The son of Frederic Franklin Worthington, he served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Navy in the Second World War, and as a Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry lieutenant in the Korean War. After earning his BA at the University of British Columbia and bachelor of journalism at Carleton University, he worked as a roving reporter for The Toronto Telegram from 1956 to 1971, capably covering many coups, wars and revolutions.
He obtained an important "scoop" on witnessing Jack Ruby's 1963 shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas and he worked briefly with the Biafran army during the Nigerian civil war. Worthington was the co-founder and outspoken editor in chief of the Toronto Sun from 1971 until 1982, when he entered politics.
Losing his bid to be the Progressive Conservative candidate in Toronto Broadview-Greenwood, he ran unsuccessfully as an independent; two years later, he won the Progressive Conservative nomination but lost the election.