Saturday, April 30, 2011

Interviewing Awards Centennial Journalism, Bye Bye East Toronto Observer Newsroom

Lindy Oughtred, Melanie Schawill, Alissa Randall, Nicole Pulsinelli at Interviewing Awards Ceremony for East York students (Octavian Lacatusu photo)

Andre Widjaja and Michelle Grace at Interviewing Awards East York campus April 2011 (Octavian Lacatusu/photo)

Interview awards …

It was an elegant affair at the East York campus Thursday at the Not Ready for Prime Time Interviewing awards, hosted by Lindy Oughtred. From the formal printed invitations (who really needs a Royal Wedding invite after this?) to the baked goods supplied by folks including Janet Piercey, awards were handed out for everything from best costume to best interviewer. Congratulations to the students who won the real awards, and the joke ones, too. Check out the photos by Octavian Lacatusu here:

At the UTSC campus Wednesday, Ellin Bessner’s Advanced interviewing awards for Joint Journalism students, saw 6 prizes handed out for everything from best dressed to most likely to succeed Oprah Winfrey.

The winners:
Best dressed: Andre Thurairatnam, runner up Kayla Kreutzberg.
Most improved: Janice Yeung
Best Bessner Question: Alex Kozovski, for “If Dan were an Acronym, what would it be?”
Oprah Winfrey award: Yeamrot Taddese
Second Place: Best Interviewer Award: Kyle Larkin
First place Best Interviewer: Maryam Shah.

Deans Awards…
Steve Cogan with Jaclyn Desforges, highest GPA, journalism 2010

Steve Cogan awards Entrepreneurship Award to Shannon Keller,  Journalism 2011

Alina Smirnova wins Entrepreneurship award from Ted Fairhurst, UTSC Journalism 2010

Ted Fairhurst awards High GPA to Joseph Jacobsen, UTSC JJ 2010

Thursday night, the CCC campus served up the best of the best awards to students who achieved high marks in their programs, as well as the newly-established Entrepreneur Awards, to students who showed creativity and leadership for themselves and their community. Pictures here on Flickr.

First Semester Journalism…

Our deepest condolences to the family of the late taxidermist Cliff McCutcheon, who stuffed a blue whale for the Canadian National Exhibition, who’s obituary the first year journalism students had to submit to Ted Barris for their final writing assignment.


Congratulations to the @TorontoObserver crew and the East York Observer print edition, for rating a mention in the Toronto Star this week. The Observer reported that the Don Valley West NDP candidate has been missing in action and didn’t attend all candidates’ sessions, and won’t talk to the press. Story originated by Kristen Annabile and Matilda Miranda and picked up by @tomwalkom, Thomas Walkom, national affairs columnist. Read his story here.

Stay tuned to and to Observer Radio News on May 2, when journalism students will fan out across the GTA and East York ridings to cover the Federal election.

Jack Layton riding headquarters on Broadview Ave (Toronto-Danforth) photo by Ellin Bessner

Luckily Jack Layton’s riding and campaign headquarters is in the riding where our program's community newspaper the Toronto Observer is located, so we shall be right in the most newsworthy area Monday night! 

UTSC BYE BYE Morningside Observer:

(photos courtesy of Aakanksha Tangri)

After 5 years, it’s a bittersweet bye bye this week to the Morningside campus newsroom, and classroom 304 and 306b for the UTSC/Centennial joint journalism program. After a half dozen years of offering classes to the students at 755 Morningside, the eastern campus next to UTSC will no longer house the joint program with the East Toronto Observer serving Malvern, West Hill and Scarborough. Starting this fall, all classes will be held at the soon-to-be-renovated (beginning in June) East York journalism campus at Mortimer and Carlaw (Pape subway!)

