In 1945, returning veterans at the 
end of World War II caused enrolment to almost double at the University of Saskatchewan. As a junior college, 
the U of S Regina Campus began offering first-year engineering courses to help alleviate overcrowding at the northern institution. This year marks the 75th anniversary of what is now known as the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

An uncanny quiet descended over the globe in mid-March of this year, as governments and public health agencies everywhere issued stay-at-home orders in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Activities on the usually bustling campus of the University of Regina came to an abrupt halt, disrupting the familiar rhythms of the school year. The sudden and unexpected end to in-person classes and the transition to online course delivery came as the U of R’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science was marking its 75th anniversary.

“Within a week everything changed,” is how Nicole Rodgers, a fourth-year Environmental Systems Engineering student and president of the Regina Engineering Students’ Society (RESS), sums it up. The story of the lockdown and the ensuing transition to online learning will become another memorable milestone in the history of the engineering program in Regina at some future date. In the immediate aftermath of the lockdown, however, the focus for students and academic staff members was on adapting to teaching and learning in new ways. Rodgers and her fellow students shared many uncertainties: how courses and labs would be delivered; how assignments would be completed; and the status of the classes they were currently completing. “I was wondering what all of that would look like,” she says.

Nicole Rodgers, a fourth-year Environmental Systems Engineering student and president of the Regina Engineering Students’ Society.
Nicole Rodgers, a fourth-year Environmental Systems Engineering student and president of the Regina Engineering Students’ Society.

Esam Hussein, dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, faced those same questions. He and fellow faculty members held a series of online meetings to discuss how to adjust best practices in teaching, assessing, examining and monitoring attendance using platforms like Zoom. The Faculty’s Academic Assembly, now conducted online, regularly discusses methods of course delivery and lab work. “We learned how better to prepare exams and quizzes, and how to design projects for our students,” Hussein notes.

Dean Esam Hussein the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
Dean Esam Hussein the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

After organizing a quick pivot to online course delivery, David deMontigny BASc’96, MASc’98, PhD’04, the associate dean (Academic), led an online town hall with students to explain how their courses would be delivered and to answer their questions.

One of the immediate decisions he had to make, Hussein explains, was either to cancel Project Day—an important event for fourth-year students, and their family and friends—or offer it in a modified form. Project Day is usually a one-day public event where students present their final-year design projects, known as capstone projects, in concurrent sessions. Hussein decided to cancel the face-to-face event and asked each of the five program chairs to devise a way to hold Project Day at 
a program level. This year, student presentations were hosted online and spread over several days, with practicing engineers helping evaluate the projects. “The program chairs handled it very well,” Hussein says. “We will likely handle Project Day that way until it is safe to return to face-to-face.”

In 1934, Regina College affiliated with the U of S and was renamed University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. It was in this role as a junior college that it began offering first-year engineering courses in 1945-46 to help alleviate overcrowding at the University of Saskatchewan.

One of the questions faced by people everywhere, of course, is what happens when you don’t have that face-to-face interaction with people outside your immediate circle? The Faculty is doing whatever it can to build community by encouraging meaningful interactions between students and staff, and among students, Hussein says. Rodgers admits she misses being around her classmates and having informal chats with her professors after class. As RESS president, she has led the efforts to move events online to promote the social aspect of university life. “It is important, especially for first-year students, to make those connections,” she says.

Despite the pandemic, the Regina Engineering Students’ Society continued to organize activities, including the September Engineering 1-4 event, where practicing engineers provided students with information about their work experiences and advice on job hunting.

The next major advance occurred in 1966, when Regina Campus began offering second-year courses under the aegis 
of the newly-created College of Engineering (re-named later 
as the Faculty of Engineering).

The pandemic is by far the greatest challenge the Faculty has faced in its history, but certainly not the only one. Growing up in the shadow of the larger program in Saskatoon, the U of R Engineering program has had to work hard to build its own identity. The U of R traces its origins to Regina College, which was established in 1911 as a residential high school. In 1934, Regina College affiliated with the U of S and was renamed University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. It was in this role as a junior college that it began offering first-year engineering courses in 1945-46 to help alleviate overcrowding at the University of Saskatchewan. The influx of returning veterans at the end of World War II had caused enrolment to double almost overnight. Under this arrangement, students in Regina still had to move to Saskatoon to complete their degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

The next major advance occurred in 1966, when Regina Campus began offering second-year courses under the aegis 
of the newly-created College of Engineering (re-named later 
as the Faculty of Engineering). Included with this move was 
a promise that third and fourth-year courses would be added at some indeterminate future date when an engineering building was built. At the time, classes were held on what is now the College Avenue Campus, which consisted of the original College Building and a few other buildings added later.

