Paul Samyn

Paul Samyn

Editor

Paul Samyn has been part of the Free Press newsroom for more than a quarter century, working his way up after starting as a rookie reporter in 1988.

And if you count the time he spent delivering the newspaper as a boy growing up in St. James, his connection to the Free Press goes back even further.

As a reporter, Paul wrote for every section of the paper, covered elections, wars overseas and the funerals of a royal princess and a prime minister.

The graduate of the University of Winnipeg and Red River College helped lead the Free Press’s political coverage for a decade as its Ottawa bureau chief before being named city editor in 2007.

In the summer of 2012, Paul was promoted to Editor, becoming only the 15th person to hold that office since the Free Press began publishing in 1872.

Recent articles of Paul Samyn

Faith funding making a difference

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Faith funding making a difference

Paul Samyn 2 minute read Saturday, Apr. 16, 2022

This Easter weekend will mark the first one in two years in which Christians are free to gather in the pews of their churches to celebrate.

Similarly, this Passover will also be the first in which those of the Jewish faith can enter synagogues without facing any public health restrictions.

And for Muslims already well into Ramadan, this year’s month-long fast and prayers is finally one in which the community can celebrate together.

These past two years of COVID-19 have tested the faith of all of us, even those who would not describe themselves as religious. But as trying as the pandemic has been, those who have kept the Free Press Religion in the News project moving forward have never wavered.

Saturday, Apr. 16, 2022

Fundraising for the Free Press Religion in the News project helped pay the way for a wide range of coverage, including sending faith writer John Longhurst to Rome to cover the Canadian Indigenous delegation’s recent visit with Pope Francis. (John Longhurst / Winnipeg Free Press files)

It is possible to put a price on reliable local journalism

Paul Samyn 4 minute read Preview

It is possible to put a price on reliable local journalism

Paul Samyn 4 minute read Saturday, Apr. 2, 2022

In these inflationary times, everything seems to be going up.

It costs more to gas up. To fill up your grocery cart. To eat out.

In these times of COVID-19 and of war in Ukraine, something else is going up, too — the need for information you can trust.

And that’s why I hope our readers will understand and appreciate why a price increase to read the journalism our newsroom produces each and every day isn’t too much to ask.

Saturday, Apr. 2, 2022

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Newspapers have provided communities with a trusted source of information since the early 1700s.

Strengthening trust, credibility in complicated media landscape

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Preview

Strengthening trust, credibility in complicated media landscape

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Friday, Feb. 18, 2022

For years, any correspondence I have with readers usually ends with the following line before my signature: I hope we continue to earn your trust.

That expression of hope is based on the recognition trust is our key asset, one that must never be taken for granted. The journalism we produce each day will either strengthen that asset or potentially put it at risk.

Since 1872, the Free Press has worked hard to build trust with readers and, as we mark our 150th anniversary, we’re pleased to announce a new initiative to strengthen such faith.

After an extensive independent review of our practices and standards, the Free Press has received certification from the Journalism Trust Initiative, a global effort led by Reporters Without Borders.

Friday, Feb. 18, 2022

Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press Files

A new year’s toast to strength, conviction, endurance

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Preview

A new year’s toast to strength, conviction, endurance

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Friday, Dec. 31, 2021

If only the sand running out of the 2021 hourglass also signalled the end of the pandemic.

I don’t want to be naive in my annual New Year’s Eve message to Winnipeg Free Press readers, but I desperately wish the clock striking midnight Dec. 31 would be the demarcation between the annus horribilis COVID-19 dealt us and the viral-free 2022 we all want and need.

Unfortunately, I worry the image of an hourglass representing the waning days of the year misses the mark, given what the Omicron variant is doing to us all. What seems more apt is a snow globe in which we are trapped as COVID shakes up our world in ways that seemed unimaginable when 2021 began.

This was to be the year we moved past COVID due to the vaccine. This was to be the year health-care workers finally got a break. This was to be the year lockdowns became part of the past as a return to normal became the present.

Friday, Dec. 31, 2021

If only the sand running out of the 2021 hourglass also signalled the end of the pandemic.

I don’t want to be naive in my annual New Year’s Eve message to Winnipeg Free Press readers, but I desperately wish the clock striking midnight Dec. 31 would be the demarcation between the annus horribilis COVID-19 dealt us and the viral-free 2022 we all want and need.

Unfortunately, I worry the image of an hourglass representing the waning days of the year misses the mark, given what the Omicron variant is doing to us all. What seems more apt is a snow globe in which we are trapped as COVID shakes up our world in ways that seemed unimaginable when 2021 began.

