Conestoga news

August 4, 2010 1:22 PM

Broad Skills for a Changing Profession

Modern journalism could borrow from Mark Twain's famous quote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Journalism is definitely not dead, but it is rapidly changing. People need accurate news coverage on an ever-increasing spectrum of topics, and they need it faster than ever.

My two years in Conestoga's print journalism program prepared me for a job in the industry in ways I never could have imagined when I first stepped onto the Doon campus.

During my second year, I was offered a work placement at the Hamilton Spectator where I had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the best reporters and editors in the country.

That opened doors for me in an industry that is notoriously difficult to crack. After graduation, I continued to learn with a summer internship at the Waterloo Region Record, followed by an intern position at the Guelph Mercury, where my work was nominated for an Ontario Newspaper Award.

With experience in the fast pace of a daily newsroom, I eventually landed a full-time permanent position with a weekly newspaper, the Waterloo Chronicle. One of the reasons I was hired is because of the ability to wear many hats: reporter, photographer, copy editor and page designer.

I have used the skills I gained at Conestoga every day. The print program offers courses in interviewing, research and writing, copy editing, page layout and design. It also covers the basics of all the additional skills today’s print journalists need: filming and editing video, writing radio scripts, and producing web content.

Every course in my program was taught by industry professionals, including award-winning print journalists and photographers, and television and radio producers.

It was an extremely challenging two years that prepared me for an extremely challenging career.

In less than two years I’ve covered everything from a fatal fire to a federal election. I’ve written about the homeless, gay teens and gambling addicts. I’ve interviewed politicians, from mayors to MPs to former Prime Minister Paul Martin. I’ve held the Olympic torch and watched a heart surgery in progress. I’ve been shot by police (with a paintball) during training exercises.

Today, I am one of the fortunate people in life who wakes up on Monday morning happy to go to work. I have been handed a front row seat to the most joyous, most tragic and most newsworthy events of our time.


By Charlotte Prong Parkhill
2008 graduate of Conestoga College's Journalism-Print program. Currently a reporter at the Waterloo Chronicle.