Harald Berwald began working in what was called the Science Building on the original campus in 1971. He was a tool and die maker, responsible for designing, building and creating devices or apparatus needed by professors, researchers or lab instructors to explain concepts or develop projects. The shop was so under-equipped at first that Berwald brought his own tools from home. He retired 43 years later, having witnessed decades of changes in the Faculty and the University. “It was interesting work with interesting people,” Berwald says, “although sometimes what 
I had to work with—literally—was a sketch on a napkin.”

Harald Berwald began working in what was called the Science Building on the original campus in 1971. He retired 43 years later. (Photo by Don Hall)
Harald Berwald began working in what was called the Science Building on the original campus in 1971. He retired 43 years later. (Photo by Don Hall)

Elevating the status of the engineering school, even though only the first two years were offered in Regina, raised questions on the sensitive subject of having two engineering programs in one small province. The principal of Regina Campus, William Riddell, addressed the question by stating that the fields of specialization offered in Regina would complement—not duplicate—the programs offered in Saskatoon. In 1969, the first dean of the newly-created Faculty, John Mantle, and his colleague Cameron Blachford, further differentiated the program by founding a co-op program, where engineering students would spend one semester doing practical work in the engineering field for every two semesters spent in the classroom. Regina was among the first schools in North America to implement such a program, and the first in 
Western Canada. It has been an unqualified success.

Engineering faculty members and then U of R president Lloyd Barber present the Bathtub Club cheque in 1985.
Engineering faculty members and then U of R president Lloyd Barber present the Bathtub Club cheque in 1985.

Art Opseth, who began his distinguished teaching career in 1974 and served as the co-op coordinator for engineering students, says he could tell which students had completed 
a work term. “They had a more realistic view of their studies and they tended to do better in the classroom,” he observes. Simi Falaye BASc’18, who received his degree in Software Systems Engineering in 2018 and participated in four work terms, credits the co-op program for improving his confidence in preparing for job interviews, practising his technical skills and interacting with other professionals.

Art Opseth enjoyed a long and distinguished teaching career in the faculty beginning in 1974. He also served as acting dean and assistant dean and is currently a member of the U of R Board of Governors. (Photo by Don Hall)

Art Opseth

The program (now called the Co-operative Education and Internships program) has evolved to become a stand-alone program available to U of R students in many faculties. The annual Mantle-Blachford Award, created to honour the co-founders, provides a scholarship to the co-operative education student of the year.

Simi Falaye received his degree
in Software Systems Engineering in 2018 and participated in four co-op
work terms. (Photo by David Stobbe)
Simi Falaye received his degree in Software Systems Engineering in 2018 and participated in four co-op work terms. (Photo by David Stobbe)

Despite the moves made to establish a distinctive program, the program suffered a setback in the 1970s. Instead of advancing toward offering four years of courses, cutbacks in provincial funding cast doubts on the program’s very existence for a while. One consultant recommended it be shut down, but the Board of Governors rejected that idea. Another study recommended that Regina specialize in industrial and electronic systems engineering. Opseth, who currently sits on the University’s Board of Governors, strongly believed that the program should continue. “We had work study and systems engineering, and good, hardworking people in the Faculty,” he says. “With the systems approach, we had the broad, comprehensive aspects of engineering, while in Saskatoon they studied the depths of things. They did complement each other.”

Looking back, Hussein adds, the suggestion that the College adopt a systems concept was significant. “Adopting systems programming was very forward-looking. Events have shown that the systems approach is a very effective way of looking toward how the future of engineering is practised.”

Many graduates of the U of S, Regina Campus completed their degrees under the “two-plus-two” arrangement that continued until the 1980s. Carlyle Murray BASc’81 was what you might call a mature graduate, taking classes on a part-time basis while he worked as a civil engineering technologist for engineering firm R. J. Genereux and Associates. “There were projects where a recent graduate engineer and a technologist with practical field experience were on a construction site together,” Murray observes. “That gave me the financial incentive—along with support from my wife and my employer—to pursue a degree in engineering to advance my career and increase my earning power.”

