Graeme Benjamin didn’t plan to be a journalist when he started university.
He enrolled in Dalhousie University as a Bachelor of Arts student in 2011. He took advantage of the King’s and Dalhousie relationship and enrolled in the first-year journalism class at King’s to receive an English credit. Many of those course assignments required him to leave campus and talk to people he wouldn’t usually have a chance to meet and to tell their stories. He began to notice something: he was hooked.
“Meeting the professors in that first year made me want to tell more stories and find different ways to tell stories. Not just on an online platform but also through video and radio,” says Benjamin. “Just learning that at an early stage of university got my foot in the door at King’s and got me into journalism today.”
Benjamin switched into the Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) program with the intention to become a sports journalist. He did some sports journalism outside of the classroom, calling the play-by-play for King’s and Dalhousie athletics webcasts and working as the sports editor for Dalhousie’s student newspaper, the Dalhousie Gazette. In class, his professors challenged him to report on a variety of stories such as hard news, politics, court reporting, and features. He realized that he preferred reporting on a variety of topics.
“You come in with an idea of what type of storyteller you think you are, and you’re challenged on a daily basis to get out of that mindset and move toward places where you’re a little uncomfortable,” says Benjamin. “Definitely the hard news side was a bit of a weakness for me. But they challenged my abilities, and I think I came out a better writer, a better storyteller, and a better journalist.”
The first three years of the program are designed to provide students with the basic skills they need to report on stories for multiple platforms. In the fourth year of the program, students take only journalism classes, giving them the time to hone their craft and become professional-level reporters.
One of the aspects of fourth year that sets it apart is the students’ participation in reporting workshops. These give students the opportunity to work as everyday reporters, publishing stories for online news site The Signal, operated by the School of Journalism. As a student in the online news workshop, Benjamin wrote news stories on tight deadlines every day, while in the TV news workshop, he produced his own video stories and helped run a live news webcast. He took his video skills a step further in the video documentary workshop, creating a short documentary on the Halifax Forum’s history.
“I found the online and TV workshop at King’s really did help prepare me for what I do every day at Global News,” says Benjamin. “You really learn the reality of what the news cycle is.”
Students finish their fourth year with a three-week internship. Benjamin interned at CTV Atlantic in Halifax, and he says that the opportunity he had at King’s to learn what’s involved in being an everyday reporter provided invaluable preparation for that internship.
“Fourth year is so crucial to get you prepared to be in a newsroom, because in your internship is where you’re going to meet people that you’re going to work with for a very long time, and people that you become friends with through a work environment,” says Benjamin. “It’s so crucial to have those connections in this industry.”
As an intern, Benjamin job-shadowed numerous individuals at the station—from the news anchors to camera operators—learning the ropes to produce tv newscasts, and writing stories for the CTV website. His internship led to a three-year career at CTV, where he wrote digital stories and managed their social media accounts.
After three years at CTV, Benjamin moved to Global News in Halifax where he spent two years as a digital reporter and producer. Benjamin’s job was pitching and writing his own stories for online and television platforms, covering a wide range of topics from politics to crime, sports and feature stories. At Global, the variety of stories his professors pushed him to cover at King’s became the stuff of daily life.
For the past four months, Benjamin has been working for Global News Morning. He produces television stories and reports live in the morning. Benjamin alternately hosts the show, and produces it: on days when he is producing, he arrives at work exceptionally early to write the show and make it ready to go on air at 6 a.m.
“You’re taking a whole 6 p.m. newscast and creating the three-hour newscast every morning to do that. And a lot of the writing skills I learned at King’s are skills I use to create those newscasts in the morning,” says Benjamin.
It’s been close to ten years since Benjamin started as a journalist. A decade later, he still loves the profession.
“What made me fall in love with journalism is being able to tell stories in so many different ways and being able to meet so many different people,” says Benjamin. “I wouldn’t be meeting half the people or having half the conversations I am having if I were in any other job.”