From L to R: Susan Ormiston, Anita Li, Alyshah Hasham, Joanne Chianello

Carleton Journalism Alumni from L to R: Susan Ormiston, Anita Li, Alyshah Hasham, Joanne Chianello

Cans of tuna. Red stilettos. A child’s diaper. Hiking boots. A burka. A flak jacket.

Those are just a few of the items that have resided in Susan Ormiston’s overnight bag over the years. As she addressed the “Women in Journalism Panel and Lunch” at Carleton University recently, the CBC senior correspondent unpacked a khaki green suitcase to demonstrate how her life is a blend of the personal and the professional.

“People ask why we are still talking about women in the media and I tell them it’s because there’s a difference. Women face different pressures,” explained Ormiston, who earned a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton in 1981. “Most of our journalism graduates are women, but 10 years down the road, it doesn’t hold up. That likely has to do with the unpredictable hours and lack of stability in our field.”

But rather than letting these women change fields, Ormiston argued news managers need to make changes to keep them—because journalism benefits from a diversity of viewpoints in the newsroom.

Susan Ormiston speaks at the Women in Journalism Panel and Lunch.

Susan Ormiston speaks at the Women in Journalism Panel and Lunch.

“There are advantages to being a woman out in the field,” she explained. “When I’m in Afghanistan, I get interviews that none of my male colleagues could get because I can talk to the women. In Brazil, I interviewed underage sex workers. As women, we can tell different stories.”

Ormiston’s comments were echoed by three journalists—and Carleton alumni—who joined her in a panel discussion after her speech. They included:
• Joanne Chianello, reporter, CBC Ottawa
• Alyshah Hasham, court reporter, Toronto Star
• Anita Li, senior editor, Fusion

“I think newsrooms need to reflect the city they’re covering,” said Hasham, describing how that diversity comes through in the people interviewed and the stories covered.

“Our job is to speak for groups who are marginalized,” added Chianello.

Anita Li also strives to foster a multicultural perspective at her online publication, Fusion.

“In the past, our story ideas were often rebuffed,” she recalled. “But young women and people of colour want to see story ideas that represent them. That’s what our organization is striving to do.”

The event, “Women in Journalism,” was sponsored by the School of Journalism and Communication in honour of its 70th anniversary and was part of Throwback – Carleton’s homecoming celebration.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016 in , , ,
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