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Welcoming the RSJ Class of 2023!

Orientation 2019
The incoming undergraduate class of 2023. (Gary Gould)

 

By Daniela Olariu, RSJ ’17

The Ryerson School of Journalism welcomed 143 undergraduate first-year students into the Bachelor of Journalism program on August 27. They had a full day of orientation activities to get to know the school.

Their journalism education began right at the start of the day with an assignment to interview faculty and staff which they then posted to Twitter with the hashtag #RSJnow. Here were some of their tweets:

 

During the day, the students heard from Lisa Taylor, Undergraduate Program Director, Janice Neil, Chair and a panel of five second year students who shared their first-year experiences and tips.

The hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter as upper-year students, faculty and alumni gave advice to the incoming class.

On Wednesday August 28, the RSJ also welcomed 24 Masters students to the graduate program.

Orientation 2019 Masters Students
The incoming graduate class of 2023. (Angela Glover)
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RSJ alum take on Parliament Hill

Olivia Stefanovich (RSJ ‘13) and David Thurton (RSJ ‘12) started working on The Hill in February. (Courtesy Peter Bregg)

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

 

As one RSJ grad finished up his time as a reporter on The Hill, two are just beginning their journey.

Josh Wingrove takes on Washington as a White House reporter. (Courtesy @josh_wingrove via Twitter)

Josh Wingrove (RSJ ‘08), who started reporting on The Hill with the Globe and Mail in 2013 and has been with Bloomberg since 2015, has taken on American politics in Washington as a White House reporter.

He gives advice to Olivia Stefanovich (RSJ ‘13) and David Thurton (RSJ ‘12) who started working on The Hill in February. They took on new roles as national reporters in CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau.

“Any time you’re immersing yourself in a new beat, including national politics, it’s just a matter of throwing yourself in until you can swim. It can take a while and it’s a steep learning curve, but the opportunity is worth it,” Wingrove said.

“The Hill is constantly moving and evolving at the intersection of policy and power, but also of people, because people are holding all these folks in Ottawa to account. I’ve always liked that.”

Wingrove arrived in Ottawa as the scandal surrounding former MP Mike Duffy’s expenses was breaking. Similarly, Stefanovich and Thurton began reporting as the SNC-Lavalin story broke.

Olivia Stefanovich. (Courtesy Jake Goegan)

“It’s been non-stop since. We’ve seen this with the Mike Duffy scandal, but it’s been a while since there’s been political drama like this on The Hill so it’s interesting to be here when one story is dominating the headlines for two months,” Stefanovich said.

She began her career with CBC through her internship at the RSJ and got her start as a reporter in Sudbury and, later, in Saskatchewan.

She says the transition is challenging because she’s used to reporting in smaller markets.

“It’s challenging because I’m not from The Hill. I came from reporting in other regions, but in some ways, I can still use the skills that I acquired outside of here. The transition is still not over, even though I’ve been here for a few months now.”

Despite the challenges, she also says it’s an exciting time.

“It’s exciting and you just kind of have to roll with it. And, of course, make sure that everything you’re reporting on is accurate and balanced and just, you know, meet as many people as you can and do stories that matter. For us who are new here, it’s also about keeping up with a story and finding out what’s missing.”

David Thurton. (Courtesy CBC)

Thurton also started his career with CBC in smaller regions across Canada, such as Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and Canada’s Arctic.

“There wasn’t an opportunity for me in Toronto and that pushed me to go out into the regions,” he said. “I can honestly say that those experiences have been life changing, not just at a career level, but also at a personal level.”

His goal is to report in a larger market for a wider audience and Ottawa provides this opportunity.

“It’s a huge jump to go into covering national politics, but I think there is a real need for journalists that have a wide experience of the rest of Canada,” he said.

Thurton said his previous experience in small regions prepared him for his current role because he understands the impact stories can have.

“If you’re reporting on a small community in the right way, you become a part of that community and you understand the value and impact of your stories,” he said. “So you take that experience on The Hill, and you do the same thing.”

Both Thurton and Stefanovich say the newsroom in Ottawa is team-oriented. Wingrove agrees.

“The Hill is definitely a close-knit community in terms of everyone that works here, media and otherwise. It’s a competitive environment, but it’s also pretty supportive,” he said.

“There’s ample support for young journalists in Ottawa and opportunity to tell stories on different platforms that affect different communities in ways that are rewarding.”

