Whereas this blog started out as an obligatory thing for class I had, seeing as I have graduated it is no longer so. I have decided, however, to keep it going as a personal blog because, hey, everyone’s doing it now, right?
As the title of this post indicates, it is now a new era. After 17 straight years of school (the last eight of which were offset by a full-time summer job) I have graduated from my respective program, earning a degree and diploma. I am now a broadcast journalist.
So far, my freedom has been pretty damn boring.
On Sunday (the 15th), as I submitted my very last assignment of my post-secondary career, a wave of dizziness hit me. This could have been a result of years of exhaustion, not eating properly, working my ass off and staring at a computer screen for 12 hours a day all coming crashing down on me, I don’t know. All I know is I puked for the first time in four years (damn) and was stuck in my bed until Wednesday afternoon. Not a great start to my post-grad life.
When I finally managed to get home to good old Burlington, I realized that I have no idea what to do with spare time. While many people are sending out resumes and searching for jobs, I was fortunate enough to be able to get a position with the Western Gazette for next year. That doesn’t start up officially until May 8th though, so I’m left with about three weeks of free time—the last time I had this much free time with nothing to do was the summer between grades 8 and 9.
You know what though? Even if I have no idea what the hell to do, I feel as if maybe, just maybe, I deserved this little break. Perhaps I can learn to relax again a bit. It’s been a long-ass haul these past four years—and this final year was probably harder (workload-wise) than the other three combined. I mean, anyone can do readings and write responses about them, or study for six days and write an exam. I know, I’ve done it. It takes special people to come into school every day with only a vague idea of what you want to pursue, then doing it. This isn’t a “look up some facts then cite them” kind of thing, this is a “call people until someone agrees to talk, bust your ass over there and get a good clip” sort of deal. Oh, and if you’re prone to get sick? Good luck, still have to get your stuff in. You have to love this sort of thing to get through it, I think. And I do. I’m excited to bring the skills I learned here to the Gazette this upcoming year.
Yeah it was tough, but what a final year. We had quite a big news year in London, with occupiers, EMD workers getting the boot, riots, stabbings, shootings, train derailments, murder trials—you name it, we probably covered it. And we capped it all off with a great celebration Saturday—our annual awards night was a huge success (congrats again to all the winners—you all deserved it!) followed by renting out our own club and going strong until we got booted because the DJ wanted to go home. What an end to the year. Of course, I was back in the newsroom the next day, as well as a bunch of my colleagues. Hard to leave that place! If I can cheesy for a moment now: I can honestly say these last eight months have been some of the best of my life. I met a lot of new people, some who will be friends for life. There were times of sadness, sorrow and heartbreak, but they were balanced by times of happiness, excitement and triumph. One moment that particularly sticks out to me is when we got a call in from the scene of some breaking story (the exact details escape me at the moment). It was a rare instance of us putting the reporter live on air, and as it was relatively early on in the year we hadn’t had that much practice. The call came in at about two minutes till the cast, and we were scrambling. The phone wouldn’t seem to transfer to the booth—and we needed this story; we needed it as our top story. The newscasters were in the booth, and I am honoured to say I was the one who was finally able to get the transfer to work. I had no time to rush over and see if they had got the call—the news was starting. About a dozen of us gathered in our newsroom around the radio, listening to our cast go live.
“And we now have [reporter’s name] live on the phone with us from the scene of [whatever was happening]—[so and so], what’s happening?”
A moment of silence. You could hear a pin drop. Then:
“Yeah I’m down here…”
The entire newsroom let out a roar of triumph, there was clapping and hugging and high-fiving. We had managed to get a story that had occurred moments before into our cast, before anyone else in the city. I’m tearing up just remembering.
And probably one of our crowning achievements of the year—our newscast after discovering that the Electro-motive plant was being shut down, leaving hundreds of workers suddenly jobless. It was our noon cast, which was the major one of the morning. This is what we had—and keep in mind, this was all gathered within a few hours of the announcement. Forgive me, avid readers, as I don’t recall exactly who did what, but I’ll try to remember all the angles.
We had reaction from: the picket lines themselves, the councillor whose ward this was, our local MPP, the Mayor, personal angles… it was magical. I had the honour of casting during this huge moment, with my colleague Eryl McCaffrey. Our cast went out all over London and had the most information of any station. Great success.
All in all, great times, great people, great memories. Seriously, you don’t realize how fast things move. You make mistakes, sure. You do things you wish you hadn’t, miss out on things you wish you hadn’t, regret decisions you made, wish things could be different—but in the end you learn a lot. About journalism, about yourself, etc. etc. etc. I tell you, eight months ago I would never have expected to be where I am. Sitting at home, blogging because I’m bored. Set to take over management of a newspaper in three weeks. This past year I drew cartoons for them (I’ll post some on here… maybe) and now I get to lead them. I’m honoured as well as excited. Of course, I hope to keep on with broadcasting too. I’ve applied for internships and stuff like that, but that seems like it could be content for another blog post, so I’ll save it.
I don’t think I have much else to say at this point. Best of luck to my colleagues who I’ve shared the past year, two years, three years or even four years with. I know I’ll see some of you quite often, others not at all, and a few not as often as I would have liked. We’re all going to make our mark in some way and I’m excited to see where we are in a few years’ time.
I’ll see many of you in the coming months, at convocations, coffee shops or movie theatres, I don’t know. But until then, enjoy the freedom, as weird as it may seem. A new chapter has begun, and we get to write it.
PS. Oh and if you’re still writing exams, good luck with those. HA.