The 2019 editor goes inside the 35-year-old student magazine’s ominous cover package

For this year’s print team, the Journalists vs. Politicians package was a clear contender for our cover story: with the risks leaders like Ford and Trump pose to press freedom – from stonewalling media requests to overt threats to accusing journalists of spreading fake news –  the journalistic world has grown more frightening since these men took office.

It’s especially frightening for journalism students, who are just beginning to enter this industry. So this year, the RRJ decided to examine what exactly is causing these tensions between journalists and politicians. Besides having artwork that is nightmarish, to say the least, the two stories that make up this year’s RRJ cover package were written by two exceptionally qualified reporters.

The first story, When They Push, We Push Back, written by senior print editor and Toronto Star radio room reporter Rhianna Jackson-Kelso, explores how bully politicians and the rapid spread of fake news damages the trust between journalists and readers. She was also a writer for rrj.ca’s Covering Doug Ford section.

Jackson-Kelso opens with the infamous clapping scene during a Q&A with Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, where Progressive Conservative staff strategically applauded to drown out reporters’ questions.

Reporting from Queen’s Park that day, Jackson-Kelso looked on as CHCH News’s Randy Rath asked, “What’s fuckin’ wrong with you guys?” and Toronto Star’s Rob Ferguson reminded the room that “it’s not kindergarten, for God’s sake.”

Jackson-Kelso’s story is complemented by Graham Roumieu’s illustration of Donald Trump trying to squish a tiny journalist between his hands. The journalist looks up defiantly, his two arms outstretched to avoid Trump’s grasp, and a third arm outstretched with a microphone pointed to his notorious pouty lips.

Illustration by Graham Roumieu

The second story, Power Hungry, by Alanna Rizza – RRJ online production editor, Covering Doug Ford section writer and Canadian Press reporter – goes inside Doug Ford’s first year as Ontario’s premier. It’s no surprise that Rizza has dived deep covering Ford for the RRJ – for her very first story day at journalism school, she chased after the late Rob Ford at Toronto City Hall for a quote.

Now in her final year of j-school, with the help of journalists like Toronto Star’s Robert Benzie, Canadaland’s Jonathan Goldsbie and CBC’s Mike Crawley, Rizza illustrated the frustrations with reporting on Doug Ford and his government. “The tragedy of Doug Ford is that he doesn’t like people, but deeply cares if he’s liked,” Goldsbie told Rizza. Dushan Milic’s illustration for this story – our cover image – is of a gargantuan, scarlet red Ford head looking down and smiling menacingly at a terrified minuscule reporter. Again, nightmarish.

Illustration by Dushan Milic

These are just two of the exceptionally written features in RRJ’s spring 2019 issue. Picking which stories to put on our cover was no easy task, especially considering the range of options: from an exploration of women’s media to a profile of a mixed martial arts journalist. But with our “Ready to Rumble” cover, we hope to get some double looks and to pique the interest of media junkies and curious minds alike.

It may not be the easiest time for journalism, but judging by all the journalists standing their ground in an age of mistrust and misinformation, a good, free press isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

To check out this year’s issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism, subscribe on its website here