Reporter at CTV News
I was born/grew up in: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I now live in: Vancouver, BC, Canada
I completed my training/education at: I trained at the Ubyssey, Canada's best student newspaper.
Describe what you do at work.
That other famous journalist named Woodward used to say "Journalism is the best job, because as soon as something stops being interesting it falls out of your job description". My job is to be on top of the most interesting news of the day. And it becomes even more interesting when I can be the person who came up with the question that discovered something new.
I have a B.Sc. in Mathematics, and while I have done some math on the job it's the scientific method that I bring to the job of reporting. For example, it's not just "what happened today" but it's a hypothesis about something going on in government. I follow this by a test through inquiries, and then it results in something new for the audience. Most of the time this is done quickly -- but often it can be done analyzing datasets, or using freedom of information laws, and to do that efficiently you need a good grasp of logic.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
I like to find things out and tell other people about them. But more than that, telling the truth is a political act, and I believe my role at getting to the heart of whatever issue we report on is a crucial step in making our society better.
What motivates you in your career?
I get really excited at a challenge, or a tough story to crack. And being able to do this for an upcoming deadline gets my adrenaline going. But the most interesting aspects are finding new things in the world that other people didn't know about, and using that process to learn more about the city, province and country we live in. It's personally rewarding because I'm always interested. I can look to a story or a feature piece that I have done at the end of the day and feel accomplished.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I took a very circuitous path that I won't get into here. But suffice to say, yes I did think I would do this in high school and spent several years going down a different path before returning to it.
During my math degree I volunteered at the Ubyssey, UBC's student newspaper. This was a relief because while I was good at my studies I realized that I wanted to write. From there I landed internships at The Province and later the Globe and Mail. I travelled to Uganda to freelance pieces about the purported end of their civil war, and worked on a documentary about Canada's worst serial killer. Then I took a job at CTV. This was a fantastic opportunity that has sent me all over the country (and parts of the US) to report on very interesting things. In the end this arts/sciences thing worked very well, because that's what reporting is. It is asking almost scientific questions about the world, and presenting the answers in a very interesting way.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I bike, I cook, I read voraciously, I spend time with my two-year-old daughter. I love to travel and my family is always plotting our next trip.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
In a connected world where everyone styles themselves a journalist, use creativity to stand out, ask the questions no one else is, and present what you find with flair. (And if someone asks you to work for free or for almost nothing -- don't devalue yourself. Make sure the education you're getting is worth the time you're putting in, and if it's not, find somewhere else.)
Let’s Talk Science recognizes and thanks John Woodward for his contribution to Canada 2067.