Tag Archives: Journalists of Tomorrow

Journalists of Tomorrow … or not: Safia Ahmad

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, one of the 2016 winners of the Philip Fisher bursary, Safia Ahmad.

Not everyone who graduates from journalism school goes into what you would normally think of as journalism. In fact, I would guess that a majority don’t. Some decide that journalism isn’t for them and pursue something entirely different, others struggle to find jobs (not everyone from my graduating class could be a national journalist at the CBC, not that I’m jealous or anything Catherine), but a lot of people find that their skills and passion are more suited to a job that is like journalism, but not quite.

There are a lot of what I would call journalism-adjacent jobs out there. Arguably, as a copy editor, I’m in one myself. And just because you’re not hounding prime ministers with questions doesn’t mean you’re not doing something valuable in the media ecosystem.

Safia Ahmad, after being honoured with a journalism award in 2016, became a summer reporting intern at the Montreal Gazette the next year, writing many stories that I and my colleagues edited.

But she’s since decided that it’s not for her, as she lays out below. Now, the 25-year-old born-and-bred Montrealer works in communications, notably as media relations manager for Les Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, where I’ve run into her at games.

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Journalists of Tomorrow: Josie Fomé

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, the 2017 winner of the Susan Carson award, Josephine (Josie) Fomé.

Josie Fomé

I could write this long introduction about Josie Fomé and her history, but fortunately she’s already done that for a first-person photo essay on Concordia’s website.

In short, Fomé, 24, was born in Cameroon and grew up in Columbia, S.C. She studied at Dawson College and then did an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Human Relations.

“My very first job was as a cashier at my neighbourhood’s mom and pop grocery store, where I got paid waayy below minimum wage but also learned skills that still benefit me to this day,” she says. “After that, various work experiences have included camp counsellor, helpline phone operator, set up and take down of gyms at school, events assistant with Concordia’s Alumni department, receptionist, mail clerk, internship coordinator, etc. I’ve done so many temp jobs, some of my friends like to call me ‘Josie the temp.'”

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Journalists of Tomorrow: Stéphane Grasso

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, one of the 2016 winners of the Philip Fisher bursary, Stéphane Grasso.

Stéphane Grasso in 2016.

Stéphane Grasso is an artist. His specialty is in film production, thanks to his education at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema that started 15 years ago.

As he explains below, he produced documentaries for non-profits like World Vision, and that work led to a desire to focus on underrepresented people, so he decided to study journalism.

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Journalists of Tomorrow: Emilee Gilpin

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, the 2016 winner of the Susan Carson bursary, Emilee Gilpin.

Emilee Gilpin, shortly after receiving her award in 2016.

Emilee Gilpin’s face has been hidden inside one of my browser tabs for almost two years now, as a reminder that I should write these bloody interviews up. Concordia’s website did a brief article about the 2016 award winners, and she was one of the winners quoted.

So, one browser tab closed, 25 more to go. Anyway, how can I make this blog post more about me?

OK, fine, let’s talk about Emilee. She’s 27 (or 25 when she won the award), she’s from London, Ontario, and she has an undergrad degree in philosophy and Spanish from McMaster University. She mentions off the bat her love of travelling, including teaching English as a second language in China before doing Concordia’s journalism diploma program.

As you can see from her answers below, she’s one of those activist journalists that white guys get so riled up about, focusing particularly on Indigenous issues. Susan Carson, the Gazette journalist after whom the award she received was named, was similar in her own way, seeking out stories of injustice and shining a light on them in the hope that doing so would spark change.

Here’s what Gilpin had to say when I caught up with her by email.

Why did you decide to study journalism?

I saw a few documentaries featuring some badass investigative journalists and I saw myself in them. I have a passion for justice and a strong intolerance for injustice and I believe in doing what we can during our cycle on earth to nurture positive change. One of the important roles of a journalist is holding truth to power and I liked that. I also noticed a gap in coverage of Indigenous communities in Canada, and wanted to see what I could do to help fill it in a good way.

What does journalism mean to you?