Murray graduated in 1981 with a degree in Regional Systems Engineering, Transportation Option. In total, he worked for Genereux for 25 years. His next position was with the City of Regina. He is currently employed by Stantec Consulting.

Gary Bosgoed was another student who began his studies in Regina before transferring to Saskatoon, although he was happy to return to Regina to receive his degree in Industrial Systems Engineering in 1983. Bosgoed, who operates a consulting business and sits on the University’s Board of Governors, urges students not to race through to receive their degree, but to take multiple co-op work terms. “The work terms become foundational,” he states. “They are the best sweet spot of the learning curve. They are how you acquire a sense of how teams work.”

Bosgoed says being an Indigenous student in the 1970s wasn’t a topic, and that the University is doing a great job of Indigenization on campus, with more supports and programming. However, perhaps reflecting his entrepreneurial background, he would like to push the U of R further to 
build more relationships with Indigenous businesses and encourage more Indigenous graduates to be entrepreneurs 
and wealth creators.

Gary Bosgoed earned his degree in Industrial Systems Engineering in 1983. He operates a consulting business in Edmonton and sits on the University’s Board of Governors.
Gary Bosgoed earned his degree in Industrial Systems Engineering in 1983. He operates a consulting business in Edmonton and sits on the University’s Board of Governors.
Carlyle Murray earned his degreee in 1981, taking classes on a part-time basis while he worked as a civil engineering technologist for engineering firm R. J. Genereux and Associates.
Carlyle Murray earned his degreee in 1981, taking classes on a part-time basis while he worked as a civil engineering technologist for engineering firm R. J. Genereux and Associates.

The Faculty has also encouraged women to consider careers in engineering, including by supporting the 30 by 30 initiative launched by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS). 30 by 30 aims to increase the representation of women within the engineering profession, specifically with a goal of raising the percentage of newly licensed engineers who are women to 30 per cent by 2030. Margaret Anne Hodges BASc’88, a graduate in Electronic Systems Engineering, was the third female president of APEGS and served for three years as a 30 by 30 champion, encouraging girls and young women to think about engineering as a career.

Alumna like Margaret Anne Hodges (left) and Engineering and Applied Science faculty member Denise Stilling (right) are just two of the individuals who are leading
the charge to get more women to enrol in engineering. Here, the pair present Lois Arokoyo with a 30 by 30 APEGS Award for Women in Engineering certificate for academic
achievement. The 30 by 30 initiative was launched by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan with an aim to increase the percentage
of newly licensed women engineers to 30 per cent by 2030.
Alumna like Margaret Anne Hodges (left) and Engineering and Applied Science faculty member Denise Stilling (right) are just two of the individuals who are leading the charge to get more women to enrol in engineering. Here, the pair present Lois Arokoyo with a 30 by 30 APEGS Award for Women in Engineering certificate for academic achievement. The 30 by 30 initiative was launched by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan with an aim to increase the percentage of newly licensed women engineers to 30 per cent by 2030.

“We are past the days when girls were told they couldn’t be engineers,” Hodges says, “but we may not be past asking girls why they would want to be engineers. The profession and engineering programs need to communicate better to the public about the role engineers play in society.”

Over the past seven and a half decades, the Faculty has 
grown remarkably. Engineering and Applied Science students now number more than one thousand and come from every corner of the world. Also increased is the number of opportunities for students to apply their learning outside the classroom. Long-standing student groups such as Cougar Racing, Regina Engineering Concrete Toboggan Team, Engineers Without Borders, and the Institute of Electrical 
and Electronic Engineering, and newer groups such as U of R 
Robotics, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers are creating opportunities for students to engage in innovative collaborations that build connections and create memories that last a lifetime. And, the Faculty’s continued involvement in EYES (Educating Youth 
in Engineering and Science) summer camps ensures that 
new generations are excited to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The faculty has a long and rich history of student groups such as the Regina Engineering Concrete
Toboggan Team. Other groups that have been bringing together students in fun and meaningful ways include Cougar Racing, Engineers Without Borders, the Institute of
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and newer groups such as U of R Robotics, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning.
The faculty has a long and rich history of student groups such as the Regina Engineering Concrete Toboggan Team. Other groups that have been bringing together students in fun and meaningful ways include Cougar Racing, Engineers Without Borders, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and newer groups such as U of R Robotics, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning.