This was to be the year we moved past COVID due to the vaccine. This was to be the year health-care workers finally got a break. This was to be the year lockdowns became part of the past as a return to normal became the present.

Free Press makes arts, culture coverage available free of charge; launches arts newsletter

Paul Samyn 2 minute read Preview

Free Press makes arts, culture coverage available free of charge; launches arts newsletter

Paul Samyn 2 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021

Applause can mean many things.

It’s a way to show enjoyment and approval. At times, it can signify support. A round of applause can even be an expression of gratitude.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 playbill meant the sound of applause that was a regular feature of our arts scene was silenced for far too long.

There were no performances, no concerts, no opening nights, no curtain calls, no red carpets. A shining part of our cultural fabric was forced to go dark.

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021

The Winnipeg Free Press is making its previews, reviews and features documenting the return of normal arts programming in our city and province available to everyone free of charge. (Dreamstime)

Doctor recalls split-second decision to tackle stabber inside Seven Oaks hospital

Paul Samyn and Dean Pritchard 6 minute read Preview

Doctor recalls split-second decision to tackle stabber inside Seven Oaks hospital

Paul Samyn and Dean Pritchard 6 minute read Friday, Oct. 29, 2021

Dr. Ken Hahlweg doesn’t think of himself as a hero, even though the snap decision he made to put himself in danger to save a life at Seven Oaks General Hospital was heroic.

Instead, Hahlweg says he was simply doing what he was trained to do during his shift at the Garden City-area hospital Wednesday when he heard an “awful wailing that didn’t even sound human.”

As Hahlweg approached the front desk near the main-entrance atrium, he saw two women fleeing as a third woman fell to the ground. But it was the sight of a man holding an eight-inch kitchen knife that triggered his own surgical strike.

“I see he is going for her, he is going for her neck,’’ Hahlweg recounted in an interview with the Free Press.

Friday, Oct. 29, 2021

Ken Hahlweg, site medical lead for the Northern Connection Medical Centre, knocked the suspect off Candyce Szkwarek and chased him out of Seven Oaks hospital on Wednesday. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Donate to keep stories of faith alive in our pages

 Paul Samyn 2 minute read Preview

Donate to keep stories of faith alive in our pages

 Paul Samyn 2 minute read Monday, May. 17, 2021

There's little doubt the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to question their faith.

But the Free Press has never wavered in its commitment to readers to remain as one of the last papers in the land to have a faith page that ensures we are part of the discussion on issues that shape the lives of so many.

For the past two years, that commitment has been partly funded by the local faith community after they responded to a simple challenge: if you value faith coverage in your newspaper and you want to see more, help us do more.

The passing of the collection plate has raised thousands of dollars to help cover the costs of producing strong journalism from religion writers John Longhurst and Brenda Suderman. We are grateful for the pledges from Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baha’is and Buddhists, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Monday, May. 17, 2021

Free Press faith writer Brenda Suderman. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Reader Bridge to Free Press future

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Preview

Reader Bridge to Free Press future

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Friday, Apr. 9, 2021

There are many things a good newspaper needs to be.

A light that exposes injustice. A magnifying glass that brings into focus what otherwise might be missed. A signpost to help you navigate the way to events that matter to you.

A foundation that supports and strengthens the community through the power of its words and pictures. 

But these and other fundamental qualities of a newspaper we strive to deliver each and every day aren’t enough if the Free Press isn’t also a bridge.

Friday, Apr. 9, 2021

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Gwyneth Arsenio laughs with fellow members of Aklan Ati-Atihan of Manitoba as they dance on Broadway during the 5th annual Manitoba Filipino Street Festival Saturday. Aug 16 / 2016

Free Press teams up with Toronto Star

Paul Samyn  3 minute read Preview

Free Press teams up with Toronto Star

Paul Samyn  3 minute read Saturday, Mar. 20, 2021

The Toronto Star may boast it is Canada's largest daily newspaper, but the Winnipeg Free Press has been publishing for 20 years longer.

Regardless of each title’s claim to fame, the Star and Free Press are now working together to better serve their respective audiences and strengthen each brand.

Earlier this week, Star stories began appearing on the Free Press website, just as stories from the Winnipeg newsroom were being clicked on by Toronto online audiences.

The content-sharing agreement struck is simple and straightforward: we each have something the other doesn’t. By making use of the other’s content, each newspaper is able to offer more to its readers.

Saturday, Mar. 20, 2021

The Toronto Star may boast it is Canada's largest daily newspaper, but the Winnipeg Free Press has been publishing for 20 years longer.

