1. Thomas Pashko
2. Melissa Martin
3. Honourable mentions: Miriam Toews, David Bergen, Jen Zoratti
Thomas Pashko, features reporter at The Uniter, says he’s been writing since he was a kid but never thought he’d get the chance to do it professionally.
“It was a fluke. Someone I knew who was working at The Uniter mentioned that they were looking for someone to do film reviews, and they knew that I had studied film,” Pashko says.
So Pashko sent in a couple of writing samples and volunteered, and the following year, The Uniter hired him as a beat reporter.Pashko is now in his third year on staff.
Pashko is the energy behind Critipeg, a weekly feature on arts criticism, in which he always tries to move beyond discussions of emotionality or debates about good versus bad.
“I try to really engage with it and look for whatever ideas the author or artist is getting at, not evaluating it or saying, ‘This piece of art made me feel this,’” Pashko says.
Keeping The Uniter’s diverse readership in mind, he says a goal of his writing is to raise awareness about up-and-coming local artists.
Pashko is also responsible for the weekly Whose House? feature, in which he goes and hangs out at a local celebrity’s home.
He says his favourite Whose House? interview was with Fred Penner.
“After the interview was finished, he wouldn’t let us leave. He’s an incredibly sweet guy, but he’s also really thoughtful and opinionated in a way that people who grew up watching him might not expect,” Pashko says. “Going to his house and talking with him was like meeting Dumbledore.”
Because of these sorts of experiences, Pashko says part of his success is due to the generosity of strangers.
“I don’t know if this is a uniquely Winnipeg thing, but everyone has been so hospitable, and that comes across in those articles. If those articles are good, I can’t take credit for them.”
Editorial note: We generally try to avoid putting The Uniter in the spotlight for this issue so we can share the love with as many locals as possible. But this issue is also directed by readers, not by us, and so we let Thomas Pashko’s nomination stand. Thanks for your votes – he is a wonderful writer. -Anastasia Chipelski