The Peter Pan Generation in Modern Media
Hosted by Over The Edge, University of Northern British Columbia
5/9 WRCUP members in attendance: The Peak, The Other Press, The Phoenix, Over The Edge, The Omega
3/10 PNCUP members in attendance: The Gateway, The Sheaf, The Griff
The mark of a great conference is when speakers sit in on each others’ sessions. That was exactly happened at Over The Edge’s conference running Oct. 25 – 27, 2013. If you weren’t able to make it, catch up on what you missed here and hope to see you next time.
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Major snaps’]The OTE crew led by Shelley Termuende did an outstanding job of organizing this conference. In addition to setting up a compelling lineup of local journalists to speak, OTE raised over $2,000 worth of sponsorship for their conference. That is unprecedented. UNPRECEDENTED. Money ain’t everything but it makes a huge difference in the continued sustainability and longevity of our cooperative. Way to go OTE. We should all take note and look to incorporate some of OTE’s hustle and resourcefulness into future CUP conferences — regional or national. [/bra_toggle]
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’How did you do it?’] So we know Shelley Termuende led a team that got the most sponsorship for a CUP regional conference in recent memory at least, in CUP history at most, but how can we repeat her success?
Q: How did you approach sponsorship — who did you target?
A: The whole process started end of May-early June and I had a few sponsors that I had my eye on from the start. I did background research and saw that one of our sponsors, WebExpress, did some work with NASH last year so I contacted them right away… For the most part, companies have online forms and since I’d prepared a bid already, I just copy-pasted that into the submissions box. I approached about 10 other people… and two came back out of 10 so I think that was successful.
Q: How did you get sponsors to buy into a 60-person conference?
A: Basically I promoted it based on the fact that young journalists are more likely to say good things about your company if they see that you’re willing to engage in their events and support them.
I really promoted the fact that people were taking time off of school, paying they own way to attend and that my goal was to provide them a way to access this educational opportunity by securing sponsorship.
I promoted it as a 75 person event with about 20 speakers. I was hopping we’d have more people in attendance… Ultimately though I think these sponsors knew that by promoting themselves on a national scale, because CUP is national, it helps them improve their profile with a variety of individuals and I think that gained the best response.
Q: Any tips for future CUP conference hosts? What was the key to your success or things you would do differently?
A: Yeah! To start off, planning a conference well in-advance of your bid date is huge. If I’d have a started this any later I don’t think I would gave been prepared and it would have been stressful. To actually take the time to plan the details like who is going to do what… basically the small stuff — when you have your footing there already it does make a huge difference, particularly on your mental capablities.
I think what I should have done was research the speakers a bit more and poll delegates about what they want to hear about… The biggest complaint was that their was a lot of repetition.
I also think it’s important to make sure you have a solid staff well in advance of the conference to make sure you have people to help introduce speakers and that sort of thing. I can’t thank my staff enough – they were incredible this weekend, so definitely making sure you have a strong support team is key.
— Interview conducted and edited by Erin Hudson
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’The road race’]
As Friday October 25 rolled around and eight student papers piled into cars to make the trip to Prince George, someone decided to instigate a road race via Twitter. The rules were that the last group to PG bought the winners (the first car to make it to PG) a round of drinks. As no one seemed to fully agree to the rules aside from The Sheaf and the national office, it ended up being a two car race. The Sheaf, who travelled the furtherest distance (from Saskatoon!) won. The loss created some tension amongst the national office staff as one of them is a very sore loser (cough Kergin cough). [/bra_toggle]
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[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’The ultimate CUP chat’]
This is a big year for CUP. We need all hands on deck so Erin and Brendan prepared a presentation to bring members up to speed on what’s happening with CUP and where we’re heading. Note to readers not present for the presentation: the slides are outlines of what was discussed by the national staff and could seem out of context. If you have questions or require clarification, contact Erin. [/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Session one’]Neil Godbout, managing editor of the Prince George Citizen spoke to delegates on “The future of journalism.” It was clear he gave his session some forethought and, true to his word, he didn’t cut into lunch. Bill Phillips, editorial director at the Prince George Free Press, spoke to delegates about the nature of community newspapers and the differences between daily and weekly papers. His session was called “Rolling with the punches as a community newspaper.” The level of attachment to a community when you work at the community paper is unparalleled, he explained. “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve written a scathing editorial about a politician and then I bump into them in the grocery store knowing what they’re going to see in the paper the next year.” He told delegates not to be afraid to move to a smaller community for work: “Good journalism is good journalism, no matter where it is.”[/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Lunchtime keynote | Andrew Kurjata’]CBC host for Prince George’s morning show, Daybreak, Andrew Kurjata’s speech was titled “How to get a job you technically don’t qualify for.” (The question we’ve all been wanting to have answered!) He got his job at CBC, which he was dismally unqualified for, by following three cardinal rules that he shared with delegates.
