In the fall of 2012, Erika Faust, the editor of the Interrobang at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario worked with Jason Osler, a freelancer at CBC in Toronto. Here is Erika’s account of their mentorship:
I had never had a mentor before, so when I saw an email from CWA Canada mentioning the mentorship opportunities available, I jumped at the chance. I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about journalism from someone who could share a lot of personal experience. It could also potentially be a great networking opportunity and a chance to make new connections.
After signing up for a mentorship, I was contacted by Katherine Lapointe, who was confident she could find me a match. She said I would need to be patient, and I might need to open my scope a bit outside London’s city limits and beyond the print media industry. I was confident she’d find me a great match no matter who I was paired up with.
I was right! She matched me up with Jason Osler, a producer for the CBC and a freelance journalist. He is passionate about telling stories and always finding the human side of current affairs issues – something we have in common. Though he’s based in Toronto (two hours away from where I live in London, Ontario) and works in broadcast media, it was a fantastic match right from the start. During our first phone call, which lasted more than two hours, Jason told me all about himself and his vast variety of experience travelling around the country as a journalist. He gave me a lot of insight into the importance of being patient and persistent when seeking sources for stories. He said the same principles apply when seeking a job, telling me about how tenacious he had to be to land his gig with the CBC.
I was lucky enough to meet Jason in person when I was in Toronto for the CUP conference in January 2013. We chatted about some stories I’d asked him to read, and he gave a lot of constructive criticism. One thing he mentioned was, especially for less exciting stories (such as one story I wrote about the future of education in Ontario), to paint a picture at the beginning of the story to draw the reader in. If the reader can imagine him or herself in the story, it will feel more relevant and important. I’ve continued to remember and consider Jason’s advice with each story I’ve written since meeting with him.
During our meeting, he also gave me a tour of the CBC building in Toronto, and I got a feel for what a newsroom of that size is like. I saw people hard at work, hunched over their computers and phones. While the deadline was fast approaching and the tension was thick in the air, I got a real sense that every single person in those rooms totally loved what they were doing. It was a wonderful experience. I also got to ride an escalator with Rick Mercer, and that was pretty cool, too.
Since our meeting, we’ve kept in touch through social media and periodically have phone calls to chat about what we’re both working on and share any advice or ideas that the other person may find useful. It’s a great feeling to know that whatever I’m having trouble with or having questions about, there’s someone out there I can always turn to for help.