Say what you will about the smallish cupboard sized/Observer newsroom 306b --- (Maximum capacity 15 people) --  it sure has provided excellent training for 5+ years of journalism students. Sure it was cramped, but what great memories! Where there were more students then computers, where the ESL and GENEd students routinely came in, looking desperately for staplers, or for someone from IT to help them fix their printers, or folks hoping to complete their fall registration timetables! “No, this isn’t the English department.” “No you can’t use this lab, it’s for journalism students only.” The Scarborough campus lab has produced countless editions of the newspaper, great TV and audio stories, eye-catching layouts, award winning Beat magazines, and has seen more Facebook visits then anyone could count.  Not to mention the annual Wall of your Observer Staff photos with crayon mustaches!

Speaking of UTSC journalism grads, congratulations to Megan Harris (Centennial Journalism 2010) who will be interning this summer writing stories and content for real estate writer and advisor (the Globe and Mail) John Warrilow, entrepreneur and consultant.

PHOTO CALL please!!!  Anyone with memories of Morningside campus Journalism is invited to send in a Tweet or an email and we’ll collect them and publish them, and any photos which you wish to send in, would also be appreciated. You can tweet to @centennialjourn  or email to :
 or to

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jamie Kennedy, Chris Spence, Jian Ghomeshi and Centennial Journalism

Andrew Phillips, Sarah Dayal, Melanie Schawill interview Chef Jamie Kennedy at Centennial College Journalism, photo by Octavian Lacatusu

With one week and a bit left in the winter semester, students (and faculty and staff) are feeling the pressure to get the assignments completed (and get the marking done) and finish the next issue of the Toronto Observer print edition before the May 2 federal election.

In this newsletter Vol 3 edition, we’ll focus on the fabulous guests that have been seen in the halls of the CCC and the Morningside Campus the last few weeks, as students in the Advanced Interviewing courses put into practice all the skills that they’ve learned in order to interview real newsmakers and celebrities. Using the tips and tricks (or Trips and Ticks, as Ellin Bessner calls them- shout out to Kyle Larkin!) has helped one group schmooze a tired chef Jamie Kennedy.   Melanie Schawill revealed to the chef that she once micro waved a dish covered with tinfoil, because she doesn’t know how to cook. Yes it exploded. Kennedy perked up, laughed, and then she was able to ask him what was the craziest sandwich he had ever assembled.

Paramedic Steve Darling of York Region EMS was a reluctant guest, stepping in to replace one of his staff who cancelled their interview with students in the joint journalism program at the Morningside campus.  Interviewer Jessica Lee kept at him, asking him about his regrets after a 30-year career. He admitted to her that if he’d only studied harder in high school, rather then fool around, he might have been a doctor today, and still hoped to go to medical school in the future.  He emailed back to say how much he’d enjoyed the interview experience and would be willing to come back next year!  Check out Jessica Lee's gorgeous photos here, on her jessicaology's flickr account. 

Check out the Centennial Journalism Flickr account for photos taken by Octavian Lacatusu, Jessica Lee and me, of the great guests, and the students who’ve interviewed them.  Next week, final interview with Jian Ghomeshi of CBC’s Q in the Q radio studio by 3 UTSC joint journalism students! We’re bringing him a bunch of Arsenal souvenirs and pistachio nuts, as apparently that’s his favourite team and snack!

Read the great stories written about their guest interviews by Advanced Interviewing students at JJ/UTSC, now posted on Centennial Journalism's wordpress blog.

GRAD/ALUMNI updates:

Jaclyn Desforges (fast track 2010) writes to report she’s done her internship at now and she just started a new job as a Media Monitoring Specialist at (a clipping service owned by Postmedia.)

Josh Ungar and Rob Ford
Josh Ungar covering the Rob Ford campaign October 2010 for the East Toronto Observer.

Josh Ungar, UTSC Joint Journalism (2010) has completed his internship at 680 News in Toronto and has been hired on staff doing audio editing and web content editing and writing. Josh writes that he did a mix of overnight/day/morning shifts for the first 10 weeks.

“ I was bouncing around doing a little bit of everything... Going out on the street to get MOS tape, doing police/fire checks, monitoring foreign news services like BBC/Al Jazeera ect, writing press releases into copy for radio, monitoring the web for kicker and entertainment stories, rewriting stories for radio, doing TV and radio line-ups for competitors... Progressively I did a little more, going to the scene of actual crimes and police press conferences to get tape and turning them into script/clip stories, calling around to get interviews from professors and media reps for stories etc... After about 10 weeks I ended up covering an actual audio editing shift, got noticed by the web department and did some preliminary training, then for four weeks I worked with the head web editor, writing stories and learning their web system.

