How to get (and keep) a job at the Toronto Star
Porter Oleniuk Filson Loureiro
By Amanda Kwan
Nine years after completing the Toronto Star one-year internship program, Catherine Porter still remembers now-retired columnist Joey Slinger’s five tips on good writing.
“I still go back to them,” says Porter, who is now a columnist at the Star. “You can be in this business for a long time and never have anyone talk to you about the craft of writing and tricks of the
trade an learning how to better yourself.”
It is this combination of training and development that makes the internship an invaluable experience, say graduates of the program.
The Star one-year intern program is arguably Canada's best training ground for entry level journalists. It's about as hands-on as they come and has 'graduated' some of the best young journalists in the country.
Every year the program introduces a group of talented and accomplished young journalists to the newsroom for 365 days of trench warfare.
As a copy editing intern in 2008, Christine Loureiro learned that mastering the basics — spelling, grammar, meeting deadlines — is at core of good journalism.
And it was this focus on the foundations of good writing that gave her a sense of composure when her dad was battling colon cancer.
“I couldn’t fix my dad but I could correct passive construction and fact-check the hell out of a column, and go home feeling collected,” she Loureiro, now Deputy Living Editor at the Star.
Photographer Lucas Oleniuk describes his internship as a “very challenging and stressful time.” On his second day, he traveled in the wrong direction on an assignment and arrived two hours late.
“"I [was]… somewhat concerned for my future at the paper. Luckily I was given many opportunities to bounce back” said Oleniuk, who has been with the Star since finishing the program seven years ago. He recently won his third National Newspaper Award in photography.
Similarily Sports Editor Jon Filson had tough moments during his copy editing internship in 2000.
Six weeks into the job Filson was moved off the foreign/national desk.
“I thought I was done right there. It wasn’t a good fit for me, I knew that. But it was hard to hear that I wasn’t doing well.”
But Filson survived and has gone on to play a key role as Sports editor and sums his advice this way: “Don’t hesitate to think big.”
What is your job now?
Catherine Porter, columnist.
Christine Loureiro, Deputy Living editor.
Lucas Oleniuk, photographer.
Jon Filson, Sports editor.
When were you in the one year program? What was your job?
Porter: 2001/02 reporting intern.
Loureiro: 2007/08 copy editing intern.
Oleniuk: 2003/04 photography intern.
Filson: 2000 copy editing intern.
What was your best lesson in the program?
Porter: “Never be too embarrassed to ask what an assignment means.”
Loureiro: Master the basics. “People who are very good at journalism
are good at the basics.”
Oleniuk: “Surround yourself with talented people. Creative folks who
are driven and have big ideas are inspirational.”
Filson: “Make sure your core responsibilities are taken care of
first … Only after that can you branch out.”
Amanda Kwan is an intern at The Toronto Star. She works in the radio room.