This year’s Minifie Lecture drew an impressive crowd to the University of Regina as guest speaker Jana Pruden, an award winning reporter and feature writer at the Globe and Mail, gave an inspiring and entertaining talk.
Pruden was elated to be presented with the opportunity to speak at the 39th annual Minifie Lecture.
“It was really exciting and really an honor,” said Pruden. “There’re so many amazing journalists who have given this talk and so many other amazing journals that could get it. I just felt really, really honoured to be asked.”
Pruden spoke on the “good old days” of journalism and analyzed whether those days were as good as she was told.
“Spoiler alert they weren’t,” said Pruden. “I think one of the things that really strikes me is that when you look back at the history of journalism, there’s these very common themes that come up over and over again, public distrust, instability of journalism as a business. You know, questions of ethics and accuracy and objectivity.”
The event was presented by the School of Journalism. This year was the first year that the event was live streamed.
“I thought it went great,” said Mark Taylor, department head at U of R’s School of Journalism. “I think it was a huge success … And I just got lots and lots of good, good feedback from it. Jana is kind of exactly what I had hoped she would be when I approached her to do this.”
Pruden spoke on the ways journalists can solve the problems journalism has been carrying for a really long time.
“I think there’s some really big opportunities in this very painful time to look at how we are going to move forward,” said Pruden. “With newsrooms that really do represent the communities that we serve, with relationships with the public, where they understand and trust us, where we ourselves are accountable to our mistakes.
“What I hoped to do with the talk is to really look back on where we’ve come from and look towards where we’re going. When I got into journalism, people were always telling me that this business was dead and dying … And I know that’s the message that we hear now.”
Pruden does not doubt the journalism field is facing challenges today.
“There’s a lot of different technologies that we’re dealing with and funding models,” said Pruden. “Those are a couple of our biggest challenges as the technologies have disrupted our previous funding models. So, we need to figure out how we’re going to make our money.”
The challenges in journalism do not hinder Pruden’s optimism for the future of the profession.
“I think there is a future for journalism and that it can be better than any of the journalism that happened,” said Pruden. “I think that the people who are coming up in journalism will have to be the best journalists ever in history. That means being the most accurate, being the most careful about not making mistakes, being the most accountable to readers. You know, having the toughest skin.
“My advice to young journalists [is] to really know that this work matters, that it’s important and that your voice matters and is important.”
Pruden states that mentorship is an invaluable resource to aspiring journalists.
“Her message again, it was sobering,” said Taylor. “It was entertaining. It was inspiring … I really like what she said, that we need to be better. I think that was a brave thing to say. And it’s very true that journalists need to be better.”
Pruden’s talk received a standing ovation. Members of the crowd gave mainly positive feedback during question and answers following the lecture.
“I think that journalism [is] probably the most important profession on the planet in many ways,” said audience member David Wessel. “Jana’s talk, I think she really got at that tension between journalism being a very, very difficult profession. But there’s joy in being able to tell people’s stories.”