There have always been forms of journalism — news sharing, story-telling — they are ancient practices. When settlers first arrived, communities had scouts to inform them on information, there were runners between communities and nations, stories shared in potlatches and law lodges. Western journalism was built to protect democracy, so it involves holding truth to power, but it is also an institution and a corporation, created by white men, so it is also full of space for adaptation and diversification. Journalism for me means sharing stories in a good way — fleshing out the black and white, including all voices, being accountable to those whose stories we share, building relationships to ensure trust and accountability, being on the front lives of important events, documenting history and more.

What kind of journalism would you like to do?

I work now for National Observer, leading a series ‘First Nations Forward,’ emphasizing stories of success and sovereignty of First Nations in B.C. I’d like to continue to write about stories that have been historically made invisible or misrepresented, to diversify out media coverage and tell a more wholesome and accurate picture.

I give workshops on decolonizing or indigenizing journalism, but it really involves basic anti-oppressive techniques to ensure a level of ethical behaviour and accountability in our relationships and professional duties. It involves learning about and including historical and cultural contextualization of events, fact-checking and culture-checking, being accountable and objective, addressing assumptions, stereotypes and internalized racism, and some.

What have you been up to since receiving your award?

After graduating from Concordia, I received Journalists for Human Rights’ ‘Emerging Indigenous Journalist’ internship, with the Tyee in Vancouver. After that internship, I was hired by National Observer to lead their ‘First Nations Forward’ series. I have been working full-time with National Observer since.

How can people follow your work?

You can see my work with National Observer here, work with the Tyee here, and my personal website here.

Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram: emileeguevara

Journalists of Tomorrow: Meagan Boisse

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, the 2016 winner of the Lewis Harris award, Meagan Boisse.

Meagan Boisse (courtesy of Meagan Boisse)

I haven’t met Meagan (we communicated over email), and I don’t have any cool anecdotes or insights to share to open this up. So we’ll just get right into it. Boisse is 27, from Châteauguay, and studied cinema, video and communications at Dawson College before doing an undergrad in journalism at Concordia. Her bylines have appeared in Reader’s Digest Canada, Montreal Families, the National Post, and particularly Concordia’s own website.

Why did you decide to study journalism?

It seemed like a natural fit. I’m a curious person and have always loved to meeting new people, exploring new places and storytelling.

Beyond that, I was very interested in media studies. As Marshall McLuhan once stated “the medium is the message”; each new form of information technology carries its own social discourse. Studying multimedia journalism seemed like a way to delve into how different media forms work with the public and what their specific abilities are in conveying a message.

What does journalism mean to you?

For me journalism an important filter that separates fiction from truth, it is a voice for those that need to he heard and a manner for people to engage and better understand the world in which they live.

What kind of journalism would you like to do?

Narrative journalism, it’s what I like to read and what I hope to write. Well done long-form, narrative journalism has a literary quality that if done properly can be more fascinating than fiction.

What other interests do you have that you think you can apply to a career in journalism or a related field?

I enjoy design and photography. I like to fuss over details, and as visuals can be a big part of story telling an interest in aesthetics can only bolster one’s work as a journalist.

How do you see the future of journalism?

I know there’s this idea out there that journalism is dying, that it cannot sustain itself in the digital age. However, I believe robust, reliable journalism is something people will always seek out, something that has an intrinsic value that carries across borders, generations and political spheres. I think journalism will survive the death of its institutions. What will it look like in fifty years? I don’t know, but I’m certain good, honest journalism will always be around.

What have you been up to since receiving your award?

Since I received my award I’ve finished my undergraduate degree, was an editorial intern for Reader’s Digest Canada and began working for Concordia’s newsdesk on a full-time basis. Over the last year I managed X Explained, Concordia’s own how-to video series. I also wrote weekly student-advice articles for my namesake column, ‘Ask Meagan’, which appeared on the university’s official app.

This past August, I moved to Berlin. I hope to begin writing for local publications here!

How can people follow your work?

Check out my website: meaganboisse.com

Journalists of Tomorrow: Lissa Albert

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, this year’s winner of the Susan Carson award, Lissa Albert.

Lissa Albert

It’s not unusual in the journalism graduate diploma program to have one student who’s noticeably older and more educated than the rest, but it’s usually someone in their 30s, not 50s.

“Everyone was out of their undergrad and I’m like the grandmother,” Lissa Albert told me before letting out a laugh. “It was a little intimidating because I was like ‘do I have to prove myself?’ I’m always aware of how I stand out in terms of not being the typical graduate diploma student, but my classmates have been really amazing, they’re a lot of fun and they’ve made me one of the gang.”

