Welcome to my first blog! 

Do you ever wonder what my journalism experience has been like in college? I have the details here.

Beginning

The start I will admit was pretty scary, but I tried to be optimistic at the same time.

I was especially nervous because, in Fall 2014, I dropped out of an Environmental Technology program at Fanshawe after only two months in my first semester because my grades were terrible, even though I did the absolute best I could to prepare myself for everything.

I was worried that I would have a similar experience with Sheridan’s Journalism program since I, after all, need a career path, but I didn’t. 

The camera, editing, and broadcast portions of the program especially made me nervous.

My primary goal is to be a print and digital reporter, but with supportive professors in the more difficult courses who made sure I understood everything, these parts turned out to be easier than I expected. I still am a print guy, though.

First semester

I walked in on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 on the first day, feeling nervous, not knowing anybody, and asking myself  “Can I really do this?”

However, Writing for Broadcast and Social Media as well as News Editing and Camera Part 1 seemed like fun enough courses to keep me engaged. These were my Tuesday classes in the first semester. 

Writing for Broadcast and Social Media teaches you many techniques on how to properly write tweets, clips, voiceovers, teasers, bumpers, and all of the stuff many of you are used to seeing news reporters use when watching the news.

I struggled with my grammar and punctuation, but with a lot of constructive feedback from my professor, I improved a great deal. I got an 88 in this class.

News Editing and Camera Part 1 introduces you to a broadcast camera and an editing software known as Avid.

Since this is not my strong area of journalism, I struggled a great deal at first, especially with Avid, but still managed to get a 79 in this class because I paid attention to detail for the most part.

Also, I went to Brampton with one of my camera group members to cover a dance competition event, which was fun.

Thursday was Fundamentals of Journalism.

I will admit that this was not one of my favourite classes only because it seemed like a social science/university lecture class when I am really into the hands-on journalism stuff.

However, I learned a fair amount, and it was pretty easy to get good marks for the most part. I got an 83 in this class.

Monday was Art of Research.

Unfortunately, because of the infamous Fall 2017 strike and that Labour Day and Thanksgiving Monday limits Monday classes, there were not as many actual lectures. However, the assignments were pretty interesting. This class teaches you how to find sources, experts, and conduct interviews.

What especially stood out to me was when I did my first real interview assignment. I interviewed my cousin-in-law’s cousin who manages several businesses and is passionate with geography, the environment, wake-boarding, and filmmaking.

I made my own powerpoint for this class but unfortunately, the strike prevented us from actually having time to present them.

I got an 86 in this class.

The strike lasted about five weeks from mid-October to the third week of November.

I honestly felt extremely bad for international students and those who wanted to travel to spend extended time with their families for the Christmas break since we only had a week and a half off in late-December.

One of my uncles also passed away from cancer over a week after the strike started, which added even more stress to me.

I was worried about how well we would be able to catch up afterward, but one day at work around when the strike ended, I saw my program coordinator shopping there, and she told me that the professors would do everything to make sure we get back on track.

I will also add that having the last day of the first semester on Jan. 11 seemed extremely bizarre.

Second semester

We only got a week and a half off after the first semester ended.

My first day was on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. My two courses on Tuesdays were Multi-Platform Reporting and Program Production for Broadcast News. I had some of the same classmates from first semester, but many new ones as well.

Multi-Platform Reporting teaches you how to present a story idea in all journalism platforms: Print, broadcast, web, and social media.

My story idea for this class project was a disability organization’s opening of three new campuses in Oakville, Mississauga, and Brampton. It was a fun project, especially filming and taking pictures of all the features the new Oakville Campus has.

I got a 98 in this class.

Program Production for Broadcast News introduces you to control room equipment and how lining up broadcast news works.

This class scared me at first because it was entirely new stuff to me. The weekly news quizzes were especially stressful even when I tried to keep up with the news, but they were thankfully only a small percentage of my grade.

However, we went to a tour at CBC for this class which was a lot of fun.

Doing newscasts were also anxiety-provoking for me, especially since I had a hard time using a teleprompter without scrolling down too fast. However, with supportive instructors and mentors, I gradually got over my fear of working in a broadcast newsroom.

I got an 81 in this class.

CBC control room on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 (Photo credits: Cory Morrison).
CBC control room on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Writing for Print and Web teaches you how to properly write copy for print and online articles.

Because writing is my thing, this was obviously a class I looked forward to on Wednesday every week.

I struggled with a couple of assignments, but it was minor.

I especially liked this class because we did everything in class. I never had to worry about homework.

I got an 89 in this class.

News Editing and Camera Part 2 goes into deeper principles with the stuff we learned in first semester, along with an additional feature as well: Photography. I had this class on Thursdays.

The first half of this class was rocky for me (Excluding the photography part).

My camera group did not do well on our first assignment, but we really made up for it the second time.

One of my classmates interviewed me on what it is like living with autism for the second assignment, and the professors were impressed.

We also did an autobiography editing assignment, which I got an above 90 mark on. This was a big deal to me since Avid was a struggle for me in the first semester.

I got an 82 in this class.

Spring semester

Because my initial plan was to have a lighter course load, one of my professors who I would sometimes meet for long-term goal planning advisement, suggested that I take Design for Media and Digital Storytelling in the spring semester.

She said that these are the courses that are offered most often in the spring, which is why I held them off.

For Design of Media, I would meet with my professor primarily on Tuesdays for a seven-week period.

This course teaches you how to use InDesign and Photoshop to make journalism content, particularly print content, more appealing.

I was nervous about using the programs at first, but my professor made it 10 times easier for me to understand.

I got a 93 in this class.

For Digital Storytelling, I would meet with my professor individually usually on Mondays for a seven-week period. This professor is the program coordinator.

This course teaches you how to use interactive elements in stories and how to visualize information for data journalism.