- Don’t wait for permission or a paycheque. It’s a crucial first step to him. “If this is what you want to do, just keep doing it and do more of it.” The only journalism experience he had prior to being hired at CBC was at Over The Edge where he acted as Editor-in-Chief.
- Be interested in stuff no one else is interested in. He advised delegates to become fascinated with the communities they live in and with what’s happening around them — particularly if no one else is paying attention. He spoke against the idea that major events only occur in big cities. “It’s not that New York is the only place where exciting things happen, it’s just that they have better storytellers.” Tell stories that no one else is telling, and tell them well.
- Copy people who are better than you. Aside: He isn’t advocating plagiarism: “I don’t mean plagiarize. Plagiarism is bad regardless of your field!” What he means, is that with the aid of your computer, you can get access to the best journalists and their work. Read them, listen to them and try to carry their approaches and tips into your own work. Listening to journalism conferences online, starting blogs to show your interest in various topics — these are ways to improve your work, he explained.
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Session two’]
CKPG’s Kelly Linehan went to J-school at Ryerson University and worked free internships for years. She spoke to delegates about her journey so far towards achieving her professional goal of becoming a TV reporter. According to her, radio is good preparation for TV work and she advised delegates to learn the technical aspects of both jobs — cameras, sound, switchboards, editing — as it makes you an asset to any newsroom. She’s got two quotes she lives by: “Fake it till you make it” in terms of confidence and self-esteem and famous words from Conan: “Work really hard and be kind and good things will happen.” Being kind in the TV business can be tough, she spoke to the cutthroat and judgemental atmosphere at many stations but assured delegates that there is another way to do your job. That drive to do the job in her own way brought her to her station in Prince George. Speaking to delegates frankly, she admitted that it was tough job and it can affect you profoundly: “I have bravado and confidence, but you still walk home crying sometimes.”[/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Session three’]Two Prince George Citizen reporters, Peter James and Mark Nielson, spoke at the next session along with Matt Wood, communications manager at the University of Northern British Columbia. James’ talk was titled “Social media is a great story source but you have to do the reporting.” His title sums up his take well. He told delegates horror stories about tweets of false information and advised everyone to double check facts before you tweet. “Twitter gets your name out there but your credibility is only as credible as your tweets,” he said. Neilson spoke about his beat as a court reporter in his talk “Legal journalism and the courts: Find great stories without getting sued.” He gave delegates a print out of the rules regarding publication bans (vital information if you’re covering anything in court). Wood spoke about his experience reporting during 9/11 and the importance of verifying facts while under the tremendous pressure of a major crisis. His talk was titled “Crisis news reporting — his story of reporting during 9/11.” [/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Session four’]
Rob Murray, a multimedia sports reporter at the Fort McMurray Today and former CUPpie spoke to how he finally landed his first major job. His tale included a Twitter/multimedia battle with Rugby Canada and the coining of the CUP-famous hashtag #writeforsports. His advice to delegates was to say ‘yes’ to any job offer or volunteer offer you get; build a presence on social media and be passionate about your work. “I take a really heartfelt approach to every thing I do… sink your heart into it – about what you’re really passionate about, good results will follow,” he said. Christina Doll, a former journalist and current marketing and communications manager at Initiatives Prince George spoke on how your academic training can help your journalism career. A journalism grad form BCIT’s program she said J-school gave her a toolkit that prepared her for any job she faced in the professional world. However, she noted that J-school doesn’t teach you how to tell stories. To learn how to be a good storyteller, you have to look to internships and on-the-job training. She advised delegates to aim for smaller communities for these opportunities as, in her experience, you get the most hands-on training. [/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Session five’]
Organized and facilitated by CWA-Canada, CBC journalist Wil Fundal and former sports journalist, now communications representative Alistair McInnis spoke about securing a job after school. For McInnis, a Thompson Rivers University grad and Omega alum, schooling helped a lot and he advised delegates to go for small papers to get their start, “If you really want to make it in journalism you have to be versatile and there’s no better way to do it than at a small newspaper.” For Fundal, schooling at BCIT’s journalism program gave him a big picture view of the industry. They both encouraged delegates to research their options, create backup plans and always keep up with professional development. Kealin McCabe led a simultaneous separate session titled “Improving your online professionalism through social media.” McCade is the head research librarian at the University of Northern British Columbia. [/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Session six’]Writing and design critiques took place simultaneous to a session by Adrian Edwards, digital development advisor for The Prince George Citizen. His session