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Tough words for new reporters

By Esther Crandall


MONCTON—A reporter who wants a job with one of Canada's larger dailies should arrive on the editor's doorstep either with a degree in journalism or with a fistful of clippings reflecting lots of experience.

Laying it on the line at a Media Club of Canada seminar here March 15 was veteran newsman George Bain, now director of the University of King's College School of Journalism.

Explaining that newspapers now pay good money and editors rarely have time to help newcomers, Bain warned that new reporters are expected to perform reasonably well the minute they enter these newsrooms.

Bain said while his students are hardworking and do their assignments on time, they do not write as well as he'd like and use spelling "innovations."

These future journalists will be forced to deal with complex issues. "They will work much harder than I did in journalism." Bain said.

"It's awful even to contemplate the difficulties television broadcasters must overcome to deal with something like a budget, in three minutes, and make sense to the viewer."

He did not favour a return to straight reporting. Instead, he called for a weaving together in news stories of what someone said yesterday with what that same person said on the same subject some time earlier. And he advocated more analytical reporting. For example, some newspapers accurately carried statements made by the three federal party leaders in the last federal election. But they carried them on separate days and failed to follow up by putting the statements together and analyzing them.

Bain was asked to comment on the somewhat isolated feeling some in this region have with respect to the country's media centre, and responded by pointing to parochial reporting by some dailies.

"The Halifax Chronicle-Herald has an Ottawa bureau, but the Ottawa stories it carries are those that relate to the Halifax area; there is more out there than containers for the Port of Halifax," Bain said.

With a staffer in Halifax, "I think The Globe and Mail tries to live up to its claim it is a national newspaper, but the Toronto Star, the country's largest newspaper, carries what is of interest to Metro Toronto," Bain said.


Published in SOURCES in May-June 1980


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