Teaching journalism in the 21st century

Stephanie Matteis: "In the newsroom we're living thee changes, but in the classroom we get to tease them apart."

The last two decades have brought major changes to Canada’s media landscape. Daily papers face growing challenges and journalists everywhere are expected to find new ways to tell their stories. It’s a time of great change, but Stephanie Matteis, a professor of Media Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber, says it comes with opportunities too.

“The fact that journalism is going through such an evolutionary period right now is what makes it so interesting to teach,” she says. “In the newsroom we’re living these changes, but in the classroom we get to tease them apart.”

As someone who has spent her career seeing those changes play out, Prof. Matteis is the right person to teach it. Since receiving her Master of Arts – Journalism from Western University in the late 1990s, Prof. Matteis has worked in nearly every corner of the media industry. She’s written for daily newspapers, produced content for digital news sites and has done on-air reporting for CBC, CTV and Global TV. On top of that, she’s created a number of award-winning documentaries, tackling subjects from living in space, to international espionage, to urban warfare. Those varied experiences make for great teaching moments in the classroom.

“I’ve been present at a lot of Canada’s major news stories over the last 15 years, so I try to bring in case studies from the work I’ve done,” she says. “When we’re talking about ethics in reporting, I can pose questions that I faced when I was reporting the attacks of September 11th or the shooting of Sammy Yatim.”

Asking those questions helps students prepare for the working life of a journalist, Prof. Matteis says, which can present dynamic challenges.

“It’s always difficult to speak to strangers and ask them about their lives, especially if it’s at a vulnerable time for them,” she says. “The key to my approach as a professor is to build student confidence so that they feel prepared and ready to go out and talk to people.”

In her years as a reporter and a producer, Prof. Matteis says that she’s seen a lot change with the media, but despite those changes, there’s one thing that’s remained constant throughout her work.

“Storytelling is at the heart of all the work I do. It doesn’t matter if I’m on air or behind the scenes, I’ve been driven by interesting stories,” she says. “Now, I’m teaching our students the skills it takes to be a good storyteller.”

Biography

Professor Matteis holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Windsor and a Master of Arts – Journalism from Western University. She has worked for the Windsor Star, CBC, CTV and Global TV, and has created a number of award-winning documentaries.

When she isn’t teaching at UofGH, Prof. Matteis is a reporter for CBC in Toronto.

Areas of Expertise

Documentaries
News Editing and Writing
Broadcast Journalism

Learn more about Media Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber.