Advice for First-Year CreComm Students

First of all, I hope everyone has had a fantastic summer. It feels great to be back blogging. I remember roughly one year ago, I was the one nervously scrolling through the blogs of second-year CreComm students soaking up all of the advice I could. So naturally, I figured it was my duty to write a similar post for all the new students coming in.

Obviously, some of this may be hard to relate to because of your unfamiliarity with the program. As you advance through it, these tips may start to resonate a little bit more. Still, I hope you all take some value from this while keeping in mind that everyone has a different approach to school. Here’s my best advice based on my experiences in first year:

Treat everybody with respect

Treat the start of CreComm as the start of your professional career. Make positive connections with both your instructors and your fellow classmates. You’ll very likely be asking some of your instructors for references soon enough. Try to establish a good reputation early on.

Have a positive attitude

There’s nothing, at least in my opinion, that will take you further in CreComm than a positive attitude. Pessimistic people don’t last. Exude positivity every day, and try to bring out positivity in your classmates. You’ll get challenged by instructors, you’ll do poorly on some assignments, and you’ll receive constructive criticism. Never take it personally and keep your head up. If you have a positive attitude, people will gravitate toward you. Stay away from the negative people.

Be competitive

You’re going to make friends for life in this program. And it really is as fun as everyone says it is. It’s an absolute blast. But, never lose sight of the fact that you’re competing with each and every person there with you. You’ll help others when they need it, and you’ll get help from them when you need it. The support system is key in CreComm. You’re all in this together, absolutely, but always strive to be your personal best every day. You’re competing against your classmates for internships, awards, and jobs. Stand out. Do a little bit extra. Be the last one out of the room sometimes.

Get involved with everything

There are so many opportunities to get involved with things that are additional to all your classes. Take advantage of them. Start your own show or podcast at the radio station, read the news or sports in the morning, write and get involved with The Projector. Say yes to everything. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. In the back of your mind, always be thinking ahead to when you graduate and beyond. Use CreComm to build your resume.

Be curious

Pick the brains of your instructors. All of them have experience in the industry. They know people in the industry. That’s so valuable. You have full access to them so take advantage of it.

Stay level headed

There’s a lot of ups and downs in this program. I remember early in second semester, I did really well on three straight assignments, and my best friend in the program started pumping my tires and said something along the lines of “Man you’re tearing it up right now.” I let it get to my head a little bit and became overconfident. Sure enough, I got a D on my next assignment. I was shocked and a little upset, but I used it as motivation toward  staying level headed from then on. Don’t get too high when you do well, and don’t get too low when you do poorly. Easier said than done for sure. Also, if you do poorly on an assignment, always take the time to discuss it with your instructor. Take responsibility for your own learning.

Stay calm under pressure

You’ll be thrown into pressure situations, especially early on and particularly in journalism class. You’ll have a pending deadline and things will get hectic when the clock is ticking. The key is to stay calm and understand that you have plenty of time to get the assignment done. And enjoy the chaos because you won’t experience it to the same degree outside of journalism class, in my opinion.


Okay now for some practical advice. An auto-fail is when you misspell a proper name and automatically fail an assignment as a result. Everyone will tell you that they happen to everyone and are inevitable. This just isn’t true and I’m tired of hearing it. I had one auto-fail all year—it was in the second week of classes on my first advertising assignment. I’m still a little pissed about it to be honest. Furthermore, I could point to a handful of students in our year who had zero auto-fails. My point here is to proofread everything. If you have a journalism assignment due at the end of class, leave yourself five minutes to read it over. Then read it over again. Look up something if you’re not sure. Never, ever guess. If you do your due diligence with every assignment, there’s no reason why you can’t avoid auto-fails every single time.

Don’t make CreComm bigger than it is

This might be the most important thing in this post. By now, everyone has probably told you how difficult the program is. And I agree to an extent. It’s a very challenging program that tests your mental toughness and internal stamina. But, and I might get some flak for writing this, I think the aura that surrounds CreComm—in terms of how hard the program is—is a little bit overblown. My approach was to treat it as school. Because really, that’s all it is. It’s school, and I’ve been going to school for a long time. Be punctual, have a strong work ethic, and let the rest take care of itself. There’s no magic formula for success. Keep doing what you did to get here.

