Anchor & Reporter, Breakfast Television & CityNews Calgary
Why did you choose to pursue a career in journalism?
I’ve always been super social and curious as well and it was kind of a “try things and see what works.” I noticed that I wasn’t that great at a lot of subjects in high school but talking to people, telling people stories and being able to present in front of people was always something that came natural to me so I feel like journalism was a great fit especially when it comes to the TV platform. Another reason that I went into journalism was because I pretty much grew up watching the evening news every night. CTV News at 6. My parents would play it every night while we were eating dinner so it was pretty much ingrained in me and I felt like seeing those people getting to tell stories for a living made me want to do that. That is why I decided to pursue a career in journalism.
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in journalism school?
I was really interested in doing television and that’s where I am now. I was excited to just take a camera, go out, shoot stories. Streeters was something that I wasn’t too excited about but getting those stories on camera, practice and receiving feedback from my professors was something I was looking forward to.
How did that vision change as the years went by?
At first, it was about getting on TV, and then as the years went by I feel like the focus changed to “how can I tell the best story possible?” So I definitely took that into consideration at j-school. How can I tell the most creative story? How can I do it on all different platforms? I gained a lot of knowledge on how to curate a great story so that’s how my vision changed over the years at RSJ.
What do you think the RSJ experience offers that you can’t get anywhere else?
The fact that its in downtown Toronto is huge because not only are you in the biggest journalism market in the country, but you’re getting to tell the same stories as major news organizations. You have access to those stories and you’re able to practise and compare the stories that you do to the stories that these professionals do. Having the accessibility and recourses to be able to do that was something very valuable to me and it’s what makes RSJ stand out from other journalism schools for sure.
Did you make connections at RSJ that helped your career?
One of the first people that I networked with in j-school was Nitish Bissonauth, we met at RUTV news and we connected later on. Networking, getting feedback and keeping in touch with him led me to my first gig in the industry which was an on-call writer at the Weather Network. So networking is definitely important. Even outside of RSJ, we had access to so many networking events which was really great. Being able to meet professionals in the industry will help you gain so much insight into this industry.
Any particular experience that you gained while being a student that helped you in your career?
All of the skills that I learned in Mark Bulgutch’s TV class helped me because it was TV specific. I learned a lot of skills that I needed for the branch of journalism that I’m currently in. Another class that really helped me was Law and Ethics in Journalism. I feel like that is the one class that you will use the most throughout your journalism career because you are going to run into so many ethical dilemmas. The guest speakers that we had were also really helpful because they told you about the interview process and how to come into an interview with story pitches… basically what to do and what not to do.
How did you arrive at your current position?
I arrived at my current position through my internship at CTV Regina that I did for my fourth year internship. I was there for about 6 weeks and then I was hired on a 6-month video journalist contract. It was great experience and I was able to build a really good demo reel that led me to my current job. I got hired at CityNews and this job is amazing because it’s versatile – I’m doing radio, I get to anchor for the morning show on a fill-in basis, I get to produce, edit, shoot and its just great experience. While I was in j-school, I did a bunch of unpaid internships and I really tried to put myself out there by getting stories and going to events to get exposure so that really paid off in the long run.
How do you think your first-year self would react to where you are now?
I think I would not be that surprised because I knew I would have to move across the province and probably halfway across the country like I am now. I knew I was going to have to make sacrifices in journalism. What is surprising though is that I am in Calgary, I thought that I would be in a smaller market for at least a couple of years so this is surprising to me and I’m happy about that.
What’s one of your favourite memories from J-school?
It was the first semester, first class which was “Intro to News” with Anne McNeily. Going out and getting streeters for the first time was so daunting and it was so scary. But now I have to do it every day so that is definitely one of the memories that stands out to me.
What advice would you give to current journalism students?
If you’re in journalism school right now, get to work! Go out. Shoot stuff. Do some live hits with a friend. It depends what type of journalism you want to get into but practise and home your craft. You need writing as a fundamental so I would write for anything you can get your hands on. You need to get those reps in. What you do outside of the program is just as important as what you do in school because you need to execute your work.
My second piece of advice is to do a lot of research for your fourth year internship. Make sure you’re getting valuable experience wherever you go. I made sure that I wasn’t getting coffee for someone, but getting something for my demo reel that I could use to get hired somewhere.
And lastly, relax! You’re going to perform and think better if you’re relaxed. I would recommend meditation and improv classes to reduce stress and anxiety. And just believe in yourself! You got into this program for a reason so believe in that passion that you have.