We'd like to introduce you to the members of our editorial team, starting with Jennifer Golletz.
Golletz is a reporter covering civic matters in The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands. Her position was created with funds from the Canadian government through the Local Journalism Initiative. The program is intended to provide community journalism in areas identified as "news deserts."
Golletz has been working for CollingwoodToday.ca since February 2020.
Enjoy this Q and A with Jennifer.
Q. Where did you attend journalism school, when did you graduate, and what publications have you worked for throughout your career?
A: I attended school at Lethbridge College, graduating in 2012. I have worked on a variety of newspaper and magazine publications including Seed World magazine, the Minnedosa Tribune, the Manitoba Co-operator, Fruit and Vegetable magazine.
2. What made you decide to pursue a career in journalism?
I love to write and be in the know, so journalism was a natural progression for me.
3. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
I think the best part about being in this industry is the people that I get to meet and the stories that they share with me.
There are so many stories that have stuck with me through the years. Being a journalist gives you a certain privilege to ask questions and access people's lives.
One of my favourite experiences was interviewing both a heart transplant recipient and the donor family. The family had lost their young son and donated his organs to a dozen people. The fellow who received his heart went on to win a handful of gold medals in the Canadian Transplant Games for marathon running. It was an unforgettable story.
Of course, recognition for my writing is always a highlight as well! I have had several articles republished in other publications and it is always a great feeling when another editor sees value in your work.
4. What brought you to The Blue Mountains/Collingwood area?
After moving to Ontario from Manitoba, I was living in Mississauga, which was lovely and had its perks but I tend to gravitate toward wide-open spaces where I can spend time exploring the outdoors. I am so fortunate to be able to live in such a diverse, beautiful region.
5. What was it like to start a new job as a journalist right before the start of "the pandemic of the century?"
It has been an interesting ride! The news never stops and during COVID it was kicked into overdrive. It has been a marathon.
And, while I miss the pre-COVID days of being blissfully unaware of what a Zoom call is, I am so very grateful to have been employed during this time and to be able to work with such a dedicated team.
6. You were hired through the Local Journalism Initiative, which is aimed at providing resources to provide coverage in "news deserts." Why do you think this project is an important one?
I think this project is vital and that it could not have been established at a more pivotal time. The pandemic has demonstrated why access to local, accurate and timely news is so necessary.
While provincial directives are well-covered by provincial media outlets, local issues from the health unit, school district, county, municipality or town can vary greatly from what is happening on a provincial level.
A dedicated stream for local news provides residents with reliable information is more relevant to their daily lives. And, in a time of high-anxiety, I believe this coverage in news deserts has provided residents with reassurance and a better understanding of the current state of affairs that they would have previously not had access to.
7. What have you noticed has been the impact of local news coming to areas previously identified as underserviced?
On almost a daily basis I hear from local residents who are so thankful for the coverage that has been provided throughout this past year. Both in the pandemic coverage but also in sharing stories from the community about volunteers stepping up and various community initiatives.
Specifically, in my role covering municipal government, I have noticed an increase in engagement. I think the local coverage has allowed residents to become more aware of the activities that are taking place at the county and municipal level. With more awareness comes more engagement and I have definitely seen an increase in commentary coming from the community to the council table.
If you've been enjoying Jennifer's work, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.