Qwoted is committed to exploring the current state of the media by speaking to industry leaders and educating future generations of media professionals. What has social media and technological innovation brought to the table? What can we expect for the future of journalism?
After graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa with a journalism degree, Jennifer Bain spent the following 28 working years at daily newspapers including the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Edmonton Sun, and several others, covering crime and courts. After moving to Hong Kong, Bain began writing about what she calls the “fun stuff”; food, film, fashion, arts, music, and city life for HK Magazine. In 2000, Bain returned home to the Toronto Star as a food editor and columnist, and later as a travel editor. Bain has been a freelance writer since 2018 and now writes for a variety of online publications, newspapers and magazines. She has written two cookbooks, the Toronto Star Cookbook, Buffalo Girl Cooks Bison, and 111 Places in Calgary That You Must Not Miss which is part of a global series of insider guides.
Which aspects of your work do you find the most challenging? The most rewarding?
JB: As a freelancer, it’s a challenge to accept that a significant amount of time is spent pitching stories and that some stories will never find a home. For most of my career, I was on staff and took it for granted that everything I wrote would be published. Now, on the other hand, it’s a relief to not have to worry about newsroom politics and relentless deadlines as a freelance writer.
If there’s one thing you could change or improve about journalism—in any area—what might that be and why?
JB: I would like to see the resurgence of arts, entertainment, lifestyle, food and travel coverage that I feel have been abandoned by many of the legacy media outlets and are contributing to their demise. Newspapers used to be authorities on their cities, and this should include every aspect.
What learnings have made a tremendous difference in your career?
JB: I learned a lot as a section editor at the Toronto Star, and through this experience, I learned to work well with the paper’s many departments and understand each of their needs. By being present throughout the entire publication process, I came to love it, from idea to finished layout, and learned more skills than I would have had I been solely a reporter or editor.
What do you think about the role of technology in journalism? Is it helpful? harmful? Something in between?
JB: The role of technology can go both ways, but is mostly helpful. I came from an age in journalism before the internet and cell phones, where we had to knock on doors and scour “reverse directories” to look up phone numbers. Now, thanks to technology, finding people and information is easy. On the other hand it is important not to become reliant on technology. In journalism school they actually taught us not to tape our interviews, because when you work for daily newspapers and have to produce multiple stories a day, there really isn’t time to be transcribing interviews. I’m grateful that I learned to be comfortable with just a pen and notebook.
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February 14, 2023