Recently, the Trent-Loyalist Journalism program put together a panel event called “Insights and Advice from Trent Alumni Journalists.” Journalism students, members of Trent student media (yours truly and Trent Radio), and Trent alumni met in the First Peoples’ House of Learning Gathering Space to get real about journalism.
During the event, local organizer and socialite Maryam Monsef asked the question, “Who shouldn’t be a journalist?”
“Anyone who wants to make a lot of money,” Paul Schliesmann answered, as all three panelists laughed, “but that’s not necessarily the case.”
Former CBC Radio Journalist, David James, also answered, “If you couldn’t put your hand up today, what are you going to do in a press conference? You have to get over your hesitation and get the confidence to get out there, as well as the confidence to fail.”
It may be a huge surprise, but none of our employees are journalism students, nor do they have any journalist degree or any sort of certification that may “legitimize” their hard work any further than you, faithful reader.
Upon starting Volume 47 in September, I was anticipating the arrival of the new Trent-Loyalist journalism students. I thought it would be exciting to have aspiring journalists involved with Arthur who were eager to get out there and be super-duper devoted reporters.
As an editor, semi-aspiring journalist, and Arthur ambassador, it has been pretty shocking to have not one journalism student contributing to the newspaper in any shape or form. Not only have I been disappointed and concerned about the lack of participation from the journalism students, I am totally confused. If you want a career in journalism, why aren’t you getting involved in it already?
When I brought up this issue to the journalism panelists, they were genuinely shocked as well. One message that was continuously put forth during the event was that in order to be a journalist, you need to get experience. All three panelists stressed that doing freelance and volunteer work is key. They reiterated that now is the time to make mistakes and test your skills out.
I have heard a few possible explanations for why journalism students are not involved with the newspaper, such as, “they are only in first year,” “they may be feeling more pressure since they are journalism students,” “they may be intimidated,” and “perhaps they don’t know about Arthur.”
I’m not even going to address that last one, and I will only accept one of these as a semi-legitimate reason. There can definitely be an assumption that journalism students will be “better” reporters, and they may feel pressured to produce outstanding work because they are in school for this stuff. I can see that. However, we’re not looking for journalism students to be “better” reporters; we’re looking for journalism students to be reporters.
I think the biggest expectation I have of journalism students is to be devoted to what they’re doing. It isn’t an excuse to say they’re only first-years or that they may be intimidated. Campus reporter, Matt Rappolt, and I were both in our first week of first year when we got involved with Arthur. Carmen Meyette was hired as a reporter last year when she was in her first year as well.
If you want to be involved, it won’t matter how intimidated or young you are. We’re all young, inexperienced, and intimidated when we approach Arthur, and that’s okay. That’s how it is supposed to be.
Arthur is here to be a tool for those who want to gain valuable skills, meaningful employment, and experience. It’s also an opportunity to develop a portfolio of published work.
So, there are a few reasons I can see these journalism students hesitating, but perhaps they shouldn’t be the only ones blamed. There haven’t been any connections made between Arthur or Trent Radio and the Trent-Loyalist journalism program.
Upon hearing that none of Trent’s journalism students are involved with the organization, Professor Michael Eamon invited Jasmine and I to come speak to his first year journalism students this week. This is definitely a start.
At the end of the journalism event, Schliesmann said, “Shout out to the Arthur and Trent Radio because you are the people who we’re going to see in the future.”
So, this is a call out to all Trent-Loyalist journalism students: What are you waiting for?
Paul Schliesmann has spent twenty-five years at the Kingston Whig-Standard and was recently awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his collective works as a journalist. He is also the author of Honour on Trial: The Shafia Murders and the Culture of Honour Killings.
Steve Lukits spent thirteen years at the Kingston Whig-Standard as a writer and page editor. He was then appointed to the position of Editor-in-Chief and held the position from 1999-2002. He is now an Associate Professor in the English department at the Royal Military College of Canada.
David James spent almost ten years as a CBC radio journalist. He is now a sculptor and recently donated the glass sculpture, Portal, to Trent.