Carleton’s journalism program is launching a new “soft skills” workshop series for first-year journalism students next month.

J-School in the real world: Conversations with journalists is designed to prepare participants for second-year reporting classes.

“We are going to talk about how to break the ice when you meet someone new, how to make that ‘cold call’ for an interview you might be super nervous about, and what it’s like when you’re in a newsroom or on an assignment,” said co-organizer and journalism instructor Trish Audette-Longo.

“We’re going to explore professional skills with professional journalists, and ask questions that challenge old rules, too.”

The five-part series starts at noon on May 3, and confirmed speakers through the month include VICE News senior editor Manisha Krishnan and freelance journalists Haneen Al-Hassoun and Fatima Syed.

Participants will spend time during the workshops getting to know each other, and they will learn more about how reporters use social media or navigate what to wear on the job.

In an interview with series co-organizer and journalism student Sami Islam, Al-Hassoun talked about questions she had when she arrived in a newsroom.

Audette-Longo and Islam began planning the workshops earlier this year with critical questions about how these conversations could contribute to building more inclusive newsrooms for the future, too.

“Professionalism is a standard that is set and maintained by conventions of whiteness,” said Islam. “It’s true in all workplaces, including newsrooms, and I want to encourage my peers to think critically about what that means.”

“We are asking who is excluded or silenced when there are implicit or explicit rules,” Audette-Longo added. “And we are making space for emerging journalists to talk about this openly.”

Open Q&A sessions will give participants time to ask reporters about their careers, too.

Syed, who is also the vice-president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, notes one of the best ways for a journalist to set out on their dream job is to get to know the people who are doing those jobs now.

“I’ve had so many coffees and conversations with people I admire and people whose careers I would like mine to imitate, and they’ve been so helpful with advice,” Syed said.

“It never hurts. If you want to be the editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star, start talking to editors right now and (ask) ‘How did you do it? How do I get into the editor space? How do I distinguish myself as an editor?’”

Event details

The workshops are free and funded by the Faculty of Public Affairs. First-year journalism students can sign up here:

Upper-year and graduate journalism students are also welcome, particularly if they are interested in helping to facilitate breakout conversations. Those interested in participating can email Audette-Longo ( to get involved.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021 in ,
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