Category Archives: J-school

Check out this professor’s response to a student who asks ‘Did I miss anything?’

Photo by techinasia.
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A fantastic professor at Carleton University passed along this response by Tom Wayman, a poet and professor  who teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at the University of Calgary.

Though Wayman’s poetic response to this question was first published in 1994, I’m sure many teachers would still find it interesting.

By Tom Wayman


When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

  Continue reading Check out this professor’s response to a student who asks ‘Did I miss anything?’

How to ‘wow’ during a newsroom internship interview

At a job interview
You don’t have to feel like this (Photo credit: Arroz y Asado)

Recently I was contacted by a candidate who had been short-listed for the Ottawa Citizen’s year-long internship opportunities.

(Note: all our interns are paid positions. Understatement: This has become a hot topic recently.)

(Also to note: If you’re entering the newsroom as an intern this summer or fall, here are a few tips I blogged about last year.)

Okay, enough notes, back to the point of this post…

I’m not on the hiring committee for these positions, but I was impressed that this candidate was doing his homework and felt comfortable reaching out to me. This was, after all, the kind of ‘cold call’ he’d be required to do on the job should he be hired.

This person’s questions were simple, but direct: how had past candidates ‘wowed’ me in interviews? And what about the top interns, what sets them apart?

Continue reading How to ‘wow’ during a newsroom internship interview

Why I hate granting extensions to students

deadlinesWhen was the last time you asked your boss for an extension on a project you were working on?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last two weeks, as many students have been asking me for extensions on their assignments. The excuses/reasons aren’t that compelling – usually, it’s because they can’t find a story to cover before the deadline.
And I have failed them: I have granted extensions this past week that I never would have. I don’t know why, I must have softened. But I promise you it won’t happen again (without tough extenuating circumstances, of course).
Because getting an extension from a university prof/instructor on an assignment is not real life. If you keep asking for extensions in the real world, you’re just snowballing your workload, you’re risking holding your team/company back (hello RIM), and quite frankly, you’re risking your reputation as a person who can deliver.

Should I ban laptops in my class?

laptopsI’m struggling with a laptops issue.

And I fear that this post will make me sound cranky.. but it’s becoming a concern.

I teach a multimedia course, and naturally it’s great when students can follow along visiting the online sites I’m talking about, investigating the tools…  I don’t mind if they Google what I’m teaching

I ask only that they don’t tweet what we’re saying in class, no Facebook and please… ‘no cat videos.’

What I’m noticing is that it’s difficult for some students to have a laptop open and not be MSM’ing each other, Facebooking, etc. Some I catch when they think I’m not looking, others flout. They don’t care.

This gets disruptive when students are nudging their neighbours to watch banned skittles advertisements and more on YouTube. (No, I will not post a link)

Continue reading Should I ban laptops in my class?

Top 10 multimedia skills new journalists should have

Photo by Flickr user EIU
Photo by Flickr user EIU

Now that I’m in a university environment, I’ve been thinking about the skills I learned as a journalism student, and what schools are teaching students today.

Ideally, a student should graduate from journalism school with skills that prepare them to walk into a newsroom – any newsroom – and thrive. (These skills should of course be in addition to sound news judgement and an understanding of journalism ethics and the importance of responsible reporting.)

So here’s my grocery list of ideal skills for the newsroom newbie:

Continue reading Top 10 multimedia skills new journalists should have

Note to future journalists: Don’t get your parents to do it

I got a lot of reaction after a mom reached out to me via LinkedIn looking to get her son, a journalism student,  a summer job in our newsroom. (A few people suggested I hire the mom for her social media savvy.)

Sadly, it appears this isn’t the only student with parents more than keen to help.

Exhibit B: from the Toronto Star’s log of calls to its City Desk in 2012:


I’ve always thought the worst insult for a journalist is to be labelled lazy.

Great reporters, great journalists are tenacious. They are dogged. They are driven, sometimes to the point of obsession.

They don’t ask mom and dad for help.

Why HBO’s The Newsroom makes me nervous

It’s the start of another school year, and hundreds of thousands of students are starting at journalism school.

This, fresh after the conclusion of HBO’s The Newsroom.

I’ll admit to being a little caught up with life, and only watching the series now. I’m not alone when I say it’s a great show.

But there’s a nagging voice I keep hearing when folks rave about The Newsroom, and it’s saying to me: ‘it’s a show.’

And I hope – I truly hope – that there aren’t people signing up for journalism school, intending to get a job in Aaron Sorkin’s newsroom.

Continue reading Why HBO’s The Newsroom makes me nervous

What do students want out of j-school?

Me, as an intern, a week after graduating (in red). I am still grateful for the skills I learned in j-school.

Convocations around town have me thinking back … way, way back to my own graduation from journalism school – and what I was hoping the experience would give me.

Recently I received the anonymous student evaluations from the ‘Fundamentals of Reporting’ (boot camp) course I taught last year at Carleton University. I took a version of the course when I was a Master’s student at Carleton.

The course emphasizes basic interview skills, preparing a background file, investigating sources and an emphasis on Canadian Press style  – with weekly assignments and a major feature at the end of the term. While it’s not their only journalism course, it is one where second-year students get to stretch their legs the most and get out there and do some writing.

As important as the grading system is  (I presume if your evaluation marks are astonishingly awful, you won’t be asked back as an instructor), I place as much importance on the comments on the back.

Continue reading What do students want out of j-school?