Albert has a lot of history, and she likes to talk. So our conversation after the awards ceremony in October lasted 33 minutes, or a little bit less than the four others combined. The 56-year-old Montreal native studied early childhood education and sociology, then took time off to raise her children before returning to school to get a masters in education technology.

If she was younger, she could easily be described as a keener. A more appropriate descriptor would probably be driven.

“I’m not the kind of person to just sit at home and do lunch,” she said. “I need to do something more. I went into ed tech not knowing where exactly it was going to lead, just knowing that I needed to feel productive, get that kind of intellectual stimulation, and I ended up just adoring everything that I did, coming away with a mission in life, which is cyberbullying education.”

Her path to this mission is an interesting one.

“I started in sociology, and in my last assignment, I was actually going into prison rehabilitation because I started writing to a man in prison when I was 16 years old. He was at that time, he thought, the only Jewish prisoner in the entire state of Georgia. And so my teacher had a Jewish pen pal club, I said ‘I’m in.’ This guy, I started writing to him, because I wanted to write the great Canadian novel, and I wanted it to take place in prison, and I thought I’d get some information. We became friends, I’m still in touch with him now. He’s out, he’s on parole, he’s happily married.”

The interview is edited down for clarity and length. All the above I got from just asking her for her name, age and previous degrees.

What got you into journalism?

I have been very involved in world events as a consumer of news. And I have found that the most frustrating thing — because I’m old enough to remember Dan Rather, not so much Walter Cronkite but Dan Rather — is how the news used to be the facts. And now I don’t believe we are getting straight news.

So I’ve been talking for at least five years that there’s a thesis in my head about media bias. And when I decided I was going to go back to school, I found Digital Innovation in Journalism Studies, and I said ‘okay this could lead me to writing that thesis, working on the research that it takes to not change the world but perhaps start turning news back into those five Ws. I think that it’s really been diluted, technology has diluted it, everybody has a blog and not everybody realizes that a blog is not always straight news, there are those that are, but opinion is not news.

Pew Research recently did a study where they found something like 14% of people can tell the difference between news and opinion (it was actually a bit better than that), and this is a problem because there’s so much news out there. So I started to look into the program, so when I called Mircea [Mandache, the Graduate Program Assistant at Concordia’s journalism department] to see if I could get into the program, if it was too late to apply, and he said don’t worry about it and if you’re interested you could do the graduate diploma and switch to the masters program after a year, and I thought ‘okay if I’m going to study the field it would be good to have more than a consumer-level knowledge of what the field entails,’ and this behind-the-scenes stuff is just mind-blowing. It will help me in the thesis. Realizing that there are so many different forms of journalism that I can do. I can tell a story, I can raise awareness of something. I can do features. We’ve had all these exercises.

I’m not bored anymore, that’s for sure.

So once you finish the master’s degree, what do you see yourself doing afterwards?

Whatever the world brings me. I’d love to be able to write. Visual journalism wasn’t my thing, but radio was fun, because I can talk if you haven’t gotten that yet. But I would love to write, I would love to use the words that I know how to use and touch people, just touch their lives in some way, whether that’s to inform them, or inspire them, or educate. When I talk to undergrad student teachers, and this is not hyperbole, but if you know even a fundamental knowledge to recognize when a student is being bullied, you can literally save a person’s life. It’s one of my missions. But anything that I can find, Freelancing or getting a job as a writer.

News is supposed to be hard facts, but it’s not because emotions come into it. And I can tap into that, so I hope to freelance, I hope to write, and I hope to use all of the knowledge I have on cyberbullying, how important it is that it become a topic, a water-cooler topic that we don’t talk about just when a kid kills himself, but something that we need to recognize as a problem and an epidemic in our society and possibly do something bigger, a book, a series of articles, a feature, a column, whatever I can, I just want to use my words for good.

How did the interest in cyberbullying start?

Wow. When you go back after a certain amount of years not being in school and you go back to a field you can be employed in, it’s better to do an internship than a thesis, because there’s ageism in the workplace, and if you go back into the workplace as an intern then you can get your feet wet. So I was looking for an internship and based on a project that was happening at Concordia where they were collecting life stories of victims of genocide, I hoped to make that an internship and that did not work.