He advises new journalists to Ottawa to take in as much journalism as possible, which is advice that he was given by former RSJ professor David Nayman.

“David encouraged everyone in the class to read, watch and listen to as much journalism as possible. And it seems so obvious. But he was right. And that is a lesson that carries to any job in this field. There’s a tonne of it being done by a bunch of different sources. And you just need to immerse yourself in it,” he said.

His final advice is for journalists to step out of their comfort zone.

“It’s always good for journalists to try new assignments whether that’s new beats, new cities, editing instead of reporting, etc. Often that means trying to get out of Toronto and for me, Ottawa was a city I never lived in before.”

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Book Club: Angela Misri’s Portia Adams Adventure Series

 

The RSJ’s Angela Misri puts a twist on Sherlock Holmes mysteries with her own Portia Adams Adventure Series.

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

 

Many of our talented alumni and faculty have stretched their writing muscles beyond journalism into the realms of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The RSJ Book Club is an occasional series created to highlight these works. If you know of a notable grad you’d like to see featured, send us an email at office.journalism@ryerson.ca.

Angela Misri, a Toronto-based journalist and author, teaches at the RSJ and is Digital Director at The Walrus. But in her spare time, she writes detective fiction for a younger audience: her Portia Adams Adventure series features three books.

The first book of the series, Jewel of the Thames, was published in March 2014. Set against the background of 1930s England, it introduces 19-year-old Portia Adams, a budding detective with an interesting — and somewhat mysterious — heritage.

In the second book, Thrice Burned, Portia is still reeling from finding out that her guardian, Mrs. Jones, is actually her grandmother as well as the infamous Irene Adler, making Sherlock Holmes her grandfather. As a diversion, Portia throws herself into work and continues to consult with Scotland Yard on hard-to-crack cases.

Her third book, No Matter How Improbable, was published in March 2016. Being Sherlock Holmes’s granddaughter is getting to be a little much for Portia. She decides to escape the rabid London press by chasing a case all the way to Italy. When she returns, it seems the media frenzy has, finally, run its course — but now she’s got bigger things to worry about.

The series is described as new Sherlock Holmes mysteries to read, but now starring an inquisitive and astute young woman as the protagonist.

 

Below is a Q/A with the author:

 

What inspired you to write this series?

I have been a fan of mysteries and specifically Sherlock Holmes since I was a child, and to write about a descendant of the great detective is my best homage to the authors I have so admired.

What do you want readers to take away from this series?

I’d love it if my readers were surprised by the crimes and the mysteries, and taken with Portia and her world.

When did you realize you wanted to become an author?

Impossibly early. Maybe eight or nine years old.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing the first book?  

I was surprised by how easy it was to write the mystery and how hard it was to write the character arcs. I think a lot of stories suffer from that issue – where the author gets so excited about the engine of the story that they forget to demonstrate progress in a character’s arc. People change over the course of a story, just as we humans change over our own life challenges.

What is your writing process like?

I like to write in the morning before anyone is up, and I like to write the first draft short and tight (like my journalism) and then go back in and flesh out scenes in my second draft.

What were some of your challenges while writing?

Getting distracted by other stories. Like many writers, I have a lot of characters yelling for attention in my head, and sometimes it’s very hard to ignore the shiny new character for the one you’ve been working on for a year.

What has your favourite reader reaction been?

One time I was sitting in the Chapters at Bloor, doing a book signing and things were slowing down, I was running out of books and thinking it was time to wrap things up when a young girl came through the doors. I was on the second floor, but directly across from the doors and she was arguing loudly with her mother, asking why they had to stop here on the way to her birthday lunch. Her mother kept coaxing her along, kind of in my direction and I found myself following their progress when the young girl looked up the stairs, saw me, and stopped, shocked, her hands over her mouth, her eyes wide. I was her birthday present. Her favourite author of her favourite book. That was the best moment as an author I’ve ever had.

Why do you think it’s important for people to read this story?

I didn’t (and still don’t) see myself reflected in mystery stories, and Portia is very much a piece of me. She’s me as I could have existed in Baker Street. I wish I could have made her South Asian as well, but that’s a detective for a different storyline unfortunately.

What is the main message that you hope people take from the book?

That the characteristics people might make you feel bad about could also be your greatest asset. Hold onto your uniqueness and rise above the enticement of fitting in.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become an author?

