Sports Journalism loses Two Stalwarts


Photographers and writers around the world were stunned Sunday to learn that Montreal-based Reuters photographer Shaun Best, 43, had died Saturday night, apparently of a heart attack.

Shaun Best

Best had just finished dinner with other photographers covering the Canadian Grand Prix and was driving home with his longtime partner, Gazette copy editor Denise Duguay, when he had the attack.

“Media here at Canadian Grand Prix rocked by the death of photographer Shaun Best” is how QMI columnist Terry Jones, Sports Media Canada Outstanding Sportswriting Award recipient, who was covering the Formula One race, put it.

“He came out of Winnipeg and saw the world with his camera,” said Mike Blake, a Reuters colleague. “He was friends with all photographers on the circuit, including those he competed with,” said Blake, en route to San Diego, Calif.

“It’s a sad day for all of us.”

Steve Keating, a Toronto-based Reuters sportswriter, had talked to Best on Saturday about covering the Stanley Cup finals.”

Photographer Fred Greenslade of Portage la Prairie, who knew Best at university and at the Winnipeg Sun, said he was “an outstanding photographer” with a knack for getting it right.

“He always knew what newspapers wanted. He knew how to edit, knew what the story was and knew the right picture to send on the wire, all the time.”

Remarkably, he picked up these skills on his own, but with help from friends. “He was completely self-taught,” Duguay, who met Best while she was at the Sun, recalled.

Best loved the camera and started freelancing for the Sun at age 17 while still in high school. He went on to study general arts at the University of Manitoba but dropped out to pursue a career in photography.

“He loved what he did,” Duguay said. “He was incredibly generous. He taught himself photography and computers and then taught anybody else who wanted to know, and that included me and colleagues all over the world.”

As a staff photographer, Best was what Duguay called “a stalwart” on the Reuters sports events team. Hockey and golf were his specialties


“If they made a movie about the gruff, old news editor, it would be Brodie Snyder. Black coffee, cigarettes and scotch – he was a legend.”

Brodie Snyder

Former Montreal Gazette sports editor Brodie Snyder who also had a stint as managing editor of The Gazette, was a lifetime newspaperman and a sports fan. He covered hockey’s famous 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union and also wrote a number of sports books, including two on the Expos: The Year The Expos (Almost) Won the Pennant, and The Year The Expos Finally Won Something.

Said senior Gazette news editor Dave Bist, who started at the paper in 1966: “I remember him as kind of a ‘full-service’ newsman – he ran the news and sports desks with equal excellence, and it was a pleasure to work with him. Every day was a learning experience.