Journalism programs from postsecondary schools across Canada have joined together to create J-Schools Canada, an organization meant to promote Canadian journalism education and collaboration among programs.
Susan Harada, associate director of Carleton University’s school of journalism and communications, spearheaded its creation. She said the idea for the organization came from a few journalism educators during a Canadian Communication Association conference a few years ago. She credits Ivor Shapiro, associate dean of undergraduate education and student affairs at Ryerson University’s faculty of communication and design, with first proposing the professional network.
“At a time when journalism is being challenged, Ivor thought that we should try to make some kind of pan-Canadian … organization that would bring journalism schools together,” Ms. Harada said.
According to Charles Hays, program coordinator for Thompson Rivers University’s journalism program and a member of J-Schools’ interim organizing committee, this new network is the first Canadian organization to do that.
Before J-Schools Canada “there wasn’t an organization that really spoke to, or for, or about Canadian journalism education,” Dr. Hays said. He noted that up until now, journalism educators would meet at the Canadian Communication Association conference once a year and then part ways.
He said it’s especially important for journalism educators to have cross-country connections to identify common issues across programs while also respecting different legal, political and cultural contexts found across provinces and regions.
“Our students go and work all over Canada and if we just teach them our own regional perspective, I don’t think we’re serving them well,” Dr. Hays said.
For Mark Hamilton, chair of the journalism and communication studies program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, a J-Schools Canada member, one of the main draws for joining the organization was its links to J-Source, a trade website dedicated to providing news, research, and industry-related information for journalism professionals, scholars and students. J-Schools Canada produces and supports the website, and members will get access to a special section covering journalism education and pedagogy. Ms. Harada said the members-only section is currently in development.
The site is also accepting pitches for paid reporting assignments and republished content from students attending J-Schools Canada member institutions, and members can advertise on J-Source for no extra cost.
J-Schools Canada members currently include Carleton, Kwantlen, Ryerson, Algonquin College, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the College of the North Atlantic, Lethbridge College, Mount Royal University, the University of British Columbia, the University of King’s College, the University of Ottawa, the University of Regina, the University of Toronto, and Wilfrid Laurier University.
Any postsecondary journalism program can become a member of the association, which will formalize its governing structure at the annual meeting of the Canadian Communication Association in June (held as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which this year is in Vancouver).