Journalist Feature: Anita Li


Sophia Li, Sports Editor

Toronto-based writer Anita Li has been in the journalism industry since she was 14-years-old. For over two decades, Li has written about a plethora of topics, from film and television coverage to investigative political reporting, to finding her true passion: local and hyperlocal news. Currently, she is the EIC and CEO of The Green Line Toronto; a consultant for The Other Wave; a board member of the Online News Association and Lion Publishers, and a teacher at Newmark J School and the School of Journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

In an interview alongside John Vitti, who runs the nonprofit Headliners in Education, Li detailed her experience in the journalism world. Growing up in the snowy winters of Toronto, Li started off as a general writer, diving into aspects like local news coverage. She also delved into covering art, being a film and television critic. Exploring topics like science and technology, music, complex media and hip hop at Complex Networks Media has given her a variety of experiences. She later transitioned to legacy media (media that is longstanding and has been around for a long time.) Afterward, she moved to New York and worked for American Digital Media Publication, where she covered political topics such as the 2016 election.

Li then went back to where she started it all: local and hyper-local coverage of her Toronto community. She believes it’s important to impact people’s lives, spread awareness, and publish the truth. She finds fulfillment in impacting people’s lives with relevant and important news and believes that this helps people trust their neighbors, support local democracy, and strengthen the bonds in communities. She now focuses on local and hyperlocal news coverage. Li worked at the Toronto Star, which covered the entire city of Toronto, with over 5 million inhabitants. On the other hand, hyper-local news coverage goes down to the neighborhood level within a very specific locality. Li’s hometown is Scarborough, so she covers the news within that area, but can also go even deeper and cover Malvern, a specific neighborhood in Scarborough. In some cases, there is actually a drought of news coverage, so people are eager to read Li’s work.

As a long-time journalist and media-based consultant, Li now runs a hyper-local news independent news outlet, The Green Line, and has launched her own publication. Through her work, she loves experimenting with different forms for her work, whether it be sharing on Instagram, TikTok, and other formats. Through her work, Li strives to empower individuals in her community to assure them that they can make a difference in their community and that their voices do matter. Whether it’s the weather, crime, or garbage pickup, Li strives to cover nuanced topics to allow her audience to have productive conversations. As the U.S. grows more politically polarized, Li believes that Canada has experienced some of the same, and wants to combat this through her work. Li aims to introduce more high-quality coverings and wants to complicate the straightforward narrative of natural human needs and desires. 

Whenever Li writes, she considers important questions such as “What is the current and historical context?”, “How did people talk about this topic historically?”, “Who are the players involved?”, and “How is everything connected?”. As journalism progresses, Li shies away from the “cold hard facts” and seeks to provide context and the background to all her stories. 

As Li continues to write and serve her community through her journalism, she feels local and hyper-local journalism is where she will end up. It’s what she started with, and she feels her best self doing it. Not only does she love the coverage, but she loves helping people live their best lives. Li continues to follow her passion and inspire others around her—aspects that upcoming journalists can learn from!


Photo courtesy of Anita Li