Katie headshot – Maailah Blackwood

When I first walked into the Gazette office over four years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. I’d been encouraged to volunteer by a friend, but had no intentions of seriously pursuing journalism.

That spring, I asked another friend whether or not I should apply to be a news editor for the following year. While he told me I should, I hesitated — I wanted it too much to risk not getting the job.

Somewhere in the piles of briefs and stories I’d spent the year writing, I found myself hopelessly and irreversibly hooked.

Applying was a risk I took not knowing what I would ultimately get out of the experience, and now I find myself on the other side of my Gazette career ironically struggling to find the words to describe the years I spent writing every day.

As a starry-eyed first-year news editor, I remembered excitedly telling my father about an upcoming interview with Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, and his response stuck with me: we were punching above our weight class. I was offended at the time, but later I realized just how true it was. The Gazette has given me incredible opportunities I earned simply by showing up and putting in the time.

I’ve had the incredible privilege of covering rallies for political figures such as Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair. I’ve interviewed a sitting premier and covered the disqualification of the winning USC presidential slate. I’ve gained experience as a manager at 22 years old. Among the Gazette’s astronomical highs, we’ve had lows as well: too many students passed away while I was in the newsroom.

All of the ups and downs came from one spontaneous risk.

University students are incredibly pressed for time. Balancing course loads with social lives and extracurriculars, it’s no surprise that we often ask what we’ll get in return. This year has taught me that it’s alright to take a risk without knowing what will come of it. While this is the end of my journalistic career, I’ve learned more about writing and work than any class has offered. I’ve learned more about myself than I could have imagined. And above all, I’ve had the honour of making lifelong friends here.

The student journalists I’ve shared a newsroom with absolutely cannot be doing this job for anything less than an illogical passion for journalism, whichever aspect grabs them and refuses to let go. For me, that was arming students with information — making the inaccessible accessible and telling stories.

I couldn’t have known any of this was possible the day I first walked into the office. The university experience is a unique point in our lives we’ll never get again, so make the most of it. Take risks. Try new things. Give a bit of your time to somewhere you hadn’t anticipated — you never know what you’ll get back.


Katie is the Print Managing Editor for volume 110 of The Gazette. Previously, she was a news editor for volumes 109 and 108 of The Gazette and a staff writer for volume 107.

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