I just want to conclude by saying that I’ve never been so excited for a year of school in my life. I worked at 680 CJOB this past summer, and while I really enjoyed it and got great experience, once you’re in the industry you realize how fun CreComm is and how good we have it. I think we’ll all be hard-pressed to find a job that’s as enjoyable as the program is. I mean that sincerely. Enjoy the ride. It goes by quick. Too quick.





Signing off

I started this blog back in September for a school assignment, and I really enjoyed posting every week about various sports teams and athletes. With the school year finally coming to an end, I won’t be posting nearly as much.

These last eight months have easily been the busiest time of my life—I averaged about five hours of sleep this past semester. But now it’s over and I have four months to disconnect from school and do things that I haven’t been able to do in a while. For one, I played in my first ball hockey game of the season last week and noticed that my conditioning was nowhere near where it usually is. I’m looking forward to playing ball hockey, tennis, and maybe a little slo-pitch this summer. I also want to spend some time in the gym.

I also can’t wait to get out to my cabin to do some fishing. There’s nothing better than catching pickerel in the early summer months. I think when you experience the everyday grind of CreComm, it makes you appreciate getting out of the city even more.

I hope I can find the time to continue this blog next year. Until then, have a great summer everyone.

p.s. I may write the occasional sports-related post over the summer.


Looking ahead to the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The best time to be a hockey fan is right now. I don’t care if your favourite team is out of the playoffs, or if you’re one of those hooligans who believes that the NHL is rigged and that Gary Bettman doesn’t want any Canadian teams in the playoffs. That’s delusional thought, plain and simple. The fact is that the Stanley Cup Playoffs offers the most exciting brand of hockey, and the true fans of the game will be tuned in.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the pain that comes with your favourite team either getting knocked out of the playoffs or missing them entirely. I was a huge Leafs fan growing up and I have fond memories from this time of year—beating Ottawa every year and a couple of runs to the conference finals to name a couple. I also remember how tough it was to take when they were eliminated, usually by Philadelphia or New Jersey. But if you can get past the disappointment of your team being absent from the post-season, you’ll see that there’s actually some pretty good hockey to watch between the top contenders in the NHL. And like Don Cherry says, most of the players are Canadian anyway. It all starts this Wednesday.

I’ll be a part of a playoff pool draft on Monday night, and these drafts are a blast and I look forward to them every year. I won my playoff pool last year by virtue of filling out an almost perfect playoff bracket. The key is to pick the correct first-round winners. Essentially, draft players who you think will make it out of the first round and then go from there. This year, I would recommend loading up on Chicago players. They’re the safest bet in the playoffs and I think the Blackhawks are destined for another conference finals appearance at minimum. I think Washington will ultimately win the Eastern Conference, but if the Flyers grab the final playoff spot I think Philly would push the Capitals to seven games. Still, drafting Washington guys is also one of my priorities.


Can Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks repeat as Stanley Cup champions?

There’s upsets pretty much every year in the first-round, and I see some brewing again this year. The Dallas Stars, in my opinion, aren’t built for the playoffs and they have major question marks in net. If the Stars play Minnesota, I could see the Wild upsetting them in a fashion very similar to their first-round matchup with St. Louis last year. Minnesota knows how to grind out wins in the playoffs, they seem reinvigorated under a new head coach, and they’ll be virtually impossible to beat at home with the raucous crowds at Xcel Energy Center. If Dallas plays Chicago, they’ll be out in five games.

Staying in the Western Conference, I like San Jose this year. I know the Sharks have had major issues in the playoffs in past seasons, but I have a feeling they can beat Anaheim in the first-round if that’s the matchup. I also think the Kings beat Nashville.

In the Eastern Conference, I’ll be drafting Pittsburgh players with confidence. They’re the hottest team in the NHL right now and I think they’ll make it to the semi-finals. If Florida plays the Rangers, I like New York in that series. Finally, Detroit and Tampa Bay is a toss-up. But here’s hoping that Philly and Boston get the last two playoff spots. The Red Wings have had enough playoff appearances over the years (24 consecutive appearances).

I think a Chicago-Washington Stanley Cup Final is very likely. Chicago always seems to have the playoff magic and Washington is on another level in comparison to the other teams in the east.

Let me know if you disagree with any of my predictions. Enjoy your playoff pool and the playoffs everyone!

The ever-changing media landscape

I consider myself pretty old school when it comes to consuming the media. My parents have been print subscribers to the Winnipeg Free Press for as long as I’ve been alive, and I’m probably one of the few 20-somethings who likes to sit down on a Saturday morning and read a print newspaper.

