The way media outlets hire has changed dramatically over the years. Once upon a time, if a newspaper needed a new reporter, you’d just find the kid of a veteran reporter and assume that the journalism gene was passed down through a chromosome. It’s no coincidence that some of the reporters of today share the same family names as the reporters of yesterday.
But recently, as the demand for journalism jobs has far outpaced supply, the media have gotten more picky. The Gazette goes through a process every year where dozens of journalism students go through a screening and interview process, and only a handful of them are hired as summer interns.
Even then, most summer interns don’t last. The employees they replace inevitably come back from summer vacation, maternity leave or wherever else they went, and around September most of the interns either go back to school, move away or look for another job.
For many of those former interns, The Gazette is a footnote in their careers. They move on to the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, or sometimes even greater things.
I was first hired as a Gazette intern in 2005. Along with me, the copy editor, were four reporters. One of them was Heba Aly.
I hadn’t heard much from Heba since she left the Gazette after that internship. But I came across her name in a news article. It seems she’s been expelled from Sudan where she had been working as a reporter, freelancing for outlets like Bloomberg, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Globe and Mail, though mostly she has been filing to the UN humanitarian news service. She’s been touring Africa, going to Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Ghana, and I’m pretty sure she had a two-week stint reporting from the surface of the moon at one point. She scored a trip there through the Pulitzer Center, after she’d worked for the CBC and Toronto Star. I got this from her biography page.
My CV, meanwhile, reads something like: Gazette copy editor: 2005-2006, 2008-present.
In other words, she’s making me look bad.
This needs to stop.