Meet Tegwyn Hughes, The Discourse’s new community editor

She’s excited “to be accountable to a community of passionate readers who know what they want, and ask for it.”

This week, The Discourse and IndigiNews teams have announced their partnership with Sun Peaks Independent News to form Discourse Community Publishing — a women-led company devoted to extraordinary journalism produced with extraordinary care for each other and our communities. 

As we began planning the transition, it became clear that we needed a special kind of person to help. We were looking for a Jill-of-all-trades, someone who could support with anything, take an idea and run with it and lead with heart. 

Tegwyn Hughes immediately came to mind. Tegwyn, originally from the Cowichan Valley, is a bright young journalist who has already demonstrated her ability to innovate a better future for news and media. In addition to previous journalism roles on Vancouver Island, Tegwyn is a co-founder and managing editor for The Pigeon, a publication by and for youth. The Pigeon is helping new journalists develop their skills in complex storytelling while making space for young, diverse voices in the Canadian media landscape. 

“As a longtime admirer, I couldn’t pass up the chance to join The Discourse at such an exciting time in its journey,” Tegwyn says. “I have so much to learn, and I look forward to doing so alongside an incredible team of journalists.”

As the new Community Editor for Discourse Community Publishing, Tegwyn will be helping with, well, pretty much everything. She has already jumped in as an editor for The Discourse and Sun Peaks Independent News, and will be helping IndigiNews with story production and social media. Tegwyn is bringing her strengths in social media, in reaching younger audiences and in working with newer journalists to develop their talents. She’s also excited to help lead some investigations across our teams and is passionate about deepening the conversation around the pandemic, mental health and the health-care system. 

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I sat down with Tegwyn to learn more about her story, her work and her aspirations. 

When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?

In university, I worked at my campus paper, The Queen’s Journal, and really blossomed there. After graduating in 2020, I decided to give journalism my full attention and haven’t looked back since. I think I realized I’d made the right decision when I started talking to other journalists and saw we shared the same passion for community, commitment to the truth and neverending drive. I found my people!

A lot of people will say that journalism is a terrible career option for a young person, and only getting worse. What makes you feel different? 

Those people aren’t necessarily wrong — it’s harder to get your start in journalism right now than it’s ever been before, and I don’t see that challenge going away any time soon. 

But as someone who’s always been dangerously curious and exhaustingly driven, that challenge excites me. The journalism industry is also filled with incredible people which means even if I’m struggling, I have lots of people who are willing to help me (or at the very least, listen to me rant over Twitter DM’s). Maybe someday I’ll change my mind and pursue other avenues, but for now, I’m enjoying my terrible career!

This isn’t your first time helping to build a journalism start-up. Tell me a bit about your experience and what you learned working with The Pigeon. 

While the scope of Discourse Community Publishing is far and beyond anything I’ve worked on before, I did dive headfirst into running a publication straight out of university, with zero experience and at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What I learned from working with The Pigeon was that our newest generations of journalists in Canada are hungry for meaningful assignments but haven’t been given the chance to take them on so early in their careers. I learned not to overlook inexperienced writers, rethink what the future of journalism can be and collaborate with other young people to build something exciting.

What about The Discourse’s approach to community reporting attracted your attention?

I was born on Vancouver Island but grew up in Ontario. When I moved back here a few years ago and wanted to know more about the region, The Discourse was a resource I relied on for in-depth, reader-led journalism. Through articles and newsletters, I quickly learned how beautiful and intricate the communities on this island are.

Coming to The Discourse now as its community editor, I’m drawn to the equitable, informative and solutions-oriented journalism we publish for members of our communities. The people involved with The Discourse are incredibly kind, and I know my energy will be put to good use collaborating with them.

In her role, Tegwyn hopes to focus on engaging young audiences, tackling stories about health inequity and collaborating with emerging journalists. Photo by Philip McLachlan/The Discourse

What are you most excited about in your role at The Discourse?

I’ve had the pleasure of joining this amazing team of journalists, and now it’s time to put my skills to work as an editor. I’m excited to help elevate our storytelling to best reach audiences across B.C., whether through newsletters, over social media or on our websites. 

Even more exciting is the opportunity to be accountable to a community of passionate readers who know what they want, and ask for it. I’m at my best when I’m being challenged, and I’m confident The Discourse’s readers are going to hold me to high standards. Shoot me an email, send me a Twitter DM – let’s talk.

You’ve been getting to know the teams at The Discourse, IndigiNews and Sun Peaks Independent News for a few weeks now. What’s the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve learned so far? 

Something I’m still adjusting to is the way reader-led “slow” journalism lets us focus on actually serving our communities as opposed to advertisers or investors. It doesn’t matter how many clicks a story gets because our websites don’t have paywalls or digital ads. It doesn’t matter whether we write about a topic first or summarize an event the same day it happens. What matters is the impact of the story. That’s a refreshing perspective that I look forward to getting used to.

What does good journalism look like to you?

To me, good journalism is everything that happens before the actual article gets published. It means being patient, listening closely and acknowledging your place in the process. It also means asking yourself questions and constantly re-evaluating what it means to be a journalist. Which sources are you approaching for a story? How will speaking up impact their lives? Are you coming from a place of care? That mindset, to me, is good journalism. Everything that comes after is just good grammar.

Tell me about the place you live. What makes it an interesting place to live and work?

I live on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, colonially known as Victoria. My apartment is located right near downtown in Fernwood, and I’m constantly delighted by everything I can access on foot or by bus – especially cozy cafés and thrift stores. My parents and other extended family members live in the Cowichan Valley, and I visit often enough to consider it a second home. My experience of southern Vancouver Island is one of vibrance, engagement and community. Also, sitting by the ocean never gets old.

Tegwyn joins The Discourse from the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, colonially known as Victoria, with ties to the Cowichan Valley. Photo by Philip McLachlan/The Discourse

Vancouver Island is known for, among other things, having a population that skews older. What’s your experience as one of the so-called ‘youths’ of this place? How do you think The Discourse can do better to represent and include younger people in our journalism?

This may be because I go to bed at 9 p.m. and love farmers’ markets, but I’ve never felt out of place as a young person on Vancouver Island. Young folks are increasingly prioritizing liveable cities, climate resilience and community connectivity, all of which are abundant on the Island. 

Despite loving it here, it’s true young voices are often drowned out in local politics and media coverage. I think as an independent and innovative outlet, The Discourse has an excellent opportunity to better connect with younger people. Experimenting with multimedia coverage — yes, I mean TikTok — meeting young people at their level and tackling topics like housing affordability and the climate crisis will bring us one step closer to bridging the gap.

What are you up to when you’re not editing community news?

In the warmer months, you can find me reading on the beach, picking roadside blackberries or visiting one of Victoria’s many excellent patios. Any other season, I’m probably curled up with my cat on the couch watching TV or reading. [end]

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