Finish your story. I meet too many people who tell me they have a book in them, but they never write a word down. Or they start and never finish. Or they start, finish and then futz with the manuscript for a decade. Finish the book. Then finish another. Your fourth book is four times better than your first because you learn A LOT between book one and four, so get finishing.

 

Misri was also part of the My Double Life with journalists panel hosted by The Ryerson Journalism Research Centre where she, Marsha Barber and Waubgeshig Rice discussed their lives as both journalists and creative writers. Watch it below:

 

 

 

 

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MJ students produce variety of projects in digital journalism course

Screenshot of Karen Longwell’s project on Roman Catholic Women Priests. (Courtesy Cheryl Vallender)

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

 

From life after addiction to female priests, donor diversity and Toronto’s hippie college, Master’s students in Ryerson’s School of Journalism worked hard to produce a range of projects for JN 8202, Digital Journalism Studio.

The winter course, taught by Cheryl Vallender,  developed their skills as digital journalists. For the final assignment, they created websites in conjunction with their work in the Narrative Journalism course,  JN 8203.

“Students were required to produce an in-depth multimedia website and use a variety of the interactive elements to enhance their stories. Each element served to further engage the reader and encourage interaction with the story,” Vallender said.

They have been learning and working with various interactive elements, such as  timelines, mapping tools, podcasting, data journalism, infographics, interactive images, animated gifs, cinemagraphs and immersive technologies.

Karen Longwell is a student in the class who created multimedia components for her story on Roman Catholic women priests.

“On my website, I include a gallery of a woman priest mass, videos of the women speaking about the movement, a map showing the locations of women priests in Canada and a timeline showing how women were priests in the early Christian church,” she said.

Screenshot of Roman Catholic Priests project map and timeline. (Courtesy Cheryl Vallender)

 

Longwell said the class was a good learning experience, especially for those who don’t have website development skills.

“Cheryl brought a lot of energy to the topics each week, which made it enjoyable. There are many really good digital tools out there that can enhance a website and they aren’t difficult to use. Timeline and Pikto Chart were two of my favourites.”

The students used the Jarvis theme for their WordPress websites, which allows users to continuously scroll down the page.

In total, 21 websites were produced.

Here are some screenshots of the projects:

Screenshot of Dreams of the Tower by Mitchell Consky. (Courtesy Cheryl Vallender)

 

Screenshot of Donor Diversity map and statistics by Katrya Bolger. (Courtesy Cheryl Vallender)
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Good news, Bad news Report Offers Insight into Changing Media Landscape

 

According to the report, almost 60 percent of small market newspapers in the country have newsrooms that are reduced in size compared to 2016. (Courtesy Getty Images/iStockphoto)

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

Working life at a small-market newspaper, digital transformations, audience engagement, and journalistic ethics and standards are just some of the topics covered in the report: Good News, Bad News: A snapshot of conditions at small-market newspapers in Canada.

The collaborative project between Ryerson University’s Local News Research Project (LNRP) and the National NewsMedia Council of Canada (NNC), which launched April 29, provides insight into newsrooms of print publications with a daily/weekly circulation below 50,000.

Research on news media tends to focus on national news media and major news outlets, but the reality is that the vast majority of newspapers are small publications with a combined print and digital circulation of lower than 50,000,” said April Lindgren, a professor at Ryerson’s School of Journalism and lead investigator for the LNRP.

“Given the disruption in this sector, we thought it was important to get a better sense of what is happening to those newspapers.”

The report ties in with the LNRP’s Local News Map, which tracks changes to the local news landscape across Canada and the local news map data reports. It shows that 199 of the 275 local news outlet that have closed since 2008 have been community newspapers.

“Smaller newspapers face major challenges, but the survey also reveals that publications know they are making a unique contribution to communities by focusing on local stories that nobody else is telling,” Lindgren said.

Screenshot of the report.

The survey

A survey was undertaken to create a snapshot of conditions at small-market Canadian newspapers following a similar exercise conducted in the United States in 2016 (Radcliffe, Ali & Donald, 2017). The Canadian survey was designed to allow for a comparison of small-market newspapers in the two countries.

“We used all of the questions from the U.S. survey and added some questions related to ethics because we wanted to explore ethics in the newsrooms,” Lindgren said.

