Ghostwriter – Author – Journalist

Journalist Larry Stout was ‘the master of clarity in news’

By on July 27, 2020 in Articles with 0 Comments

Larry Stout always loved ABBA. On a family road trip, his son John asked him why he listened to their music so much. “He told me when he got out of Beirut at a pretty hairy time during the civil war, the first music he heard when he was safe was ABBA. And he said hearing ABBA always made him feel safe.”

Mr. Stout, who died in Toronto on June 27 at the age of 80, was an on-air reporter in the early days of television news. For many years he worked as a roving international correspondent for the CBC’s Newsmagazine, in Nicaragua one week, then covering the Pope’s funeral a few weeks later.

Lawrence Stout was born in Hamilton on Sept. 11, 1939, a day after Canada declared war on Germany. His father, Tom, soon joined the army, and Larry spent his early years with his mother, Reta. When his father, a practising Catholic, returned from the war, he worked at a golf club for a while, but when he found they wouldn’t let Jewish people in as members, he quit. “My grandfather said he didn’t fight the Nazis to come back and face anti-Semitism at home,” John said.

The Stout family was not rich, and Larry held several jobs during university to pay his tuition. He delivered beer for Brewer’s Retail, worked on a garbage truck and even did some grave digging at a cemetery in Dundas, Ont.

After graduating from Assumption University – now the University of Windsor – his first job in broadcasting was at CKOC in Hamilton reading the news between 5 a.m. and 7.30 a.m. Mr. Stout then worked on the streets as a reporter for CKOC, one of the few radio reporters of his era with a university degree. After a year, he moved to CKEY in Toronto. He spent a year at the Toronto Star and then was hired at the CBC in 1964. He soon graduated from local news to the national desk and worked producing news items for what was then the 11 o’clock national news.

He was seconded to Newsmagazine, a program that produced a half-hour in-depth news feature every week. Putting the show on the air was an amazing accomplishment in an era when film had to be developed and edited. Mr. Stout became one of its star reporters because he was reliable and smart.

“He was very diligent. If he said something on the air, you knew it was going to be right,” said Trina McQueen, who was executive producer of the National News in the mid-1970s. “He was also very funny. I really loved him. He was someone everybody loved.”

The world of television news was filled with egos and ambition, but Mr. Stout was always a straight shooter, according to many people who worked with him.

His reporting took him to Latin America: El Salvador and Nicaragua as the Sandinistas were fighting to take over from the Somoza dictatorship, and the 1973 coup in Chile that deposed Salvador Allende.

Mr. Stout also spent a lot of time in the Middle East. He left Beirut in a hurry twice, once in an emergency evacuation on a U.S. naval ship, the USS Spiegel Grove. During one foreign trip, he learned of a personal tragedy back home.

“During the Yom Kippur War … I travelled with several people and a lot of equipment across the desert from Benghazi, Libya, to Cairo, Egypt …. We discovered on arrival that getting news reports out was impossible because of tight security, and while there, I learned that my father had died in Hamilton,” he told a reporter later.

At the time, American TV networks were hiring Canadian television news reporters. The accent was pretty much the same, the training was first class, and reporters from Morley Safer to Mark Phillips made the jump. A reporter asked Mr. Stout why he didn’t move to the Amnets, as Canadian TV types called the U.S. networks.

“Quite frankly, I’ve never been invited, and I’ve never pursued it. I guess I’m a nationalist, and I feel comfortable here,” he said.

Mr. Stout worked on news specials, covering events such as federal and provincial elections. He also covered local stories. In 1972, he won the Edward R. Murrow Award for a documentary called Apartment Wars about Toronto development.

Mr. Stout was a religious Catholic, although he never spoke about his faith at work. He did cover the deaths of two Popes in one year and was delighted to be included as part of the team covering the Canadian tour of the Polish Pope, John Paul II in 1984.

When asked by a CBC publicist about the most exciting event he ever covered, Mr. Stout answered: “For sheer spectacle and a great sense of what Canada’s all about, I’d have to say co-hosting the Pope’s visit. It was 10 exhausting and exhilarating days from Newfoundland to B.C.”

A short while after that, he left the CBC and moved to CTV, where he was the chief of the Toronto Bureau, doubling as an on-air reporter. Later, he was a news writer for CTV’s national news and an occasional anchor on CTV Newsnet. At CTV he joined his colleague Lloyd Robertson, with whom he had worked at the CBC.

“Larry was an all-rounder,” Mr. Robertson said. “He covered a broad swath in journalism.”

Tim Kotcheff ran Newsmagazine and specials when Mr. Stout was at the CBC and later hired him to work at CTV. He said Mr. Stout’s strength was writing and knowing how to put a story together.

“I always use Larry’s work as an example to journalism students. He was the master of clarity in news. He really knew how to write for television,” Mr. Kotcheff said.

A short time after Mr. Stout left the news business, he started having memory problems and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was the subject of the last news story he was involved in when he went missing after walking away from the home where he was living in downtown Toronto. He was later found unharmed.

Mr. Stout leaves his sister, Elaine; his children, Michael, John and David, who were the product of his first marriage, to Dennie Sutherland; and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, CBC broadcaster Sheila Shotton, in 2009.

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About the Author

About the Author: Fred has had a full career as a CBC TV host and reporter. He has written countless articles for many renowned publications such as The Economist, The Globe and Mail, BusinessWeek and many more, as well as more than 2000 obituaries. He is also a successfully published author and ghostwriter. His current projects include writing and co-authoring books, as well as lending his talents as a speaker and interviewer for webcasts. .

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