Queen's University

Simulations and selfies @ QMJC

There’s no journalism program at Queen’s, but that doesn’t mean there’s no student interest in the media or in media careers.

Would you take a group selfie with us?” Laughter erupted in the classroom. I was one of the people laughing.

The ­second half of a two-part question from conference attendee Michael Green, Artsci’15, had taken me – a presenter – and everyone else in the room by surprise. This was, after all, the 2014 Queen’s ­Media and Journalism ­Conference (QMJC), a student-organized event now in its third year, and aren’t many journalists dull, ­conservative, all-business types? Hashtag #Nope. I’d happily set that stereotype straight.

“Of course I will!” I chuckled before ­answering Michael’s other question. Once the lively question period of my “So, You Want to be an Author?” workshop ended, we gathered together for what was my first group selfie, and definitely the first selfie that I’ve taken with students. Everyone was grinning. The photo was tweeted immediately, and retweeted numerous times.

The selfie of Heather and studentsThat selfie of Heather and students . . . .

“You must be famous!” fellow QMJC speaker and CBC TV anchor and radio newscaster Mike Wise, Artsci’94, joked with me on Twitter when he saw the Ellen-style group selfie.

“No, not until (Matt) Groening creates a cartoon version. Not until then,” I replied.

I’d taken part in the 2013 QMJC and was ­delighted to have been invited back to speak to ­students at this year’s event. There were 22 ­speakers and 65 delegates registered for two days of workshops, networking, and an ­interactive case-study/simulation.

This year’s keynote speakers were Parliamentary Bureau Chief for Sun Media David Akin, and former Globe and Mail editor John Stackhouse, Com’85.

The other speakers, who came from a ­variety of media backgrounds, included:

  • Mike Wise;

  • Zayna Mosam, Artsci’01, who’s a certified image professional;

  • Jordan Press, MEd’11, a ­parliamentary reporter for Postmedia News;

  • and Christine Fader, a counsellor at Queen’s Career Services who’s also an author and journalist.

Conference co-chair Rachel Widakdo, Artsci’15, explains that QMJC was created to show students the wealth of media and journalism opportunities and resources available on campus, despite the fact Queen’s has no journalism program. “The ­media are in almost every aspect of everyday life; it’s crucial that students learn how to critically ­engage with them,” she notes.

Conference co-chair Kaleigh Pinto, Artsci’14, adds, “The QMJC allows students to imagine themselves in the situations that they’re learning about, and we hope this makes them realize that their goals are within their reach.”

One of this year’s highlights was the interactive media simulation. “We gave the student ­attendees a simulated media ­crisis and had them split into groups to draft responses to the issue at hand. Each group was mentored by one of our speakers,” says Rachel.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better conference turnout. It seemed everyone who attended had a good time and found the ­conference to be a valuable experience he or she was able to take something away from.”

As for me, I enjoyed the opportunity to encourage fledgling writers, to network with other journalists, and, of course, to return to my alma mater.

You can hashtag that #coolbeans.

Heather Grace Stewart is a Montreal-based journalist, poet, photographer, and author. Her debut novel Strangely, Incredibly Good will be published in June.

Queen's Alumni Review, 2014 Issue #2Queen's Alumni Review
2014 Issue #2
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