There were 127 eligible responses to the online survey, which was conducted between February 5, 2018, and April 25, 2018. Responses were anonymous.

“The potential to do an international comparison from a scholarly perspective is important because it allows us to determine trends and what it is about the culture and industry in different countries that have produced these different results.”

The good news

Some of the good news that came out of the report is that local newspapers have a special place in Canadians’ news diets and are a trusted source of information in their communities.

“Many respondents to the survey were committed and actively involved with their communities,” Lindgren said.

Many publications have launched an editorial campaign on an issue that is important to their community and see “audience engagement” as an important way to foster conversations with readers. It’s also an opportunity to play an active role in civic and local debates.

“They think there is a future for small local newspapers and that’s an important message to come out of the survey.”

The bad news

The bad news is that respondents also talked about significant challenges.

Almost 60 per cent of small-market newspapers in the country have newsrooms that are reduced in size compared to 2016, which places heavier demands on the journalists in those newsrooms.

“Knowing that I can say that with authority is a piece of information that we didn’t have before and I think we need to have that,” Lindgren said.

Another thing that stood out in the report is that older respondents were more positive about the future and prospects for smaller newspapers than the younger people who responded.

“It’s a concern because I hope that younger people are going to be around to step into the places of these older journalists. The notion or idea that these newspapers are on their deathbeds makes it difficult for these publications to attract new employees, sell advertising and generally undermine them.”

The respondents insisted, though, that that is not an accurate perception in their particular cases.

A mixed report

The numbers from the local news map may tell a grim news story, but the voices of the people running them range from optimistic to pessimistic.

“Understanding what the outlook is amongst people working in those newsrooms, positive and negative, is an important perspective and being able to tell their stories in a way that’s backed up by numbers is important,” Lindgren said.

She hopes the report will be of use to researchers, journalists and to anyone interested in how the media landscape in Canada is changing.

“The report is full of rich information and reveals stories that are often not told about what’s happening in small-market newspapers and communities,” she said.

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RSJ prof promoted to Associate Professor

Asmaa Malik has been promoted to Associate Professor, fully tenured. (Photo by Narrative Drive)

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

 

Five years ago, Asmaa Malik left her role as the deputy managing editor of the Gazette in Montreal and joined Ryerson.

Today, the Ryerson School of Journalism is proud to announce that she has been promoted to Associate Professor, fully tenured.

During her time on the tenure stream, she focused on teaching and engaging with young journalists while trying to understand the skills they need as journalism continues to change and adapt to a digital world.

At the same time, she was excited to explore issues that had come up during her practical time in the newsroom and  to take the time to research and develop them.

Some examples of this are The JeRI Project, projects she’s done with

The Future of Local News and work related to the coverage of Muslim women in media.

“Now that i’ve been promoted to tenure, I’m really excited to get the opportunity to focus on this as a part of my job going forward. I feel like I have a big boost to do that,” she said.

A lot of Malik’s teaching is related to journalism and entrepreneurship.

“The work that I do with projects at the DMZ, for example, is mentoring and helping shape programs that will help people working in news innovation take their ideas out into the world so that we can develop different models for news,” she said.

A large project that she will continue to work on in her new role is related to the Digital News Innovation Challenge – an incubator that was launched last year for companies.

“I’m trying to understand what innovators need to understand about journalism to do news innovation right, and what journalists need to understand about innovation to do news innovation right.

Malik was also recently appointed scholar in residence as a joint appointment with the Yeates School of Graduate Studies and the Learning & Teaching Office at Ryerson.

 

 

Her focus will be to review literature and scholarship related to graduate advising. She will also  develop workshops and plans for Ryerson faculty members to address issues of graduate advising with an emphasis on students from marginalized backgrounds.

“This is the first year of the new graduate curriculum and a real focus of that is making sure students have all the tools they need to report. As part of that, we are creating three courses directly related to them producing their MRP (Master’s Research Project),” Malik said.

Janice Neil, Chair of the RSJ, congratulated Malik on her new role.

“If her years here seem like they rushed by in a blur, it’s because she has been so busy: teaching a wide range of courses; pushing the innovation envelope with entrepreneurial zeal; serving as Graduate Program Director; and revamping the MJ curriculum,” she said.

“You’ve enriched our school, broadened our perspectives on journalism and deepened our world views.”

 

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RSJ students launch project T.