One day, driving to pick up my kids at day camp, and Trudie Mason was on CJAD talking about cyberbullying and she was talking about how kids know what they’re doing when they’re cyberbullying other kids and I said, because I had just done a project in ed tech, a website about emotional abuse awareness. People don’t realize that it almost goes deeper than physical abuse. And I picked up the phone and said bullying and cyberbullying and — having been bullied from the age of five to the age of 17, same guy, lived across the street, every day on the way to school and the way back, in school — I said it’s a form of emotional abuse, so while kids know what they’re doing, they don’t know the impact is on the person on the other side of the screen. They don’t know what they’re doing, they know how they’re doing it but they don’t know what the impact is.

She debated with me, and I thought I gotta look into this. It wasn’t yet a household word, it was not yet a trend, it was something that was starting to become more prevalent. I went to the internship coordinator, and I said I can do cyberbullying, I can talk about emotional abuse of kids.

This was something that I had to do. It was a mission. It needed publicity. It needed to be a word that people talked about, and it needed to be something people took very seriously.

How do you see the future of journalism?

I hope — okay, can I do this without insulting the people I want to work for? The future of journalism to me is giving people the ability to take the facts as they are and make up their own minds rather than being told what they should be thinking or feeling. I’m hoping that the future of journalism is where the audience is given the credit to make up their own minds.

Are you optimistic about journalism as a business model?

I am, because of all of the different ways in which — you can be a journalist in Montreal and freelance for somewhere in Australia. I think that I have the ability and I have the drive to get out there and look for something that will make it meaningful for me. I really hope to be able to get my word out there, and definitely going to apply here (at the Gazette), it’s like my Mecca. I wouldn’t have come into this program if I didn’t think I could do something. I don’t get a degree to hang it on the wall.

How can people follow your work?

My journalist perspective started off when I was writing about the Habs so I have to actually change my handle — @lissahabswriter — I would rather it not say “Habs writer” because I’m a lot more than that.

(She’s now at @lissajournalism, but you can read her archived stories about the Canadiens on AllAboutTheHabs.ca)

If you’re a journalism student, this is your last chance to be like Lissa and apply for the Montreal Gazette summer internship if you haven’t already. The deadline is TODAY at 5pm.

Journalists of Tomorrow: Aviva Lessard

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, this year’s winner of the Philip Fisher bursary, Aviva Lessard.

Aviva Lessard

Normally at the bottom of these things I try to plug a Twitter account or website or Instagram or something so people can follow these aspiring journalists’ careers. But Aviva Lessard gave me a bit of an embarrassed shrug because she hasn’t set up an online presence for herself yet. She’s promised to get working on that. She asked what form (Twitter, Facebook, website) that should take, and I noted that the younguns these days do the Instagramming more than Twitter, but really the more the merrier as far as social platforms.

(UPDATE: She’s since fixed that. See below.)

In the meantime, you can read her articles at The Concordian, or this documentary she did about waste management in Victoria, or this project that tells the story of the Oka crisis through a series of maps.

Lessard was an anthropology student at the University of Victoria, but grew up in Montreal. While at UVic she held jobs including production coordinator at its radio station CFUV. Among her functions there was to edit this podcast for use on the radio at CFUV and other campus and community radio stations. She’s not sure if I’ve ever heard of it. It’s called “Canadaland.”

Something about media, I think.

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Journalists of Tomorrow: Amanda Henderson Jones

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, this year’s winner of the Enn Raudsepp award, Amanda Henderson Jones.

Amanda Henderson Jones

I know what you’re thinking. She looks like her name is Amanda Jones and she’s a sorority girl who gives beauty tips on her own YouTube channel. And … okay, that’s true, BUT she also has a degree in criminology and is planning to go to law school.

The 22-year-old from Barrie (actually Midhurst, Ont., a suburb just north of it), Jones studied criminology and sociology at Western University (you know, that geographically-challenged university that used to be called the University of Western Ontario even though it’s not in western Ontario).

