• Local News Conference Register
Ryerson grad students are doing some very cool work. But how often do you talk to peers in other faculties?

The Grads Gab is a chance to eat free food, learn what other students are doing, and talk to new people about new ideas.

Join us for our first session on November 27: Sex↔Psychology↔Journalism↔Theatre


  • Emily Thomas & Stephanie Cosma, PhD candidates in Clinical Psychology.
  • Adam Chen, Master of Journalism candidate.
When: Tuesday, November 27, 2018. 6 p.m.
Where: The Catalyst: Room 230, Rogers Communications Centre.
 All are welcome!

Upcoming information session: Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics

  • Tuesday, October 30 at 4:10 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
    Room 230 (The Catalyst), Rogers Communications Centre

Are you a Master of Journalism student or an early-career working journalist? Learn more about this unique, fully-funded, two-week fellowship where you travel to Germany and Poland to study professional ethics. There are also programs for business, law, medical and seminary students. Come to this information session to learn more and ask questions about the application process.  All are welcome!

More information: http://www.faspe-ethics.org/


The RJRC invites you to the first of its Lunch and Learn series on Thursday, October 25 at 12 p.m.

Bring your lunch and learn about some compelling new journalism research! The lunch and learn will take place in RCC 238AB, which is in the newly-opened Catalyst in the Rogers Communications Centre.

RJRC’s academic director Joyce Smith will be talking about her research: Healing and Headlines: The reporting of Indigenous spiritual practices during Canadian reconciliation inquiries. 
This research project looks at how reporting conveys aspects of Indigenous religious and spiritual practices, and suggests ways in which such coverage can act as a means of reconciliation itself.

Please join us!

By Rhianna Jackson-Kelso

As funding and resources dwindle, the future of investigative journalism in Canada rests in the hands of student journalists, say experts in the field.

Robert Cribb, an investigative reporter with the Toronto Star, and Patti Sonntag, director of the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia University, stressed in a recent talk moderated by Ryerson professor Lisa Taylor (co-hosted by the Centre for Free Expression and the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre), that journalists must adapt to industry hardships by learning how to pool resources. Despite the ability of investigative journalism to uncover matters of substantial public interest, its costly nature and the lack of certainty that an investigation will culminate in a story makes it particularly vulnerable to budget cuts.

“If you’re an accountant working for a major media organization, it’s very simple … to determine which is the first thing to go,” says Cribb. “And so the state of investigative journalism in this country is dire.”

Increasingly, Canadian news organizations have been combating financial hardships by working together on investigative projects, like the recent CBC News/Toronto Star joint investigation into Ticketmaster’s secret scalper program. While inter-organization competition and protectiveness over information has historically been the norm, collaboration is becoming more common.

“Our absolutely world class university systems can form the backbone of reporting in Canada.”

“In the United States and other countries, collaboration is becoming the backbone of regional reporting in many areas,” says Sonntag, referencing the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, collaborative projects undertaken by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “The question that we have been asking is why isn’t this catching on in Canada?”

Canada, with its low population density and resulting weaker concentration of news organizations, struggles to match the collaborative efforts arising in other countries, says Sonntag. She also referenced the growing “culture of silence” in Canada, where communities underrepresented by news organizations are increasingly not having their problems aired.

But Cribb and Sonntag, who both teach journalism classes in addition to their professional work, say this has a solution: student journalism.

“Our absolutely world class university systems can form the backbone of reporting in Canada,” says Sonntag. “If [journalism schools] work together with news organizations, we can form a network that can support regional reporting and democratic processes that are so vital.”

Patti Sonntag, director of the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia University, and Robert Cribb, investigative reporter at the Toronto Star.


New reporting network leads to award-winning investigation

Cribb, who teaches an investigative reporting class at the Ryerson School of Journalism, spoke about how his years working with students on investigative projects gave him the idea to found the National Student Investigative Reporting Network (NSIRN), in 2016:

“At the end of term we would have this remarkable body of work on matters of vital public importance, and then I would grade them and then we would throw them away,” he says. “It made no sense.”