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

 

From the story of an indoor amusement park in Etobicoke that is struggling to survive, to an indigenous tattoo parlour in Moss Park and the journey of a Leslieville musician, second-year RSJ students have been working hard to produce features as part of a first-of-its kind online multimedia magazine.   

Project T. (pronounced t-dot) launched on April 11 and showcases a variety of people, places and things in eight neighbourhoods across Toronto.

“Students have really worked hard on making their features better and better and it’s been extraordinary to watch the stories come to life both in the words and the multimedia elements,” said Ivor Shapiro, Professor and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs.

T. is part of the required JRN 272 (Feature Writing and Current Affairs) and JRN 273 (Boosting Media Techniques) courses co-instructed by Shapiro and Marie Espérance Cerda in the Winter semester. Eight writing coaches also worked alongside the students to provide guidance on their media elements, writing and reporting techniques.

How the idea came about

The project comes after the school changed the structure of the feature writing course from being taught in sections to smaller writing labs.

Once that decision was made, the idea of producing a written feature as well as a multimedia feature that would be published as an online magazine was established.

“For the first time as far as i’m aware, second-year students at the RSJ have a published project in which to showcase their work for class,” Shapiro said.

What the project provides second-year students

Project T. makes students jump from thinking about journalism as news writing to thinking about it as feature writing.

“It’s a way to think about reporting that isn’t just about the new thing that happened yesterday, but the ongoing issues that people, places and things go through in their everyday lives and community,” Shapiro said.

Students create a relationship with their sources and learn about people’s lives and activities in a larger context, such as cultural, identity, religion, history and economic difference.

On the writing side, it’s an opportunity to work on their descriptive writing, which isn’t a large aspect of news writing.

“In all of these ways, we’re trying to introduce description, context and the opportunity to keep working on a story beyond just filing it on the same day and moving on to another story. That produces different challenges and learning experiences,” Shapiro said.

A student’s perspective

 

Nadia Brophy is one of the students who was part of project T. Her feature, At the Corner of Art, Accessibility and Community, is about a studio in Dufferin Grove that makes the traditional paper art practice accessible to all kinds of communities.

At first, she struggled to find a story but overcame this challenge with persistence and courage.

I went through multiple PPTs (person, places and things) trying to gather information that I could develop into a quality story and I felt burned out fairly quickly when they weren’t working out… If I hadn’t mustered up the courage to explore my options without any worry of what could go wrong, I wouldn’t have had the great opportunity of working with Paperhouse Studio.” she said.

An important lesson she learned while working on her feature is to pay close attention to her surroundings.

“I found I would often get distracted by recording audio and conducting interviews, that I would forget to thoroughly observe what was around me. This is an essential for feature writing, since you are instructed to provide vivid description of your PPT and its surroundings.”

She also said that it’s crucial to develop a good relationship with the subjects.

“When you have a good relationship with your PPT and let them know all about what you’re doing, they will likely be quite responsive when you have questions even beyond the interview period.”

Brophy’s advice to students doing a similar project in the future is to plan ahead before heading out to the neighbourhood.

“I found I didn’t do enough research prior to looking for stories, and it left me dumbfounded as to where I was supposed to go to find quality content. Research the area, look through Facebook groups in the community, and head out to a few that sound the most interesting.”

The bigger picture

Shapiro said the project as a whole gives people a sense of Toronto.

“If a person comes to Project T., I think they will see a portrait of a city that is incredibly diverse and people, places and things in different parts of the city that have different backgrounds and reasons to exist,” he said.

“It’s alive, vibrant and energetic and it’s all told from a very youthful perspective.”

Despite being disoriented at the beginning, Brophy is happy with the final outcome of her feature.

“I think my feature offers thorough information about my subject through the text, while also having a good balance of interesting multimedia…. I hope readers feel immersed in my work through my description, as I worked hard to create stimulating visuals that remain in the mind and remind the reader of the subject matter of the piece, even after they have finished reading.”

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RSJ students win Ryerson’s Dennis Mock Award

Ben Shelley and Zena Salem received Student Leadership Awards last week. (Janice Neil)

 

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

Two RSJ students have won Ryerson’s Dennis Mock Student Leadership Awards.

Ben Shelley and Zena Salem received the awards last week for their outstanding voluntary extracurricular contributions to the School of Journalism and Ryerson University.

