LJR at 25


How the world of journalism and the pages of this magazine have changed in the past quarter century

By Kristian Trevena and Safoura Rigi-Ladiz

25 years ago, the Langara journalism department decided to launch a product that would soon become a staple of the journalism program, The Langara Journalism Review. In the 25 years since its conception, the magazine, like the industry, has had to evolve and adapt with the ever-changing media landscape. From changes in technology, to the types of issues covered, to the constantly changing amount of students who produced it every year.

Started by former program chair, Rob Dykstra, the magazine was inspired by Ryerson University’s journalism publication, The Ryerson Review of Journalism. The goal was to teach students how to produce long-form journalism, while also allowing students the opportunity to broaden their portfolios before looking for work.

Before the magazine was launched, students got their magazine experience from one magazine production course in the program. The final project of the course allowed students to contribute to magazines from nonprofits and volunteer organizations.

“I thought, why not produce an annual magazine, a regular product?” Dykstra said. “I came up with the idea of producing an annual review covering media and journalism in Western Canada.”

Throughout its evolution, the mandate of The Langara Journalism Review has remained more or less the same. Words change but the goal is the same: to provide essential coverage of the issues, trends, events and personalities that are changing the face of B.C. media.

Let’s take a look back on some notable editions of the magazine throughout the years.

1997 Edition

Starting in 1997, the premier issue of the LJR showcases/demonstrates just how much the magazine, as well as media in B.C, has evolved.  

At first glance, one noticeable difference is that black and white is what dominates the pages. Aside from the cover page, the first issue consists only of black and blue print, with no photos in colour.

The first few pages consist of a feature spread regarding the upcoming UBC journalism program. Construction was underway for what would be “Western Canada’s only graduate school of journalism”, at the time. 

In the last few pages, there is discussion of the“information superhighway”. The article speaks on the (then) new phenomenon of the internet, and its early-stage relationship with media outlets and journalists. At the time of release, approximately six of The Sun’s reporters were frequent users of the internet, according to William Boei, then Vancouver Sun business reporter.

Since the first issue, the internet revolution was one of the biggest changes the magazine has experienced, said Dykstra.

“Everything became much more instant at that point. I don’t think the process of producing a magazine changed much, but certainly the delivery and the execution of it.”

2006 Edition

2006 marked the 10th anniversary of the magazine. A large “numbers” column takes up half of the first page. $739.90 was the average weekly earning of a newspaper reporter in B.C.

A story about the relationship between Christianity and journalism dominated the front cover.

John MacDermaid, recent city councillor of Fredericton, shares his experience contributing to the LJR’s 10th edition. During his contribution to the LJR, he acted as the photo editor of the magazine.

“It was an important component in understanding the media landscape, and how magazines are different from newspapers,” says MacDermid.

“The LJR, to me, was an excellent example of journalism. The stories in it,  notwithstanding the fact that I was photo editor there was really good, insightful information that came out of that issue.”

“I think what I enjoyed most was the process that we went through, from inception of ideas, developing the story.”

2012 Edition

Throughout the 2012 edition, the creative aspect of photojournalism and visual-storytelling were key themes of the cover and interior photos of the issue.

The issue consisted of 12 contributors. Of one of the 12 being Jesse Winter, who currently . Winter took the role of chief photographer of the 2012 edition and he says that  working on the LJR broadened his approach on the possibilities of telling stories within a journalism framework.

“It really helped sort of show me that, even though now I still work predominantly in a news photography oriented kind of approach, there’s still a lot more that can be done outside of that model, as well.”

Capturing the cover photo was a memorable experience of the LJR because Winter said he got more creative direction while still telling a story. Of a young girl, the photo represented the future of what it might mean to be a journalist for young people.

“It was sort of about the future of journalism and taking a look at what it might mean for new journalists.”

Throughout his experience as chief photographer for the 2012 edition, Winter

“There’s also a lot of just, regular journalism that can be done that falls outside of that Daily News reporter category.”

“The possibility to tell stories with images within a journalism framework is a lot more broad than I think I had realized.”

2019 Edition

2019 featured some more modern issues and themes in journalism, the 2019 edition covered topics such as the evolution of small-town storytelling, the effort to decolonize journalism, and the importance of objectivity amongst journalists.

The front page represents a feature story on the importance of investigative reporting in smaller communities in B.C.. Photographed and written by then creative director, Cameron Thomson. The story speaks on different rural community-based media coverage, as well as aspects on how to keep investigative reporting alive in rural communities and why it’s important.

In regards to the LJR experience, Thomson was able to better understand the layout of the long-form structure, he said.

“You pour so much of your time into it, which is so different compared to The Voice and newspapers in general”

Cloe Logan was the managing editor of the 2019 edition of the magazine. For her, being able to see what her classmates wrote about important issues during the editing process was a memory that stuck with her

 “It was the experience of feeling so amazed at what my classmates were doing, and feeling like they chose some good topics to dive into.”

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