My professor was so pleased with my “The journey of autism services” multimedia story, that she submitted it for an online publishing award (More on that below).

I got 100 in this class.

The spring semester was obviously a breeze, and I caught up with my journalism peers quickly.

Third semester

Obviously, second-year is a huge jump from first-year. What did this mean? I was extremely overwhelmed for the first three weeks.

My first day was on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. My two courses on Tuesdays were Magazine Writing and Editing and Introduction to Long Format Stories.

Magazine Writing and Editing teaches you how to write feature stories and introduces you to types of leads, the structure of magazine articles, and how magazine designs should look.

I generally had no issues with this class, but I did struggle to find sources for my project at first.

I ended up interviewing one of my family friends for this project.

I got a 97 in this class.

Introduction to Long Format Stories teaches you how to write long-format featured stories and how to create documentaries.

This class was stressful for me at first although I still did everything I could.

On the bright side, I got to go to Guelph with my production group for this class to interview a rapper/musician.

Once the written long-format story part came, I enjoyed the class more.

I got an 82 in this class.

News Production is an eight-hour laboratory class where we get to hands-on create story ideas each week and make articles or broadcast contributions.

We had production day on Wednesdays and story meeting day on Thursdays.

The class divides into two groups: Digital before broadcast and broadcast before digital.

I was on the digital side for the first half of the semester before the broadcast side for the second half.

I was overwhelmed with the demands, but with my ability to perseverate, I managed to accomplish everything that my professors expected. I made several impressive contributions.

The broadcast part was obviously stressful for me since it is hard to find sources who don’t mind being on camera, but I still got through it.

We closed the semester by going to the Toronto Distillery Christmas Market.

Unfortunately, my broadcast group for this project got into a conflict because we were assigned to interview a head person who wasn’t available, but we worked things out in the end.

I got a 92 in this class.

Toronto Christmas Market on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.

Copy editing teaches you how to proofread, fact check, and package articles.

This class was easy for the most part, and the lectures were enjoyable, especially when we talked about freelancing and unlimited opportunities for creating content.

Since it was a Monday fall semester class, the classes were again relatively limited.

I got an 87 in this class.

Canadian Online Publishing Award

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in mid-September, my program coordinator emailed me, and then I called her to hear about the news of judges nominating the article I made in Digital Storytelling. I was depressed at the time, so this was perfect timing.

My parents took me to Boston Pizza to celebrate the news. 

Fast forward to two months later, the ceremony: My program coordinator invited three other past and present professors to the event to see me as well as the Magazine Production class from last year which also got nominated for an award.

My parents also invited some of my relatives on both sides of the family to attend the event. 

Getting nominated out of hundreds of people was impressive, but competing with much more experienced people and winning a silver award was even more impressive.

It was huge, but according to one of my professors, the best part was my speech.

I wrote a speech regarding my feelings about the winning situation, my article content, and thanking my writing professors who helped me develop my skills.

The highlight of this speech was me making a joke about one of my professor’s favourite red pen when editing people’s work. My entire News Production class burst out laughing at that part when we watched the video of my speech the next day, especially since that professor was in the room at the time.

My silver COPA.
My father, John Morrison, and I at the 2018 Canadian Online Publishing Awards in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 (Photo credit: Nancy Fincher-Morrison).

Fourth semester

Surprisingly, I started this semester with little to no overwhelmed feelings. My first class was on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. The class is Sheridan Sun Production. T

his course is like the digital side of the News Production class except we can create journalism content that is not always news. However, there needs to be a news hook for the time it is being published, and there needs to be research to back up any facts we present. We don’t have to interview primary sources as much.

I enjoy this class since I have the opportunity to show my professors what I enjoy doing the most: Writing about the weather, of course. 

February 2019 weather events video (Video credit: Cory Morrison).

I have Online News Production and Ezine Magazine Production on Thursdays.

Online News Production is a massive class project where we all get to make contributions to a theme for our own website.

As a class; after a tedious, long debate one day; we finally agreed to make racism our theme for the site.

I am a researcher and writer for this project, who focuses on the areas of cultural appropriation and environmental racism.

My professor is good at giving me next steps and constructive feedback on my work, which has made it less stressful than I thought it would be.

For Ezine Magazine Production, we get to create a class magazine. I will not mention the name of it here until it comes out.

There is only about 10 or 11 of us in this class, but we have worked well in general to create a magazine.

I am an editor for this magazine and have made one article and its design for it already. I will be making another article in the next few weeks for this class.

Friday is Field Placement Prep Day.

This class gives us information on internships and freelancing.

We have new guest speakers come in every other week to speak to us about what their experiences applying to and working at internships were like.

I have learned a lot of valuable information, even though I am still freaking out about my future.

I got to interview somebody who has a job I would like to have one day for my peer mentor assignment though. Therefore, I am starting to make a lot of professional connections in the real world.

Program social life

Because of my autism and that I get anxious easily in social situations, my social life has still been below average. However, I have gotten along really well with the people in my program for the most part.

They don’t just try to be nice to me because they have to, many of them seem to think I am interesting.

I follow almost all of them on social media, and they follow me as well. 

Not too long ago, one of my classmates hosted a party strictly for second-year Journalism students. The party took place in Georgetown.

I had a blast. My classmates got to see my wild, outgoing side that I never show at school. They also enjoyed pudding shots I brought over to the party. We played a lot of fun games and had a lot of laughs as well.

I didn’t stay overnight, but I still enjoyed it.

Conclusion

As a whole, this has been an impressive past two years. I have met so many great people and learned so many new skills. I can finally say that I have a lot of direction in life.

On another note, I did not take the required Essential Communications course, Politics course or any general electives because I already met these requirements when I took the Sheridan General Arts and Science program several years back.

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