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Faculty of Information and Media Studies Journalism Alumni Gallery of Distinction

adrienne arsenault
News Correspondent, CBC News Network

Adrienne Arsenault has reported from war zones, riots and natural disasters. The CBC reporter is courageous, but she never takes unnecessary chances.

She and her crew have a rule when reporting from a dangerous location: If anyone senses that the risk is too high, the entire crew changes plans.

“So if you’re trying to go down a road and not everyone is comfortable, literally, with taking the road,” she says, “We don’t do it.”

Recently, on assignment in the Philippines, Arsenault and her crew thought twice about a shoot because, she says, “It began to feel a bit like a trap.”

“You don’t go into anything without doing your homework as best you can – who’s down that road, who’s waiting for us, what’s the risk, what’s the escape plan?” she says. “You don’t just go driving blindly into certain areas.” 

Research, preparation and quick decision-making are some of the skills that Arsenault has honed while reporting for the CBC, both as a national reporter and foreign correspondent. Over the past decade, she has reported from the sites of widespread flooding in Pakistan, political uprisings in Libya and the tsunami aftermath in Sri Lanka. 

Her reporting has won four Gemini awards, including the award for Best Reportage in 2008 for her coverage of the Zimbabwe elections, when she was part of a small group of journalists allowed in the country. She was named the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's journalist of the year in 2005.

“Some of the most interesting stories happen far away,” she says. “And part of the joy is trying to shrink that distance and make them connect to people here.” 

Arsenault was born and raised in Toronto, and to some extent her upbringing prepared her for the complexities of international reporting. Her family’s dinner conversations were about current affairs and she describes the CBC as “the soundtrack of (her) youth.” 

Arsenault studied international politics as an undergraduate at Western because “it was the closest thing (she) could come to getting a degree in current affairs.” She always knew that she wanted to work in journalism and enrolled in Western’s journalism program. After graduating in 1991, she started working at the CBC as an editorial assistant for the morning newscasts, but eventually became a reporter in the Vancouver bureau. 

Arsenault returned to Toronto in 1997, when she became a national reporter, and three years later started reporting from Washington, D.C. From 2003 to 2006, she was the CBC’s Middle East bureau chief in Jerusalem, reporting on Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other regional issues. She moved to London, England, in 2006 and worked as the CBC’s senior European correspondent, a post she left in late 2010. 

Arsenault is based out of Toronto, doing everything from national reports to international features. She wants to push back against, what she calls, “the trend of quicker, shorter and more” by focusing on long-form reports, whether that’s in Canada or halfway across the world.

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