Journalism alumni gather to celebrate 50 years of The Chronicle

Earlier this month, the DC Talks: Alumni Series presented “A Celebration of The Chronicle’s 50th Anniversary.” The special event, produced by the Faculty of Media, Art & Design and the Durham College Alumni Association, recognized a half-century of quality journalism from Durham College’s (DC) campus publication.

Six alumni of DC’s Journalism program gathered in the Rotary Global Classroom to take part in a wide-ranging panel discussion. They shared stories from their time in journalism and related fields, reflected on the immense changes the industry has faced, and offered advice to today’s students who are preparing for their own careers.

The panel included:

  • Rob Massey (1977), who served as the Sports Editor at the Guelph Mercury for three decades before founding the Guelph Sports Journal.
  • Chris Bovie (1987), an award-winning journalist and editor who is now the Director of Corporate Communications at the Durham Regional Police Service.
  • Rob Leth (1996), a television personality and videographer for City News and CBC, reporting around the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Jesara Holla (2006), a seasoned communications professional currently serving as the Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs for New Nuclear at Ontario Power Generation.
  • Stephanie Foden (2011), a freelance documentary photographer who has worked for The New York Times, TIME magazine, National Geographic and more.
  • Cheyenne Jarrett (2022), a Communications Advisor at the Region of Durham.

“We are celebrating journalism in this room today,” said Professor Lon Appleby. “Who are the people who keep our leaders on their toes? Who are the ones that reflect our society back to us in the most truthful and dedicated way? Who are the fourth estate in our society? Journalists.”

DC President Don Lovisa moderated the discussion, and commended the Journalism program for its proven track record of producing award-winning students and professors who deliver the news from campus and the surrounding community with accuracy and integrity.

“It’s wonderful to see this, that we continue the tradition of quality stories in journalism and that we are recognized for that across Ontario,” he said.

Despite their varied career and life experiences, all the panelists agreed that their DC education set them on the path to success.

“The program has really rocketed my career,” said Jarrett. “I learned so much. The professors gave me opportunities to expand on my writing abilities and get the job that I have now, straight out of school.”

With traditional media outlets downsizing and shuttering, tomorrow’s journalists are in for a challenge as they build their careers. With that in mind, the panelists offered the benefit of their experience to the assembled students.

“You have to have a passion for it, and you have to take advantage of your opportunities,” said Leth. “It’s so important to learn as many skills as you can. You just never know when that break is going to come, and if you’re willing to learn everything that you possibly can, you make it that much more likely that an employer will hire you.”

They will also find that the skills they honed in school will be relevant outside of journalism, according to Bovie.

“As journalism students, you understand how to communicate. You start to understand relationships and people and what motivates them,” he said. “There are so many skills that you get out of a journalism program that are transferable to so many different career paths.”

At the end of the event, Appleby thanked the panelists and encouraged the students to heed their example as they develop their own careers.

“These are professionals, and that’s what we build here; the professional mindset.”

The full panel discussion is available online.