Mel Edgar Reporting from J-School

Just a photo of a goose by Mel Edgar

Just a photo of a goose by Mel Edgar

Mel Edgar reporting from journalism school — yep this September I emptied my savings, packed up my school bag and headed down to Langara College to take their journalism certificate course.

It’s November now, so with all this additional wisdom I look back a journal entry from my first day in j-school:

Everyone is so enthusiastic

Everyone is so enthusiastic. The instructors, department chair, students and even alumni were practically jumping up and down about the program. We had three courses today- comprising all but the lab portion of our standard tuesday schedule.


Copy Editing (Charles Campbell)

Campbell got right down to it, providing a syllabus outlining course requirements, readings and assignments. He even had a mini editing ‘assignment’ — which reminded me just how rusty I am am at Canadian Style- watch that Canadian spelling!

Campbell made a lot of gestures when he told us about the importance of going through all three stages of editing:

  • The Cold Read: reading for content without editing
  • The Substantive Edit: editing for structure
  • The Line Edit: going line by line to edit for grammar and punctuation

One useful pieces of advice he gave is to NOT edit text by rewriting it. Campbell said that most text is best edited by taking stuff out so you don’t introduce errors. So I have to be disciplined. Be disciplined Mel!

Fundamentals of Reporting (Peg Fong)

Peg Fong won me over right away with her obvious passion for journalism. I am pretty excited about her courses on research and ethics.

We really need to be ‘news junkies’ —Fong said, and read lots and lots and lots of news, and to seek out all kinds of journalism — local journalism, journalism from anywhere and everywhere, and to know the headlines so we can challenge or discuss them.

She mentioned a quote, which is supposed to underpin how the Toronto Star sees itself: “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”


Journalism Research (Erica Bulman)

I think Erica Bulman is going to be a good teacher. She encouraged us to think about the brand or image we project and start thinking about the professional reputation we want to build. She encouraged us to think about words we could use to describe our skills and abilities, and take ownership of those words. This is useful in helping us gear our minds towards building a professional image in a very reputation based field. Sage advice.

More Learning to Come

I can’t wait to see what our other classes are going to be like. We  have:

Media and Society (Effie Klein)

Photojournalism (Les Bazso)

Radio (Susan McNamee)

Design and Layout (Nick Read)

Journalism requires snacks!

I arrived five minutes early to the j-school welcome reception and already the snacks were gone — journalists are a hungry bunch. Anyhow, all the diploma and certificate students were introduced to all the faculty.

Frances Bula, chair of the journalism department, encouraged us to think about the course as a job, rather than school.  A very polite way of telling us to behave and act with professionalism I think.

Fong promised a transformative experience — that we would “become journalists.” I can’t wait for all the work to begin!

 And now that it’s November.

Yep, still can’t wait to head in for more j-school tomorrow.

I’ve made some great new friends and I’m also getting so much hands on experience that I hardly have time to think about how much I am learning — and look who even met Andrew Coyne at the Webster Awards!

Webster Awards, me and Andrew Coyne

Webster Awards, me and Andrew Coyne


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