Ross Arbour (external link) , Journalism at The Creative School ‘13, is a Communications Officer at Canadian Space Agency. He was recently a reader’s advisor at Orillia Public Library and also a writer, lineup editor and broadcast producer for CTV National News
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in journalism school?
I wasn’t totally sure, though, at the time, I had done a high school co-op placement at a local newspaper, so print or online felt like the “default” option. Only while I was at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) did I fall in love with television and put all my focus and energy into going that route.
How was your journalism degree and what you learned in school prepared you for life after graduation?
TMU taught me the fundamentals of journalism, as well as some smaller, but practical stuff, like the iNews software we use in the newsroom. I also had some great teachers with invaluable industry experience. Mark Bulgutch, who taught my third-year TV workshop, got me my first real newsroom gig, so there was a very direct launching pad from TMU to my career. We stayed in touch, and he’s still a mentor to this day. He even enlisted me as a TA in his News Studies class!
What are some memorable moments you’ve had since graduating and how did you arrive at your current position?
Well, my very first newsroom job was rolling Peter Mansbridge’s teleprompter at CBC’s The National. I grew up watching him, and I was so nervous! From there, I became an entry-level producer, helping with research, booking interviews, and things of that nature. Eventually, I worked my way up to writer, responsible for the words on that very teleprompter I used to operate. One day, CTV came calling, and I switched teams to write for the CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme. As I got more experience, I covered some of the biggest stories and took on more senior roles, like lineup editor for the weekend show with Sandie Rinaldo. Occasionally, I would fill in for the broadcast producer, entrusted with a lot of responsibility and significant editorial choices.
Recently, I made the difficult decision to leave CTV News after five years to take a job at the library. Journalism was rewarding but ultimately became stressful, especially covering COVID-19 for two years – not to mention the ugliest of humanity (war, crime, terrorism, suffering, injustice, etc). And of course, because I love books!
What’s one of your favourite memories from J-School?
Definitely, my third-year study abroad in Scotland, which was life-changing. I highly recommend going on Exchange if you have the opportunity.
What advice would you give to current journalism students?
In an era of shrinking newsrooms, one way to make yourself indispensable is through great writing. It's a prized skill in any newsroom.
Be careful with social media. I’ve noticed people blurring the lines between journalism and activism online, sharing their personal/political views. Perhaps it’s an old-school mentality, but I was always taught to keep my opinions to myself. On top of that, I’ve seen one ill-considered Tweet ruin careers. So, watch your step in the digital minefield!
Where do you see yourself and your career heading in the future?
I recently accepted a position at the Canadian Space Agency, as a Canadian astronaut is headed to the moon. As a lifelong space fanatic, it’s a huge honour!
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.