Student journalists: remaining unshaken amidst challenges

Student journalists from schools across the province discuss what keeps them motivated to pursue their careers during trying times.

Staying alive through the deadlines – the motivations behind the journalism students of British Columbia

By Cameron Thomson

School is tough –– ask anyone with a degree and they will make sure you know they earned it. The challenges that come up in journalism school are unique to the trade.  From talking to people on the street about what they think of election results to cold calling local politicians, journalism can prove to include mountainous, anxiety-inducing tasks. Coupled with multiple low-hanging deadlines for weeks on end and learning a completely new style of writing than learned in high school, the expression “no crying in J-school” earned its roots fairly.

With these stresses and challenges in mind, we reached out to some journalism students from schools across the province to hear what kept them motivated through their programs.

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In her second year at BCIT, Catherine Garrett is looking forward to a future in sports broadcasting. Drawn to the drama of the good guy/bad guy narrative of sports commentators, she would like to write deep dives into player’s histories and hopes to be a commentator herself one day.

The road is long and the program is challenging but she says she can’t let the dream go now.

“It’s hard, it’s an exhausting program but at the end of the day it is what I really love to do and I can’t picture myself doing anything else because I have wanted to do it for so long. I feel like I am getting pretty close to achieving my dream of getting on my way there so giving up now – I’ve invested so much time and energy that I can’t give up.”

“It’s really difficult because I have my parents and my friends who aren’t in this program or this field and they say ‘you’re not going to make any money,’ ‘you’re going to have horrible hours’ and basically ‘you’re going into a dying industry’ it’s really hard but also I can’t picture myself doing anything else.”

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Aiyah Benaso, also at BCIT, has been studying journalism for two years. She started the program wanting to be a travel and culture journalist but soon became a news junkie after being submerged in the program.

Although she is a student of the broadcasting program, Benaso recognizes there are other career paths for the skills she has acquired at BCIT. This has made her confident that even if journalism doesn’t work out – something will.

“I feel like graduating this course does not limit me to just news journalism or print journalism or online journalism it really does open a lot of horizons because we have more than just writing skills at BCIT. We learn to take videos, edit, shoot, produce, we have quite a lot of tricks in our bag almost as though I don’t want to be your traditional conventional reporter I can always go into editing or a VJ camera shooter or whatever else outside of traditional journalism. People always talk about going to ‘the dark side’ as well, you can go into communications or PR.”

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Having been interested in public discourse and politics from an early age, journalism wasn’t Wade Tomko’s first choice of program to take at Thompson Rivers University. Tomko developed a liking for it due to its hands-on nature and intimate relationship with politics.

With allegations of fake news damaging the trust between the general public and media organizations, Tomko takes this not as a challenge to the industry, but as an opportunity for growth.

“You really have to prove to, I want to say the public, and society that journalists are here for the people, to support the people, to support democracy, and realistically that’s the thing which motivates any journalist. I mean I don’t think hearing that ‘mainstream media should go away’ is really a motivator to get out of the industry, it’s more of a motivator to stay in the industry and make it better.”

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Cailyn Mocci is in her fourth and final year of studying towards her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Thompson Rivers University.

Despite some of her professors cautioning her that jobs in journalism may be hard to come by, Mocci maintains she will prove them wrong. At the same time, Mocci is comfortable straying from a path strictly related to journalism.

“I’ve just been trying to keep motivated, to keep my options open, be like flexible in how I use my skills because I find a lot of my skills are transferable to outside fields and I can take my journalistic abilities to other fields as well.

Studying journalism at Kwantlen Polytechnic University for two years, Marcus Jones wants to prove to people that journalism is not dead.

To start off his career in writing Jones would like to write restaurant reviews and wants to go into freelance journalism later in life. His motivations for doing so are to keep the public thinking independently.

“To give people the truth is what motivates me, to uncover certain contradictions within the system, basically allow people to think.”

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