It’s been an eventful past year at The Tyee.
We’ve had a number of award successes, our former editor-in-chief Robyn Smith decided it was time to close her laptop and try new things, your co-byliners for this article, andrea bennett and Jackie Wong, stepped into new roles, and Zak Vescera joined us as our labour reporter.
We also welcomed four journalism fellows to The Tyee last year, including Tula fellows Kaitlyn Fung and Kate Helmore, JHR Enhanced Access for BIPOC Youth in Canadian Media fellow Akhila Menon, and our inaugural Hummingbird fellow, Josh Kozelj.
Today, we have even more news to share with you. We are so excited to announce that Tara Campbell, our long-time home page editor, has stepped into the managing editor role, taking on more responsibility and guiding the team with her level-headed wit and admirable organizational skills. (If you’re thinking, “wait a minute — is andrea leaving?” don’t worry. After an enjoyable and successful stint at the helm, they’re reprising their role as senior editor, refocusing on hands-on editing and writing.)
Before we take some time to introduce you more formally to Campbell, we’d like to take a moment to say farewell to Kozelj, whose six months as a Hummingbird fellow zipped by as quickly as, well, a hummingbird.
“It was a joy to work with Josh throughout his Hummingbird fellowship,” says Tyee senior editor Jackie Wong, who supervised his work. “He published 20 excellent features during his time with us, with an additional two-part series publishing soon. I continue to be inspired by his creativity and enterprise, his attention to craft and the way he took time to cultivate meaningful relationships of care with his sources. We’re going to miss him around here, but I’ll be cheering for him — he’ll do great things wherever he goes next.”
“I really hope to use this fellowship as a jumpstart to the rest of my career. I've learned so much about the importance of work/life balance and I want to really make that a key focus for my writing going forward,” Kozelj says. “I really loved blending my love of journalism and creative writing together over my six months at The Tyee. I was able to do the sort of immersive journalism I love.”
He counts his solutions feature on men’s sheds for mental health, his longform feature on finding a secret trail in an age of social media and his personal essay on love and tennis as some of his highlights from his time with us.
Kozelj quickly became a valued member of The Tyee community. He joined the Vancouver-based component of The Tyee staff team during a time during which many of us were returning to the office for more frequent in-person work. The chance to connect as a team face-to-face was as impactful for him as it was for us.
“For most of my journalism career, I've worked in remote spaces, which has been amazing! But there's something about being in a physical space with your colleagues that allows you to learn from one another, bounce ideas off each other and have a sense of camaraderie,” he says.
We’re excited to stay connected with Kozelj after his fellowship. He will continue on with us as a new member of The Tyee’s team of copy editors. We’ll be cheering him on as he completes his master of journalism degree at the University of British Columbia this spring. And we can’t wait to see where he’ll land next.
And now, a Q&A with Tara, who forms part of our Victoria, B.C., contingent, and who most recently wrote for us on a Day in the Life of a harm reduction nurse in northern B.C. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
andrea bennett: Welcome, Tara! I get the sense from having known you for a little while now that you’re a bit of a private person, so apologies in advance — but will you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Tara Campbell: You got me. I’m terrible at open-ended questions about myself. If you refine the scope I promise I’ll do better.
Ha! OK, OK. You live in Victoria now. Could you tell us a bit about one of your favourite outdoor spots to visit there?
I bike a lot, mostly to get around, but also because Victoria is full of great places to bike to. The water feels like it's a stone’s throw away pretty much everywhere. I like the E&N bike trail that follows the old rail route through Esquimalt. Other than the time I encountered a cat mauling a baby rabbit mid-track, it's a refreshing cruise that counters your typical inner harbour postcard. With some wafting creosote.
What has your Tyee journey been like? What makes The Tyee the best spot for you as an editor?
When I started, I was an undergrad at the University of British Columbia who had previously done some local street mag writing in Victoria and independent music reviews for an online publication in the U.K., plus occasional pieces for a university paper in Calgary.
I was studying linguistics at the time, which bode well for my interest in language but really had no overlap with journalism or editing. Don’t get me started on prescriptive vs. descriptive grammar! But a friend who was doing a contract with The Tyee recommended me for an interview, and voila. I started as a night shift copy editor. That was 10 years ago.
It's been a slow evolution from there. I’m meticulous by nature and immediately pushed for building more succinct in-house guidance on style. So I took control of the style guide about a year later following support from my then-manager, and slowly developed it in a piecemeal way until I came on full time in 2020 as home page editor.
In that time, The Tyee has reflected my ethos. It’s a natural home for me because it reflects the values I came in search of when I moved to the coast from Alberta. The Tyee has nurtured me to grow, foster and develop those ideas with everything it brings to the table.
What is your style guide philosophy? How do you decide when it’s time to make a change or an update?
Going back to descriptive vs. prescriptive grammar! The choices really need to come from the community that shapes the language — bottom up vs. top down. I’m not advocating for dismissing conventions of written grammar, but as far as language changing, we need to follow the people putting meaning behind those changes and ask ourselves why that’s important. Things like Indigenous rights, gender diversity, substance use and mental health.
Broadly speaking, we follow Canadian Press style. I’ll institute a diversion from CP when that style guide is slow to respond to what feels like an intuitive social approach, or in some cases where there’s different regional familiarity to our audience that needs locally specific guidance.
What’s it been like to step into the managing editor role? What are you most excited about?
I’d been at the periphery of our daily stories for so long, and learned about news media through osmosis, handling them through. I was eager to have a meatier position to engage with what those stories looked like, and to develop the face of The Tyee and what our readers are interested in through time, responding to what works and what doesn’t.
It’s so great to be a bigger piece of the puzzle, using all the tools I’ve collected over the years to make the site tick.
We’re in a bit of an interesting time for journalism. The “oh man, what’s coming next” kind of interesting. How do you envision the role of a journalist, and our roles at The Tyee, today?
The Tyee is made up of so many pieces. The organism is a journalistic one, but there are so many people involved. I think that’s a really important part of the equation — knowing all the moving parts involved in making our organization work.
That said, our reporters are out there on the frontlines doing the work every day. Their penchant, dedication and creativity are constantly pushing the boundaries of our publication and bringing new readers to our page.
I feel so privileged to be part of a news media model that works, where people support each other — member-driven, paywall-free and invested in our readers. I want to believe that that’s enough, but there are certainly a number of different challenges the industry is facing. But I also know The Tyee nurtures our writers to bring the best stories to the page, stories that they want to write, and that makes a difference.
What’ve you been obsessed with lately? What album have you had on repeat?
Oh, wow. Topdown Dialectic. [laughs] They’re on a label called Peak Oil. The perfect irony.
But I feel like I might be in a bit of a lull of obsession. Maybe online flight trackers? Actually: cardamom coffee. I’m completely obsessed with cardamom coffee.
Lightning round: what’s your favourite Canadian Press style rule, and what’s your least favourite?
I’m so conditioned I’ve been completely desensitized to what I like and don’t like, but twitch at the most egregious deviations. The most frequent contenders are probably not hyphenating double vowels like co-operate and… abbreviating March. Never abbreviate March.
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