A narrative profile of Ian Thompson, the newly-hired associate publisher at Halifax’s The Chronicle Herald, produced as an honours thesis.
What I Changed
The Many Suits of the Herald’s New Uncle was a project I produced for the King’s Journalism Review under the direction of David Swick. I outlined the story, gathered information, iterated and redrafted content and information, and finally helped produce this piece and others online.
I approached the project as a chance to conduct an in-depth interview with a complex, trained subject. Ian Thompson had just returned Halifax’s major daily, The Chronicle Herald, where he had started his career. Since his newspaper days, he’d started a major public relations company and been a deputy minister in government.
The story was a challenge in keeping objectivity, and my job as a journalist was to try and find out what Thompson’s plans were for the Herald. At the same time, I saw an opportunity to learn from what he had to say, and to perhaps convey some of that knowledge back to readers. While I approached the piece professionally, I also tried to create a more broadly useful story for the publication’s readers.
What I Learned
Production for this project was constrained to six weeks, meaning interviews with major political and economic players in Halifax had to be arranged and conducted quickly. I had to collate information from interviews while simultaneously drafting the story, meaning this was one of the first times I applied a more iterative, Agile approach. My first draft was very sparse, providing mostly a direction for the piece. With each interview I added new information, interactive features, and re-focused the product’s core onto what I’d learned.
Such an interview intensive piece also taught me the advantage of listening in interviews and letting subjects fill silence, as this not only brings out more information but also pushes a source past the canned, expected response, providing an opportunity to say something more interesting.
Finally, I learned a lot about producing a longer-form piece of writing, from negotiation with editors and overseers to formatting and content selection. I learned to both defend my own approaches and ideas and also to adapt to suggestions from more experienced journalists.