She’s not trying to be pretentious with the triple name, but just try Googling “Amanda Jones” and there’s a sea of them, from “America’s favorite dog photographer” to a 19th-century inventor to Miss USA 1973 to a Kansas insurance agent to a Scottish lawyer to a San Francisco writer/photographer to an actress to a different actress to a New Zealand public health researcher to a Texas painter to a Seattle medical educator to a Missouri mom of a missing girl to a British racing cyclist to a University of Waterloo PhD candidate to a Rolling Stones song (and a Lea Thompson character from an 80s movie it was used in). And that’s just a couple of pages of Google results. I could go on for a while here.

“To not be one of the million Amanda Joneses, all my work I’ve gone under Amanda Henderson Jones,” the Amanda Jones I talked to said. “It’s my mom’s maiden name.”

What got you into journalism?

I always liked writing. When I was in high school I took a journalism course, honestly because my debate coach was the teacher and you’re supposed to be doing debate work during the course, but I ended up really loving it. She gave me a lot of freedom when it came to the type of work I was doing — pure journalism but a lot of parody writing and comedic writing and things that I loved.

So I ended up applying to Carleton journalism on a whim; it was the school I wanted to go to the most in my undergrad. I got in with a very big scholarship and my father suggested I go to business school instead. So I went to business school! I went to Western, I was originally in the Ivey Business School. It was a program that you were supposed to start your third year and when it came to the third year I was like ‘I don’t want to do this.’

To backtrack a little bit, after doing economics, accounting, all numbers, I was missing a creative outlet. So at the end of first year I decided to apply for Her Campus [a website for “for the empowered college woman”], the Western chapter, where I started as just a general writer. I really, really loved it. So that year, my second year, I became a chapter adviser for Her Campus. which is where you oversee seven chapters and advise them on writing and day-to-day and sort of be their connection between Her Campus chapter and national, and at the end of the year I was elected editor in chief for their chapter. And then around the same time I had been following this blog called Total Sorority Move since I was in high school, writing all these parodies. I decided, again on a whim, I always loved this site, let’s apply for a job. I ended up getting the job and was a staff writer for two years at TSM, where I did a lot of comedic writing, which is — I mean, I love journalism, but my true love is comedic writing and being funny and different.

Not to continue to say my CV, but around the same time I left the Western chapter and moved to the national chapter of Her Campus, where I was a style and beauty writer as well as a national intern, and it sort of got to the point in my undergrad — because my undergrad is in criminology and sociology — it really got to the point that just 90% of my time was journalism. So I decided to apply to Concordia. This program seemed amazing, and I’ve put so many years into journalism and wanted to study journalism for such a long time that [I thought] I should just do it. And so that’s kind of what made me do it, was just years of all these different types of writing that I was like I should really give it a shot and if I don’t study it now, when am I gonna study it?

What kind of journalism do you see yourself doing?

So I am hoping to go to law school after this, and ideally I would like to be doing some sort of legal reporting, that feeds my major in criminology into it, which really interests me. Now I basically just work all day and then go home and watch crime shows, so if I could just merge the two that would be cool.

Where did the interest in criminology come from?

I wish I knew. I really wish I knew. I’m absolutely fascinated by it. I’m always afraid I’m going to scare people off when they enter my apartment because I just have a bookshelf full of books on serial killers and crime, and my Netflix history knows me very well, I don’t think it suggests a single thing that isn’t murder. My parents are worried about me (laughs). It’s just a real interest of mine and I’m really glad I got to study it in university.

What medium would you see yourself working in?

Definitely writing. As much as I love doing the radio, the broadcast, I love just putting pen to paper.

Do you see yourself doing stories on a daily basis or more magazine writing?

I don’t really know. I think beat reporting interests me when I’m young, but I don’t know if I’d want to carry that on when I’m 40, so I think that whatever happens happens. I’d obviously love to do bigger investigative pieces. I took a course on the wrongfully convicted and taught a seminar on it and that really interests me, the fact that journalism can play such a big part in the wrongfully convicted and helping [innocent] people get off and get out of jail where they shouldn’t be. We’ll see what happens.

How do you see the future of journalism?

That is genuinely scary. With Donald Trump and fake news in one compartment, and bloggers and companies trying to abuse bloggers and not pay people for writing. I mean, the number of times I’ve gotten emails being like ‘We’d love you to do this big job,’ and I talk back and forth about what this job would entail and 10-20 emails down the chain they go ‘Well this is all for free but this will look really good on your resume.’ Well, my resume is actually very good, thank you. You’re not really doing me any favours by asking me to relocate to a new city and start a whole branch for you completely for free.