After that I was offered a position working part-time doing a mix of audio editing and web content editing/writing, which I'll be starting next week.”

Check out the new Promo of UTSC/JJ 2010 grad Sarah de Mille on the Centennial College website.


The Advisory Committee for the Journalism program met April 12 at the CCC campus, with some high profile names from the industry helping to steer the school in the right direction: Eric Morrison, CEO of The Canadian Press, Gino Apponi, chief of Staff to Jennifer McGuire who is GM of CBC News, Marci Ien of CTV Canada AM, Chris Boutet, digital media senior producer at National Post. One recommendation: to bring more alum and grads back to campus in the fall to meet current students and discuss where the jobs are and to act as mentors! Shall do!

A Toronto Star photographer came to Observer Radio News Wednesday morning April 20 for a photo shoot of journalism students who were performing live newscasts on air. It was for the Star’s Guide to GTA Colleges and Universities – the next edition. Our stars Kyle Koivisto, Kris Ali-Trotman and Braydon Keddie all wore their best black t-shirts for the impromptu session.


Alina Smirnova (JJ 2010) has won the Dean’s Award for entrepreneurship in  the Joint Journalism program at Morningside campus, for her leadership in running the Observer during the recent municipal election, as well as her solid editing and fact-checking skills on her group’s beat reporting project. For one of the stories in that magazine, Foodshed Magazine, she also climbed on rooftops of the Royal York Hotel and the U of T to interview urban bee keepers.

Joseph Jacobsen (JJ 2010) has won the Dean’s Award for the student in the JJ program with the highest GPA. His beat magazine project Top Shelf Manzine, with colleagues Josh Ungar, Ryan Jhagroo, Billy Courtice and Brad Featherstone, was the Beat Idol judges pick for best magazine of the year.

Congratulations to you both. See you at the ceremony April 28 at the CCC.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reality TV and the Egyptian Tahrir Square protests: Centennial Journalism students win awards

Last week, I posted a story about how Centennial's journalism program helps our students get jobs. Thanks for the good feedback on the blog post. Since we launched our Twitter account  @centennialjourn  and we are putting graduate success stories on our College webpages (see Ryan Sang's testimonial here), we've been hearing from many of you, staff and students and grads.

I've decided to try to put together a regular newsletter about the events going on around campus, as well as news from grads/alum and profs. So here is Edition 2.

This week, it's all about awards! We have the CLIX photo gala, the Dean's Award winners announced, and grad Murtz Jaffer flying  high in L.A. with all the reality tv stars!

Meegan Scanlon and friend -courtesy of "Get Out There" radio

Awards season:

The Dean’s Award for highest GPA last year at the East York journalism programs:  in the three year Category: Meegan Scanlon, now completing her internship at Explore magazine in Toronto,  and Jaclyn Desforges, for the Fast Track program, who is completing her internship at,  and preparing for her upcoming September wedding. Congratulations.

                Meegan Scanlon has also won the new Dean’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award, for the East York campus, which is for the student who is an independent thinker, takes the initiative in identifying and creating an opportunity, accepts the associated risks, and establishes value for themselves and others.  Meegan was one of the founders of Centennial’s Internet Radio station, had her own radio show on outdoor activities, and co edited Freshly Pressed, the magazine for first semester student stories, and planned a wedding all at the same time.

The awards presentations will be made April 28 at a ceremony on campus.

*Shannon Keller has won the award for Fast Track program this year, for being the driving force behind, a website created during the Tahrir Square in Cairo protests to link young people in Toronto and Egypt through social media.

Here’s what professor Jeffrey Dvorkin, a former NPR Ombudsman and managing editor of CBC Radio News, who now teaches multiplatform journalism at Centennial College, had to say about this endeavour.

