Math alum John Lorinc has built a stellar writing career on a foundation of math and logic

June 13, 2023 by Arts & Science News

There is a certain logic to the story of how Arts & Science alum John Lorinc dreamed of being an astrophysicist but instead became a star journalist and author.

Lorinc found his university astronomy courses boring but really liked his math classes, even if they didn’t like him back. He found his real calling after a chance detour through the universe of student journalism.

“There are two types of students in pure math, the ones who get perfect in everything, and the ones who just get by, and I was the latter,” says Lorinc, who earned his bachelor of science in mathematics with an English minor in 1987 as a member of University College.

“At the same time, I got very involved in writing for the Varsity. I really learned to love journalism there,” he says.

“What math taught me was how to prove an argument. It's a logical discipline. I like to write logically, do the proofs, one thing leads to another. That kind of habit of mind is very important as a writer.”

It’s a discipline that has garnered the Toronto writer a long list of accolades, including numerous National Magazine Awards.

He was the Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy in 2020, producing a series of 10 articles that became the basis of Dream States: Smart Cities, Technology, and the Pursuit of Urban Utopias.

The book won the 2022 Balsillie Prize for Public Policy and was shortlisted for the Donner Prize, a $60,000 annual award for excellence and innovation in public policy writing by a Canadian.

Lorinc is the author of three other books and has co-edited six anthologies. He reports on urban affairs, politics, business, technology, and local history for a range of media, including the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Walrus, Maclean’s and Spacing, where he is senior editor.

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