was titled “The perfect marketing strategy and how to develop it.” At the Citizen, his team looks at the paper as having two functions: content generation and revenue generation — his work focuses on the latter. He spoke to the revenue opportunities for campus papers saying there was certainly opportunity: “People are salivating because you get young people, educated people, people who have money to go to university and will have money in the future.” He had several tips for campus papers: reach out to people in your communities and be explicit as to how you want them to help you; know your medium and the shelf life of your publication; look at analytics; know the peak times to share content on social media (“probably at night”); and know that appealing to businesses’ altruism is probably not going to work. His biggest recommendation was to take advantage of campus resources and your peers: “As campus papers you have access to resources for free that no one else has access to,” he pointed to stuff like on-campus surveys and advised delegates to get students from other fields involved in their papers.[/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Session seven’]Andrea Johnson is a writer and editor at the College of New Caledonia’s communications department and a former journalist. She spoke to her transition from journalist to communications and gave advice to delegates aspiring to careers in journalism. It’s all about getting details to include in your stories, learn photography and layout, be interested in everyone/thing and “work your ass off, I mean that goes without saying.” She spoke to practicing her shorthand note-taking in Calgary court rooms and the importance of a simple and succinct writing style – though she added that it’s important to have fun with the story and subjects. Sports writing stood out for her as a favourite beat and she advised delegates to grow a thick skin if they plan on sticking it out. Why the career change to communications? “As a journalist, I don’t regret anything but the reason I switched careers was that it was really stressful.” However she maintains her view that journalism and journalists have an important, even life-changing role is society. “You have a story to tell, there are lots of stories to tell — journalism is not dead – and you can make a difference,” she said. “I applaud you for wanting to do it and wanting to go into it because it’s my passion.”[/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’CWA mixer’]Along with organizing a roundtable session earlier on Saturday, CWA-CUP program coordinator Katherine Lapointe organized a mixer where delegates discussed internship/work opportunities and learned more about the programs CWA provides access to like mentorships and associate CWA membership.[/bra_toggle] [bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Final keynote | Gordon Hoekstra’]”Gord is part of a rare breed of journalists who can say his stories actually helped save lives,” said Neil Godbout to introduce delegates to Gordon Hoekstra, currently at the Vancouver Sun. Hoekstra has won Mitchner and Don McGillivray awards for investigative journalism, all while working for the Prince George Citizen. He had tips to offer to student journalists about “how you can do what I did.”
- You have to be passionate. “If you’re not passionate, I’m not going to say there’s no point in being there but… it’s tough. There are easier ways to make money. The amount of time, agony and investment I’ve put into this job I’d be a millionaire.”
- Continuous learning.”If you want to be successful in some area of journalism, you have to become an expert… because if you’re not an authority you don’t know when people are bullshitting you, you don’t know the questions to ask, you don’t know how to dig,” he explained. He went on to talk about the hours in libraries, reading reports between periods of his kids’ sports games and about reading industry books — all for background research.
- Start now. “Start more in-depth kind of reporting and building that knowledge-base now.”
- Have a fire in your belly. “You always have to have perspective and watch that you’re covering all your bases, but it’s ok to be pissed off.”
- Make a plan and manage it. “Once you’ve collected information, done your information, you’ve got to make a plan. Because there’s a thing called the daily grind.” He told delegates to make email alerts, use a planner — anything you’ve got to do to make sure you can get the work done. “Otherwise you’ll find you haven’t actually worked on that idea.”
- There’s amazing journalism happening everywhere – find it, suck it in and learn from it. “NNA, CAJ, all provinces have awards… go to those websites and look at those stories, go to databases and read those stories. They will give you good ideas about how to pull it together and they’re inspirational.” He likes the Pulitzers in particular because the stories are linked to the awards’ sites and offered to send delegates links to his favourites, if they email him personally (email@example.com).
- Know that great journalism can happen anywhere. “You might think of Prince George as this blue collar, back water where nothing ever happens. Or you can think of it as this nexus of energy… unsettled First Nations lands claims, all kinds of environmental issues and as Andrew [Kurjata] said, there’s no competition, you’ve got no competition.”
- Spreadsheets are your friend.
- It’s about people. “You have to care about people.” He paused to read the names of the men who died in a sawmill explosion he later investigated. “Sometimes in this business you get jaded dealing with all these people who die but I always try to remember the people. All these policies, these inspections… they mean something… You got to realize that ripples of this go all over the community and this is the thing that helps me when I’m going through all the documents and reports.”