So I think the world of journalism is really shifting, I think that we need to, as journalists, really assert ourselves and make sure that we let the world know that hey, our profession is very valid and should be valuable, should be paid, and respected, because we all go to school for this, we all put in the all-nighters for this and we’re all very passionate about this and we’re not all just bloggers sitting at home on the computer [Editor’s note: Maybe I should be transcribing this at work instead of on my couch]. We should be respected.

Considering the changing business model of the industry, how optimistic are you of journalism’s future?

I am optimistic. I did get a paying journalism job when I was 19. I think if you find your niche and you find people who value your niche that can never really be replaced.

How can people follow your work?

I am on Instagram, at @amanda_h_jones. If you just Google “Amanda Henderson Jones” everything should come up.

Amanda Henderson Jones is among many students strongly encouraged to apply for the Montreal Gazette summer internship. The deadline is 5pm on Nov. 2.

Journalists of Tomorrow: Jon Milton

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, this year’s winner of the Mike King scholarship, Jon Milton.

Jon Milton, a born-and-bred Montrealer, is a Concordia undergraduate, with a double major in journalism and the School of Community and Public Affairs.

He isn’t pictured here at his request, because he’s done some reporting on some extremist groups (the type that love to make people’s lives hell by releasing personal information about them) and so he likes to keep a low profile. You can read the latest of those stories here. He also collaborated on a Montreal Gazette investigation into neo-Nazis.

What got you into journalism?

After I left high school I wasn’t planning on going back to school. So I worked for a couple of years at call centres and things like that. I guess the short version is that I wanted to go back to school for different reasons because I didn’t want to keep doing that for the rest of my life.

One of the big kickoffs for me was the student movement in 2012. It was just this period that changed the way I looked at the world. I had not been somebody that was interested in politics beforehand, and all of a sudden I saw all these people in the streets who were working together to change the world. So that was a politicizing moment for myself, and brought me back into school, and before I knew it I wanted to become a journalist.

I was trying to become involved in social movements and finding that maybe organizing itself wasn’t for me, it wasn’t something I was particularly great at. But I did realize that I had the talent for writing. So I asked myself what my skillset is and what I can contribute to changing the world around me, to building toward a world that’s more fair for everybody, and I think journalism is a field that does that every day.

What kind of journalism would you like to do?

A lot of what I am doing, which is journalism that reports on social movements, on people that are working to lift up marginalized people, providing a platform so that voices that are typically ignored can have a say, and demystifying the way the world functions so that people understand where they can act and have an impact. That’s one of the major tasks of journalism, to hold powerful institutions’ feet to the fire and lift up voices that are traditionally denied a platform.

Do you see yourself doing more writing or broadcast?

I’ve dabbled in video, I’ve done a little bit of video freelancing, but I’m primarily a writer.

Are there other subjects that interest you that you’d see yourself writing about?

I kind of think everything is political. So when I say political I don’t just necessarily mean political parties, what’s going on in parliament — that type of thing doesn’t actually interest me that much. What I think does interest me is the things people are doing on the ground that are trying to affect the direction that the world around them is taking. That can be everything from people organizing their workplaces, to people who are operating in more clearly defined social movements, to people who are doing anti-poverty work, people who are helping to revive indigenous cultural practices. All of these things, despite being very dissimilar, all (are) political because they’re all about building up people’s capacity to act who are traditionally denied that capacity.

How do you see the future of journalism? How worried are you about the prospect of having a career in this field?

I got into journalism through social movements, so I always was preparing myself that the work I’m going to be doing, I’m never going to be rich off of it. So it’s nice when something like this happens where I get some actual recognition off of it, but I’m also not under any illusion that I’m going to live in a mansion for the rest of my life. I’d rather work in a way that’s principled and fits with the non-monetary goals that I have for what I’d like to do with my life, rather than just doing whatever I can to get myself a job and not feeling the passion that I feel about the field.

Where can people follow you?

I’m on Twitter, at @514jon. I post my articles on there when they come out and occasionally will post about current events.

