Maham Abedi, ‘14, is a Network Managing Editor at Global News (external link) .
What has your career been like since graduating in 2014?
When I graduated, I had just finished an internship at HuffPost Canada. I ended up getting a job at HuffPost as a front-page editor. HuffPost no longer exists in Canada, but back then, it was one of the biggest news websites in Canada, and it was very progressive, very much along the lines of the kind of journalism I wanted to do. So I spent about three years of my career there, then I moved on to Global News, where I was an online reporter. So, I primarily wrote for the website, breaking news content as well as the occasional features. And then I moved on to CBC as a senior producer for digital, spent a few months at CBC, then I came back to Global, and now I'm a network managing editor at Global, so I've moved around quite a bit.
How has your journalism degree and what you learned in school prepared you for your current career?
I learned the foundations of journalism at j-school that have stuck with me throughout my career, (such as) CP Style - something that I use every day in my job now. Or journalism ethics, knowing what a publication ban is or knowing when to name a source and when it is okay not to name a source. It seems like they're quite basic things, but I could give dozens of more examples of things I just learned in j-school that I use daily. I think just knowing what good journalism is and detecting the story is something I also learned in j-school.
So, it's countless kinds of things I do daily that I can trace back to some of the instructors that I've had and some of the advice I've been given by those instructors or even mentors. It is possible to be a journalist, be successful, and have a great career without j-school, but to me, had I not gone to j-school and started journalism, there would have been a huge learning curve that didn't exist because I had that foundation.
What is one of your favourite parts of being a network managing editor?
My favourite part of my current job is working with reporters. A lot of reporters tend to be quite enthusiastic about their jobs. They'll come in with pitches and I love hearing their ideas and where they want to take stories. I love workshopping and brainstorming with them and I love the process of starting with something that's maybe just a question like, ‘Hey, I wonder how this new law impacts this one group?’ And then you talk to them about it and you see them go through the process of forming that into a real news story that could do well online or on broadcast and then seeing the final product. It's rewarding, it has to be the favourite part of my current job as a managing editor, but it was also my favourite part of being a reporter to have that kind of initial lightbulb idea and then see it through.
Do you have any advice for current students or recent graduates who are still making their path in journalism?
My main advice is two things: the first is to be persistent; there will be opportunities at the beginning of your career that are typically quite challenging. It takes a while to break into this field and truly get the job you want. If you're lucky, you might get that job right away. For most people, that doesn't happen. It takes a lot of persistence and patience. It was true for me too. I was fortunate to get a job at HuffPost, which was the organization that I wanted to work at as a student, but at the same time, for three years, I did weekends and evenings, and I gave up a lot to get my foot in the door. So, that would be the first, and the second is that this industry can be gruelling. One of the aspects is that it takes so long to find your place in the industry.
The second is just the reality that news can be heavy sometimes, there can be controversies within the industry, and there can be issues that you deal with, whether that's trying to cover the stories that you care about versus managing expectations from your editor. So there's a lot and it can be difficult on your mental health. So those are always my two. Be persistent with your goals and keep working toward them, but also take care of your mental health and take breaks when you need to.
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