The last time, and I suppose the only time, I set eyes on her was at the NASH ’75 conference. She was giving a talk on her experience as an Opinion’s columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, and what is required to be a good opinion’s writer. Now she’s back, and right in my very classroom.
Kate Heartfield paid a visit to our Media Ethics class in order to give us an inside look at just what it takes to make it as an opinion writer, as well as offering a bit of a deeper look into the newspaper industry itself. Her talk coincided nicely with our focus on the ethics that are involved when working in the media profession, and the risks associated with becoming a conservative ‘niche writer’ who is closed off to other perspectives.
She also touched on the issue of online media, and whether the newspaper as we know it will become obsolete in the future. She gave the impression that in about five or ten years, it’s not likely that people will be picking up newspapers anymore, but she did not dismiss the possibility that the desire of some of us to remain attached to the old ways could stop them from disappearing completely. It’s just like with books: a lot of people have e-readers now, but that doesn’t stop them from also purchasing a physical copy of the book to put on display.
She was not initially interested in writing for the Opinion’s column, but she knew someone who worked with the Ottawa Citizen, and they were interested in hiring a female writer for the part. It’s an unfortunate reality that the male to female ratio is still tilting towards the latter in terms of certain journalism positions. In my other class, “Women in the Media”, there was a section in the textbook that took a look at women who worked in the media, and even though women have made great strides, it is still more likely that you will find women sitting in supporting positions. In other words, you’re not going to be finding too many women running things from the top.
A point she brought up, which I always find to be a huge moral booster and encouragement motivator, is that one of the best things you can do as an aspiring journalist is write. One of the examples she gave was online blogging, which I think my participation in goes without saying. Another is getting as much published as you can, whether it be for the school or local newspaper, or any other media business with a name that carries a lot of weight behind it. It’s all about getting your name out there and developing a following who either shares your view or simply expresses interest in the issues you cover. After all, you don’t need everyone to agree with you to be a good opinion writer; it’s all about getting the people talking and taken a second look at their own arguments.
As an aspiring Opinion’s Columnist myself, I found this lecture to be both insightful and educational. Perhaps, one day, I can make my way up to her level. Until then, it’s back to the small scale blogging world for me 🙂
That’s all for today, and as always, happy reading!