- Perseverance, stick-to-it-ness. “The thing is that if you don’t stick to it, it won’t happen —” and most journalists won’t follow-up, he added.
Hoekstra finished his speech on a bittersweet note: “There is a way to live in this world and do good journalism… but it’s not the same as it used to be.”[/bra_toggle] [bra_divider height=’40’]
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Karaoke’]
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Costume competition’]First place went to The Phoenix.
Nice try everyone else.
No, we’re not going to say you’re all winners but there were a notable few.
Unofficial plenary discussion
On Sunday morning over an hours-long brunch, papers gathered with the national office and regional directors to discuss issues in CUP and their own papers.
Participating in the discussion was The Gateway, The Omega, The Other Press, Over The Edge and The Phoenix. Read over the major points of discussion.
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’HR at The Other Press’]The Other Press wants to know how other papers deal with editors who are not performing their duties. They are revising their HR policies and would like feedback and constitutions from other papers.
Questions about The Other Press’ Board of Directors led to a discussion as to whether a board with a majority of directors being external to the paper is preferable than a board of editorial staff.
The Other Press maintained that editorial staff acting as directors was not a problem to date, however The Gateway and CUP’s Prairies and northern regional director felt it was better to have external members. The CUP president agreed with The Gateway and the prairies director’s stance.
The Gateway recommended the CUP president look to include a roundtable on governance in the NASH76 program. [/bra_toggle]
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’FREE partnership’]The Other Press said they’d had very little contact with the company and few ads.
Over The Edge said their order of newspaper stands was very late, leaving them with no newspaper stands on campus.
The Gateway said they’d had a good experience with FREE so far.
The CUP prairies and northern director said that the understanding was FREE was beginning to plan for next year and performance would likely improve as the company had started up in spring 2013, when national fall 2013 campaigns were already booked. This year FREE will probably be better positioned to perform well.[/bra_toggle]
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’CUPwire’]The Gateway said a free RSS feed (like that of the National University Wire) is appealing and would be their preference if the choice was presented. Gateway is not happy with the wire this year citing mistakes and lagging updates and said that the bureau chiefs work would not be missed. Gateway also said that, though the wire’s destruction would prompt a serious discussion within the paper, no wire wouldn’t be a deal breaker for them staying in CUP.
Over The Edge agreed with The Gateway, citing content quotes falling short of expectations and said that, even if the bureau chiefs’ work is outstanding, they would rather have their own contributors or staff do the work.
Both The Gateway and Over The Edge said using wire content indicated someone wasn’t doing their job in their newsrooms. Responding to the CUP president’s comment about some papers using wire content to update their websites everyday, Gateway and Over The Edge said they didn’t like that approach.
The Phoenix said the positions of bureau chiefs were a valuable opportunity that people could apply for, adding that a curation role preparing roundups or preparing interactive web articles would be very attractive and more useful than straight-up articles. Phoenix added that they would want to see the wire altered before they’d want it destroyed.
The Other Press said they were happy with the wire.
The Omega said they value the bureau chiefs in so far as their work acts as a good jumping off point for local stories. “We do journalism on that journalism.”
Both The Phoenix and Omega said a feedback system for content that was uploaded to the wire would be helpful so as to explain what made an article “wire worthy” in order to counter the impression that wire uploads were arbitrary. [/bra_toggle]
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’The cooperative effect’]The Gateway and Over The Edge said that, though CUP had been useful in the past, they don’t benefit as strongly from the cooperative now. The Omega agreed.
Over The Edge said they were only in CUP now for the conferences, though they added CUP was “instrumental” to their development last year. The Gateway agreed that conferences were a key reason they stayed in CUP, speaking to the motivation among staff.
The Other Press spoke to the importance of maintaining a connection with other papers regionally and nationally. The Phoenix spoke to the value of professional development by way of conferences and employment opportunities.
The Gateway and The Other Press started filibustering about the spirit of CUP and how part of being a co-operative is hanging in even after CUP’s resources begin to fade.
The Gateway: “The papers that leave after development – they need the spirit of CUP, the spirit is that you stick around.”
The Other Press: “It’s like looking for the spirit of Christmas.” [/bra_toggle]
[bra_toggle collapsable=’no’ caption=’Random ideas’]The Phoenix and Omega proposed the idea of having a CUP liaison within their paper designated to communicate with CUP and advise the rest of the paper of big news.
Over The Edge has a surplus in their budget this year and wants to put on a speakers’ series.
The Gateway wants to organize more local events to build relationships with papers close by like The Griff and The Nugget. [/bra_toggle]