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Dan Haves produced hard-hitting news stories for PBS Frontline, HDNet’s Dan Rather Reports and CBC - photo by Martin Dee
Dan Haves produced hard-hitting news stories for PBS Frontline, HDNet’s Dan Rather Reports and CBC - photo by Martin Dee

UBC Reports | Vol. 55 | No. 5 | May 7, 2009

A brave new media world

By Basil Waugh

You might think Dan Haves would be worried about his future. Think again.

Sure, news organizations are shedding jobs at unprecedented rates as audiences and advertisers flock from traditional news formats – newspapers, radio and television – to the web.

But as Haves and the UBC Graduate School of Journalism class of ’09 prepare to enter a hyper-competitive labour market, he is confident their future is bright.

“Reading about job cuts is scary, but people want news more than ever,” says Haves, a native of London, Ont. who recently completed an internship with the CBC. He says people are choosing a new generation of websites that allow them to personalize breaking news and commentary, such as Google News. “The industry is reorganizing. It’s painful, but skilled journalists are crucial, especially now.”

Haves believes newsrooms are moving towards a model that UBC’s journalism program has long championed: multiplatform journalism. In the old model, large news organizations assign several journalists to each produce content for their specialty medium: print, TV, radio and online. In this new model, a single journalist does it all.

“We’re trained to arrive at a news event and do everything – video, photos, writing, editing,” says Haves, a film studies major who was attracted to UBC by faculty such as Peter Klein, Emmy Award-winning 60 Minutes producer, and Alfred Hermida, founder of the BBC’s news website. “I also like being able to wear shorts 365 days a year in Vancouver.”

Haves complemented his technical skills with classes in subjects such as ethics and law to prepare him for challenges journalists face. A major highlight, he says, was a pilot International Reporting class, in which students travelled to China, Ghana and India, creating a hard-hitting documentary on rich countries sending waste to developing countries. “It could air on PBS Frontline as early as June,” he says.

“International reporting is perhaps the most challenging form of journalism, because you are working in a different language and a different culture,” says Haves of the class which recently received $1 million from Vancouver philanthropist Alison Lawton to send 10 students each year abroad to cover important and under-reported issues. “But it was an amazing experience and I’m a better journalist because of it.”

Haves co-produced a documentary on Insite, Vancouver’s safe injection site for HDNet’s Dan Rather Reports, another unforgettable experience. “It was so great watching Dan Rather in action,” Haves says of the iconic newsman who mentored UBC students for a second consecutive year. “He taught me a lot about staying in control of difficult interviews – and I know it’s an experience I wouldn’t have had anywhere else.”

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Last reviewed 11-May-2009

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