Principal, Sean Mallen Communications
Sean Mallen, School of Journalism '78, is Principal at Sean Mallen Communications and the author of "Falling For London." He previously spent 29 years as a correspondant at Global News, including two years as European Bureau Chief.
What was your experience like at the university?
In the late ’70s, it was still pretty heavily print-oriented, but broadcast was starting to get established then. I think the teachers were all good (for the most part). They gave you a pretty good grounding and gave you the basics of putting together a news story, whether it be for print or for broadcast. It was a good introduction to the ethics that were involved. As most people will tell you, getting out and actually working in the real world is a little bit different, but you don’t go in as a complete neophyte. They give you at least some sense of what to expect and a greater (sense) about the bigger issues in journalistic ethics.
How did you land your current job?
Editor's note: since this interview, Sean Mallen has become the Principal at Sean Mallen communications.
I’m currently a reporter in the Toronto bureau. I’ve been there since 1985. I started initially as a writer and was pretty quickly a reporter. I had done reporting for the CTV station in Edmonton. Before that I worked at a radio station in Ottawa and I’ve worked at an internship between my second and third year at [the university]. When Global National started, I was one of the first Toronto correspondents there, covered a lot of elections, Ontario elections, a lot of federal elections, stories coast to coast. In 2005, I was asked to come back from national to take over the Queen’s Park bureau and produce and host Focus Ontario. I did that from 2005 to 2011, when I landed the job of Europe bureau chief for Global News, so I moved to London for two years before coming back as a general assignment reporter in the Toronto bureau.
Did you always want to do broadcast?
ANo, not really. When I was coming out of high school, I wasn’t really sure what the hell I wanted to do. But I had an interest in writing and I always watched news and current affairs and public events. So it seemed like a logical thing to do. In the absence of a better idea, I applied to [the university] and just sort of fell into the broadcast side. There seemed to be more opportunities for me in broadcast and those are the jobs I got.
Any advice for journalism students?
Good luck. The job outlook is … It was tough when we were there. When we were graduating, there were a lot more small-town newspapers that hired and smaller market radio stations where someone out of school could work and a lot of those jobs disappeared. I don’t think a lot of internships are there anymore. Print is really suffering now. You probably heard about the Postmedia shutting their Ottawa bureau and the layoffs. It’s no secret they’ve been hammered by online. It’s a difficult outlook now. The only advice I have is become very social-media aware. Be able to shoot and edit your own stories. Be able to do as many things as you can, because the growth is obviously online and there will be more online startups. I think there will be opportunities for those who are good journalists but I don’t know if they are going to pay as much. You have to be flexible and ready to jump on the next Twitter and Facebook or whatever it is. There remains a persistent interest in people who want to know what’s going on in their world. It’s just the way it’s being delivered that is constantly changing, so you have to be able to adapt to that and find the right angle to get yourself into a job.
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