Milton is among many students strongly encouraged to apply for the Montreal Gazette summer internship. The deadline is 5pm on Nov. 2.

Journalists of Tomorrow: Michael Boriero

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, one of the winners of the Enn Raudsepp bursary in 2016, Michael Boriero.

Michael Boriero

I’ve never met Michael Boriero. And he feels really bad about it.

You see, in 2016, when the Montreal Gazette hosted an awards night for Concordia Journalism students, and invited the entire graduate diploma class to attend, Boriero was among some students to skip it.

“I chose to work on a school assignment instead,” he tells me now by email. “Not worth it in hindsight!”

So when his name was called out as the winner of the Enn Raudsepp award, named for (and presented by) the former journalism department chair, there was an awkward oh-he-didn’t-show-up moment. His classmates vowed to ensure he didn’t live it down.

But I won’t hold it against him, except for the public embarrassment of publishing the above paragraphs on the internet. I got his contact info from professor Linda Kay and sent him some questions. (The photo is supplied, since I didn’t get the chance to take his picture either.)

The 27-year-old from Kirkland has a B.A. in history from Concordia, and has worked as a freelance journalist for various publications including the Suburban and WatchMojo. After earning his degree in 2014, he spent a year in Hangzhou, China, teaching English as a second language. Then he came back and entered the journalism diploma program.

Why did you decide to study journalism?

While I was living abroad I knew I wanted to go back to school. I started writing a blog, it was supposed to be weekly but it turned into a monthly thing as I got busier. But I realized that I enjoyed sharing my experiences and telling stories about the students, teachers and people I met while living in China. It wasn’t always easy being away from my friends and family but writing became an outlet for me to unwind and understand what was happening around me. A few months into my stay, my girlfriend sent me a link to the Concordia journalism graduate diploma and I jumped on it as soon as I got back to Montreal.

What does journalism mean to you?

I just think journalism keeps people honest, and curious about the world, or city that they live in, by exposing them to unique stories, people, organizations, etc., that they may have never heard about. But at the same time, through those stories, journalism also opens our eyes to issues of corruption, natural disasters, war zones, and political movements.

What kind of journalism would you like to do?

Since graduation, I’ve mainly done online and print, but I really miss the video and radio aspect of this job. I’ve covered a lot of sports, some arts, politics and general news. I’m not really picky, I like to learn about new and different things, meet new people and share stories around the city. I’ve wanted to start podcasting but I have yet to take the plunge, maybe something revolving around sports, politics and culture.

What other interests do you have that you think you can apply to a career in journalism or a related field?

I like to read just about anything. Recently, I got really into comic books and graphic novels. I find it’s a great medium to learn about scripting and narrative. I’ve also written scripts for a YouTube channel and that has helped me understand the importance of outlining your story before starting to write.

How do you see the future of journalism?

I know the future of journalism has many within the industry worried, but I’m sort of excited to see where it goes. Yes, it feels like journalists are being laid off every other week, and that scares me a bit, but at the same time new opportunities are popping up. As journalists, we’ll probably need to fight harder to tell our stories and hold people accountable. But with mediums like podcasting and The Athletic gaining popularity, I’m inclined to believe people will always want fact-driven, honest, original, and creative storytelling. I think the industry is just enduring an uncomfortable shift.

What have you been up to since receiving your award?

I completed my diploma and I’ve been freelancing ever since. I had a brief stint as a content writer for a marketing company but after several months, I decided to focus all my attention to freelance work. It has been a grind, for sure, but I really love what I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How can people follow your work?

I’m published weekly in The Suburban and online at www.thesuburban.com. I cover local amateur sports and athletes, and I can be found in their arts and entertainment section. I’m also published weekly for the St-Lambert Journal, TMR Journal and Nuns’ Island Journal, where I do features and write about local news. Unfortunately there is no online platform available. My Twitter is @boriero84 and my DMs are always open!

The Montreal Gazette summer internship application deadline is 5pm on Nov. 2.

Journalists of Tomorrow: Franca Mignacca

Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices. Today, this year’s winner of the Lewis Harris bursary, Franca Mignacca.

Franca Mignacca

Last week, Franca Mignacca provided an inadvertent demonstration of one of the more important practical rules of journalism: Get people’s names right.

