Attention all CUPpies, it’s time to redesign

CUPpies [noun]: the name given to student journalists, delegates or staff members once or currently affiliated with the Canadian University Press (CUP), a national, non-profit co-operative, owned and operated by more than 80 student newspapers from coast to coast. If you’re a CUPpie, you’re a CUPpie for life.
Now that you are fully aware CUPpies aren’t some adorable (or terrifying- you be the judge) cross breed between a cat and puppy, I will gladly tell you all about this past weekend, which was spent among hundreds of CUPpies at the 75th annual national conference, NASH75.
Alternating locations each year, CUP hosted NASH75 at the Delta Chelsea in Toronto, where 75 years of supporting journalists was celebrated over five days of workshops, panels, newsroom tours, gala events and keynote speakers.
Not only were the past 75 years celebrated, but the next 75 were as well. This year, the theme of NASH was REDESIGN, which was intended to encourage CUPpies to acknowledge just how far media has come over the past few decades. In a forever-changing industry, it is important that those involved change with it, always building upon skills in writing, photography, editing – always redesigning.
CUP President Sam Brooks and National Bureau Chief Arshy Mann, along with Coordinators Emma Godmere and Bryn Ossington, were responsible for this year’s jam-packed conference and schedule, which included (but was in no way limited to) several hands-on workshops, design critiques with some of the most well-known individuals within the industry and a gala celebration in the middle of the Canadian Broadcasting Centre (CBC) building with Master of Ceremonies, Canadian news anchor and host of CBC News Now, Heather Hiscox.
Since The Brock Press is a member of CUP, External News Editor Jordan Nunziato and I attended the conference as delegates, both first-timers. To say the least, we were overwhelmed by the hectic schedule and happenings that occurred all day, every day. Our inability to navigate our way around the Delta Chelsea was only the beginning of our anxiety, never mind ensuring that we were reading schedules correctly, attending all of the necessary seminars and hopping on the right buses.
However, it is only now looking back that I realize just how much that conference and all of it’s events more or less imitated the life and career of a journalist; having to be all over the place all the time, running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, barely sleeping, staying fueled by caffeine, meeting a bunch of new faces, constantly asking questions, representing a publication and of course, writing whenever possible.
At this year’s conference, there were numerous well-known individuals within the journalism industry who attended as guests and shared their stories of experience and knowledge with CUPpies. Some of the speakers included, Bruce Arthur (National Post), Chris Jones (Esquire), Kate Beaton (Hark!), James Keast (Exclaim!), Nick Taylor-Vaisey (Maclean’s), Kate Heartfield (Ottawa Citizen), Matt Frehner (The Globe and Mail) and Shawn Jeffords (Toronto Sun).
On the first evening of NASH75, formal-dressed CUPpies attended a swanky gala at the CBC headquarters where hors d’oeuvres and wine were served.
CUP President Brooks and National Bureau Chief Mann welcomed all those in attendance and spoke briefly about the reputation of CUP and how it is our duty as present-day CUPpies to keep the NASH tradition alive. To end their greeting, Brooks highlighted the common thread that connected all of us in the room that night.
“I always say that anyone who works at a University newspaper must be a little weird, and everyone of us have that in common. So, here’s to being a bunch of lovable, creative and passionate misfits,” said Brooks.
If simply being at the CBC with other creative minds wasn’t enough of a treat, meeting and sharing the evening with actual established journalists was truly something special.
Personally speaking, I was “star-struck” in a sense to see Heather Hiscox casually standing around. This is a woman who I am used to seeing on my television screen at 6:00 a.m. as I drink my coffee and get ready to catch the bus. For the record, she is even more beautiful in person and is hands down one of the most eloquent speakers I have ever had the privilege of hearing. Meeting and getting my photo taken with her was one of the many highlights of my NASH experience.
With each different speaker throughout the week, was a personal story of experience, challenges and triumph. Whether it was the difficulty faced getting their feet wet post-grad, how they found their own unique voice in writing or an outlet that allowed them to do so, catering to the right audience or just keeping their passion alive, each speaker brought a new approach to the table. In the end, one thing was clear: each and every one of these speakers regarded journalism as their labour of love.
National Post sports columnist and regular contributor to The Reporters on TSN and TSN Radio, Bruce Arthur (who was named the country’s best sports writer in 2012 by Sports Media Canada and is on the top one hundred followed Tweeters), was also a speaker at NASH75. Arthur admitted that if not for journalism he does not know what would have become of his life. His career has blossomed into a life revolved around travel and encounters with talented individuals who he then writes about. When asked what he would do differently, Arthur replied, “absolutely nothing”. Arthur then praised CUPpies for their passion and ended on an encouraging note, pushing CUPpies to chase after this kind of life if it is what is truly longed for.
“Think about it, the next big names in the journalism industry are standing in this room right now,” said Arthur.
In retrospect, I cannot recall a single time when us CUPpies were made out to feel anything but inspired and empowered. Then again, I don’t think you can feel anything but when you’re having dinner while listening to Amanda Lang-CBC’s senior business correspondent and co-host of The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, a daily business program airing on the CBC News Network-speak on stage.
Lang was confident with her use of the word “innovative”, as she applied it to the generation of young journalists who sat before her. Using her high-tech and advanced toaster at home as a metaphor, Lang compared it to our advanced day and age and forever-changing society that calls for innovative minds. Lang encouraged CUPpies to never stop asking why in life, to resort back to what she called our “toddler selves”, and be curious about the World because curiosity is what makes being innovative possible.
During my time spent at NASH75, I was fully aware of what a privilege it was to be there. It’s not every day a young and aspiring journalist wakes up in a four star hotel, enjoys gourmet meals and then picks and chooses what seminars led my industry leaders to attend that day (perhaps, ‘Crafting Columns: Ivor Tossell of Maclean’s discusses ways to strengthen and sharpen opinion writing skills’, or, ‘Music Writer’s Panel: Reviewing, relishing, and redefining music in Canada, with James Keast, EIC of Exclaim!’.) Opportunities were bursting at the seams of NASH75 and I am truly thankful for my experience there as a Brock Press delegate.
CUP President Brooks said something that stuck with me at NASH75 and I find myself thinking about it still. I think the entire experience was worthwhile as soon as these words of his sunk in and inspired me.
“Many of the industry’s best and brightest started out in the mastheads and bylines of their University papers,” said Brooks.
There is something remarkable about knowing that something exists simply because you willed it to. I am fortunate because this is something I get to experience week after week with my Brock Press family. Somehow, the lack of sleep, reliance on caffeine, hours spent transcribing, interviewing, organizing and writing all fades away once I am holding The Brock Press on Tuesday mornings. From now on, when that moment occurs, all I will think are three words: labour of love.  

Pin It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>