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Tony Burman


Velma Rogers Graham Research Chair

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TONY BURMAN is former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News, and has been an award-winning journalist and news executive for more than 35 years in Canada, United States, Europe and the Middle East.

As of September 2011, he has been the Velma Rogers Graham Research Chair in News Media and Technology at Ryerson's School of Journalism.  His role at Ryerson includes lecturing, research, writing and teaching a course on Journalism & Politics.

During his time as MD of Al Jazeera’s international English-language news channel in Qatar from 2008-2010, Burman guided AJE's growth in North America, including its launch in Washington D.C., the first major market to carry the channel in the United States, and the launch of the channel last year on every major cable and satellite platform in Canada. The worldwide audience reach for AJE more than doubled during his period as Managing Director, from 100 million households to 220 million.

Under his leadership, AJE has been widely recognized for its groundbreaking reporting from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. During his time as MD, the channel received international acclaim for its news and programming, including awards and nominations from the International Emmys, the Monte Carlo Film Festival and the Royal Television Society.

In 2010-11, he was Al Jazeera's head of strategy for the Americas based in Washington, overseeing AJE’s success in expanding its reach and reputation in the U.S. and Canada as one of the world’s leading global news providers.  In October 2009, Arabian Business Magazine named Burman the second most influential non-Arab in the Arab world.  In November 2009, the Canadian Expat Association announced he had been voted the third most influential Canadian living abroad, behind Michael J. Fox and Wayne Gretzky.  At the 2007 Gemini Awards in Canada, he received the Gordon Sinclair Award for lifetime achievement in broadcast journalism.

In 2009, he wrote a chapter titled 'World Perspectives: Ignoring The World At Our Peril' for an acclaimed U.K./U.S. journalism textbook, "International News Reporting: Frontlines and Deadlines" published by Wiley-Blackwell. In light of his experience in the Middle East, United States and Canada - with Al Jazeera and the CBC - he is also a frequent speaker in the North America, Europe and the Middle East on topics such as 'The Future of Media in the Age of Al Jazeera', 'Lessons from the Arab Spring", 'The Future of News Over Noise in the 21st Century'", "The Ways Social Media Are Changing Traditional Media" - and other themes involving the new challenges facing the media in today's world.

Before Al Jazeera, he spent more than three decades as an award-winning news and documentary producer at CBC News in Canada, including nearly eight years as its Editor-in-Chief.

From 2000-2007, Burman was Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of CBC News in Canada, overseeing CBC’s TV, radio and online operations. In his 35-year CBC career, he produced news, current affairs and documentary programs in more than 30 countries.  With Brian Stewart, he was one of the first journalists in Ethiopia during the Great Famine of 1984. 

While at the CBC, he was Executive Producer of The National for eight years and Senior Documentary Producer for CBC’s nightly current affairs program, The Journal. He produced many documentaries that were rebroadcast on the BBC, PBS and other international networks. 

These included:   'Sudan: Children of Darkness' (1989), the first inside look at the kidnapping of children as part of Sudan's civil war; 'The Last Great Cause' (1986), a two-part examination of the legacy of the Spanish Civil War on its 50th anniversary; and 'Mandela' (1986), one of the first television biographies of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, which was rebroadcast in 18 countries and included a dramatic reenactment of the 1964 Rivonia Trial which sent Mandela to jail.

Tony Burman was born in Montreal, educated at Loyola College and began his journalism career as a reporter with The Montreal Star.