When the Montreal Gazette helps present bursaries to Concordia University journalism students, the way it works is that someone connected with the person the award is named after (usually a family member) gives a little speech about that person and then talks a little about the student receiving the award. The latter part of the speech is basically a summary from the student’s submission for the award, and it’s not double-checked before delivery. Mignacca’s name was massacred while being announced, leading to profuse apologies from just about every adult in the room.

She took it in stride, though.

Another thing about this awards ceremony is that while the entire graduate diploma class is invited, and none of them know who will win awards, some awards are given to undergrads, and the fact that they’re there means they know they’ve already won.

Mignacca, 22, is an undergrad, studying journalism and film. She was news editor and managing editor of The Link at Concordia, and she recently published stories as an intern with CBC Montreal.

Why did you get into journalism?

I don’t know. I guess I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’ve always enjoyed communicating with people, so I feel like this is a profession that allows me to do both. It lets me give voices to people that aren’t necessarily heard otherwise, which means a lot to me.

Do you see yourself incorporating your film studies into journalism?

Initially I chose the minor in film studies because I was really influenced by François Truffaut, who was a French new wave director, and I really wanted to be a film critic and potentially write for the Cahiers du cinéma some day in France. As I started to go through J-school, my interests kind of changed, and as much as I am still passionate about film, I’ve very much become more of a news reporter lately. So who knows, maybe some day I’ll do something with the film studies degree, but for now it’s more of a pastime.

What kind of journalism would you like to do?

I see myself being a multiplatform journalist. I really like radio, TV, web writing and print writing so I see myself honestly doing a bit of everything. In terms of topics to report on, I’ve honestly covered everything from sports to news to arts, so I’m not entirely sure, but if there’s one thing that I’ve covered more than others, I’ve covered a lot of Indigenous issues. I’ve reported on Indigenous communities, especially Kahnawake, and Indigenous initiatives in Montreal and I’d really like to keep doing that.

Is there a particular reason that speaks to you so much?

My first internship was at the Eastern Door [the weekly newspaper serving the Kahnawake community], and I guess that’s why. I really liked it. I feel like they don’t get nearly enough attention in mainstream media and I want to give them more attention.

So you’re entering a field that…

Oh wait, wait wait, can I add something to that?


I’m also highly influenced by Christopher Curtis. So that’s another reason.

So you’re entering a field that is in the midst of, let’s say change. How do you see the future of journalism? 

I do think a lot of journalism is going to end up on the web. But I do think that it’s not a dead profession. I think a lot of people think of it as a dead profession, but it’s like I always tell people It’s not necessarily dying. It is changing, it’s going to different mediums. Where you would listen to the radio before now you might listen to a podcast or you read articles online. So I do see it going more online.

Are you worried about the business model?

Not really. I am a little concerned because I am seeing more sponsored content and larger ads taking up space where there would be articles, and smaller issues, and that does concern me a little. But I think that we’re living in a time when news is important and I think people, at least here, at least somewhat recognize that and I do think we’ll find a way to make the profession survive.

What does journalism mean to you?

It sounds cheesy, but honestly journalism to me is both telling people’s stories but also holding authorities accountable and making sure that people aren’t stepped on because they don’t know what’s going on at levels of the government, that they know where their money is going and they’re not taken advantage of.

Where can people follow your work?

On Twitter: @FrancaMignacca

Mignacca is among many students strongly encouraged to apply for the Montreal Gazette summer internship. The deadline is 5pm on Nov. 2.

Journalists of Tomorrow: Darya Marchenkova

I enjoy talking to young journalists and journalism students. Not just because it makes me feel superior, but because it gives me some insight into how the next generation sees our industry and how they plan to evolve it. Every year, I speak to winners of Concordia’s journalism school awards as they’re presented at the Montreal Gazette offices (you can see previous versions of this in 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013, 2014 & 2015). Today, I’m presenting the latest batch as a series leading up to the deadline for journalism students to apply for next summer’s Gazette internships.

Darya Marchenkova

Marchenkova, now 31, was the 2017 winner of the Enn Raudsepp Award, named for the former chair of Concordia’s journalism department. She was a 2018 Gazette summer reporting intern.

With a name like hers, it should come as no surprise that she was born in Moscow, but her background is mainly with another foreign country with a controversial authoritarian leader: the United States.

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