We created a site which linked up young people
in both cities to comment on the rapidly changing events in Egypt. We
created a Twitter feed and a Facebook page to track how people were responding to
events. We contacted students at the American University in Cairo and they
contributed to the discussion.”

You can listen to Shannon Keller’s interview here about TorontoCairo on this podcast by Observer Radio News which aired on the Friday when Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Hosts: Scott Reid, Connie Jean Kennedy, Nicolas Pescod, Nicole Pulsinelli and Alissa Randall.

It’s also awards night for the CLIX photography contest for 2011, open to digital imaging photojournalism students in Jim Babbage and Joseph Marranca’s courses at EY and the UTSC students at Morningside campus.
The gala is April 13  with the show from 6:30 to 8 pm in the Corridor Gallery on the second floor of the CCC campus. Refreshments will be served. Congratulations to Alex Ward, Farhanna Uddin, Ocatavian Lacatusu for the winning photos.
You can read Jim Babbage’s story about it here:

Grads update: Where are they now?

Shawn Starr
: Three year grad (2010) now working at the Town Crier in Toronto.

 Like some of the other students in the article, I was also hired at the end of my internship. At the end of May, I will have been with the Town Crier newspapers and magazines for a year as both a reporter and copy editor. While I cover virtually every topic, I've mostly been focusing on crime, politics and features. Some of my personal favourites include: 1. A North York woman whose basement has flooded 18 times in eight years, but has received no compensation from the city, 2. The bizarre murder-for-hire plot and subsequent torching of Harold the Jewellery Buyer, 3. The ongoing saga of politics in the Beach.

I'm glad to see so many people doing well post-graduation, and I've even heard Centennial journalism being talked about in the newsroom as a place that's becoming known for putting out great talent. It's very encouraging to see, considering how often we hear that the industry is shrinking.

Simone Castello, fast Track (2009) Graduate now web editor working at jobpostings magazine.

I graduated from the fast-track journalism program at Centennial college in 2009. Since then, I've had the chance to work as a writer in print and online at different magazines, including some overseas. Right now, I work at jobpostings magazine as their web editor, and I can credit the instructors and courses I took at Centennial College for preparing me to take on this role. I will always have fond memories of my time at the Centre for Creative Communications, and am proud to say I'm a graduate from Centennial College's fast-track journalism program. 
 And if you get the chance, please let the students know about us. We're a valuable resource for students looking for work after grad.

You can find us on
Twitter: @jobpostingsca

Graduate Murtz Jaffer, (Fast Track 2003) who is a celebrity reporter,  hosted  his own Gemini Award winning TV show called Reality Obsessed on TV Tropolis, and founded the website InsidePulse .com, which reports on popular culture, and has a staff of 200 writers.
Murtz was in L.A. this week to receive the 'Special Achievement In Reality Reporting Award' at the Reality Rocks convention in Los Angeles.

First year student Leslie Eamons' story has been published by Centennial College’s website about her father also being a Centennial grad, in automotive. The story came out of a J0-102 Intro to News Reporting class audio podcast project that was picked up by the college. Read her story here.

Yamri Taddese of the UTSC joint journalism program reads the news for an Ethiopian language TV show on Rogers TV

UTSC (2010) student Emily Hunter has released a new book on the new breed of young people who are fighting to save the environment around the world, as she does, herself. You can read about the book here.

Three year grad (2010) Ciaran Thompson and CCSAI multi media whiz Geoff Anhorn have started a new web series documenting new artists/bands. 

It's called Untouched Sounds and we've posted the first episode on our website.

Ciaran asks people to “do us a favour and search Untouched Sounds on Facebook and 'like us' or 'become our friend' or whatever it is. (No, I still haven't joined Facebook. Surprise surprise) 

You can also follow us on Twitter: @untouchedsounds 

Thanks very much!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

How Centennial College Journalism helps college graduates find jobs in the media

Next week, Centennial College's journalism program will be hosting some big events that will bring our students front and centre with the media industry which they are soon to enter as rookie reporters, editors, producers, anchors and designers. It is one of the most important ways the Centennial College's award winning journalism program prepares our grads to move from the campus newsroom to newsrooms across the country, and indeed, around the world.

