Date Posted: October 20, 2011
Print Edition: October 19, 2011
One of the hard things about being a ruthless, cold-eyed journalist is trying to live up to that ruthless, cold-eyed reputation. We here at The Cascade work hard to follow leads, scoop stories, drink rum, and generally follow the example of the great journalists who’ve gone before, yet we also continually strive to improve our craft in whatever way possible. It was in pursuit of this noble purpose that myself and three of my colleagues journeyed to Edmonton last weekend for the illustrious WPNCUP (Western, Prairies, and Northern Regions of the Canadian University Press) conference, searching (obviously) for better and more effective ways to serve the UFV student body.*
WPNCUP is a gathering of university papers from across western Canada, papers like The Omega from Thompson Rivers University, or The Gateway from Edmonton’s own University of Alberta. On paper it’s a meeting of some of Canada’s best and brightest young journalists, coming together to swap stories and tactics, as well as attend seminars with names like “Avoid Getting Sued”. In reality it’s a meeting of Canada’s best and brightest young journalists, coming together to engage in bouts of drinking that would make Hemingway look like a Jesuit priest.
Now I personally attended the “Avoid Getting Sued” seminar, and therefore I’m motivated to add that the number of drinks consumed by your UFV representatives (the four of us at the conference) over the course of the weekend can be counted on one hand and were paid for out of our own pockets. We attended all the events, arrived bright and early every morning, and even avoided getting stabbed, which is apparently pretty hard to do in Edmonton this year. We’ve returned more cold-eyed and ruthless than ever before, jaded as only student journalists can be, and ready to expose all the inadequacies of the present system.
Yet one of the defining principles of the conference, something that applies across all disciplines and careers (hint: it’s not binge drinking), is the imperative to get involved. Too often students feel they have to wait until they’ve completed a degree to pursue opportunity in their chosen field, as if holding a certificate is the catalyst to their professional transformation. Many lose the opportunity to gain valuable experience, and therefore the opportunity for a balanced resume on the business end of graduation. Yet at the CUP conference I met individuals working on undergrad degrees who have already spent years working in their chosen field and even running nationwide organizations. They chose to become involved early on in their university careers, and that initiative is making them easily employable, even in this faltering market.
That’s not say there aren’t bumps along the way. One of the conference speakers, a former University of Alberta graduate and freelance reporter, shared about her experience writing for Us Weekly and being forced to stalk Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart through the streets of Vancouver, even going through the pair’s garbage to check their diet. She now writes for Exclaim, yet still talks with loathing about her period as the paparazzi.
So anyway, get involved, and get connected. For those of you who were wondering, they’re really into sandwiches.
*As well as a mall with a 5 per cent tax rate.