While most King’s students are off for Fall Reading Week, the senior Bachelor of Journalism (Hons) and one-year graduate Bachelor of Journalism (BJ) students taking the Advanced Digital Reporting Workshop are busy creating content for The Signal, the program’s flagship student-run news site.
It’s an intensive journalism workshop in which the classroom is designed to simulate a newsroom. Here, students are assigned different roles as editors and reporters, and after morning meetings they hit the streets, going places like city council meetings, the courts or the provincial legislature. They interview people and file stories on deadline, covering breaking news the same way career journalists do.
The course is taught by two-time King’s journalism graduate Terra Tailleur, (BJH’97, MJ’13), with daily support from working journalists.
King’s alumna Shaina Luck (BJH’07), who’s now a reporter and producer with CBC News, is back on campus three mornings a week for the duration of the six-week workshop to support and advise students.
“Basically, I’m an ask-me-anything,” says Luck about her role and what she can offer students. “I’m trying to tell them what would fly in a newsroom.”
Luck listens to their story pitches, probing them to explain why a story is newsworthy and what the angle is. “Is this a first?” and “Who are you going to interview?” she asks members of the class. She also offers one-on-one consultations. “Journalism is not the most forgiving profession,” Luck says. “They may need to hear, ‘That’s not a story,’ or ‘You need to learn more.’ ”
She credits the students with teaching her as she teaches them. “They ask good questions,” Luck says. “They force me to break things down for them, which breaks things down for me.”
And the students also seem to appreciate having working journalists to bounce ideas off. “Having someone like Shaina come in is really helpful in emulating what it’s like to work in an actual newsroom,” says Celie Deagle, a BJ student.
For course instructor Tailleur, being able to bring in working professionals offers students an enriched experience. In addition to Luck, she also has journalism freelancer and author Katie Ingram (BJ’11) providing copy-editing support, and Maureen Googoo, who publishes the Indigenous news site Ku’ku’kwes, working collaboratively with students.
Tailleur says having people walk from the newsroom into the classroom, who are able to speak to the increasing demands on journalists, are valuable. “We need them—people who have current skills and experiences. Things change so quickly,” Tailleur said.