Matthew Rodrigopulle, 24, died September 4 from a congenital heart defect, according to a memorial from his college newspaper, On The Record.
The 2020 graduate of the Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Journalism died mere months after moving to Regina, Saskatchewan, for a new job.
Rodrigopulle wrote for On The Record, a student publication at Toronto Metropolitan University. He was a reporter in 2020 and a teaching assistant during the 2021-2022 academic year, according to the report.
Other members of his college publication described him as a natural storyteller with a stylish on-air presence and a big fan of sports who was a passionate fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He was so kind and caring with the students,” said Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Talia Ricci who worked with Rodrigopulle. “I have no doubt he would have had a long career as an amazing storyteller.”
TMU professor Janice Neil called Rodrigopulle a natural storyteller. She reportedly met him when he was a student in her podcasting course.
“I am not a natural audience for sports journalism,” she said, “but he produced real storytelling.”
His former professor remarked that the young reporter stood out by displaying keenness and eagerness for the work. She expressed admiration for his ability to handle constructive criticism and use it to improve as a journalist.
Professor Neil pointed to her course’s one-on-one editing sessions as an example of his devotion to his craft and willingness to work hard to be better. She explained Rodrigopulle secured several interviews with more than 30 minutes of material that he edited down to fit the eight minutes allotted him during a podcast.
“It was just incredibly rewarding because he was just really engaged with learning and wanting to improve his work,” she said. “He knew where he wanted to go.”
During his brief career, he worked as a freelance sports reporter, broadcast associate at Sportsnet, sports editor at RUTV News and writer for The Leafs Nation and Raptors HQ, according to On The Record.
After leaving his university, Rodrigopulle joined the Global Regina newsroom in the Canadian province Saskatchewan. He covered breaking news, crime and sports for the Global Regina.
Global Regina anchor Kimberley Fowler recalled Rodrigopulle as someone quick to crack a smile and always stylish. “He said he wanted to be the best-dressed reporter in Regina,” Fowler recalled, “and he definitely was.”
“[Rodrigopulle] had a lot to offer,” Fowler said, “not only to our viewers but the journalism scene here in Canada.”
The young reporter’s funeral was conducted in Ajax, Ontario, September 12.
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