Peter Mansbridge speaks with DC Journalism students

Students in Durham College’s (DC) Journalism – Web and Print program were provided with a unique classroom experience on March 18 as a scheduled lecture on interviewing was transformed into a collective interview of one of Canada’s most iconic broadcasting voices, Peter Mansbridge.

Mansbridge, chief correspondent for CBC News and the anchor of CBC’s The National, provided insight and wisdom into being a journalist to the first- to third-year students in attendance. His more than 45-year career has taken him across the country and around the world in his 45 years in the industry and his first piece of advice that he gave before receiving any questions from students pertained to the ambition required to be successful in the difficult field of broadcast journalism.

“Ambition is a good thing; you want to think big but be prepared to start small,” said Mansbridge. “When you start being witness to events that may seem small in terms of local news but are still powerful, you take that experience and then raise that up as you progress further along the line in terms of covering bigger events that have bigger consequences. You use that vantage point to tell an audience that is desperate for information and you can have an enormous impact making people more involved.”

Mansbridge touched on several key areas for students to focus on during their journey into the industry including advice about field placements; the distinct difference in writing between mediums (television, print and online); and confidence in interviewing.

“There really are no bad questions, there can be bad answers but there aren’t ever bad questions,” he said. “You may think that it’s such a simple question but quite often those simple questions can get the most successful answers. If you can get them to pause before they answer then you’ve made them think and that’s what you want to get.”

Following the question-and-answer period, Mansbridge was thanked for his time and took the time to personally meet with all of the students in attendance. Following the impromptu interview, students were tasked with accumulating the information gained into assignments as well as the creation of material for both the student-produced paper, The Chronicle, and online magazine, The Water Buffalo.

Beginning this September, students will have the chance to gain the skills and experience necessary to succeed in Mansbridge’s arena of broadcast journalism through the college’s new program stream, Journalism – Broadcast and Electronic Media. In the first year, students are introduced to the core journalism skills and will begin to focus on broadcast and online media platforms in the second year.