NSIRN, at which Cribb and Sonntag are co-directors, takes the form of a 13-week course, where students from across Canada partner with media organizations to report on a problem of national importance. The network’s first project, “The Price of Oil,” was an award-winning collaboration between more than 50 journalists, editors, students and teachers that probed into issues surrounding government oversight of the oil and gas industry in Saskatchewan and Ontario. According to NSIRN’s website, the project marked the largest journalistic collaboration ever undertaken in Canada, and Cribb and Sonntag say this is just the beginning.

“At the end of term we would have this remarkable body of work on matters of vital public importance, and then I would grade them and then we would throw them away.”

“This is a national resource, this network of universities that we have,” says Sonntag, stressing that the project is intended to incorporate participation from the public. NSIRN is forming a national editorial board which will take pitches each January from schools, media organizations and members of the public about which issues should be investigated next, says Sonntag.

While collaboration has its downsides – Cribb cites navigating the feelings and opinions of 50 passionate journalists a major learning curve, and Sonntag stresses the importance of having a team dedicated to facilitating the collaboration – Cribb and Sonntag say this model is the best way to ensure a strong, varied investigative journalism scene in Canada.

“What we don’t talk about is the human value of the work that we do,” says Cribb. “These [investigative] stories have a tremendous impact, and that can’t be lost.”

Staff reporter

July 20, 2018

Ryerson School of Journalism assistant professor Joyce Smith will be the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre’s new academic director starting August 2018.

Joyce Smith, a researcher and associate professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism (RSJ), says she is excited to promote student and public engagement with journalism research as the new academic director of the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre (RJRC). 

“We’re here to support the education of young journalists, but we’re also here to support the work done by journalists who are mid-career and further on. And, perhaps more importantly than ever given the state of journalism and fake news, [we’re here] to help the public understand the practice of journalism,” Smith said.

“The nature of journalism is public, so it is important that we act as that bridge between academics, practitioners, and the public.”

Smith will succeed founding director April Lindgren as of Aug. 1. Lindgren has led the RJRC since it was launched in 2011 in response to a 2005 report on Canadian News Media by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. The committee had recommended the establishment of a “permanent, full-time research centre devoted to the study of the Canadian news media.” Today, the RJRC supports 14 researchers in their study of journalism issues ranging from source diversity to press freedom and the challenges faced by local news outlets. Lindgren will become the RSJ’s Velma Rogers Research Chair effective Aug. 1.

“It’s a really exciting time for journalism research,” says Smith. “One of the best things about the RJRC is that we’re not just doing critique for critique’s sake or research for research’s sake – the research is almost always aimed at trying to improve the practice of journalism.”

Promoting this research will include continued collaboration with other centres at Ryerson, she says. This year, the RJRC partnered with Ryerson’s Centre for Fashion Diversity and Social Change to host a public panel on how fashion journalism can drive social change by critically examining issues such as body image and representation, diversity and gender expression.

Smith’s own research focus is the representation of religion in news media. Appearing in the RJRC’s recently published online journal, The Future of Local News, is her academic article on the historical and current connections between local journalism and religious and secular charities.

Smith says she is particularly interested in promoting research into and opportunities for journalism supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. She will present a paper on the reporting of Indigenous spirituality during Canadian reconciliation inquiries at the 2018 conference for the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture.

“It’s a real luxury to have the time to analyze the patterns and the ecosystems journalists work and live in, since people actually doing daily journalism have different demands on their time,” she says.

Smith joined the Ryerson School of Journalism in 2001 after serving as features editor and a founding member of the breaking news team for the globeandmail.com. Her academic background includes a PhD dissertation analyzing the reporting of religion during the 1994 South African elections, as well as a Rockefeller Fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion.

She was the original director of the RSJ’s online journalism program, the interim director (2008-2009) and director (2010-2013) of the School’s Master of Journalism program, and continues to serve on the Ryerson University Research Ethics Board. Smith has also been a member of the board of directors for the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture.