CBC Online leaves impression on Conestoga students

When I asked my new media students in class today about the things that were most memorable or surprising about last week’s field trip to CBC Online in Toronto, they responded nearly unanimously: It was the buzz, the electricity and enthusiasm they felt among the staff working on the fourth floor of the CBC Broadcasting Centre. Amid the rapid changes that have seized the journalistic enterprise over the past three years, here was a group of eager and committed professionals who avidly embraced the changes that have left so many experienced journalists dour and shell-shocked. For the visiting students, the palpable sense of energy among CBC journalists was at once refreshing and reassuring.

Credit where credit is due: The visit was largely arranged by Waterloo Region Record reporter Jeff Outhit, who teaches computer-assisted reporting in Conestoga’s postgraduate New Media: Convergence program. Outhit contacted one of his former Record colleagues, Lianne Elliott (@cbclianne on Twitter), now a producer at CBC.ca; she met our group and arranged a discussion on the future of online media with Kim Fox (@kimfox), CBC News’s senior producer for community and social media.

Amber Hildebrandt

Following that session, online reporter and producer Amber Hildebrandt (@cbcamber) spent some time describing her use of new media in various reporting assignments, including the trial of serial murder Russell Williams last year. (Read Hildebrandt’s reflections on that experience here.) The morning wrapped up with demonstrations by Elliott of the software and other tools CBC.ca uses in its online reporting, as live coverage of the final landing of the space shuttle Discovery was underway. It included an interview with former Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar, who had flown on Discovery, on a set nearby.

Along the way, there was also a quick introduction to CBC Radio weekend news anchor Martina Fitzgerald, another of Outhit’s former reporting colleagues, this time at the Kingston Whig-Standard.

Hats off to CBC Online’s staff, who went above and beyond the call of duty in challenging and inspiring our students. The trip was a stimulating and potent reminder of the power of a well-organized field trip to leave an indelible impression.

The impact of social media on communication

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of serving as an interview subject for a short radio documentary by Conestoga College student Andrew Shepherd, produced in the studios of CJIQ-FM, the college’s radio station. Shepherd was interested in the exploring the impact social media are having on our society and the relationships we have with one another. He called his documentary “Transcending Maya.”

A bit of background on Shepherd: He was born and raised in Kitchener, Ont., and is in the second year of the Broadcast Radio program at the college. In high school, he took all academic/university level courses, thinking he was university bound. But his friends coaxed him into developing his broadcasting abilities.

“I didn’t always know that Broadcast Radio was the program I wanted to be in,” Shepherd says. “My friends told me I belong in radio, so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did, because it’s the best experience I’ve ever had — and I’ve fallen in love with radio.”

In addition to his studies, Shepherd works part-time at 99.5 KFUN as one of the weekend newscasters. “And when the big guys take time off, I’m the man to fill in on the morning shows on both KFUN and 105.3 Kool FM,” he adds. “I’m currently working on getting an internship there for the summer.”

“News is my forte. I enjoy watching the world change in front of my eyes and reporting on it,” he says.

To listen to Shepherd’s documentary, click on the link below.

Transcending Maya