Toronto Star legal affairs reporter Tracey Tyler dies of cancer at 50


             Lisa Taylor (left) and Tracey Tyler (right) at Ryerson's Press Freedom Conference. (Photo: Amir-Pashah Tabrizian) 


             Lisa Taylor (left) and Tracey Tyler (right) at Ryerson's Press Freedom Conference. (Photo: Amir-Pashah Tabrizian) 

UPDATED with funeral info. See below.

Tracey Tyler, the Toronto Star’s long-time legal affairs reporter, passed away shortly before 7 a.m. today at Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton at the age of 50. Tyler was first diagnosed with breast cancer more than two years ago, says the Toronto Star, and that cancer returned in March. She began at the Star as a summer student 25 years ago and moved on to become the paper’s legal affairs reporter in 1993 and assumed that position until her passing.

She was known for fighting for journalists’ access to the courts and wrote stories about broader legal issues such this story about divorce and the alienation of a parent. Lisa Taylor, a former lawyer who teaches at Ryerson’s School of Journalism, says that Tyler was “incredibly talented” and “modest and humble about her work,” always explaining the justice system to others.

“She put the social in social justice,” Taylor said.

Tyler started an internet newsletter called “The Justice Reporter,” where she explored journalists’ obstacles in covering court stories. Taylor says that she was generous in giving her time to students and other journalists and The Justice Reporter was a true sentiment to that.

“It was so admirable because I think a lot of journalists are too busy making sure their work is great and they’re doing better than their competition,” says Taylor. “Not a bunch of us spend all our time making reporting better for everyone and I think that’s what separated Tracey from the pack.”

Taylor was a panelist at Ryerson University’s Press Freedom Conference in March on a panel called “Journalism and the Courts” for which Tyler was the moderator. Taylor remembers Tyler saying she wasn’t feeling well and attributed it to a seasonal cold, though as it would turn out, Tyler's cancer would return that month.

“Most people wouldn’t have still came and would rely on Ryerson University to find another moderator,” says Taylor. “But she really took ownership of the panel and had a lot of her own questions. She was very curious about the topic.”

Michael Cooke, editor-in-chief of the Star, told J-Source via e-mail that she will be very missed at the newspaper.

“It’s a very sad day here,” he said. “Tracey loved the Star … and was the consummate professional, always showing a deep knowledge of her legal affairs beat, and always bringing humanity to her stories.”

Katie Daubs has written a touching obituary for the Star that includes the thoughts of Tyler’s fiercest competitors, those involved in the justice system and residents of the town of Acton, where Tyler lived for most of her life.

A funeral for Tracey Tyler will be held this Saturday, July 28th at 1:00 p.m. at St. Alban-the-Martyr Anglican Church in Acton, Ont. For more informatin, here are the service details.