Globe and Mail news editor Michael Babad, a journalist and author who shaped business coverage at major Toronto media organizations, died on Thursday after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Mr. Babad, 66, was most recently a widely read columnist and early morning editor at The Globe, where he worked for more than two decades. He was also an editor and reporter at the Toronto Star, Financial Post, Oshawa Times and United Press International.
"Mike Babad was at the very heart of The Globe and Mail’s journalism. Empathetic, accurate, charming, competitive and happiest when learning and teaching,” said David Walmsley, The Globe’s editor-in-chief. Mr. Walmsley said: "He influenced the newsroom with his gentle presence. Deeply knowledgeable of all aspects of newspapering, successive editors and reporters relied heavily on his smarts.”
Mr. Babad and his wife, Catherine Mulroney, parents of four children, co-wrote three business books over two decades. Fuelled by strong, early morning coffee that Mr. Babad also brewed for newsroom colleagues, the pair produced Campeau: The Building of an Empire; Pillars: The Coming Crisis in Canada’s Financial Industry; and Where the Buck Stops: The Dollar, Democracy and the Bank of Canada.
“Mike Babad was known for his humour, his insights and his energy,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a tribute on Twitter. Mr. Babad worked with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland when she was a Globe editor. Mr. Trudeau said: “As an author, columnist, editor and mentor, his contributions to journalism in Canada were vast and will not be forgotten. My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues as they mourn his passing.”
For much of his career, Mr. Babad was part of a team that ran business coverage at major Canadian media outlets and helped chronicle the corporate agenda. As a Toronto-based wire-service writer and editor at UPI, his articles appeared around the world. A graduate of Ryerson University’s journalism program, Mr. Babad started his career at the Oshawa Times in 1977. He was editor of The Globe’s Report on Business section for two years, national editor of The Globe and business editor of the Toronto Star.
“I had many interactions with Mike in the last 20 years and the common thread was that he was always trying to do his best for The Globe," said Phillip Crawley, the organization’s publisher and chief executive "Over the last 12 months, he displayed an unbelievable strength of spirit as he carried on working while battling his illness. He was an excellent journalist but an even better man. We mourn for him and his family.“
In recent years, Mr. Babad wrote a daily “Business Briefing” each morning for The Globe’s website that consistently ranked among the platform’s most-read articles. He also set the tone for the newsroom early each morning with a detailed and often whimsical internal note, illustrated with photoshopped pictures, that set out the organization’s editorial priorities for the day. Outside of work, Mr. Babad was a voracious reader, first in line for the latest action movie and an enthusiastic skimboarder during family beach vacations.
“Readers connected with him because of his insights and consistent perspective,” Mr. Walmsley said. “He worked absurd hours but was never a machine. He was a sensitive colleague and helpful. His smile and that twinkle … It is devastating to us that a man of such decency is lost."
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