Old Sock Drawer

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#096: Arts Career Expo 2010

January 30th, 2010 by Mary Leong

Currently listening to: “Diplomat’s Son” – Vampire Weekend

I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Arts Career Expo last night: an evening of panel discussions with notable UBC Arts alumni in a myriad of fields ranging from fine art to international affairs, followed by a mix-and-mingle with the panelists (alongside an absolutely delightful array of refreshments).

First, I sat in on “Working for the People: Careers in the Public Sector”. Like the name states, the focus was on public service and government. Panelists Peter Ladner (former Vancouver city councillor), Sasha Hobbes (Provincial Government), Michael Hunter (Health Canada), and Marko Dekovic (Canadian Strategy Group) shared their insights and ideas into transferring skills from theory and university to public service. Aspiring bureaucrats will do well to heed the advice of the panelists. Involvement, passion, adaptability, and resilience were some of the buzzwords of the night; essentially, summing up to “get really, really involved, work bloody hard, keep striving.”

“An Arts degree trains you how to think,” -Ladner, on the value of a liberal arts degree

“Let go of the academic ego and do the right thing,” -Hobbes, on transitioning from academia to the real world

But more specifically, I’d like to comment in more detail on my next panel session, “In the Limelight: Careers in Media and Communications”. With panelists Dean Pelkey (Fraser Institute), Mike Laanela (CBC Vancouver), and Valeria Casselton (The Vancouver Sun), the topics of discussion surrounded the challenges and opportunities in print journalism, rise of online media and social media, the blogosphere and its impact on news (think The Tyee and The Huffington Post) and to a lesser extent, writing for the corporate world.

“There are a lot of creative people, but they cannot express themselves very well…they cannot write very well.” -Casselton

A particularly fascinating point that came up was the idea that journalism has shifted in recent years to keep up with a more demanding and voracious audience which gleans its news from the Internet and blogs, asking more questions, leading to a rise in follow-up articles. This same demographic also is less likely to pay for news in print form, choosing to seek news for free online instead. This also heralded the rise in citizen journalism, where opinion seems to trump well-researched news – in doing so, bringing up several questions on the role of paid and print journalists – which incidentally, reminds me of this story in Maisonneuve last issue on citizen journalism. The panelists remain confident of the relevance of journalism, citing the need for proper training and efforts at neutrality.

“If you want a legitimate story, you need journalists, not just bloggers.” -Casselton

“[In blogs] people tend to find information that supports their own beliefs and they need newspapers to give an alternate perspective.” -Pelkey, on the need for news media outlets

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