Celebrating a 75th anniversary in strange times, which look to continue for a while, raises questions about what the future holds for the Faculty and its students. Gary Bosgoed and Art Opseth are upbeat, notwithstanding all of the uncertainties. Opseth looks forward to face-to-face learning returning, because that is one way that students learn from each other, especially when it comes to working as a team. Still, he thinks the current crop of grads will be all right. “They are resilient; they are going to be fine.”

About the Author

Bill Armstrong is a Regina freelance writer and amateur photographer with a strong interest in Saskatchewan history.

Photos by Trevor Hopkin, University of Regina Photography and courtesy of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

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Jacq Brasseur has made a significant impact on the University of Regina as a student, student union representative, and executive director of the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity. They are a community organizer, support worker, and advocate for marginalized students, faculty, staff and community members. Brasseur came to Regina via Yellowknife's Aurora College which has a Social Work academic transfer partnership with the University of Regina.

69-1019_ACAA_Ads_Jpgs_for_Web_D1_-4 copy

"Just like many other people who studied social work, I entered my field because I wanted to help people," they say. "Working at UR Pride means that I get to help 2SLGBTQ+ people every day who are navigating the impacts of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. It's also really amazing that I get to work in a place where I can be authentic about who I am. That's not the reality for everybody, and I know that I'm lucky to be able to work in an environment where I can be unapologetically queer."

Through UR Pride, Brasseur started several initiatives that have enhanced the overall diversity and strength of the University of Regina, including Colourful Campus Housing and Monarch Mental Health.

 

"In terms of the work directly on campus, I'm definitely proudest of being able to partner with Housing Services on campus to bring Colourful Campus House to life," says Brasseur. "This was an idea I had back when I was first living on campus, and it was amazing to get to see it happen. The opportunity for queer and trans students at the U of R to have access to inclusive campus housing with other queer and trans people is something that I'm proud of having developed with the U of R."

In addition to these initiatives, Brasseur also expanded UR Pride's Positive Space Network program, which provides professional development and education in the fields of 2SLGBTQ+ histories, current issues and intersectional allyship. They are currently pursuing a Master of Education degree in curriculum development, with a focus on 2SLGBTQ+ diversity education programs.

Brasseur has received national acclaim for their advocacy and volunteerism, both for their work at UR Pride and for the work they have done in Canada's North. In 2011, Jacq co-founded two organizations in the Northwest Territories: NWT Pride, an organization responsible for organizing an annual Pride festival; and the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife, a 2SLGBTQ+ focused organization that opened its doors to a drop-in location under Brasseur's guidance.

They are very appreciative to receive an ACAA for humanitarianism and community service.

"It really means a lot to be recognized by an institution that I regularly challenge or push to be better," Brasseur says. "There have been a few times where I've written angry tweets or sent frustrated emails, but the fact that the University is recognizing my contributions to our campus and community means a lot to me. It tells me that they see the value in having people who love the University and challenge it to be better. If you ask me, that's what makes the U of R great."

When they're not working, Brasseur can be found spending time with friends or engaging in social justice in Regina. They're passionate about civic engagement and love getting involved in the community.

[post_title] => Jacq Brasseur CSW’13, BSW’15 Distinguished Alumni Award for Humanitarian and Community Service [post_excerpt] => Meet Jacq Brasseur CSW’13, BSW’15, the 2020 ACAA recipient for Distinguished Alumni Award for Humanitarian and Community Service. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => jacq-brasseur-csw13-bsw15 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-12-01 13:13:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-12-01 19:13:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.degreesmagazine.ca/?p=4651 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 4279 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2020-11-23 02:20:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-11-23 08:20:04 [post_content] =>

Sitting alone inside a satellite truck on a chilly December 2012 afternoon in Newtown, Connecticut, I noticed something unusual happening. Tears were rolling down my cheeks.

A couple of days earlier, I had flown from Toronto to join an 11-person Global News crew in the small New England community where twenty children and six teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School had been gunned down by 
a troubled young man who killed his mother before turning 
the gun on himself.

As I was watching my cameraperson's video of a community coming together to mourn the loss-strangers placing flowers and mementos on a makeshift memorial; locals paying respects at a funeral home-suddenly, I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of what had happened.

I had not viewed crime scene photographs of the horrific tragedy. We didn't knock on the doors of family members. No one in the international press tried to get those kinds of interviews. But we were immersed in the lives of the people in a tightly-knit village stricken by unspeakable grief. The experience left its mark on me, as it likely did on all the journalists covering the story.

