Lessons from NASH81

In January, I attended the yearly student journalism conference NASH81. It was a ton of fun, especially meeting fellow journalists from across the country.

I did learn a lot about journalism and writing throughout the conference, and I wanted to share some of the tips I picked up.

So, without further ado, here are some of the things I learnt at NASH81!

  1. Align your humour writing with real news stories. And, with humour articles, make them short and be sure to save some jokes for the end.
  2. Headlines are key when sharing articles, so make sure they’re catchy and you can read the whole headline on various social media platforms.
  3. Write down observations about the people you interview. Whether it’s what’s in the background, the mannerisms of the person, or what the person’s wearing, the detail can add depth to your articles. You can also ask to take pictures of the background for later if need be!
  4. “How so?” is a great followup question during interviews.
  5.  With lifestyle reporting, ask yourself why the topic matters right now, and if you’re promoting products or providing information about them. Don’t be afraid to try out different angles like social justice, politics, and business as well.
  6. Prepare yourself when going into difficult stories, such as doing articles on the fentanyl crisis. Trauma in journalism is real, and we tend to forget how much of an impact stories can have on journalists as well.
  7. Know the difference between storytelling and story taking. A journalist’s job is to amplify voices, not speak for them.
  8. If you’re going to report on indigenous communities or indigenous stories, Duncan McCue’s guide for reporting on indigenous stories is a good starting point.
  9. When reporting on alt-right communities or other radical communities, try to avoid using their terminology. It allows the word or terms to become mainstream and give them more of a platform to spread their messages.
  10. We should strive for objectivity in journalism; however, our own views and biases will sometimes show up unintentionally. Keep this in mind when choosing who you interview, how you frame issues, and more.

I hope that these tips are helpful, since they’ve helped improve my writing recently.

If you have any tips for writers or journalists that you’d like to share, please drop them in the comments!

-Mel.

 

2018 Wrapup

These last few months have passed by in the blur of assignments, newspaper articles, and all the fun events of the last year of my undergrad. So, please excuse my prolonged absence in light of all the running around I’ve been doing this semester.

I wanted to make a quick post about some of the awesome things that have happened in my life in 2018, since it’s been a wild ride to say the least. So, without further ado, here’s some of what I’ve done this year!

  1. I worked for the campus newspaper for the second year in a row. Being a student journalist has taught me many lessons about good writing, made me more curious about the world, and allowed me to work alongside many talented individuals. I’m excited for my last semester with the paper in 2019, especially since I’m going to a journalism conference in January. (You can find my newspaper articles here.)
  2. I moved off campus and loved it. Since April, I’ve lived in both an old courthouse and my current house with my two lovely roommates. I like having the distance from campus and my own space, plus having two other people around makes living off campus pretty lively.
  3. Had my first research job. I never would’ve thought that I would enjoy doing research into Canadian fishery policy and the associations that are involved in it, but I did. I’m glad for the experience, since I learned some valuable lessons about politics in Canada along with how to motivate myself to get work done independently.20181230_160307561630330873236606.jpg
  4. Got two tattoos. I’ll be writing more about my experience with those soon, but it was truly awesome to get matching tattoos with my family as well as a tattoo I’ve wanted for several years.
  5. Received my X-ring, which is a ring awarded to graduating students at my university. It is meant to connect you to fellow alumni and represents the effort you’ve put into earning your degree. However, the most important part to me was celebrating the achievement with the friends I’ve made at university and my mom, who made the trip out to Nova Scotia for the event.
  6. Invested more in my personal wellbeing. This year, I’ve been trying to eat better, drink more water, and focus on my mental health a bit more. I’ve made some progress, and I’d like to bring those habits with me into the new year and develop others that make me happier and healthier.
  7. My family got a new dog, named Bandit. I didn’t get to meet the ball of energy until winter break, but I’m happy to say he’s already stolen my heart. He’s only two, which means he has tons of energy to play and get into trouble, but his cute face makes you forgive him for anything instantly.20181230_155619928210766006570046.jpg
  8. Spent time with family and friends. I’ve loved the time I’ve spent with my family and close friends back in Alberta, especially since I haven’t been home for most of this year. However, I’ve also cherished all the shenanigans that I’ve gotten up to with my friends at university, since that has made living away from home all the better.

And that about wraps up what I’ve been up to this year! What are some of the things you’ve accomplished and/or want to accomplish next year? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Holidays,

Mel.

Summer in Calgary

Hello everyone!

I wanted to share some of the pictures I took when I was home in Calgary this summer.  I hope you enjoy them, especially my favorite, the beautiful blue Alberta skies.

-Mel.


Xaverian Weekly Articles 2018-19

Hello everyone!

As some of you may know, I write for the newspaper at my university, called The Xaverian Weekly.

So, I decided to make a masterpost of all of my articles from my second year working with them. If you’ve ever wondered what other topics I write about, what keeps me busy during the school year, or are in need of new reading material, please check them out!

This post will be updated as my articles come out throughout the year, so make sure to check back around every two weeks for new articles.

You can also follow the newspaper on Twitter or Instagram at @xaverianweekly.

Hail and health,

Mel.


Fall Life Update!

Hello everyone!

I figured it was about time I gave you a little update about what’s going on in my life right now, and about some of the things that happened over my summer.

I’m back in school for my last year of my undergrad, and I’m now V-P of the history society on campus. I’m also resuming my role as a writer for the campus newspaper, but with the added bonus of having one of my best friends on the staff this year. I’ll probably make a master list of all those articles on the blog again, so that you can read what I write in my everyday life.