Growing up in the late 90’s and early 2000’s was awesome. I would always be outside running around or playing at the park. I had no idea what a cell phone was. Nowadays, elementary school kids are glued to their cell phones all day long. This is a disturbing trend, but I guess that’s technological progress for you.


Will newscasts such as this one featuring CBC’s Janet Stewart and Mitch Peacock still be around a decade from now?

As I work toward my career goal of becoming a professional sports broadcaster, I’ve increasingly started to wonder about how the direction the media is taking will affect my job prospects. I love being on the air, and I hope to work on TV. I don’t do this often, but sometimes I’ll turn on the local news and watch Shawn Churchill or Kevin Olszewski’s brief sportscast on CTV Winnipeg. And I can’t help but think that these TV segments are becoming obsolete. I mean, who really wants to watch somebody deliver the latest sports news to them when they can go online at their convenience to obtain the same information? While this certainly isn’t my dream job, I think it would be cool to work at a TV station in a smaller market to get some experience early in my career. But if TV anchor jobs are becoming outdated—and I don’t know if they are for sure—then doubt starts to creep into my mind.

Here is an interesting article about the future of sports media.

Watching the Super Bowl on Facebook may be a bit of a stretch, but the writer’s point is well made: Sports broadcasting rights go to the highest bidder and social and digital media are in the best position moving forward. Sports broadcasting sounds great on the surface, but there is a business side to it that I have yet to fully experience, and a lot of these factors—broadcast rights and others—will be out of my control.

I’ve chosen to major in journalism despite all of the questions surrounding the field these days. I understand print journalism is on the decline, but I don’t care. My dream is to work at one of the major sports networks in Toronto, and I’m not going to let bleak outlooks hinder me. But I also understand that in order to give myself the best chance to be successful in the journalism field, I need to learn a wide variety of skills rather than just specialize in one. So while I may have strong writing and on-air presentation skills, my photography, video, and editing skills need to get better.

We’ve talked in journalism class about how in previous eras, journalists only had to worry about writing one story a day. But now, they sometimes have to write three or four stories a day all while taking their own pictures and sometimes shooting and editing their own footage. It appears the journalism profession is becoming multi-faceted, and the onus is on me and anyone else who wants to be successful in this line of work to adapt.

Thoughts on March Madness


Marcus Paige and the Tar Heels are one of the favourites to win it all this year.

I’m not the world’s biggest basketball fan. In fact, I hardly watch any NBA action at all, even in the playoffs. But I became interested in the NCAA tournament about five years ago, and I’ve followed it fairly closely ever since. I don’t watch any college ball during the regular season, but once the playoffs roll around I’m into it. I think that’s the norm for a lot of sports fans out there, especially those who aren’t huge basketball fans to begin with.

Basically, I fill out a bracket with minimal knowledge of any of the schools. Sure, I know Duke is usually a powerhouse that has arguably the best basketball program in the United States, but mostly I am basing my predictions off of the seedings. There are several upsets every year in this wacky tournament, and this makes it near impossible to fill out the perfect bracket. I heard that after the first day of games this year, there were only six perfect brackets left in the world. And lord knows that mine wasn’t one of them.

There’s a couple reasons I like March Madness better than the NBA. First, I like the structure of two 20-minutes halves versus the drawn out four quarters of play. It makes for wilder momentum swings in my opinion and the flow of the game is better. Second, the college kids just don’t handle the pressure as well as the pros. They’ll miss key free throws, and turn the ball over at crucial junctures of the game. This makes for a more entertaining brand of basketball.

In past years, I’ve had a lighter university school schedule and therefore I’ve been able to watch a lot of the games. On the first two days of the tournament, there are games on all day long—reminiscent of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs—and then the schedule naturally gets more spread out. I haven’t had time to watch much of the madness this year, but I did manage to fill out a bracket that was promptly busted.

I hope to attend this unique sporting event in-person one day, or perhaps cover it professionally. As for this year, I like North Carolina to take the title. For all of you readers who know more about basketball than I do, tell me who you think will cut down the nets in Houston on April 4, by posting in the comments section.

A review of Reservations

On Tuesday night, our entire first-year Creative Communications class attended a play at the Rachel Browne Theatre. The play was called Reservations, and it was presented by Theatre Projects Manitoba. Full disclosure, I haven’t been to many plays in my life, at least not in the last decade. However, my older sister took theatre school several years ago at what was then called Fancy Theatre here in Winnipeg. So, as a kid, I watched a lot of the plays she was in.

