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My weekend at NASH 80

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to represent The Bruns at NASH 80, the annual conference for student journalists hosted by the Canadian University Press.

This year’s installment was hosted in Toronto by The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s independent student newspaper. The shoes to fill were quite large, as last year’s was held right here in Fredericton—but Drake’s hometown indeed proved a worthy follow-up.

I have little previous experience with conferences, so I was unsure of what to expect. To be honest, I thought it would be mostly boring—a bunch of lectures that, like the ones I attend for school, I’d struggle not to sleep through. However, I very quickly discovered the exact opposite was true!

The weekend began with a keynote speech from Ginella Massa, Canada’s first hijab-wearing anchor. Her charming and engaging talk about the importance of diversity in the media gave me a lot to think about the stories we at The Bruns tell, and how important it is that we strive to ensure there is a wide variety of voices being given an opportunity to speak. Let this serve as my first Bruns-related New Year’s Resolution.

Ginella was incredibly interesting and inspiring—which I soon came to realize was par for the course; at every single panel or talk attended, I learned something valuable, realized something necessary about my work or came up with a new idea for a future article (sometimes all three!) Oftentimes, I was interested in more than one session happening simultaneously, which forced me to choose between equally enticing topics; in this way, NASH felt more akin to a music festival than a conference.

And what a wide array of topics being discussed! Over the weekend, I attended sessions on everything from decolonizing the media to podcasting, niche reporting to food writing, the importance of indie mags to how to pitch. It’s tough to pick a favourite, of course—and each was appreciated for different reasons—but yours truly did enjoy a particular talk on Humour Writing, hosted by Alex Huntley and Emma Overton of The Beaverton. Not only did they break down the difference between satire and #fakenews (a crucial distinction for such times as these), they also broke down how to write a satirical article ourselves. Don’t be surprised if their lessons make their way into soon-to-be Bruns pages…

The weekend ended with another powerful keynote speech—this time delivered by Desmond Cole, who reinforced the need for increased diversity in our media as expressed by Ginella Massa’s opening talk; Cole carefully deconstructed the many ways our current media landscape systematically favours and privileges whiteness. I left his talk feeling extremely humbled, and slightly embarrassed for the state of our society and my own complicity within it—but above all else, committed to my aforementioned Resolution. NASH has armed me with a new set of tools to carefully examine the work we here at The Bruns are doing.

Perhaps most of all, my weekend at NASH reminded me why this work is as important as it is. When putting together our newspaper, it can sometimes feel like we work in a vacuum: it’s hard to know who’s reading and what they think of it… if anyone is even reading at all. NASH reinforced the crucial role that journalism and the media, in all its shapes and sizes, plays in society. It’s a reminder that motivates and encourages our team to make the best paper we possibly can. Let this serve as my Second Resolution.

Our trip to NASH 80 could not have been possible without financial support from the Dean of Arts, UNB Communications and UNB Conference Services; to them, a sincere thanks must be extended. Because of this conference, our staff bonded, reflected—and most importantly, learned. Each Brunsie fortunate enough to be in attendance left Toronto a different journalist than when they arrived. Every member of The Brunswickan community is better off having had this experience.  

Ryan Gaio is the Arts Editor of The Brunswickan

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