“I feel very grateful. I have been heavily involved on and off campus since first year because I really enjoy community support. The fact that my work and achievements were recognized by not just my program or faculty, but Ryerson as a whole is certainly something I didn’t see coming,” Salem said.

Salem said she couldn’t have achieved the award without the people who helped her throughout the years.

“I learned so much from other student leaders who took the time to teach, guide me and   impact my leadership style,” she said.

“The Dennis Mock award will now be a great reminder to me that all the growth I experienced is thanks to people I crossed paths with, and to people who share a similar vision when it comes to wanting the betterment of student life and community engagement.”

Shelley said winning the award is a huge honour.

“I was definitely really surprised to, first off, even be nominated, then to win as well, just based on how many other amazing student leaders there are on campus. I’m very grateful, though, for sure.

He said the award highlights how much of an impact student leaders have made on campus. “It was amazing to be recognized amongst them.”

The award acknowledges and encourages student participation in university affairs. In naming the award after Dennis Mock, Ryerson recognizes his commitment to higher education. His leadership and dedication, demonstrated during his 28 years at the University, are qualities embodied in students chosen to receive this award – students committed to “making a difference.”

Throughout her undergrad years, Salem took on various extracurricular activities within the school and university, such as being the Vice-President of Equity for the Journalism Course Union (JCU), participating in the tri-mentoring program and holding different positions within the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, the Egyptian Students’ Association at Ryerson (ESA), McCLung’s Magazine, the Orphan Sponsorship Program, the African Students’ Association at Ryerson and more.

Shelley was also part of the JCU, two years as a representative and last year as the president. He also spent a year as a residence council member with Housing and Residence Life.

He strove to build a greater connection with students in the program and worked to facilitate communication between students and faculty.

Salem said she’s made a difference by choosing to set equity, inclusion and diversity as a basis for everything she does.

“People from marginalized communities lack representation and their work is always undermined. In journalism, I always wanted to see more racialized people thrive and get their views and voices out there,” she said.

“As for my non-journalistic achievements, I would like to credit all the racialized people for pushing my leadership, which led to many changes and accomplishing things I didn’t think I would ever be brave enough to take on.”

After graduation, Shelley is returning home to Ottawa and taking the summer to freelance and launch his own blog/website. He wants to pursue sports journalism full-time.

Salem wants to be a news anchor who brings forward stories that are often overlooked.

“I hope to always empower and extend my understanding and knowledge on marginalized communities in every way possible, while simultaneously giving them a fair platform to share their stories.”

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My Double Life: Journalists who also write fiction and poetry

(From left to right) Angela Misri, Marsha Barber, Suanne Kelman and Waub Rice. (Daniela Olariu)

 

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

Writers don’t have to stick to one genre. Meet three journalists who are also published authors — writing everything from detective novels to poetry collections to short stories.

The Ryerson Journalism Research Centre featured a panel last Tuesday at Ryerson University titled My Double Life with journalists Angela Misri, Waubgeshig Rice and Marsha Barber, who discussed their lives as both journalists and creative writers.

The panel was moderated by former RSJ professor Suanne Kelman, who taught at Ryerson for 21 years.

All three panelists said their desire to write creatively developed before they entered the field of journalism.

“I wrote creatively when I was a teenager. I would go home from school to our house on the rez and write fun and interesting observations of life around me because I knew they were unique experiences and compelling things to explore about my upbringing on the reserve,” Rice said.

He became a journalist later, but the two have been intertwined ever since.

“I’ve been able to draw inspiration from each medium and each has influenced the other over the course of my career.”

Rice graduated from the RSJ in 2002 and has worked for CBC News for most of his career. He is originally from Wasauksing First Nation and his first short-story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community. His debut novel, Legacy, followed in 2014 and his latest novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was released in October, 2018.

RSJ professor and journalist Marsha Barber, a former documentary filmmaker at CBC’s The National, writes poetry.  She said poetry and journalism have common elements.

“I think there are parallels between poetry and some forms of broadcast journalism. A good broadcast script sometimes looks like poetry – they’re very sparse, the writing is very clear and concise. When you write poetry, you are a witness and striving for truth the same way you are in journalism.”

Misri, who teaches at the RSJ and is Digital Director at The Walrus writes detective fiction for a younger audience. She writes the Portia Adams Adventure books and her most recent is called Pickles vs. the Zombies. 

