Throughout the four years of my journalism degree, I was told to expect rejection. I was told to expect rejection from people who didn’t want to talk to me or see me. I was told I would have to work hard to gain people’s trust and find sources.
I didn’t have to be told. Along with my classmates, I learned to deal with unreturned phone messages and unco-operative people.
Some people refused to speak with us, believing us to be below them because we were students. Some questioned whether we were “real” journalists. Others agreed to speak with me, but changed their mind after learning I had a video camera.
My experience was not unique. While completing an internship with CBC New Brunswick, I followed a reporter to a Fredericton school. That day, the province had announced changes to their French immersion program. We went to two different schools, trying to find a teacher who would speak with us. None of them would. I suggested trying other schools, but the reporter declined. The schools we had already tried were most open to media, she said.
With these experiences still fresh in my mind, I began my first post-graduate reporting position with the Eckville Echo and Sylvan Lake News.
I attended my first major event, Eckville Junior Senior High School’s graduation, fully expecting to explain who I was and what I was doing at some point during the evening. In a close-knit community like Eckville, I was sure everyone knew I was the odd one out.
No one gave me a second glance, despite my obvious note-taking and camera. As I attended other events, many of them school-related, I was shocked by how easily I was accepted. Everywhere I went, I was not only welcomed but often thanked. I didn’t need to be thanked. It’s part of my job to attend events.
I am very grateful to everyone who made it so much easier by allowing me access to their graduations, festivals, sports games, and everything else I attended.
A journalist’s job deals with change. We attend council meetings and report on changes that will take place in the town. We write about everything that is new and different — that’s why what we produce is called “news”. Journalists also try to capture the essence of their subjects. It’s not easy, especially when you are unfamiliar with the area. I am grateful to everyone who read my writing and accepted me into the community as an outsider, and hope I was able to effectively capture the weekly happenings in a place which my readers undoubtedly understood better than I did.
I often write about change, and this time, I’m writing about changes in my own life. I am moving back to New Brunswick, where I attended university and where many of my friends and former classmates remain.
Thank you to everyone in Eckville and Sylvan Lake who invited me to their events, spoke to me, and trusted me. Thank you to everyone who made my job so much easier by returning my calls and pointing me in the right direction when needed. Last, but not least, thank you to everyone who gave my work a purpose and read my writing.