Hello, my name is Gurpreet Kambo. I’ll be reporting with The Discourse over the next five weeks as I work to complete my journalism degree at BCIT.
I chose to do my internship at The Discourse because it’s a small, hyper-local news outlet with deep roots in the community. With more consolidation among media companies, this is something that is becoming increasingly rare. With each community newspaper that shuts down, it becomes more and more crucial to make sure outlets like The Discourse exist.
I believe a strong media landscape with a variety of outlets is incredibly important for this country to have. That’s because having access to accurate and timely information about one’s community is essential to ensure everyone has a voice and create a functional democracy. We need those locally focused outlets to be able to know what’s happening on the ground and to tell stories specific to different communities.
I grew up in Surrey, B.C. and a lot of my work so far has been reporting on issues in and about Surrey. Despite it being one of the largest cities in the province, I think it has been under-served when it comes to local journalism. Before attending BCIT, I studied communications and international relations at Simon Fraser University. I enjoyed those areas of study, but a lot of my education also came from both the campus newspaper and campus radio station.
Working at these smaller news outlets really opened my eyes to the impact that community-focused journalism can have. No one else was doing the work that we were doing. We were reporting on the campus community and decision-makers while holding people in power accountable on campus.
When the university brought in a policy restricting the use of single-use plastics on campus, it was our reporting that highlighted the impact these policies would have on many students with disabilities as well as the university’s alleged lack of consultation before the decision was made. Our coverage of the issue was picked up by other news outlets and led to the university giving more attention to how policies related to single-use plastics may affect students with disabilities.
This is just one of the experiences that made me realize the stories we tell about our communities — and the way we tell them — have a huge impact on decisions that directly impact our future.
In the past few years, particularly since the death of George Floyd, there’s also been a burgeoning discourse about diversity, representation and intersectionality in journalism. As a working class, brown, queer and neurodivergent person it is incredibly important for me to surface stories about underrepresented members of the community. Growing up, I rarely saw people like myself in the media unless it was related to a crime. Much of my work so far attempts to reflect not only the serious stories that need coverage, but also the uniqueness and joy in our communities. I take great joy in being curious about my own communities and this curiosity drives me to tell stories.
Moving forward as a journalist, I would like to continue to surface stories that reflect the diversity of our communities — and even explore how those stories may be told in non-traditional formats. One of the stories I worked on as a student that I’m most proud of is a short documentary called Kickflip Nation, about a group of Indigenous skateboarders who teach youth how to skateboard and take pride in their culture and heritage.
These kinds of pieces draw me to community-focused journalism. It feels like an incredible privilege and honour when individuals trust me with their stories. By producing news that features a diverse range of voices and perspectives, we can understand the world in new and complex ways that are exciting, challenging and fundamentally important to our strength as a society.
I hope to continue to make space for the stories of diverse communities throughout my career as a journalist.
Do you have any story ideas that you think I should tell? Are there any issues you’d like me to dig into during my time at The Discourse? Send me an email! I’d love to chat.
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