1979 photo of O'Shea. O'Shea's journalism career has spanned some 40 years. Shown here working at CJOC Radio in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1979.

A few days later, as we packed up our temporary office, 
a man with his daughter stood on the sidewalk holding a sign that read: "Media GTFO." Media fatigue had set in and some people in the town just wanted to be left alone.

When I returned to Canada and went to buy a Christmas tree, it was not the usual uplifting experience. Covering the terrible deaths of those young children and their teachers had stolen the joy.

Unlike this particular assignment, covering the news for almost forty years has frequently been fun. I enjoyed reporting on two space shuttle liftoffs from Florida in the 80s and 90s, following the Challenger disaster. Election coverage has also been rewarding-from municipal, provincial and federal campaigns, to covering the U.S. race that ended in Washington with George H.W. Bush taking the White House, and the general election in Haiti following the murder of journalists and voters the previous year. Travelling to the Yukon when Jean Chrétien won his first term as prime minister was an adventure. And, reporting on the 1992 referendum, which could have triggered the breakup of Canada, was both exciting and terrifying.

I had caught wind of the U of R's grand plan to create a unique prairie journalism degree program that merged academics with skills like writing, editing and on-camera reporting. It wanted a corps of students to make a name for this new Saskatchewan idea. The program's first director, Ron Robbins, approved my application and I was among a small group of students with great hopes and dreams.

O'Shea reports have been filed from around the world including 
Haiti, Beirut, Ghana, and El Salvador to name a few. O'Shea is shown here reporting from Washington D.C. in the early 1990s.
O'Shea reports have been filed from around the world including Haiti, Beirut, Ghana, and El Salvador to name a few. O'Shea is shown here reporting from Washington D.C. in the early 1990s.

My formal journalism career began after I arrived at the University of Regina in 1980. I had spent a year studying at 
a university in Ontario and then worked as a radio and television reporter in Lethbridge and Calgary, where I was born and raised.

I had caught wind of the U of R's grand plan to create a unique prairie journalism degree program that merged academics with skills like writing, editing and on-camera reporting. It wanted a corps of students to make a name for this new Saskatchewan idea. The program's first director, Ron Robbins, approved my application and I was among a small group of students with great hopes and dreams.

 

At the time, journalism jobs were plentiful and, unlike many students today, I never had to work without pay to learn the trade. I was assigned to a four-month internship at the Edmonton Journal. I was paid $1,200 a month, which does not sound like much today, but it was enough to pay my rent and expenses while living downtown and getting experience in a big-market newsroom. I was rotated through general assignment as well as the crime and court beats. I also learned how to write obituaries. U of R's paid internship program is still unique in Canada.

 

Months before graduating, I was already working as a weekend television anchor at the CBC in Regina. Later, I was hired as 
a reporter in the TV newsroom of CBC Saskatoon. After almost three years, I relocated to Toronto where I've worked with Global News ever since. It's now been more than 33 years!

 

O'Shea is an award-winning investigative and consumer reporter and is regarded as one of the most tenacious reporters 
in television. He's shown here anchoring Global News in 2015. 
O'Shea is an award-winning investigative and consumer reporter and is regarded as one of the most tenacious reporters in television. He's shown here anchoring Global News in 2015.

The journalism business has evolved dramatically over four decades. When I finished my degree, there were far more media properties and there was no such thing as online journalism. Today, many small-market stations and papers no longer exist. And, it is much more difficult for journalism graduates to find full-time employment quickly, if at all. At the same time, young graduates today are better educated. Many hold two degrees and often they've also earned a college diploma. I've had the pleasure of mentoring about 150 graduates, many of whom have gone on to careers in journalism all over the world.

For me, part of the joy of journalism is seeing how a story can improve someone's life, at least a little. It's one of the reasons why much of my work in the last twenty years has focused on consumer reporting.

 

Technology has driven many of the changes in the industry. Just before I graduated, television stations were still shooting stories on film. News crews frequently consisted of a team of three, with sometimes as many as four at the national level. Now, a crew can be just one person and the camera might just be a smart phone. As newsrooms shrink, television reporters are not only filing stories for the evening news, they're also producing radio and online reports-sometimes simultaneously. In spite of all the changes, some news constants remain: figure out the story; write it without delay; and triple-check everything to avoid mistakes.

