Alum of the Month: Tyson Whitney

Tyson Whitney on the beach

Photo credit: Kimberley Kufaas Photography.

February 23, 2021 - 9:15am

Graduating in the midst of a recession, Tyson Whitney (Bachelor of Arts, Major in Creative Writing and Journalism ’08) worked a variety of jobs that didn’t focus on writing at first, including as a law clerk and warehouse manager. In 2015, he went to work for the North Island Gazette in Port Hardy, where he became editor a year later and has never looked back. The paper has since been nominated for several awards and you can get a glimpse into Whitney’s life by reading his regular column – Tyson’s Thoughts.

Tell us about your life post-VIU.

When I graduated in 2008, nobody was hiring in the journalism industry due to the recession, so I ended up working all kinds of various jobs. I worked in a machine room at a pulp mill, was a clerk at a law firm, a warehouse manager and picked orders at a warehouse in Langley. It was an interesting period in my life. In 2015, I made the life-altering decision to quit my successful warehousing career and use my BA to become a journalist. After one year as a reporter, I was promoted to the role of editor of the North Island Gazette newspaper in Port Hardy, which is my hometown. I’m the first local in the Gazette’s 57-year history to be hired as editor.

What attracted you to the world of journalism?

I wanted to become a journalist because it is a great opportunity to write for a living. I’m fortunate enough to have made a career out of it when a lot of people told me otherwise. I was stubborn and kept pursuing my dream and it eventually paid off. 

What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of my job is getting to create a newspaper every week filled with great stories and photographs. The Gazette has been nominated for numerous newspaper awards since I became editor, and it feels good to know the work we put out is highly regarded by our peers.   

What’s next for you?

I’ll continue on with my journalism career, though the thought of going back to school and furthering my education does still intrigue me.   

Any advice for current creative writing and journalism students?

1. Be willing to write in all kinds of different formats and styles. Don’t put yourself in a box.  

2. Be open to criticism of your work. Don’t take it personally and learn from the feedback. 

3.  Be prolific. The best way to actually get good at writing is to write as much as possible.

4. Be prepared to network and market yourself. Social media is your friend, use it to your advantage.  

5. Enjoy the process of creating. It should be fun, and if it’s not, ask yourself why.


Tags: Creative Writing and Journalism | Our Alumni

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