Untold stories

Reflections on the future of journalism

By: Eleanor Davidson

On my first day of journalism school, my professor showed my class a video of a massive tub of sickly pink mystery meat being shoved into a sausage grinder. She said that sausage making is the perfect allegory for the work of the journalist: we must condense any matter of confusing, complicated material and make it into something clear and easily comprehensible. We must shed light on the stories that need to be told, we must question the status quo, and we must never cease to be curious and to query everything.

Yet, in the close to three years since my first day at journalism school, we have seen Canadian journalism take a beating of nearly unprecedented levels.

In recent weeks, we have seen chaos unfold at Canada’s oldest independently owned newspaper, the Chronicle Herald.

Following several years of cuts to the paper’s newsroom and support staff, journalists at the Herald will now no longer have their by-lines written above their own stories.

The Halifax Typographical Union, the union representing 61 employees at the Herald, has asked for those who support them cancel their subscription to the paper.

Also in the past two weeks, Postmedia newspapers laid off 90 staff across the country.

In the words of Selena Ross, a former reporter at the Herald who now writes for the Globe and Mail:

On Jan. 15, the Toronto Star closed its printing plant and, according to the Globe and Mail, cut “13 digitally focused positions from the newsroom, 15 from circulation and offered voluntary buyouts to remaining newsroom staff.”

It seems as though we cannot go more than a few days without hearing of another major series of cuts to long-established institutions of Canadian journalism.

Here at the Gazette, we have spent 148 years trying to provide a place for student journalists to get a feel for the industry.

Canadian journalists such as Stephanie Nolen and Stephen Kimber have written for the paper. Joseph Howe, Lucy Maude Montgomery and Joe Clark have all had their bylines published in the Gazette. Past editors, writers and photographers have gone on to work in newsrooms across the country and the globe.

So many of our staff and our contributors came to journalism school with the high hopes to educate the public, tell ground-breaking stories and travel the world.

Yet today, a tone of uncertainty and fear surround the future of journalism. For many of us, the thought of even getting a job in our chosen field after graduation has become a nearly laughable prospect.

People do not get their news from a single morning paper. We consume news on-the-go, as it breaks. We check a variety of sources, and expect them to be free, easily accessible and up-to-date.

This is not to say that we no longer need reputable journalists; for all of the rapid-fire breaking news, we need people to tell the full story.

The problem, the elephant in the room, is that these two realities are not easily mixed.

It is terrifying to think of the thousands of stories that will go untold as the numbers of Canadian journalists continue to decrease.

These layoffs and cuts do not mean that reporters will be replaced or resources renewed. Instead, newspapers all across the country now must rely on fewer resources, on fewer cumulative years of expertise, to try and paint an accurate picture of the daily happenings.

From us here at the Gazette, from dozens of young aspiring journalists, we thank you all. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for getting back to us with your praise as well as with your criticism.

But most importantly, thank you to the countless Canadian journalists out there who have inspired us, taught us, and tirelessly worked to tell the stories that we all need to hear. You will be sorely missed.