 

For me, part of the joy of journalism is seeing how a story can improve someone's life, at least a little. It's one of the reasons why much of my work in the last twenty years has focused on consumer reporting. I get hundreds of phone calls, emails and social media messages every year from viewers desperate to get 
a sticky problem resolved. The problems include everything from contractors who take large deposits, but do no work, to airlines that won't refund tickets even when flights have been cancelled.

In cases of fraud, many of the people who have contacted me got my name from a police officer who suggested that they might have better luck with me than the legal system.

 

In his role as consumer reporter, O'Shea has exposed 
organized crime figures, scam artists, and unscrupulous contractors at frequent risk. He was once assaulted on-air by biker 
gang members who attacked him with a fire extinguisher. Shown here reporting from Toronto in 2020. 
In his role as consumer reporter, O'Shea has exposed organized crime figures, scam artists, and unscrupulous contractors at frequent risk. He was once assaulted on-air by biker gang members who attacked him with a fire extinguisher. Shown here reporting from Toronto in 2020.

Sometimes, an unco-operative business will be quick to issue a refund or an apology knowing that it's better than the negative media attention. But, typically, it's not that easy. Businesses that would take someone's money and not show up for work would prefer to keep the money and stay out of the spotlight. That's why I've spent hours in unmarked vehicles with camera crews waiting for these people to show up after they haven't responded to my phone calls. The unscheduled interview is a last resort and the outcome is unpredictable and sometimes ends in a chase.

Once, while trying to retrieve a vehicle from a body shop where a woman's car was being held illegally, I got blasted in the face with a chemical fire extinguisher. Thankfully, I wasn't injured. And, luckily, my cameraperson caught it all on video, which served as evidence for the judge who sent the tow truck driver to jail for assault. By the way, the woman got her car back.

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Big companies don't use fire extinguishers to quash 
a negative story. Instead, they use lawyers. I could wallpaper an office with the letters I've received threatening defamation lawsuits. One was from the late legal legend, Edward Greenspan, who was representing a cosmetic surgeon who had left a patient permanently disfigured. In spite of the threats, we aired the story. The doctor and his lawyer never called again. That's not to say that I haven't been sued. It's happened twice. Neither lawsuit was successful.

I have been fortunate to work for a news organization prepared to defend journalism, frequently at great expense. Once, a company threatened to pull all of its advertising if 
I proceeded with a negative story. My news director asked me if I had all the facts. I was confident, so the story went to air and the company followed through with its threat. Even though the network lost several million dollars worth of advertising, it still supported me and our mission to inform the public.

Sometimes, as a reporter, you get an unexpected scoop. I was about to interview a lawyer representing a medical regulatory body when I discovered that he had been disbarred for wrongfully taking money from clients in his previous practice. His new employer was unaware because no one had done a reference check. I will never understand why he agreed to an interview. When I asked about his past, he ripped off his microphone and walked away. A few hours later, he was fired, and the story became the lead item on our evening news. I soon learned that the disbarred lawyer could pose a physical threat, so I temporarily had to relocate my wife and two daughters. It was the first time I was worried about my family's safety because of one of my stories.

Concern for reporters' safety and mental health is something that's also improved over four decades. More and more, news organizations are providing equipment and training to help reduce risk. And, when journalists in the field face physical danger, they are allowed to make the final decision about whether to continue or back off. While in the war zones of Beirut and El Salvador, I felt I was on my own. Later in my career, while covering the Boston Marathon bombing and the fiery rail explosion at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, where 47 people died, I got numerous phone calls from news executives asking how I was coping and if I needed help or counselling. This is an important improvement in how journalists are treated. It's especially relevant as reporters, producers and camera crews cover the coronavirus pandemic, where physical and mental health concerns are heightened.

From my experience and observations, journalists usually get so caught up in telling stories, we may overlook or underestimate how we are affected in the process. That's a fact I finally appreciate since reporting on the school shooting in Connecticut. Feeling sad as you rush to make a deadline doesn't mean you're weak. It means you still care.

[post_title] => Reflections on 40 years of journalism [post_excerpt] => Sean O’Shea BA’84, a graduate 
of the University of Regina School of Journalism, is an award-winning investigative and consumer reporter for Global News in Toronto. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => reflections-%e2%80%a8on-40-years-%e2%80%a8of-journalism%e2%80%a8 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-12-02 21:45:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-12-03 03:45:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.degreesmagazine.ca/?p=4279 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )