Throughout his career, journalist and author Patrick Blennerhassett’s BlackBerry has always been at his side. After several years in media relations, with positions with the Vancouver Olympics and the Canadian government, he’s now back in the world of journalism. Blennerhassett has won a Jack Webster Fellowship Award for his reporting. His latest non-fiction book, A Forgotten Legend: Balbir Singh Sr., Triple Olympic Gold & Modi’s New India, was recently featured in Maclean’s magazine.
Blennerhassett has used BlackBerry smartphones since 2004, and appreciates how easy it is to move to new devices. He researched his book in India with a BlackBerry Q10 and today uses a BlackBerry Classic.
Blennerhassett: Balbir Singh Sr. is one of India’s greatest field hockey players and arguably one of the greatest field hockey players of all time. But nobody knows who he is, and that’s because of his religious background. He’s part of a religious minority in India. The book is about uncovering him and his story, and letting people know that one of the greatest Olympians of all time is not only not known in India, but he’s also not recognized in Canada, although he’s been a Canadian citizen since 2000. I want to let people know there’s a triple gold medalist hiding in the rough, waiting to be uncovered.
Gold: You captured the cover photo for the book with your BlackBerry Q10. How did that come about?
Blennerhassett: I was in India, in Chandigarh. The place that we were staying was a really tight situation. When we had to go out to get in the car someone had to pull the car out to the street, so we were waiting on the street for the car to come out. You will never see a vacant street in India. And in that moment Singh stood on the side of the street, and there was nobody there. Within a second or two I was able to pull my BlackBerry up, open the camera and it autofocused on him and took a photo. It was probably not something I would’ve been able to take with a professional camera, because it was such a quick moment of time. Literally a couple of seconds after I snapped the photos a bunch of kids and dogs ran by and would’ve completely ruined the photo. The functionality of the BlackBerry really made that photo possible.
Gold: What’s it like meeting other BlackBerry users while you’re abroad?
Blennerhassett: I’ve been to many countries with my BlackBerry – South Korea, Greece, Nicaragua, India – and every time I go there’s always someone else who has a BlackBerry. You pull out your phones and then for the next 15 minutes you talk about how much you love your BlackBerry.
Gold: What’s your favorite feature of your BlackBerry?
Blennerhassett: The reliability of the BlackBerry is something I really enjoy. As a journalist I’m out in the world running around, and even in India I remember dropping my phone on the street a couple of times, and it just takes a licking and keeps on going. I know it sounds like a pretty basic thing, but having a phone that can take a little bit of physical punishment is a huge bonus for someone like me.
Gold: Building on that, can you talk about how you used your BlackBerry Q10 while researching your book in India?
Blennerhassett: A great example is when we were driving from Chandigarh to Patiala on a tight road. There was no way I would’ve been able to get a laptop open. It was hot, sweaty and dusty, and for the entire car ride I wrote notes on my phone. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that on any other type of mobile device. I essentially wrote a couple thousand words on my phone that made it into the book. That’s a great example right there of how functional and accessible the BlackBerry is in tight circumstances.
Gold: How important is mobile security in your work?
Blennerhassett: It’s really important for me. I have a lot sensitive information on my phone, like information that’s been embargoed to the public, and sensitive interviews. With my BlackBerry, it’s good to have confidence that no one’s going to be getting into my phone and rummaging around. It just gives me peace of mind knowing that my information is safe.
Gold: Why did you choose the BlackBerry Classic as your current smartphone?
Blennerhassett: I’ve been loyal to BlackBerry because BlackBerry’s been loyal to me. They’ve given me a product that fits my personality and my profession. I’ve continued to stay with them because of that. My Classic is never something that forces me to stop and take a moment out of my day. It’s more an extension of my work. I really like that.
Gold: How would you rate your BlackBerry Classic?
Blennerhassett: 10/10. BlackBerry has really given me a phone that fits me. Especially the keyboard. As a writer, having a functional keyboard on my phone is such a deal maker. I need that keyboard and BlackBerry gives it to me.