The ‘small town’ newspaper

I have been meeting a lot of inspiring people lately. And I like it.

The other night, I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend to the RRC Alumni Dinner. The MC for the event was CreComm alumni, former foreign correspondent and current Global National anchor Dawna Friesen.

Dawna Freisen and I

Now, I am not embarrassed to say I was ‘star struck’ or that I spent a large portion of the dinner talking about how excited I was. When me and several other journalism majors went up to meet her, we crowded around her with eyes of naivety and excitement, waiting for her to tell us about the wonders of the world.

She shared her experiences of her first job as a potato-peeler and serving at a restaurant to pay for her schooling. She finished and started in smaller journalism markets before making her way to London to correspond for NBC. From there, she went all over the world to report from ongoing conflicts and international issues.

The biggest thing she told us was to start small, just as Peter Mansbridge told us a few weeks ago and a former CreComm who came to our class to tell us about her time at the Kenora Daily Miner. It is a lesson that is told to budding journalists over and over again.

The thing is…. I think that I have already started small. Yes, for those people who have lived in Winnipeg their whole lives, moving to Brandon, Portage or Kenora would be considered a smaller market. I look at those news organization, ones people refer to as ‘small town papers’, and say those are not small towns. Those are cities. People that think Brandon is a small town must have never actually lived in a small town. Brandon is where I planned weekend trips to the mall and the movie theatre when I was younger. And although it would be harder to downgrade from Winnipeg for a ‘smaller market’, there will never be a smaller market than Minnedosa.

I think that this is why I have such a motivation to travel and start as large as possible. Why not go to Ghana for a summer to be a journalist. Why not organize a work placement in India. Why not start larger than Winnipeg. I know I am going against the lessons of journalism, and of journalists I aspire to be, but I want to see as many things as possible, and there is no better time than now to strive to do so.

There is no doubt it will be harder in the end but I like challenges. I like the unknown and I like fighting for something I truly want. There is a part of me that would love to stay in Winnipeg for a couple of years and focus on local issues and agriculture but there is a larger part of me that does not want the world to go to waste.

I love all the opportunities I have been exposed to in CreComm and I know there is so much good content and life in Manitoba. I think there is a time in my life that I might consider.. you know… settling down. I just don’t think I want that at the start of my journalism career.

I just might have to go against the grain and say no to ‘small town’ papers and yes to India. Well… at least for right now.


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