Trent University and Loyalist College officially launched a news bureau Wednesday as part of a joint journalism program run by the two schools. Jane Harrison, director of special projects and former dean of Loyalist’s School of Media, Arts and Design talked to J-Source about the new 10,000-square-foot newsroom in Belleville and the program.

Trent University and Loyalist College officially launched a news bureau Wednesday as part of a joint journalism program run by the two schools. Jane Harrison, director of special projects and former Dean of Loyalist’s School of Media, Arts and Design talked to J-Source's education editor Melanie Coulson about the new 10,000-square-foot newsroom in Belleville and the program.

J-Source: Wow. 10,000-square-feet. If you were to take us on a tour of the place, what would we see?

Jane Harrison: A space that recognizes the stress of a workplace that meets a multitude of deadlines 24/7 – 365, or at least the college’s version of that, slightly modified. So, through a highly creative design, a palpable sense of light and acoustic considerations, the students will see an inspirational space that generates a balance of work and play.

J-Source: What are students going to be doing?

JH: Multiplatform news coverage – video, whether it’s television or not, audio, whether it’s radio or not, on-line through the award winning QNet News website and extensive use of social media.  The college has a CRTC licensed radio station that includes a promise of performance in regard to news coverage.  The students also generate three television newscasts a week as well as daily posts to the website.  As well, a PDF version of “the Pioneer” newspaper is generated with a particular focus on Photojournalism.

J-Source: How does the newsroom fit into this joint program offered by Loyalist and Trent? What kind of integration is there between the Belleville and Peterborough campuses?

JH: While at Loyalist, the Trent-Loyalist students are housed in the newsroom.  While at Trent, the students utilize the Trent Bureau of QNet News to post their stories.


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J-Source: What experience did you want to offer students when you set up this newsroom?

JH: We recognize that we are producing a new kind of journalist – one that adheres to the traditional journalistic standards and the importance of compelling storytelling, but who can do so for any platform, recognizing the merits of each.

J-Source: What kind of graduate do you hope to see as a result of this program? Where will they work? Will they work?

JH: A flexible graduate is an employed graduate, at least that has been our experience so far.  The industry, in all its facets, has recognized that our students bring a skillset that contributes to their output even on day 1.  We worked very hard with our advisory committee, which is comprised of all the major news organizations, to develop a graduate profile that recognizes both hard and soft skills.

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Q: The newsroom is part of a pretty intense four-year program for students, with the first two years spent at Trent University, and summers, third and fourth years at Loyalist. Is there a lot of integration between the two schools in the early years of the program? Will students be learning journalism at Trent?

JH: It is intense and we recognize that for some students the journey might well be five years.  That model is still value-added for them as the two credentials taken separately would be a seven year commitment.  As the program continues to roll out, we are smoothing the transitions through offering more journalism Trent-side.  Journalism assignments have been woven into the mandatory media studies and critical thinking courses at Trent as a first measure.

J-Source: How many students are in the program now? How many do you expect to see in years to come?

JH: Well, the facility services a variety of programs.  Currently we have slightly over 200 students, some on a rotational basis.  We expect to reach 250 in the next three or so years.  We host the Journalism, Photojournalism, Sports Journalism, Television and Film, Broadcast Engineering Technology and the Trent-Loyalist Journalism programs.

J-Source: Recently we heard that the University of Ottawa suspended admissions to its journalism program. It runs a combined degree with Algonquin College and Cite Collegiale. Do you think this kind of 'bad press' will affect admissions in the Trent-Loyalist program?

JH: ‘Bad press’ is never helpful but I’m confident that we are ahead of the curve in preparing our students for new opportunities and to nimbly adapt to whatever the world of journalism looks like in the years ahead.

J-Source: What is about this combined program that makes it 'work'?

JH: With storytelling at the core, I believe the compelling feature of the program is that we recognize that study in any discipline can lead to a promising journalism career, i.e. a BSc graduate in environmental studies would bring a wealth of specialized subject matter to the table.  So too for international or any other focus.

J-Source: Does this newsroom mean the journalism program at Loyalist has a larger role within the school?

JH: The journalism programs have always played a large role in the School of Media, Arts and Design.  The facility just gives them a particularly fantastic home.

J-Source: What have I forgotten to ask that you'd really like to add?

JH: It was such a joy to see the look on the students’ faces when they toured the facility for the first time.  I knew that we had designed  a facility that matches our progressive curriculum

Photo by Paulina Uy, Loyalist College handout. To see more on the opening, go to Loyalist's Flickr page.