Gazette reporter misses out on a chance to put a question to a political leader

By Pepper Parr

September 14th, 2021



A number of months ago the Gazette was selected as one of more than 100 local newspapers from across Canada that would receive federal funding to support the work we do each day.

More than 300 local newspapers applied.

The grant was based on what an experienced journalist felt we could do.

We have employed three people who are attending journalism classes and wanted real world experience.

One student returned to her class at Carleton University. Two others are continuing their classes at Sheridan and putting in 15 to 20 hours a week, interviewing, writing and developing story ideas.

About ten days ago we were given an opportunity to apply for accreditation to take part in the Federal Leadership debates.

Ryan O’Dowd, a Local Journalism Initiative reporter with the Burlington Gazette

We applied and we were accepted. Ryan O’Dowd was to take part in the media questions at the end of the debate that took place last Thursday.

Well, it didn’t quite work out that way.  O’Dowd was standing by his cell phone waiting for the virtual media scrum to begin.  He waited – and waited.

There were two groups of reporters involved; one was located in Gatineau, Quebec where the debates were taking place – the rest of the reporters were in their communities standing by.

The moderator expected to move back and forth from the group on Gatineau and those elsewhere.  The Gatineau reporters were seen – the others were voice only.

That was the plan – but it didn’t work out that way.  Something went wrong with the technology and the voice-only people couldn’t be contacted.  That problem was corrected late into the event by which time most people had given up.

So – Ryan O’Dowd missed his 15 minutes of fame moment.  However, you do get to read what this developing reporter has to say about the election which he is covering.

O’Dowd, a second year student at Sheridan College will be given a chance to put questions to one of the leaders.

This is a big deal; some reporters spend a large part of their careers hoping for a chance to put questions to the leadership of the country.

We are humbled at having been selected to hire reporters and to have one of ours accredited to put questions to the candidates who lead the political parties.

The Gazette was formed 10 years ago – it has been a long, hard, emotionally-draining road.

Our readership grows month after month; our comments section is one of the most robust out there.

We just might be doing something right.

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