Education Reporter, Globe and Mail
Caroline Alphonso, RSJ '00, is the Education Reporter for the Globe and Mail.
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in journalism school?
Exactly what I’m doing now. Not the education beat, necessarily, but being a print journalist. Even in high school, I wanted to write for a newspaper. That didn’t change during my time in journalism school.
How did you arrive at your current position?
I was lucky enough to land a six-week school internship at The Globe and Mail, and then a summer internship. I covered a wide variety of stories, working in Vancouver and then as an investment reporter in the Report on Business section. The education beat opened up at some point and I remember applying for it. I was green and there was a steep learning curve.
What excites you about your job?
I know the issues that I write about deeply affect people’s lives. I take that seriously. The job can be challenging, as with any position in journalism. It is a national beat, but the themes, the issues are similar across the country. This beat allows me to tell stories about the weaknesses in our education system, but also the innovation that comes out of it. The beat also matters personally: I have two children in public schools.
What piece are you most proud of and why?
One of the pieces that I’m most proud of is when I travelled to northwestern Ontario to tell the story of a school board that was changing the graduation trajectory for Indigenous students. That story led to the provincial government providing more money to the program. I’m also proud of a series of stories I recently wrote on special-needs students. It forced an uncomfortable discussion that focused on how the integration of special-needs students with complex behavioural issues into mainstream classrooms over the past decade was not working. The stories prompted a huge response from readers – one that I’ve never had in my career.
What's one of your favourite memories from j-school?
I got to work with some of the best journalists at Ryerson and at The Eyeopener. We became close friends. Many of us worked long hours on the student newspaper, and had so much fun doing so.
What advice would you give to students in j-school today?
I enjoyed my time at Ryerson and in the journalism program. I’m still close with friends I met there. I met my husband there. I came out of the program equipped with the tools I need to do the job, but also knowing that learning happens on the job. I know there is a lot of negativity around the industry, but I think the students in school right now are in an enviable position. With all of the changes in the industry, it is possible that a student will go on to spend a career with an outlet that has only just launched, or that will launch in the next few years. With that in mind, I think it is important to embrace everything – every experience – that is made available to you at school. Try everything. Acquire as many skills and experiences as possible. Go to The Eyeopener. Try your hand at every platform, because who knows what opportunities might arise.