Regardless of each title’s claim to fame, the Star and Free Press are now working together to better serve their respective audiences and strengthen each brand.

Earlier this week, Star stories began appearing on the Free Press website, just as stories from the Winnipeg newsroom were being clicked on by Toronto online audiences.

The content-sharing agreement struck is simple and straightforward: we each have something the other doesn’t. By making use of the other’s content, each newspaper is able to offer more to its readers.

Heartfelt thanks, and here’s to a better year

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Preview

Heartfelt thanks, and here’s to a better year

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

The New Year’s Eve party that ushered in my 2020 seems like a lifetime ago.

A neighbourhood collection of hockey parents crowded into a basement. Finger foods and drinks. Handshakes, hugs and kisses. At the stroke of midnight, we staggered out into the cold for a fireworks show that lit up the sky.

On that night, we had no idea what was silently headed our way, how our lives would be changed, disrupted and upended in ways we could never have imagined.

Exactly 365 days later, we now know all too well and all too painfully what this year has wrought. To say 2020 was a dumpster fire doesn’t even come close; at least dumpster fires can be extinguished.

Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

MIKE SUDOMA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Free Press launches crowd-sourced tracker for wait times at city's COVID-19 testing locations

Paul Samyn 2 minute read Preview

Free Press launches crowd-sourced tracker for wait times at city's COVID-19 testing locations

Paul Samyn 2 minute read Friday, Oct. 2, 2020

I hate waiting in lines. And while I haven’t had to get a COVID test, I can only imagine what it’s been like for thousands of Manitobans stuck in hours-long queues before the deep nasal swab could be administered.

As our reporting has made clear in recent days, the long-promised increase in testing capacity isn’t just around the corner. So we are doing what we can to help those wondering how long it is going to take to get a test.

It would be nice if provincial officials were posting wait times at the various centres to better inform the public. But since they're not, we are filling the void.

We’ve created a COVID testing wait time tracker that will allow you to get a better sense of how much time you’ll need to set aside before you get into line.

Friday, Oct. 2, 2020

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Traffic lines up down multiple blocks around a COVID-19 drive-through testing site in Winnipeg.

An apology for marginalizing people of colour; and a promise to atone for our past

Paul Samyn 7 minute read Preview

An apology for marginalizing people of colour; and a promise to atone for our past

Paul Samyn 7 minute read Friday, Jul. 3, 2020

The St. James of my childhood was a largely monochromatic world.

Most of our neighbours were Caucasian, or more simply, white. So were my classmates. The same could be said for the subscribers on my Winnipeg Free Press paper route.

The area’s white member of Parliament, Dan McKenzie, made headlines by defending apartheid after a visit to South Africa in 1982 and suggesting Black people made natural car mechanics. Despite the controversy his remarks created, he was re-elected in 1984.

Six years later, I walked for the first time into the newsroom of the Free Press, a local institution which, like so many others in the city at the time, was also very white.

Friday, Jul. 3, 2020

COVID and the City: 30 journalists, 24 hours and the story of our lifetime

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Preview

COVID and the City: 30 journalists, 24 hours and the story of our lifetime

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Friday, May. 8, 2020

The threat was there for all to see. But until COVID-19 was suddenly in our midst, could we really have imagined the pain the pandemic would inflict?Lives upturned. Lives disrupted. Lives on the line. Lives lost.

In the eventful days since March 12, when the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced in Manitoba, Winnipeg has been facing a test unlike any other in the past century.

We’ve had to retreat from family and friends to isolate at home. We’ve watched jobs being lost as the economy was placed in a coma. We’ve seen schools and streets emptied. Now that we are finally able to venture out more widely, we do so, increasingly, behind masks.

While our city will get through this pandemic, the Winnipeg that emerges will be fundamentally altered from the one we knew prior to the spread of COVID-19.

Friday, May. 8, 2020

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

New Free Press additions to greet new year

Paul Samyn  4 minute read Preview

New Free Press additions to greet new year

Paul Samyn  4 minute read Monday, Dec. 30, 2019

Long before I joined the Winnipeg Free Press, one of my chores was taking care of the annual Samyn letter to our family and friends that needed to be mailed before the new year.

I would retreat to basement to hunker down over the typewriter — yes, I am dating myself with that reference, but at least ours was an electric one — and look for a way to make my mother’s random notes about the year more readable.

But as Free Press editor, what has become a year-end tradition of writing a note to you, our reader, is anything but a chore. It’s a chance for me to not only thank those who are increasingly funding our newsroom’s journalism, but also let them know what we have in store for the coming year.

