Producer/Reporter, CBC radio
Andrea Bellemare is a producer and journalist at CBC radio.
What drew you to study journalism?
I’m very curious about the world, I like to meet people and I enjoy writing. Journalism combined all of these things, plus you get to ask people very personal questions and they tell you amazing things about themselves.
You are currently a radio reporter and online producer at CBC, what skills do you need to be an effective storyteller and reporter across platforms?
The ability to think critically, the desire to improve your writing fundamentals, and the discipline to self-edit. Being a good writer isn’t just for online or print work. Some of the best writers I know are in radio or TV and they’re masters at conveying complex ideas in just a few sentences. If you can be clear, concise and interesting in three to four sentences for a broadcast, you can bring those same skills to longer formats. It all comes down to writing, no matter your chosen platform.
Do you find that you are learning new skills since you left j-school? If so, how is the changing field helping you develop new skills?
Absolutely. I graduated in 2007 and the industry has changed so much since then. When I was in school we were encouraged not to rely on emails for requesting interviews, because you couldn’t be sure anyone would check their email in time to meet your deadline. Now, it’s the other way around – you can often get a response more quickly by email than by phone. I’ve even booked emails through text messages. As we’ve evolved in what we can do on the internet, that’s opened new doors for new kinds of reporting. I’ve been learning more about data journalism, for example how I can use GIS (geographic information system) tools to find stories.
What platform was your focus while at j-school? (i.e. print? Broadcast? etc.)
I was in the broadcast stream, and chose to do a TV documentary course in my fourth year.
Did you see yourself going into radio originally?
No, I was interested in producing TV. It’s exciting, it’s interesting, and it gives you a great look at the world. I worked for CBC News Network for a few years after I graduated, booking interviews, writing and even working in the control room. I learned so much in a very short amount of time.
What advice would you give journalism students now?
I think it’s tougher for journalists just entering the field now than it was when I graduated because the number of available jobs has shrunk. But, the keys to success are the same. Work hard, show initiative, suggest ideas, pursue your interests and be enthusiastic. Producers love when someone says, “That story didn’t work, but here are two backup ideas.” You don’t need to know how to do everything, and you don’t need to have the answers for everything, but if you’re a quick learner and you try hard and suggest things, that will get you very far.
Anything else you would like to add?
Try new things! The world is a fantastic and wonderful place, and if you’re always curious, it will serve you well.