Our graduates are finding jobs even before their internships end.  Like Samantha Butler, who while at the Kingston Whig Standard this semester, was offered a job, and responded by breaking the story about how a Queen's University professor thinks CBC's Vote Compass is flawed. Her story went national and caused a lot of buzz in the current election coverage. Butler also covered the Wolfe Island entry into kraft Hockeyville's competition.

Like Ryan Sang (Fast Track 2009), who has  moved to Toronto from Saskatchewan to work as a reporter with Global TV News Toronto. He credits Centennial College's Fast Track journalism program for getting him to where he is now. Like covering train derailments.

Like, Aileen Donnelly (Fast Track 2011) who has won the Ontario Community Newspaper Association Award for best Student Writing, and will receive her award in May in Ottawa, at the OCNA national conference. Aileen covered a sentencing hearing for the Toronto Observer to win the award. She now writes as an intern for the National Post. She covers crime, editorial writing, and had this primer on the uprisings in the Middle East.

Like Francois Biber, who is graduating this spring, but has been hired by the Vermillion, Alberta newspaper where he hopes to use his multi-platform skills in audio, and video, to boost the newspaper's online presence. Read the paper's interview with him here.

Like Tamara Baluja, who's internship at the Globe and Mail is seeing her byline with important stories such as the gay-straight alliance controversy at a local high school.

Our students tell us their time at Centennial College's journalism programs gave them exposure to the leaders and experts in the media industry, and prepared them to launch their careers. Some come to us with undergraduate degrees, some come straight from high school. Others come after working for several years in other fields. All benefit from the speakers, visits, and opportunities available to them every week of the semester at Centennial's boutique campus in mid-town Toronto, and the vibrant news city of Toronto around them. Here are just a few events scheduled for this coming week:

On Thursday, the man who produced hundreds of those "I Believe" vignettes about athletes for CTV's 2010 Winter Olympic coverage, Don Young, will deliver his "Best Time Ever" inspirational message to students at the library of Centennial College's Centre for Creative Communications, which houses the Fast Track, Three Year, UTSC, and Sports journalism programs.  Young says this is the best time ever for students looking to enter the media field, because there are so many opportunities for them. The speaking engagement was arranged by Ted Barris, professor and author and broadcaster who is runs the online news program for the East York students of

Also on Thursday, the former pro ball player who broke the silence about what life is really like on the road for professional athletes, Jim Bouton, author of the 1970 seminal book "Ball Four", will be chatting with sports journalism students via Skype from New England directly into one of their classrooms. The interview was arranged by Malcolm Kelly, coordinator of the sports journalism program

Also on Thursday, students in the radio news courses will be visiting the headquarters of 680 News, the Fan590, CHFI and Kiss 92.5 FM, to meet the newscasters and producers, to see how the newsrooms operate, and to watch live shows on the air. The visit is being arranged for classes taught by radio instructor  Ellin Bessner, a former CBC and CTV News anchor and reporter, in conjunction with lecturer Anne Lavrih, who is internship coordinator for 680 News and the voice of Today's Parent minute on that station. Lavrih has been teaching at Centennial for two years.

In Lindy Oughtred's Advanced Interviewing classes on Mondays, students will still be buzzing about their trip to watch CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi host his live radio show "Q". They are also giving lively presentations about the findings of their major research projects which they've been preparing all semester, including one by student Ani Hajderaj, with his tips on how to interview people who are in business, and how business journalists operate.

In photography and digital imaging, professors Jim Babbage and his colleague Joseph Marranca have announced the winners of the third annual Clix Journalism Photo competition, involving entries by students in all three programs. Congratulations to UTSC joint journalism photographer Jessica Lee, who excelled in all the categories. See the winning entries here:

Find out more about why Centennial College's journalism programs will lead you to a career in the media business. Follow us on Twitter , on Flickr, read our program blog, follow the award winning Toronto Observer's online news site , check out our award winning magazines, radio news programs, television shows, and digital imaging by students on CentennialOnDemand.

Contact Steve Cogan, coordinator at  for more information or to apply.