Distinguished journalist preparing students for a rewarding career

Category: Faculty Profiles

Category: Mature learners

Faculty spotlight – Alvin Ntibinyane

At Durham College, students learn from accomplished professors who bring their extensive, real-world experience to the classroom. In this series, we put the spotlight on our passionate faculty members who are committed to helping students lead the way.

From his earliest days growing up in Botswana, Durham College (DC) professor Alvin Ntibinyane knew he wanted to be a journalist.

“I grew up in a household where both my parents were consumers of news and newspapers,” he explained. “As early as Grade 4 or 5, my interest was in journalism and becoming a news reporter, and that’s what I became.”

Launching his career as a reporter in 2004 at the Botswana Guardian and Midweek Sun newspapers, he covered every kind of news there is, from politics, sports and entertainment to courts, crime and city council meetings. By 2011, his hard work landed him the role of bureau chief, where he continued to write and edit while mentoring a team of junior reporters.

A fellowship in South Africa at the Centre for Investigative Journalism followed, along with a stint as editor of Mmegi, the largest privately owned newspaper in Botswana. In 2015 he founded the INK Centre for Investigative Journalism. A non-profit organization, it trains journalists and advocates for the rights of investigative reporters.

His pursuit of his master’s degree in journalism brought him to Canada, where he studied at the University of Regina. After graduation, he stayed on at the school as a sessional lecturer. Last year he joined the DC family as a professor in the Journalism – Mass Media program, where he continues to guide and mentor the next generation of reporters.

“It has been quite rewarding and fulfilling for me,” he said of his transition to teaching at DC. “The joy of seeing students progressing and grasping something is quite amazing. We have students that are very, very committed.”

Those students will soon be entering a profession that is in a constant state of flux, with newspapers shuttering and jobs contracting. But Ntibinyane is adamant that there will always be a need for journalists and the news they share, even if the method for delivering it is rapidly changing.

“Journalism is very important. People still want the news, but maybe they don’t want the news in the newspaper,” he said. “We should be preparing students for other platforms.”

Tomorrow’s reporters will also face a rising anti-journalist sentiment in society. Journalists have always faced criticism and resentment from those in power and members of the public, but the internet and social media has amplified it.

In the face of these challenges, it’s more important than ever to provide new journalists with the best training possible.

“One thing that we need to do as professors is to really stick to what journalism is all about. Journalism is about pursuing the truth. You have to be accurate. You have to be fair. You have to be very balanced in the way you do things.”

Students must also be prepared to manage their mental health as they navigate their careers, and Ntibinyane is passionate about incorporating that idea into his lessons.

“Most schools and professors don’t prepare students for what will happen to them,” he said, noting that journalists will likely face criticism for their reporting. “We have to prepare them for that. We have to add mental health components to our courses, and that’s what I’ve been doing, particularly with second-year students.”

A career in journalism comes with significant challenges, and there’s no telling what the future holds. But for Ntibinyane, there’s no place he’d rather be.

“This is a noble profession. It’s not the most paying profession, but in my view, it is the most rewarding profession,” he said.

“We are the voice of the voiceless. If you really want to become a journalist, you should love the people. You should love telling their stories.”

If you want to pursue a career in journalism, learn more about our Journalism – Mass Media program.