By: Daniela Olariu, (RSJ ’17)
Molly Hayes, (RSJ ’12), Staff Reporter, The Globe and Mail
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in journalism school?
I think at that stage I was still just marveling at the idea that I could be paid to write every day. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to be writing about, which was the beauty of j-school—I had the opportunity to try out so many different things. My goals ranged from being a book reviewer to a foreign correspondent to a radio host.
How did that vision change as the years went by?
Even as my interests evolved, both in terms of the issues I cared about and the mediums I wanted to pursue, I always maintained a strong interest in hard news. At some point the principles of journalism – holding power to account, giving a voice to people who might not otherwise have it etc. – and the potential of that work, became more important to me than the subject matter itself.
Thinking back to your first year self, how do you think they would react to where you are now?
I think 2008 me would be thrilled. In fact, I try to remind myself of 18-year-old me whenever I am feeling frustrated or impatient. This is a tough industry, no doubt, and especially when I was graduating in 2012, there was a lot of pessimism about our job prospects. But I worked really hard and I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am.
What do you think the RSJ experience offers that you can’t get anywhere else?
I loved that I was being taught by professors who were actively working or who had active connections in the field. It felt like a very hands-on, practical education. And being in downtown Toronto, I was also well-positioned to take advantage of internships and other mentorship opportunities—which I think was just as important as the program itself.
What have you done since graduating/how did you arrive at your current position?
I did a summer internship at the Hamilton Spectator in 2011, before my last year of j-school. In the fall semester of fourth year I did the radio room at the Toronto Star, and in my final semester, a permanent job opened up at the Spec and I got it. I spent the next five years there before leaving to do an investigative internship (through the Canadian Journalism Foundation) at the Globe and Mail in 2017. I have been a staff reporter here now for just over a year, primarily covering crime and policing.
How has your journalism degree and what you learned in school prepared you for your current career?
Our professors treated us like journalists, not students, and the lessons they taught us were totally applicable in the ‘real world.’ Many of the texts I was assigned to read in j-school are still go-tos on my desk today.
Can you talk about one of the biggest accomplishments you’ve made?
In 2014 I received the Goff Penny Award. That seems like a long time ago now, but I can remember how validating it felt as a young reporter in Hamilton to know that the best work and the best stories don’t always have to come out of Toronto.
What’s one of your favourite memories from j-school?
Ironically, failing a test! In our first semester, we had to take a mandatory grammar test, and I remember thinking that if I had gotten into journalism school, I was obviously going to ace it. So I didn’t bother to study. I scored 74 per cent. We needed a 75 to pass.
I succeeded on my next try, but it was a good lesson early on that the bar is high—and for good reason.
What advice would you give to current journalism students?
Don’t underestimate the value of local news and smaller outlets. I’m thrilled to be at the Globe, but my experience at the Spec was invaluable.