Sky’s the limit for journalism student with local connection

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A journalism student with Pictou County connections has just made a presentation to the World Journalism Education Congress in Paris.

Safiyah Marhnouj was selected as the representative for the Americas (Canada, United States and South America) in order to give a voice to journalism students. She is the daughter of Beth Haslam, formerly of Pictou County, and Jalil Marhnouj of Ottawa and is the granddaughter of Catherine and Bill Haslam of Whitehill Road.

Marhnouj is a second-year journalism student at Carleton University, Ottawa. She explains, “Every three years, the World Journalism Education Congress holds an international conference to explore the future of journalism education. This year, for the first time, journalism students from across the globe were invited to submit their proposals for what the future school of journalism would look like for them.”

Her presentation, she said, centred around the idea of change, and what that looked like in terms of journalism and storytelling.

“Much too often, changes in journalism are seen in a negative light, rather than appreciated for the opportunities that they can provide. For example, social media is often seen as an unreliable way to get your news, but when used properly, could be a revolutionary tool in the field of journalism and media. In my eyes, the school of journalism of tomorrow is a place where change is not only accepted but is embraced. In order for journalists and journalism to succeed as a whole, we must acknowledge the changing, new and different ways to go about telling, finding and sharing our news and stories.”

She was as excited to make her presentation as she was to hear the presentations from fellow journalism students.

“I had the chance to read the other submissions from the students from the Americas, and was blown away with all the innovative and incredible ideas. It was also a chance for me to notice the reoccurring themes and sentiments that many journalism students share, regardless of where they are studying.”

Marhnouj says she learned a lot from her fellow presenters and they all spent many hours outside of their presentations having back and forth discussions. “One of the biggest lessons I learned from my colleagues was how similar we are, but also, how very different. Having the opportunity to sit on stage alongside four other extremely talented and intelligent students was an honour, and to hear all their ideas for the future of journalism education gave me hope for the generation of journalists to come.”

This student’s star is rising. Once her education is complete, she wants to work in the field of journalism — either as a reporter or documentary filmmaker.

“I really want to use my voice and work as a way to have a positive influence and impact on the world, however that may look.”

Marhnouj’s grandparents in Pictou County are justifiably proud of their granddaughter who has wanted to study journalism since she was just a child.

“We were very excited when Safiyah was chosen for this wonderful opportunity,” says her grandmother, Catherine Haslam. “We are very proud to have, as a granddaughter, this vivacious young woman who studies hard, stays actively involved in her mosque, community and campus and wants to use her voice as a force for positive influence and gender equality. Safiyah represents the next generation of Canadians who are sure to accomplish great things.”

Marhnouj is a regular contributor to the campus newspaper The Charlatan, and is a member of different campus clubs such as the Muslims Student Association and Journalists for Human Rights. She is passionate about gender equality and spends most of her free time reading.

Safiyah Marhnouj speaks at the World Journalism Education Congress in Paris. (Submitted photo)