If it wasn’t hard enough getting into the field of journalism, it just got harder with the closure of 24 papers in Eastern Ontario, nine of which are in the Ottawa area. When I first started getting interested in the field of journalism two years ago, I knew it was going to be tough, I knew I was going to have to work hard and I knew there would be many struggles along the way — yet I was never worried about how I would be able to make a living in the future.
I was very fortunate to make a series of contacts last year that got me where I am today, yet I knew it’s not where I’d want to stay forever. I always thought of it as a ladder you had to climb. You would start your career in community news, then work your way up to a free daily paper like Metro, and then get your way to Mainstream Media such as the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen/Sun, etc.
Now a big chunk of that ladder is gone and a gaping hole is in your way of reaching your full potential. There are a lot of really good writers out there, yet that no longer gets you your dream job. Community news was not just a way to inform residents of what was going on in their community, yet to give young aspiring journalists a chance to practice in the field and give them the skills needed to write an article you felt proud to produce while following the rules of journalism.
When I published my first print article for the Barrhaven Independent a year ago, I knew nothing about how to write an article, yet thanks to community news, I had the chance to learn from those who are in the field. I still don’t know everything, yet with every article I write, I learn something new.
I’ve often been asked why I cover community news. For me it’s more than just a learning experience. It’s a great way to meet people in your community and it informs residents about what is going on. It also brings out the good in people. When a person’s house burns down, the community rallies together. When a fundraiser is going on, people come in droves to give what they can. I’m hoping this will not be the end to community news. Like Alex Munter did in 1982, I hope others will come forward and start new community papers. I hope more youth will come forward and start gaining an interest in news.
I was 14 turning 15 when I started my own online news network on YouTube. That was two years ago. Since then, I have received more than 72,000 views, more than 50,000 of that in this year alone. If I can do it, anyone can.
Charlie Senack is a young freelance journalist in Ottawa. His interest in journalism came at a young age after visiting the former CTV News studios in 2009. Since then, he has continued to grow his passion for storytelling. In December, he held a successful premiere of Messages from Heaven. You can follow him on twitter @Charlie_Senack or watch him on YouTube at TWIN News.