Tell us about your role.
I currently work as a freelance producer at CBC News in Toronto. I started there in 1999, and have had filled various roles, including radio technician, reporter, editor, writer, and assignment producer. I emphasize the national aspect of CBC, because inherently, it’s one of the most exciting elements of my work. It’s a privilege to work on stories happening across Canada with my colleagues and collaborate with colleagues based in every province and territory.
What do you love about your job?
As mentioned, I adore being in touch and in tune with what’s going on politically, socially and economically across Canada. We live in one of the most diverse and fascinating nations in the world. For journalists, it’s a wonderful place to be, with no shortage of compelling stories populated by fascinating characters. It’s a constant goal to do a better job at reflecting Canada to Canadians.
As well, it’s great to be part an organization that values and spends money on investigative journalism—with the past year alone bringing in the surveillance realizations of the National Security Agency and the Rob Ford drug saga.
How might your job change in the future?
As unsatisfying as it is, the honest answer is I don’t know. Many traditional media jobs are constantly changing right now. People want more power in choosing the their news content. They want their news, on demand, on the go, on their mobile devices. Programmers and editors have to be nimble and aware of how technology and tastes keep changing. Fewer and fewer people read the same newspaper every day, or regularly tune into the same newscasts on radio or television. The Netflix model of media consumption and consuming media on mobile devices, at your own leisure—the on-your-own model is where things are headed.
It’s also a multi-media universe now, where people put things on Twitter seconds after they happen, regardless of their accuracy. Social media has become the sharp end of the stick, constantly discovering, overturning stories and information. It’s emerged as the first wave of investigation. But to me, that’s what makes a robust and vigilant mainstream media even more vital. In the future, mainstream media should and must act as a filter to help the public sift through what’s being Facebooked, tweeted and passed around on the latest online platform. As journalists, we need to be judicious, sort out the wheat from the chaff, and act as curators of the best, most accurate, and important stories out there.
What should students know who are interested in your field?
There’s no avoiding the fact that mainstream media are continually finding ways to create content with less staff. That definitely makes it harder to find work as a young journalist. But it shouldn’t discourage people who are compelled to join the profession. The best prospects will always stand out—whether it’s while doing an internship, or submitting material as a freelancer. Good storytellers always find a forum for their stories.
That said, most people will be more successful getting a foot in the door in big city newsrooms, if they’ve already gained experience in the hinterlands. Want to work at a big daily newspaper? First grind out a summer at a small town daily. Aspire to a career as a broadcaster? Volunteer, or apply widely for positions at satellite stations in provincial centres or the North.
Don’t discount the need to make yourself bi-medial and multi-talented. Develop skills and a portfolio in as many mediums as you can. Learn to write for broadcast, even if you’re set on working in print. If you want a career in television, then understanding how radio works could be the edge that sets you apart. Gone are the days when journalists worked in separate mediums. It’s an old adage, but more relevant than ever in journalism: The more skills you have as a storyteller, the more likely you’ll get hired by harried editors struggling to create content on shrinking budgets.