Serena Lopez – 2023

CJF-CTV News Black Journalism Fellowship - Serena Lopez

Being a recipient of the 2023 CJF Black Journalism Fellowship at CTV News was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As an early-career journalist with little to no experience in broadcast journalism outside of j-school, I had always been keen to gain the right skills and knowledge in order to pursue a career in broadcast. When I was accepted for this opportunity, I was excited to dive headfirst into the experience.

I started my fellowship with the talented reporters, producers and production assistants at the CTV News Toronto team, where I had the opportunity to see how the three main flagship broadcast shows at noon, 6, and 11 p.m. were put together daily. I got to hone my broadcast writing skills and even work with the video editors to see how they edit video packages together based on both their individual editorial standards and on reporters’ requests for clips, interviews, and original footage for broadcast. It was eye-opening to see how many decisions and teamwork go into deciding what stories are chosen for broadcast and how they get told each day.

I then went on to spend time with the CTV News National and CP24 digital teams, where I was immersed in all things online. I was able to pitch and write my own original story ideas, help manage website and social media content, and shadow online producers to get a sense of how audience engagement worked for digital compared to TV broadcast. This was the best part of my fellowship, as I gained a true sense of what it would take to thrive as a digital reporter and how to differentiate between what makes a good online story and what stories could work better for broadcast. I also got the chance to see how breaking news stories such as the Ontario Greenbelt scandal and the loose chicken on the TTC were expertly handled by the online teams.

I closed off the end of my fellowship with the CTV News Channel crew, where I got to chase and, at times, cold-call several guests for a few of their hourly news shows anchored by Lois Lee and Todd van der Heyden. It was at this part of my fellowship that I was able to challenge my writing abilities and sharpen my news judgment in a fast-paced environment on a tight deadline, and I was even able to connect with the guests before they went on air. It was a fun learning experience to see how hardworking chase producers are truly the backbone of how the segments get put together and in making sure the guests are TV-ready.

This six-month fellowship experience has been valuable to my growth and development as a journalist, and I have walked away with more tools and knowledge to succeed than I initially anticipated. I feel I am a more well-rounded journalist, confident in stepping into any newsroom in the future.

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