A day in the life of an Executive Producer involves story meetings, conversations to decide what will be on that day’s news broadcasts, debates about how those stories will be reported, and the constant knowledge that a breaking story could change your day in an instant. As exciting as a last minute dash to a courthouse registry might be, it seems hard to imagine that a career in law could ever be as interesting as one in journalism.
But after an hour in conversation with Dan Getz (Class of 2010), deeper similarities between the two professions emerge - both require tenacity, the ability to express oneself clearly and a constant desire “to know stuff”. It was these similarities in combination with his lifelong interest in the law that led Dan to enter law school after 10 years of working in journalism with the CBC. In the end, it was his love for a fast-paced environment and constantly changing work that saw him return to the CBC after a period practicing law in Vancouver.
When asked about his career trajectory Dan is quick to mention that he has always had, and continues to have, a strong interest in legal stories and the law. This affinity for the law seems to run in the Getz family. Dan’s father, Leon Getz, QC, is well known in Vancouver’s legal community as a lawyer and former professor at the Allard School of Law. In a recorded interview for the Allard School of Law History Project, Leon Getz, Q.C. spoke of his own father, who had been a merchant in South Africa, having a fascination with the law. Despite this Getz family tradition of an interest in the law, Dan initially decided to pursue journalism. But after 10 years working with the CBC in various capacities, Dan thought it was time to explore legal studies and practice.
Entering law school as a mature student, Dan brought a unique perspective to his legal studies. He remembers that his experience in journalism “helped to connect abstract legal theories to real world stories”, a skill that arguably many experienced lawyers wish they had. He also feels that his journalism background gave him an advantage in having the skill to “process vast amounts of information quickly.”
Like many law alumni, some of Dan’s favourite memories of law school do not involve the classroom. Winning the BC Law Schools Moot and playing on the Illegal Beavers rugby team are among his favourite moments. His “life experience” again served him well in rugby, as one of the most seasoned players on the team. Today, he is quick to declare that you will not see him on the pitch in the annual alumni vs Illegal Beavers game—his rugby days are behind him!
After law school, Dan pursued a career in litigation with a focus on media law, but, after a career in the newsroom, he found the litigation process too slow. He missed the adrenaline of working on a daily news broadcast, the discipline required to meet daily deadlines and the fact that the “slate is wiped clean every day.” Dan returned to the CBC in July 2012 as a News Producer. In June 2015 he began his current role as the Executive Producer of News Now with Ian Hanomansing.
Even though he has chosen not to continue his career in law, Dan has no regrets about his legal education and sees its value in his work with the CBC. He says that the legal analysis skills he learned have made him a “better, more mature journalist”. His foray into law has also given him an “appreciation for the complexities of the law and of the importance of reporting legal stories in a responsible way."
Ultimately Dan’s philosophy is “you have to love what you’re doing” because you will be doing it every day for a very long time. In his experience, if you are inquisitive, like to investigate issues from different perspectives and want to “see what’s happening beneath the surface” then the career you love could be either law or journalism. The deciding factor appears to be whether you define excitement as delivering a last minute filing to the courthouse or dashing off to the field to deliver a breaking news report.
Dan Getz lives in Vancouver with his wife Brenda and two children, Annie and Joe. If you look closely, you can sometimes see him pontificating in the background on CBC News Network.