Brittany Devenyi, RSJ '13, is a Digital Strategist at the Food Network and HGTV Canada. This interview was conducted when she was Editor of Foodnetwork.ca.
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in journalism school?
Print. I’ve always gravitated toward the written word, and pictured myself working in the magazine industry in particular.
How did that vision change as the years went by?
Throughout my years in J-school, I took on a few editorial internships for various lifestyle publications (like ELLE Canada and the now defunct Glow Magazine). The magazine environment, filled with creative minds reviewing glossy pages and conceiving new ideas, inspired me from day one. But I also realized that it was a troubled time for print. So I expanded my skillset, contributing to various digital publications, before becoming the assistant editor at Style at Home magazine, where I worked on both its print and online platforms. The best of both worlds!
How did you arrive at your current position?
I’m currently working as the editor for foodnetwork.ca, external link in Toronto, and have held the position for just about two and a half years. I joined Corus Entertainment, its parent company, as an editor for HGTV.ca, external link thanks to my home decor and lifestyle background coupled with my digital experience. My inherent interest in all things food (I’m that person who Googles every restaurant opening and gets over-the-top excited about a new food product) eventually led me to my current position. It’s the perfect fit, and I couldn’t be happier.
What is a typical day like for you?
No day is ever the same (it’s a beautiful thing, really!) and our industry is more fast-paced than ever before, so prioritization is so important. I create our content plan each month, manage our roster of freelancers and recipe developers, edit content, write content, oversee the site homepage, execute sales campaigns, amongst other daily tasks. The average day also consists of a few meetings, relating to anything from sales projects to content brainstorms.
Thinking back to your first year self, how do you think they would react to where you are now?
My first-year self would give my current self a big pat on the back, and would also spend more time dabbling in Toronto’s food scene as “future research”. In all seriousness, I’d be proud. It’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day, but it’s so important to reflect and remind yourself how far you’ve come.
What's your favourite part of your job?
Drooling over new recipes every day? A definite highlight. I love the fact that I get to create engaging content every day, in hopes of inspiring our readers, which often extends beyond the kitchen. That idea of crafting an article so it resonates with someone else, and packaging it in a manner that’s innovative and influential, is what made me fall in love with print in the first place. I’ve just applied it to a different medium.
How has your journalism degree and what you learned in school prepared you for your current career?
From week one, when our first assignment was conducting “streeter” interviews before writing a news article, I asked myself if I was serious about the program. Thankfully, the answer was yes. It taught me so much: to be meticulous with every task at hand (fact-checking and grammar included), to be resilient (if one opportunity doesn’t work out, another one will), to know what it means to be driven, and to become a compelling storyteller - because anyone can report on facts, but it’s how you convey those facts that resonates.
Can you talk about one of the biggest accomplishments so far?
This is a tough one. I think I’d have to say editing an entire magazine with only one other staff member, while the remainder of our team happened to be either sick that week or on mat leave. We pulled a few extra-late nights, but going through the process and making big decisions on the fly was an incredible learning experience. Spoiler: we succeeded unscathed!
What do you think the RSJ experience offers that you can’t get anywhere else?
The hands-on experience you gain, not to mention the faculty of professors who have so much experience in the field, is hard to beat. Example: In my final year, I joined the RRJ and wrote about the Margaret Wente plagiarism scandal, external link with two fellow students. Without the guidance from our prof (shout out to Lynn Cunningham!) and skillset I developed, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to take on such a piece.
What's one of your favourite memories from j-school?
So many! It’s a tie between interviewing a raw milk crusader at his farm in Durham, Ontario (read all about it here!, external link) and going on exchange to Perth, Australia. Okay one more: working on the RRJ in fourth year created such a bond between all of us on the student masthead. I miss our J-school family!
Any memorable RSJ professors during your time at Ryerson?
Lynn Cunningham (see above for RRJ reference). I learned so much from her. She’s an incredible editor, a talented writer and a brilliant teacher.
What advice would you give to current journalism students?
You’ve already been accepted into the program (congrats, by the way!) so I imagine that means you’re a pretty driven individual who is hungry for experience. Stay inspired, but also focus on what’s right in front of you: soak in what you’re currently working on and learning. Don’t worry about what’s next yet. You have your whole life and career ahead of you. Also, I know the media landscape seems a bit turbulent and scary right now, but that’s just because it’s changing. There are jobs out there. Good ones. I promise!