Canada’s top young journalist says mentors are the most valuable tool

While typical kids spent their weekends playing, eight-year-old Molly Hayes eagerly wrote book reviews for the Hamilton Spectator’s junior press club.

She was the rare, ‘nerdy’, orange-haired kid who knew from the start what she wanted to accomplish with her life.


“I loved seeing my name in the paper,” said Hayes.

And now the 24-year-old Hamilton Spectator reporter is in the limelight after being named Canada’s best young journalist. She is the winner of the annual Goff Penny Memorial Prize honouring outstanding work at major daily newspapers. The award is presented by Newspapers Canada and open to Canadian journalists aged 20 to 25.

“I was beyond flattered personally but also very excited to see Hamilton stories getting national recognition,” Hayes, who is a graduate of Ryerson’s journalism program, told Hamilton Media Guild.

Judges said they were impressed by Hayes’ thorough and well-researched articles, including her coverage of the highly publicized Tim Bosma murder and her original e-book, titled The Penniless Millionaire. The book explores the downfall of a Hamilton woman who won $10 million in a lottery and lost it all on foolish spending.

Single copies of Penniless Millionaire are available for $2.99 at and

Single copies of Penniless Millionaire are available for $2.99 at and

Hayes has written hundreds of articles during her two-and-a-half year tenure with the Hamilton Spectator, but her proudest work is the e-books that are distributed through the weekly e-book program Star Disptaches.

Her latest e-book, on the Tim Bosma case, will hit the virtual shelves on Saturday. Single copies are available for $2.99 at and

Journalism—the good, the bad and the ugly

She was born and raised in Hamilton but Hayes now has a unique opportunity to get to know the city by documenting the good, the bad and the ugly.

“Being a journalist is an awesome way to get to know your city and through the Spec I have been able to meet tons of people and get to know neighbourhoods that I might not have been able to otherwise,” says Hayes, who praises Hamilton for its integrity and its ‘gritty’ character.

Although, she is passionate about writing any type of story, she finds it more fulfilling to tell stories through the person so people can connect to it.

That’s what she was taught early on by her mentors.

When asked how young journalism students can prepare for the future, Hayes says the best way is to learn through knowledgeable people around you.

 “Mentors serve as the most value tool available.”

Those ‘tools’ have been an encouraging experience for Hayes. She once job-shadowed the Spec’s crime, court and social justice columnist, Susan Clairmont, when Hayes was at Westdale high school. Now they are colleagues.

In university, Hayes took advantage of every internship available and ‘soaked’ up as much as possible.

She has worked as an intern reporter for and as a radio room reporter at the Toronto Star.

Would you recommend this career to someone else?

Definitely, she says.

Hayes was once told that there aren’t many opportunities for reporters.

“That is not true,” says Hayes, the youngest staff reporter at the Spectator. “We are always going to need journalists.

“I am very excited to be in Hamilton and lucky to be working at the Hamilton Spectator.”

What’s next?

Hayes will be awarded the Goff Penny Memorial Prize at a recognition luncheon on Thursday, May 29 during the INK+BEYOND newspaper conference in Charlottetown, PEI.

Hamilton Media Guild and Hayes will be hosting an event in Hamilton in early June.

Stay tuned!

Sherry Mousavi

Sherry Mousavi is a business and media professional who lives, works and plays in the city of Hamilton. The McMaster Commerce graduate has been a professional writer for Torstar, a financial analyst at Hamilton Health Sciences and spearheaded the launch of a real estate brokerage. Sherry is very involved in the community as the co-founder and chair of Hamilton Media Guild, board member of Hamilton HIVE, member of YEP, committee member of Hamilton Media Advisory Council, correspondent on a new arts and entertainment show for Cable 14, as well as a volunteer for the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Empowerment Squared.

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