For those of us who want to enter media and journalism as a permanent career, working for one of the big boys (Global, CTV, or CBC) would be a major opportunity. Some would say that you would have to be crazy to quit a job like that. But that is exactly what Srushti Gangdev did.
A graduate of BCIT, Srushti left her job at Global News and CKNW last August to start the Burnaby Beacon, a new digital journalism platform that brings the focus back to Burnaby.
Despite some completely understandable fear, Srushti felt the need to explore her talents and what she wanted to create.
“I was always picturing myself writing really long form pieces. You actually have the space, have the time, the character limit, to get into what a story actually means. It is tough to get that context in a short web story or in a 30 second voicer. It’s not really an option, honestly.”
Srushti saw that while working for larger companies provided access and prestige, it also created a number of gaps, especially in providing high quality news.
“We don’t even have the time as journalists to do the research, to get into it. It really stunts our own understanding of the story and then that translates into the journalism that we produce. So, I wanted something where I could contextualize everything that I do.”
For the Burnaby Beacon, their small team sees real opportunities to be bigger players. Her editorial control and the Burnaby centric focus allows Srushti to look at unique and longer stories without the demand to meet a standardized format.
“There is a lot of focus on the whole province. Burnaby is a really big centre, it’s got a really diverse community, it’s got great stories of its own, but there just isn’t the time that people can give those stories. So, it sorta becomes, Pan-British Columbia.”
Srushti described the work she is doing now as more focused, but essential, pointing to the project that she was focusing on when we were doing our interview.
“With a story where you do not have to necessarily think about “this affects everyone,” I could never convince Global to give me ten thousand words”.
In a dangerous and competitive media environment, Srushti recognizes that her company may face real challenges, but she is more than ready to face them.
“We are obviously taking a huge, huge leap. I cannot predict the future; I don’t know how it is going to go. We are doing our best here, but we are literally building something from the ground up in an industry that sees more people leave it every day than join it. But at the same time, that kinda emboldens us. I have been in the industry for two years and I have seen too many rounds of layoffs.”
Whatever you want to do in life, Srushti’s advice to students was to take the chance. Start your business. Apply for the dream job. Work hard and persistently and even when challenges emerge, new opportunities will as well.
Jonah van Driesum is the senior editor of Link, and co-host of our the MicroLink podcast!