, one of Junkin’s favourite hobbies, he made sure to reinforce the safety of crime reporting to the Centennial College students.
“The biggest risk? I don’t know. Flying in the helicopter I guess, because I know it could crash any time. I don’t take a lot of risks,” Junkin said.
“I’m basically a chicken and I like to go home at night, so I play it safe.”