So, without further ado, here are our resolutions to give you more reasons to read the Free Press in 2020:

Monday, Dec. 30, 2019

It's often called the daily miracle -- newspapers roll off the press late in the evening, after staff spent the day pursuing news, sports and arts stories. MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Purchase your piece of Winnipeg football history

Paul Samyn 1 minute read Preview

Purchase your piece of Winnipeg football history

Paul Samyn 1 minute read Monday, Dec. 2, 2019

The Free Press has published a lot of front pages since Nov. 26, 1990. But the front page we published on Monday, Nov. 25 of this year was extra-special for long-suffering fans of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The one word headline – FINALLY! – said it all as the city’s CFL team ended the long-standing cup drought that began way back in 1991, after the Big Blue beat Edmonton 50-11.

To mark the truly historic nature of  the front page with Andrew Harris hoisting the Grey Cup that he helped bring home to his birthplace, we have printed a glossy 11- by 17-inch version suitable for framing.

That commemorative front page is available to our subscribers for only $9.99. For those who aren’t subscribers, the price is $49.99.

Monday, Dec. 2, 2019

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A more inclusive newsroom, a wider perspective, a better reflection of our community

 Paul Samyn 4 minute read Preview

A more inclusive newsroom, a wider perspective, a better reflection of our community

 Paul Samyn 4 minute read Friday, Jul. 12, 2019

Stacked up in a back corner of our newsroom are some vintage photographs that remind us how far the Free Press has come from our early days.

Much like the newspaper of old, they paint a picture in black and white of who we were and the way things were as the city we have covered since 1872 began to grow into the Winnipeg we know today.

There are moustaches and bowler hats. Pocket watches and waistcoats. And lots of white men — but no women.

A lot has changed in our newsroom since E. Cora Hind found a way to get her foot in the door more than a century ago to become the first female journalist in Western Canada. But we haven’t come far enough. And we need to do much more to better reflect the city and province we serve.

Friday, Jul. 12, 2019

Outside photo of the Winnipeg Free Press building at 1355 Mountain Ave. WInnipeg. Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press Aug 14, 2013

Introducing the new faces of our newsroom

Paul Samyn  4 minute read Preview

Introducing the new faces of our newsroom

Paul Samyn  4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 3, 2019

For those of you who pay attention to bylines, you’ve probably noticed a few new names in the Free Press lately.

And for an industry that has long been shedding reporting jobs, a media organization adding bylines is actually newsworthy.

So let’s get right to the latest news the Free Press is making by way of the newest face in our newsroom: Tom Brodbeck.

For decades, Tom has been a fixture on Manitoba's political scene, first as a legislative reporter for the Winnipeg Sun and then as the tabloid’s marquee columnist.

Wednesday, Jul. 3, 2019

Interns Nadya Pankiw (from left), Nicholas Frew, Devon Shewchuk, Sasha Sefter, and Caitlyn Gowriluk in the Winnipeg Free Press newsroom. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Free Press News Break app updated, now available for Android

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Preview

Free Press News Break app updated, now available for Android

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Friday, Mar. 29, 2019

The Free Press knows a thing or two about redesigning a newspaper. Of course, when you are in your 147th year of publishing one, you've had lots of practice rethinking how best to present journalism.

But we aren’t about to let the familiarity we have with print stop us from updating what we do with pixels to better serve our growing digital readership.

And so today, we are proud to announce the launch of News Break 2.0, a significantly updated version of our app that is available for free to all our subscribers at both the Apple Store and Google Play.

The biggest change is that our new and improved News Break is now available to those on Android devices.

Friday, Mar. 29, 2019

Free Press e-edition experience upgraded, expanded

Paul Samyn  4 minute read Preview

Free Press e-edition experience upgraded, expanded

Paul Samyn  4 minute read Friday, Mar. 15, 2019

When I am out and about meeting Free Press readers, they tend to introduce themselves in one of two ways.

The first type is what I would call the classical print reader. They are the ones who make clear to me how much they love reading the newspaper and how they worry there will come a day when they are no longer able to hold something in their hands that leaves its mark in ink.

The second is the reader who is all in on the digital experience. They are the ones who value pixels over print as they point and click their way on smartphones, tablets and desktops.

But lately, I’ve been running into a new variant of Free Press reader, who I will best describe as an omnivore.

Friday, Mar. 15, 2019

Generous faith groups fund more religious journalism

Paul Samyn 4 minute read Preview

Generous faith groups fund more religious journalism

Paul Samyn 4 minute read Friday, Mar. 1, 2019

The Winnipeg Free Press is one of the last papers left in the country to have a faith page, a commitment that ensures we are part of the discussion on issues that not only shape the lives of many of our readers, but also our society.