“I wrote the Portia Adams stories because I didn’t have enough Canadian detective fiction. I write to bring a perspective into the world and to try to change the world. I also write for myself and hope other people want to read it.  So far, that’s worked out.”

Rice said he writes because in journalism he can’t dive deeply enough into some historical issues as they relate to indigenous people.

“When you tell a story in one to two minutes on TV, it’s impossible to get the proper context, which is why we need to do more value-added coverage pieces,” he said.

“It applies to fiction because you can make up the characters and settings, but what binds them together is that historical context. It’s an opportunity to extend that historical understanding and try to do it in more creative ways.”

Barber said her poetry is a form of self-expression.

“What I get out of it is processing things and the satisfaction of taking something very raw and polishing it until it’s something I can be proud of,” she said. “It’s a direct and powerful form of communication. A well placed poem can change something in your life and, therefore, in the greater community.”

Some challenges the three face as authors include going back and forth between creative writing and journalism, as well as finding the time to write creatively. But they find ways to address these issues.

Rice said he writes in different environments.

“In the space when I’m working at CBC, it’s always about the facts and about the truth. Once I’m out of that, at home or at a cafe, it’s a different environment, so I can switch gears easily,” he said.

For Barber, it’s about the time of day.

“I write late at night for a first draft and I do revisions early in the morning. I have a very clear boundary in terms of when I do my poetry writing and when I do my journalistic work.”

Misri and Barber’s advice to journalists who also want to pursue creative writing is to dedicate time for it.

Rice’s advice is to harness creativity and let it out in different ways.

“Having the opportunity to do both has enhanced my skills as a storyteller and has made me a more well-rounded journalist and author.”

 

Watch the full panel below:

 

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RSJ faculty and staff celebrate 30 years of service

Gary Gould and Mark Bulgutch at the President’s Breakfast celebrating 30 years. (Clifton Li)

 

By Daniela Olariu (RSJ ’17)

In 1988, Rick Astley’s song, Never Gonna Give You Up, was one of the year’s hit songs. Media Production Specialist Gary Gould and part-time instructor Mark Bulgutch joined the Ryerson School of Journalism that year and seem to have taken inspiration from it – they celebrated 30 years of service at the school earlier this month.

“I can’t believe it’s been 30 years. When you love what you do, time just seems to fly by and I’ve been living the dream for 30 years here,” Gould said. “I love the students, faculty, staff and my colleagues – they make all the difference.”

Gould joined the School of Journalism in 1988 after working at CBC’s flagship current affairs program, The Journal. A professional cinematographer, editor and photographer, he provides production and technical support to all students.

In the Fall semester, he taught JRN 271: Designing Journalism and has previously taught photojournalism, JRN 310: Video Production Techniques and RTA courses.

Gould also said it’s great to look at the Canadian news industry and see so many RSJ graduates working across the country.

“There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t recognize a face on TV or a name in an article.”

Bulgutch also began teaching at the RSJ in 1988. He continued his teaching career at RSJ after retiring from CBC News in 2009, a career that lasted more than 35 years. Despite being retired, he continued to produce every CBC TV News special event until 2012. He remains a regular contributor of opinion columns to the Toronto Star.

“Very little has given me more pleasure than seeing “my” students reporting on a television newscast,” Bulgutch said. “Though I know it’s their talent that has put them there, it lets me pretend I was a major influence on their lives.”

Gould and Bulgutch both arrived a year after Ryerson hired Lesley Salvadori, who is now News Media Technical Co-ordinator,

 

Lesley Salvadori (left) celebrated 30 years at last year’s President’s Breakfast. (Clifton Li)

 

Salvadori and Gould have been working together ever since.

“Working with Lesley has been a real pleasure and she is one of the hardest-working people I know,” Gould said, adding he’s spent more time with Lesley than with most people in his life because they work together almost every day.

“We continue to work together and to me she’s foundational to the program.”

Salvadori originally joined the journalism department in 1987 as a Technical Lab Assistant. She now oversees the co-ordination of daily technical requirements for both graduate and undergraduate programs and the News Media Production Specialists.

“After 31 years, Ryerson has become family. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime,” she said.

In addition to her role overseeing RSJ’s technical requirements, Salvadori has taught JRN 310: Video Production Techniques for 23 years. She is in the process of completing a certification in Project Management.