The media is the message for two young people with journalism projects

By Jamie Morris

Mallory and Adam.

It’s September, and Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger is back at Carleton University for her third year in Journalism. Adam Folland is back at school too, starting second year in Fleming College’s Fish & Wildlife program and carving out time for duties as Frost Student Association Vice President.

It might seem odd to tie them together in the same column. One grew up here and is studying elsewhere; the other grew up in Guelph and is studying here. One grew up listening to CBC radio and exploring ideas with classmates in IB English and Theory of Knowledge courses at I.E. Weldon; the other became obsessed with wolves at age five and grew up camping and exploring the outdoors.

What connects Mallory and Adam is that over the summer each engaged in an ambitious journalism project. Mallory joined our Advocate team. (There’s a sample of her writing in this issue.) Adam spearheaded a revival of a Frost campus student publication that had quietly expired six years ago.

Mallory’s Summer

It was back in April that Mallory approached Advocate publisher Roderick Benns. She’d already lined up a summer job as Community Event Promoter for United Way but wanted to contribute to the Advocate in the time she had available. Roderick was quick to take her up on the offer and an informal apprenticeship was arranged.

She was given press releases to shape and tighten up, but mostly she wrote articles. Some topics came out of discussions with Roderick, a few were assigned, but most were proposed by Mallory herself.

“She always came to the table with her own ideas,” says Roderick. “She’s story-wise beyond her years.” The example that comes to his mind is a “Passion Projects” series that introduced Advocate readers to local makers-turned-entrepreneurs.

At Carleton she’d learned about journalism that sheds light on issues (“Advocacy journalism”). A number of her articles did just that: a report on a climate march, another on the Pride Picnic, a much-viewed piece on waiting lists for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and several on youth and the coming federal election.

A highlight of Mallory’s summer was being assigned the August cover story (‘Did Mother Nature turn her back on area farmers’).

“The stakes were high,” she says. “I knew it would be in print and wanted it to be good.”

Her summer with the Advocate has given her confidence and she has become more comfortable sharing her work.

It’s been valuable to the Advocate as well. She brought curiosity, energy, and a fresh perspective, and her social media savvy equipped her to strengthen the Advocate’s Instagram presence.

Adam’s Summer

It was an offhand remark from Fleming prof Tom Mikel back in May that set Adam’s project in motion. Apparently there’d been a student paper; in fact, there’d been a series of them going back to 1977.

As Frost Student Association Vice President, Adam immediately grasped the potential: a student publication could create community awareness of what was going on, and instill pride in the college’s cutting edge work. But he recognized the onus would be on him to come up with a structure, find content, and act as “production manager.”

He took the idea to administration and faculty (who loved the idea), and set himself a goal: a 40-page first issue, ready for bundling with September orientation packages.

The first step was research. Frost archivist Barb Duff pulled back-issues of the earlier incarnations. That gave him some content and a name for his paper: The Woodland Times.

Next was an email blast to all students inviting contributions. Six responded, including a former Carleton student on summer placement in the Yukon, who delivered a music column.

He also invited faculty to contribute and contacted College departments for more content and support. International Services, Diversity and Inclusion, International Services, and the Office of Sustainability took-on pages; IT absorbed printing costs.

Adam assembled an eclectic mix: an inspiring welcoming letter from Professor Thom Luloff (shown cradling a porcupine), archival news items (“Lone female graduate tops forestry course” from 1972), practical information (businesses offering student discounts, Lyme disease symptoms), humour, poetry, a bio of Fleming, invitations to contribute, and unclassifiable tidbits such as a short essay on pitcher plants as predators of juvenile salamanders.

Adam’s big lesson from the summer? “The key is making connections — just going and talking to people. If it was just me I’d be lost.”

Their Stories Intersect 

One of the connections Adam made was with Mallory. He’s smart, organized and enterprising, but had no background in journalism and writing for publication.

Over coffee they talked ideas and directions and Mallory answered questions about interviewing and writing.

A set of handwritten notes Mallory left behind includes some of the advice. “SIN(W) –Significant, Interesting, New, (Weird)” sets out criteria for choosing stories (“Weird” she added approvingly after skimming Adam’s draft). “Tell your mother!” is a way to identify the “news lead” (ask yourself what the first thing you’d tell your mom or friend about a story would be). “Slugs — alt title”? You’d have to have been there.

Adam’s comment: “It went amazingly.” Mallory’s comment:  “Great meeting.”

End of the Story?  

We haven’t seen the last of either. Malllory hopes to return to the Advocate next summer. (Which pleases Roderick, who says “Mallory has been an incredible addition.”) After his year as vice president Adam plans to run for president and continue with the Woodland Times.

Perhaps they haven’t seen the last of each other, either. Mallory’s offered to lead a workshop for Adam’s Woodland Times recruits during her reading week.

1 Comment

  1. wayne says:

    Hopefully they become real journalists who report the news objectively. These days all we have ‘reporting the news’ are story tellers who want to sway opinions, instead of giving us lots of factual info, so we can make up our own minds on issues. The latest ‘scandal’ is the Trudeau ‘brownface’ pics. Trudeau may be thick as a brick, but we all know he’s not racist. But every article written by ‘journalists’ is painting him as a racist. It’s nonsense and most people know it. So why portray him as a racist? Because it’s the PC thing to do. And that’s a problem.

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