And since 2019, we have published even more faith coverage, driven largely by the faith that members of our community have in the Free Press.

With support from the local faith community, since 2019 we have published 486 articles about faith in the print version of the paper and online (to the end of February 2021).

To make this happen, the arrangement with local faith groups was simple: if you value faith coverage in your newspaper and you want to see more — help us do more.

Friday, Mar. 1, 2019

John Longhurst

From the editor: Support our journalism and get a chance to see Obama

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Preview

From the editor: Support our journalism and get a chance to see Obama

Paul Samyn 3 minute read Friday, Feb. 8, 2019

I have no idea what Barack Obama will say when he speaks in Winnipeg next month.

But I do know what he said in his farewell speech as U.S. president. Just days before Donald Trump’s inauguration accelerated the descent into the post-truth era and the rise of “alternative facts,” Obama issued a remarkably prescient warning about the threat the internet poses to democracy.

Obama was worried about the viral nature of disinformation that knows no bounds on Facebook and Twitter. He foresaw the danger of a society where more and more people are fed only by their personalized media streams.

“We become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there,” the 44th president of the United States said during an address in his hometown of Chicago.

Friday, Feb. 8, 2019

Jason DeCrow / The Canadian Press Files
Former President Barack Obama will appear in Winnipeg on March 4 at Bell MTS Place.

A lifelong relationship is what sustains us

Paul Samyn 5 minute read Preview

A lifelong relationship is what sustains us

Paul Samyn 5 minute read Monday, Dec. 31, 2018

If you had asked me while I was a Free Press paperboy what it took to become a newspaper editor, I probably would have looked to the Daily Bugle’s J. Jonah Jameson for clues.

As an avid fan of the old Spider-Man cartoon series, I would have guessed all you needed to do was chew on a cigar, slam your fist on the desk and routinely yell “Parker” across the newsroom to chew out a young crusading journalist.

While I never got into cigars, I do a pretty good job at the fist-pounding and yelling across the newsroom. But one thing I never imagined I would need to do in this job was dig deep into what’s happening in the newspaper industry in order to enable our newsroom to continue producing the journalism this community needs.

All of which takes me to the latest report that was part of my holiday reading: Nurturing Value for News Consumers.

Monday, Dec. 31, 2018

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files
Winnipeg Free Press editor Paul Samyn (from left) chats with readers Bill Jurens and Esther Blum at a screening of Spotlight on Oct. 3.

Read all about it — and see the Jets from our suite

Paul Samyn 4 minute read Preview

Read all about it — and see the Jets from our suite

Paul Samyn 4 minute read Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I am guessing most of the Christmas wish lists that go to Santa don’t include a subscription to the Free Press.

This sad but true fact ignores the reality that a newspaper is a gift that keeps on giving all year long, doesn’t need batteries and is perfect for all ages.

But what if the dynamics of gift giving were seen in a different light when it came to newspapers? What if our spending decisions looked not to the news we can already get for free on Twitter or Facebook, but to the value of supporting your community by way of the local newspaper? What if consumer decisions started to see newspapers as something more than just widgets?

I ask these questions because there are costs we all bear when nobody is willing to pay to read what newspapers produce.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018

MTS Centre. Winnipeg Jets. September 30 2011. Fisheye lens @ 15mm from far end of press box. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) rink

Readers’ Choice: You select Manitoba’s newsmaker and news story of 2018

Paul Samyn 2 minute read Preview

Readers’ Choice: You select Manitoba’s newsmaker and news story of 2018

Paul Samyn 2 minute read Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018

The countdown is on to the end of 2018 and that means the Free Press is again counting on our readers to select the top stories of the year.

Over the past 12 months, our editors have made the calls, day in and day out, about the stories that deserved our top headlines. But as part of the tradition that began in 2013, the final decision goes to our readers.

And this year we are adding a new twist to that tradition. Since our mandate is to produce journalism that serves our local readership, we are going to narrow our focus to newsmakers and stories that hit closest to home. In other words, we are asking our readers to select the Manitoba Newsmaker of the Year and the Manitoba News Story of the Year.

To start the process, we've nominated five stories in each category. But you are also free to nominate stories of your own choice. As well, please make use of the space we have added to this online ballot to add a comment explaining your reasons for the stories you've selected. We will make use of a selection of our readers' comments when we unveil the winning selections as the year draws to a close.

Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018