I just moved off campus this year as well, since I really enjoyed working off campus this summer, in what used to be the town’s old courthouse. I’m super happy with my new place, and my roommates are pretty awesome too. Although, I think Eos might be the favourite roommate of all, since she’s a beautiful but curious corn snake.

I also got my first tattoo this summer, which has been on my list since I graduated high school. It’s a blackwork rose on my left shoulder, done by the fabulous Emily at Folklore Tattoo. I’ll be posting more about my experience and some tattoo tips later on, but for now, here’s a close up picture of it!

That’s about it for what I’ve been up to these last couple of months! I hope you’re all doing great, and are heading into fall ready to make it the best one yet. Please drop me a comment about any of your fall plans or what you’ve been up to, I love hearing about your lives too!

See you soon in the next post!

-Mel.

Back to School Is Upon Us…

…and I’m really looking forward to it. This year is my final year of my undergrad, which is incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. There’s a number of things in the works for my final year that I’ll post about soon, but it’ll be one for the books for sure.

However, as a fourth year or senior at university, I figured I’d share some of my tips for those starting or returning to university.  So, without further ado, here’s some of my advice for university:

  1. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Some of the best experiences I’ve had on campus have occurred because I took a leap of faith and signed myself up for activities. You may not be able to do everything, but try to get out there and do things so you have fewer “I should’ve done (x)” moments later on.
  2. Be open to meeting new people. It’s very easy to continue the mentality from high school that you’ll only click with certain people. I would encourage you to be open to making friends through classes, extracurriculars, or just someone you constantly run into on campus. They might just teach you some of the most important lessons during your school years.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was like most frosh, where the last thing I wanted to do was show up to office hours and ask for help from my professors. However, I’ve learned by now that taking the time to ask the questions you have about coursework or just popping by for a quick chat with your professors can be incredibly helpful and open up new opportunities.
  4. Not succeeding at everything is okay. If you have to redo a course, get a bad mark on an assignment, or fail at something else during university, it’s alright. We aren’t all perfect, and sometimes circumstances in our lives can mess things up. However, the best thing to do after not succeeding is to pick yourself back up and have a game plan to make sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
  5. Don’t be afraid to leave home. Moving somewhere completely different can be daunting after living your life in one place and having all your friends and family there. In my experience, there are ups and downs to going away to university, but I’ve been able to learn a lot more about myself by changing my environment completely. So, don’t be afraid to make that first step in leaving home.
  6. Get off campus. As tempting and easy as it is to always be on campus, give yourself a break from it sometimes. Sometimes you need a different perspective in order to find some peace during the hectic life at university. Plus, it’s a chance to either experience living in your own place or to explore where you’re going to university a bit more.
  7. Remember what you’re here for. While some of my advice is to experience the most of your years at university, remember you’re in school to study. It’s not worth paying a lot of money, all the long nights, and hours in class if you don’t get the degree at the end of the line. So, keep that mind when you’re really tempted to binge watch some Netflix instead of studying for an exam worth 40% of your final class mark.

I hope that this helps those embarking or continuing on the path of post-secondary education this year. Please pass this along to any students you know, and if you have any advice that you’d like to share, please leave a comment on this post!

Have a great school year!

-Mel.

Summer Reading List 2018

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Hello everyone!

Work has been keeping me fairly busy this summer, but I’ve been actively trying to pick up a book when I have some free time. Because of that, I thought that I’d share some of the books on my summer reading list with you!

So, here are the books that I’m trying to read this summer:

  • A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollenstonecraft: This has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while, but I think it will be an important read as one of the earlier works of feminist philosophy.
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton: I’ve started reading this book, which is about high society in New York in the 1870s. My only qualm is it can be hard to follow since it’s an older book, but it’s still interesting so far.
  • Three Challenges to Ethics by James Sterba: I snagged this book from a pile of free books that was hanging around the philosophy department. It looks interesting since it discusses the challenges that environmentalism, feminism, and multicultralism pose to traditional ethics.
  • Vimy: The Battle and Legend by Tim Cook: This book was a birthday present that I got a couple of weeks ago. Since I like learning about anything to do with war history, I’m sure it’ll be a great read.
  • Waiting for First Light by Romeo Dallaire: Dallaire’s writing has always struck me as incredibly powerful, and this book did not disappoint. It’s about his experience with PTSD after coming back from Rwanda, and it’s incredibly eye-opening. Word of warning, it does deal with a lot of heavier topics like suicide, so make sure you’re not putting your own mental health at risk by reading it.

What are you reading this summer? Please drop me a comment so I can justify adding more books to my bookshelf!

-Mel.

Happy Canada Day!

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From the Eastern coast of Canada, I hope all the Canadians following my blog have a great holiday! Take the time to have fun with your close friends and family during this long weekend.

I’ve always felt lucky to live in this country. It’s beautiful from coast to coast, from the oceans to the mountains and prairies. To live in a country that is both rich in natural beauty and contains such diverse people is truly a blessing.

That being said, Canadians have a lot of work ahead of us in the next couple of years. Forming the Canada of the future as a leader on the world stage and as a place where everyone feels accepted will mean putting in the time and effort. We shouldn’t forget our history as well, especially the indigenous peoples that have been here longer than most of us.

I hope you all have a great Canada Day, and celebrate this great place we call home. For the rest of my followers, I hope you have a great Sunday!

-Mel.