The importance of information interviews

Colleen Tang

As a new journalist still in school I think it’s more important than ever to meet as many people in the industry as possible.

Before I entered back into academia I did a series of information
interviews that led me to the decision to apply for Ryerson
University’s Masters of Journalism program. At the end of my last year
of undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia I had
participated in the Canadian University Press mentorship program where
I was paired up with a professional who lived in the same area as me.
Through talks with my mentor, I was given the advice to meet other
professionals to get a better sense of what I wanted to do in this

Doing information interviews is a great way to broaden your knowledge
of the entire industry and you get to meet a variety of people. It’s
basically taking someone out for coffee and getting them to talk about
themselves and what they do. Many working journalists are happy to talk
about their jobs.

One of the information interviews I did was with one of the editors at
a local newspaper in my community where I eventually wrote a story for
and realized I was interested in community reporting and profile

Further to those information interviews that I did in my hometown in
BC, I went on a trip to Toronto in the fall where I spoke with Gene
Allen as well as an editor at Eye Weekly, who also happened to be a
Ryerson grad. (I tried to get in touch with a few more journalists but
with the short amount of time I was there I wasn’t able to talk to
everyone I wanted.) After considering both of their opinions it led me
to the decision that I wanted to get back into school and learn some
more skills.

Most of my own experiences revolved around print or virtual
publications because I wanted to write. However, I’m learning now more
than ever that it’s valuable to immerse yourself in different
environments and experience parts of the industry you never thought you

Right now I’m interning at CityNews with the webteam and that means
being at the heart of the rustle and bustle of a broadcast newsroom.
What I didn’t realize was how much I’d enjoy the excitement of being
there. I really enjoy watching another mode of journalism take its
course. Broadcast was never something I have wanted to be involved in
but watching how it works and meeting the people there has really
opened my eyes to more opportunities.

Nowadays many journalists know the importance of being multifaceted in
a variety of skills. I would suggest aspiring journalists to get on
board with this idea as well. It’s not enough to only know one medium
of journalism. It’s about making yourself as versatile as possible. I
believe that setting up information interviews is an easy and
accessible thing to do. Even if you’re an intern, ask to speak to
someone else in another department if you’re interested in their job.
That’s how I was able to watch one of the video editors edit a clip for
the night newscast. As a result of that interaction and from my
experience at CityNews, I’ve become even more interested in technology
and video.

I think it is extremely important to know what you want to do as well
as know what you don’t want to do. Many of us have an idea of what a
job is like so why not go to the direct source and really find out what
the job entails and the workload. There really is no better time than
when you’re a student to do information interviews as well as get as
much experience as possible. You will find out what the industry
standards are for technology, writing styles and anything else you
wanted to know to prepare you for the working world when you are ready
to work as a journalist.

With many of us not knowing what the job market will be like when we do
graduate, getting your feet wet with all aspects of journalism, even
areas you don’t really want to be in, is great exposure and a good way
to make you a valuable asset in any media organization.

Colleen Tang is a Masters of Journalism student at Ryerson University
who just completed her first year. She is currently an intern at and a freelance writer and will also be interning at this summer.