Interview with a Journalist – Erin Isfeld

My second last interview in the series of interviews with journalists, is with local TV journalist Erin Isfeld of CTV Edmonton. Thank you again Ms. Isfeld for taking the time for this interview.

1. First and foremost, what played the biggest role in your deciding to become a journalist?

I have always been a very inquisitive person. My love of information and story-telling began as a very young child.  Growing up in rural Manitoba, I was involved in 4-H which is a great opportunity for children to learn valuable leadership qualities, get involved in their community and to hone their public speaking skills. Also an early admiration of television news journalists helped to secure my fate.

2. Was there anyone in particular that you looked up to, as a budding journalist?

There wasn’t any one journalist, but rather a handful of individuals who I admired. Peter Jennings, a Canadian working for ABC News in the US was always one of my favourites. It was his quiet confidence, his descriptive story-telling and warm delivery that allowed the audience to be part of the story. On a local level, I always looked up to Diana Swain who worked for both Global News & CBC in Winnipeg. She is now in Toronto with CBC and I still feel she is one of the best anchors in the country.

3. What is your favourite aspect of the job? What’s your least favourite?

Learning something new and meeting new people every day is what I cherish most about this career. Continuously learning and developing as an individual is an integral part of growth as a journalist. For the most part, we’re generalists, but by the end of the day we are very educated about a particular topic thanks to the experts we interview every day.

My least favourite part of the job is the uncomfortable situations we sometimes find ourselves. News is often about tragic situations. As journalists, it is our job to tell the story which means approaching people in their time of grief and sorrow. Some we request to interview feel this is very therapeutic; others view us in a negative light for even asking.

4. You have earned a minimum of two awards thus far in your career, what would you say has been your biggest achievement professionally?

Achievements can be measured in so many ways. The stories you receive awards for are not necessarily the best or most important. One of my biggest achievements professionally has to be some of the commitment to community pieces.  For instance, the ATB Financial Charity Shootout.  I’ve produced this event for the last 2 years and am so fortunate to see our viewers engage by helping out the various charities we profile. Another example of this would be our “Giving Hope” campaign where we encouraged or viewers to give blood in honour of a young mother who hemorrhaged and almost lost her life after her baby Hope was born.  The additional stories that flooded in after we shared Holly’s journey were certainly inspirational.

5. What has been one of the most memorable stories that you have reported on? What makes that story stand out for you?

One of the most memorable stories for me happened several years ago when I was a young journalist working in Winnipeg. It was shortly after 9-11 and I traveled down to New York with 80 Winnipeg fire fighters to see the devastation through their eyes. The visuals said it all… grown, brave men reduced to tears at Ground Zero and the fire halls we visited. A very emotional, incredibly moving experience for everyone involved.

6. Lastly, what advice would you have for someone aspiring to become a journalist?

I believe the best thing you can do is to open yourself up to every aspect of this fine career. Journalism has changed so much even in the dozen or so years I’ve been involved. Social media and technology are game changers. Traditional media has had to adapt and give viewers the news they want, when and how they want it. So you’ll be doing yourself a tremendous service to immerse yourself in computer-assisted journalism. It seems that will be the way of the future.

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