An ode to 40 years of progress, accomplishment, and dedication
The Concordia Journalism Department will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this fall, and has organized a series of events which will be taking place on Sept. 26 to commemorate the year.
A speaker series, as well as tours and an early 5 à 7 (which is from 4 to 6) will be open to alumni and current students. The speaker series, which will take place between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., includes speeches by former Concordia journalism students George Kalogerakis, managing editor at Le Journal de Montréal and Gary Regenstrief, a former managing editor at Reuters in New York City.
Brian Gabrial, who has been at the department since 2004 and became chairman two years ago, said the talks are not to be missed.
“The first group [Kalogerakis and Regenstrief] will be talking about how to manage a newsroom, how news gets disseminated and who chooses the stories,” Gabrial said. “For example, on a day of truly breaking news, what do you do, how do you send out your resources to cover stories like that? It’s going to be a bit open-ended.” Kalogerakis and Regenstreif will be holding their talks in the CJ building on Loyola campus in room 3.306 from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.
The speakers list also includes Nancy Wood from CBC News, who will be joined by Ingrid Peritz, who won a National Newspaper Award for her work on thalidomide for The Globe and Mail. They will be joined by Linda Gyulai from The Gazette as well as Maya Johnson from CTV. This second group will be speaking from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., also in room 3.306.
Gabrial said he was thrilled former journalism students were able to come back and speak about their experiences.
“Justin Kingsley will be giving our keynote talk in the SP building, and I think he’ll even be addressing students and what they can do with their journalism degree,” he said. “He was a journalist and went to work for the Habs, so he’s got this very interesting perspective on how you can take the degree you’ve earned from our program and turn it into something very successful. I think students will like listening to him talk.”
Besides the speaker series, campus tours will also be running between 1 and 1:30, for which the meeting point will be CJ room 3.245. Gabrial said that while these tours are open to anyone, the department wanted to give returning alumni the chance to see what has changed since they left. The journalism department was initially set up on Concordia’s Sir George William Campus before moving to Loyola. Only in the fall of 2005 did the department finally settle in a newly renovated Communications and Journalism building. A 5 à 7, which will be held between 4 and 6 p.m., will also be taking place at The Brass Door Pub downtown. “We’re hoping we have alumni show up and students can mingle with them, too,” said Gabrial. He explained that, in honor of their 40th anniversary, the department will also likely tie events that they hold throughout the year to this commemoration, such as their Reader’s Digest lecture which will likely take place in the Winter semester.
In the ever-changing world of journalism, Gabrial said that the department is working to make the necessary adjustments to prepare students. “When I came here the lines for student study were pretty distinct—you were going to be a broadcasting person, or a print person,” he said. “Up until recently that’s how it was. But we’re changing our entire curriculum to reflect this more blended, digital age where you or anybody else who comes to the program has to know all the tricks of the trade, in terms of the technology.”
Linda Kay, who taught her first Feature Writing course at Concordia in 1990, later went on to teach Magazine Writing, Gender and Journalism, and Gender, Diversity and Journalism for masters students. She has worked for an array of publications and was honoured as the 2013 Woman of Distinction in communications by the Women’s Y Foundation in Montreal. She said that “journalism schools today must prepare students to be polyvalent.”
“Students must acquire skills in radio, TV, print and online journalism,” she said. “But above all, they must be trained in the fundamentals: how to report rigorously, how to interview, how to conduct deep research, how to ensure accuracy and fairness in all they do. These skills are primordial and invaluable and can be transferred into other milieus throughout life.”
Kay, who will be moderating the first talk at the Sept. 26 event, went on to say that the journalism department does well to prepare its students for the real world. “I think we do a great job at Concordia in exposing our students to all the above, using the city as a laboratory for real world assignments and drilling the fundamentals,” she said. “In addition, we provide the most modern equipment for them to be able to do professional work. For 40 years, the Journalism department at Concordia has been producing top-flight journalists who are working all over the world.”
Gabrial said that in an effort to best adjust to the changes in journalism and to best prepare the department’s students, a new curriculum will be introduced which does away with the 60- and 72-credit specializations and instead implements a 45-credit major. Students will be required to accompany this with another major or minor, will continue to take core journalism classes, and will have the option of choosing from several electives that are geared towards their interests.
Despite the transformations in the journalism world, Gabrial said the department’s number one goal has not changed. “We still stress great journalism, that’s always been our first and foremost goal,” he said. “To train you to become a good journalist.”