Kristy Woudstra (external link) , ‘99, is a Features Editor at Broadview Magazine.
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in J-School?
I honestly thought I was going to be a newspaper reporter. Probably because I'm from Barrie, Ont., which is about an hour and a half north of Toronto, and that was all we saw. We didn't see much, I had magazine subscriptions, but they're all in the U.S. TV news didn't interest me as much, so I had the idea of being a hard-nosed investigative newspaper journalist.
How did your vision change from investigative newspaper journalism to magazine journalism?
When I first went to journalism school, I wasn't sure I chose the right thing. I was intimidated by all the other students in the class, who seemed to have it much more together than I did. They were incredible writers and had great investigative instincts, and I thought, 'Oh my goodness, this is maybe not for me. I might not be tough enough for this.' I quickly questioned whether or not newspaper was for me because back then, they streamed us into different media, so when it was our second year, we chose which stream we could apply to and then you were accepted or not accepted. In my second year, one of my magazine professors wrote on one of my assignments and said, ‘this is really great. It's too bad you're not going into magazines, too bad you're going into broadcast.’
Broadcast was my last choice because technology can go all wrong, and you don't have a story for 6 p.m. news, which stressed me. So I went up to him, ‘what are you talking about? I don't want to go into broadcasting.’ He goes, ‘oh, for some reason, I thought that was your focus.’ And I said, ‘you are the first professor to acknowledge that I somewhat belong here. I'm going into magazine.’ That was what made me choose the magazine stream and magazine journalism. So, it was weird that I wanted to become a hard-nosed investigative journalist and ended up coming out as a magazine editor/writer. Not all that different, but it surprised me, at least.
You’ve been at Broadview Magazine for five years, how has that been?
Initially, I was the managing editor. I oversaw digital and features, in front of the book, in production and all that. I loved it. We were revamping the website and the magazine. Jocelyn Bell, (TMU ’00), the editor, and Carol Moskot, the art director, and I, worked together previously. It was so much fun to take apart the whole magazine, start it from the ground up again and think about what we were doing and why we were doing it. Completely deconstructing it and then redesigning it is always the most exciting part. It's so much fun to work on the redesign aspect, but even thinking about using my marketing skills, as well, and thinking about how we can reach new audiences because this is the struggle of all magazines is 'how do we survive?' So that's how I started. I was there just to help redesign the magazine. Every job I go into, I think, ‘oh, you know, let's see how it goes.’ I have no grand delusions of having any job security anymore.
Then before the pandemic hit, my family and I decided to move to Hamilton. When we moved to Hamilton, I knew I wasn't a commuter and didn't want to commute. So I asked to reduce my job because at the time everyone was in the office, I couldn't see how I could manage our staff, the production more than anything else and the whole magazine, if I wasn't there every day. My boss was gracious and let me go down to three days a week, and then I could be the features editor. I still have some involvement in digital and the rest of the magazine, but features are my main focus now.
What advice would you give to current journalism students?
I think some of the best advice I was given was by (Professor Emeritus) Lynn Cunningham, who used to run the magazine journalism stream. I still remember trying to figure out what direction to go in when I was graduating because you're applying to a lot of different jobs. You just want any job, especially in this landscape, people are thankful for any job. I remember her telling me to go where you'll learn or to the job that excites you and if something excites you, and you're going to learn and grow, go there, don't go with a job that you feel you have to take or that might look the best on your resume or anything like that. If something truly inspires you and triggers your creativity or interests, then go for it. That's always been the rule of thumb that I've gone for.
I'm just so impressed with students coming out of all the journalism programs. Honestly, they're far more experienced than I was at that age. I wish they could see themselves through our eyes, those of us who graduated decades ago. We're so impressed by their insight and excitement for journalism because we're a bunch of bitter journalists who are tired and cynical, and when interns come to work with us and give us different perspectives, we're truly inspired. So, don't ever undervalue what you're bringing to the newsroom or the editorial meetings. Don't be afraid to speak up because our best ideas come from our interns.
I think one of my favourite jobs I ever had was at HuffPost, and I was one of the oldest people in the newsroom. I was working with people 20 years younger than me and learning from them every day. It was so inspiring for me and rejuvenated my passion for journalism and for starting different ways of storytelling.
I know it's hard. It is a gig economy, and it’s hard to get those full-time jobs. But, don't be afraid to reach out to editors of magazines or publications that you read, are interested in, and just ask for a meeting, or if you're interested in writing for them, don't be afraid to pitch. Editors are willing to work with new writers, especially since it's hard to find good long-form writers. If someone's interested in long-form writing, I want to hear from them because that's exciting.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Grads at Work is a series of profiles of alums. If you know of a notable grad you’d like to see featured, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.