Anyways, we were given a journalism assignment—this blog post—based on the Reservations play. The play focused on two stories. The first was about a Mennonite farmer who decided to give his farm land back to the original inhabitants—the Siksika Nation, which is a First Nation in southern Alberta. The second was about foster parents of aboriginal children and their conflict with the Aboriginal CFS agency.

I really liked the first story. I thought it was a great idea that created conflict between the farmer and his daughter, as the daughter strongly disagreed with giving the land away. Of course, this whole idea dates back to European colonization and it’s something that will likely never go away in Canada. I think the daughter’s character was meant to embody the typical attitude of somebody who has no regard for what happened in the past. She enjoyed living on the land as a kid, and didn’t care about the wrongs of the past. She didn’t care that the land was essentially stripped from First Nations groups and taken over by white farmers. I think many of us are guilty of this view, including myself. It’s hard to care because colonization happened so long ago. But the farmer’s character was strong because not many people are generous enough to give away land for free—even if it was a philosophical and spiritual decision. I would have liked to have seen a stronger conclusion to this story, as I felt it ended rather abruptly.

On a personal note, my dad is currently trying to sell his farm land that he inherited from his parents, but his brother and sister are not as eager to sell it. I was instantly reminded of this when the play began. These land issues can affect everyone everywhere.

I did not feel the second story was nearly as strong. I found it a lot harder to follow. To me it was just constant arguing between the CFS worker and the foster parents. I understand they were trying to highlight the difficulties that both foster parents and CFS agencies face, but the story didn’t flow logically and was impeded by the father’s career as a university professor. That said, I enjoyed how they used us—the audience—as part of the play toward the end. I thought they effectively created a university scene and I actually felt like I was sitting in a lecture theatre. But the speech went on way too long.

I thought Steven Ratzlaff was the best actor out of the three. I was impressed with how he portrayed three different personas—the farmer, the foster parent and subsequently the professor all within a period of two hours. Yet, during the talkback session, he seemed standoffish and struggled to string two sentences together. Perhaps it wasn’t his fault though, because the talkback session never gained any traction anyway and didn’t enhance my experience at all. Almost all of the questions were asked by people who were not a part of our class and I found it hard to relate to the minimal discussion that did take place.

Since the other plays I have seen are in the distant past, it is impossible to compare this play to them. I didn’t really know what to expect with Reservations. But I will say that it was nice to see a play again. Did it affect me? Well, not really. I wish I could have relaxed and tried to take something meaningful away from the production, but to be perfectly honest, my mind was preoccupied with the fact that I had to go home to work on another assignment that was due at 8 a.m. the next morning.






Brad Gushue’s time has come

Brad Gushue

Brad Gushue is still looking for the first Brier title of his career.

Curler Brad Gushue has had a rough season. And I mean that literally. During a grand slam event in late October, Gushue slipped, fell, and hit his head on the ice. He was taken to hospital and given seven stitches. And yet—channeling his inner Canadian hockey player mentality—he returned to finish the game. I had never seen anything quite like it. These things just don’t happen in curling.

Apart from that unfortunate incident, the Newfoundland skip has had a superb season. His curling career as a whole has been pretty stellar, with the highlight being his 2006 Olympic gold medal from Torino. But for all of his success over the years, there’s one thing missing from his resume. It’s hard to believe, but Brad Gushue has never won the Brier. The closest he got to winning was in 2007 when he lost to Ontario’s Glenn Howard in the final.

At this year’s Brier in Ottawa, Gushue is once again in a position to challenge for the title. He’ll be in the playoffs this weekend, likely facing off against the juggernaut Brad Jacobs team from Northern Ontario in the 1 vs. 2 game. Jacobs is tough, but I have a feeling this is Gushue’s year. With the Brier slated for St. John’s—Gushue’s hometown—next year, it would be fitting to have him wearing Team Canada’s colours as defending champs at that event. It seems like he’s been around forever, but Gushue is still only 35 years old. That’s still young by curling standards. By the way, I think I remember reading that Gushue didn’t start curling until he was 18.

He’ll probably play for another few years at least, but it would be nice to see him hoist the Brier trophy for the first time. Several star athletes across all sports go their whole careers without winning a single championship. Mats Sundin, Milt Stegall, and Roy Halladay come to mind. It’s not fair but that’s how sports is.

Here’s hoping that Brad Gushue wins his first Canadian men’s curling championship this weekend in Ottawa.