How a career in Journalism led her to Teach at BCIT
Photographer: Abby Francis
Designer: Mehdi Jafarijam
Christine German is the head of the Broadcast and Online Journalism program and has been teaching journalism to students here for nearly two decades. She is also a BCIT alumn; German graduated with a journalism diploma in 2000, and has an extensive background in the industry, with a specialty in sports journalism.
Starting a Career in Journalism
Like many other BCIT journalism alumni, German aimed to work in post-production after graduating. To reach this goal, she started out by freelancing as an assistant producer for the organization now known as World Triathlon. There, she performed voicework including play-by-play (live commentary) for a TV show featuring the World Cup series.
“[T]hat first show connected me with [the] industry [and] to different production houses,” says German, “and then I was able to do the same role for a World Cup skiing show, based out of the UK in London. I was there for the ski season, and [I] produced and wrote and hosted [the] Nordic skiing portion of their show.”
Following these successes, German’s career continued to flourish, deepening her knowledge of sports: “I was able to then go to two different Olympic Games with those connections at one Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. I was a media manager [and] the liaison with all the other production crews and media who came in and didn’t know anything about the sport. They needed someone to help them understand where they could stand, and who the top athletes were, and who they should be looking out for. [T]hen I also was invited to Athens Olympics [where] I was a play-by-play announcer for the triathlon race, the Olympic race there.”
Together, German’s experiences contributed to her combined expertise as both “a trained journalist and a media professional,” enabling her to unite the world of production and the world of sports media—as one of the very few women working in this field.
“[M]ost of the time, I was the only woman on the crew,” German shares. “So that had its own challenges.” But since she worked in amateur sports, there wasn’t a huge issue as there might be with other environments:
“So [in] amateur sport[s], it tends to be like every event I covered, whether it was skiing, track and field, [or] triathlon [:] there were equal men and women on the playing field as athletes,” German explains. “So, certainly, I spent a lot of time working on crews where I was the only woman, but I think it was maybe a little bit easier for me in the sense that I came from a sport background, and I was working in a sport where there were a lot of women also competing in the sport.”
Supporting Students at BCIT
German knew that being a teacher was “somewhere [she] would probably go eventually”—she has many relatives in the education sector.
“So, after I had my career as a journalist and working in sports production,” she says, “it was just a natural transition to become an instructor and then give back to the field that I was in by helping train and encourage other people [going] into that same field.”
Christine German describes her role being a program head as a privilege and genuinely enjoys mentoring students: in particular, she loves how she gets to teach students the various “career aspects, creativity, writing, and storytelling of what journalists can do.” And, as many instructors would resonate with, she “see[s] [her] role not only as sharing of knowledge, but also helping mentor people into a career.”
Tips for Students
“I think the biggest thing I would share is just to be curious and be open-minded about all of the different places a career in journalism can take you,” says German, “because journalism is a very expansive field.”
For her, journalism is a “creative craft and [a] skill set that can be applied across so many different industries and jobs” —and this viewpoint underpins her advice to broaden perspectives on the careers available in journalism, especially beyond the typical play-by-play, commentator, and reporter roles.
To identify their ideal jobs, aspiring journalists can start out in media coordination positions, then explore roles in broadcast.
For those aiming to work in sports journalism, you could try this advice from her: “[B]e open to taking on challenges in sports and [look] outside of the main [and] local professional teams [by] looking to other smaller-tier teams, [and] really hav[e] an understanding of how sports [work] and know the lay of the land.”
Exciting Work in Progress
German looks forward to working with a new cohort of students in fall 2023. With the journalism industry continuously evolving, German is adapting to the current trends and introducing program updates to maximize students’ readiness for the workplace.
She is also planning to enhance students’ learning experience overall:
“It’s expensive to go to post-secondary school, it’s very busy and can be very stressful and I’m a big believer in work-life balance, whether it’s your job or your school. [S]o I’m really looking forward to finding ways to incorporate some of that work-life balance training into what we do here at BCIT.”