Baneet Braich has always taken the news seriously – just ask her grandparents.
When she was a young child, Braich would put on elaborate news shows for them, complete with outfits and a broom as a microphone.
As the 2017 Abbotsford Senior Secondary School grad would inform them of the news in Abbotsford, a giggle or two would inevitably come from her ‘audience.’
Her reply if she happened to hear any laughter – “what’s so funny?”
Braich is the one laughing now, as she has transformed that passion for the news into countless opportunities in the industry and most recently was awarded the prestigious Joan Donaldson CBC News Scholarship.
Congratulations are in order for three outstanding Carleton journalism students who have been selected to receive Joan Donaldson @CBCNews Scholarships.
— Carleton J-School (@JSchool_CU) March 2, 2021
The scholarship, named for the late CBC journalist Joan Donaldson, was established in 1999 and is awarded annually to graduating journalism students from a long list of Canadian universities and colleges. Only a handful of students who have shown exceptional academic performance are selected each year.
Braich, who is completing a Bachelor of Journalism program from Ottawa’s Carleton University, will now receive hands-on experience doing paid work for CBC from mid-May through late-August. She will begin the internship in Toronto, where she will work in podcasting, video production, editing and social media. Her complete schedule has not yet been determined, but she may also spend some time in the CBC Vancouver office.
Braich said she is thrilled for the opportunity.
“When they told me I was one of the scholars I was really just shocked,” she said. “It was just a very surprising but rewarding moment for me. And of course it just wasn’t possible without how much support I’ve gotten from the community, whether that was freelance work, or with The News or Black Press – I have had so many great mentors in Abbotsford who’ve helped me.”
She didn’t exactly go straight from her kitchen to the CBC, Braich first developed a lot of her skills at Abby Senior’s broadcast class, a school program that creates news content related to the school.
“I remember in Grade 9 I walked into that broadcast classroom and just said I’m doing this broadcasting,” she said. “We learned about editing, we learned about competing in Skills Canada and that is where I learned the importance of chasing stories and how you can use the camera and videos to tell stories.”
Braich covered everything from sports to school events and so much more with the Panther News Broadcast team. She also earned a gold medal in 2017 for video production in the Skills Canada competition. She praised the guidance of teacher Dean Fetterly, who was heavily involved in the broadcast class.
It was through the work she produced with the broadcast class and as a freelancer that Braich attracted the attention of the Abbotsford News and Black Press. She initially came onboard in 2016 as member of the social media squad, which saw her attend local events and create videos.
Her skills in that position saw her move on to take other roles with the Black Press marketing and multimedia departments. She worked on projects such as Miss BC, West Coast Travellers and other social media marketing campaigns. She said her time at The News and Black Press was vital in her development as a journalist. She worked off and on with the company in between school commitments until recently.
“Working at Black Press really rooted me in the importance of community media,” she said. “Every year I’d learn a new skill – whether that was creating videos, taking photos, doing work on a documentary or marketing work. I’ve had the chance to get my hands on a little bit of everything. There is so much this industry can offer.”
Braich praised former Abbotsford News publisher and current vice-president of Black Press Canadian digital operations Andrew Franklin for giving her so many opportunities and for being so flexible with her school demands.
Her time at Carleton wraps up later this year, but not before Braich leaves a lasting legacy at the school in the form of Project J – a way to bring more recognition to Carleton journalism students.
“Journalism students work really hard,” she said. “And I think sometimes the community doesn’t understand how hard it can be to be a journalism student.”
Carleton students submit their best work and media professionals select the winners. From there, the work could potentially be published or picked up by large publications. Braich, who is the current president of the Carleton journalism society, helped start the project and is glad that it will continue when she leaves the school. She will be graduating the school with a double major in journalism and political science.
She said ultimately she wants to continue in the journalism industry, possibly in the broadcast reporting area, and is looking forward to the experience at CBC. Many of the scholars who earn the Joan Donaldson CBC News Scholarship are offered full-time jobs at CBC.
She said she is very thankful for the support she has received and wants to let younger people know that the journalism industry can be an incredible ride.
“The community support and mentorship I have got have been so important me,” she said. “I think more could be done to get people like me, a South Asian girl, more visible in the media. We need that representation and I don’t think anyone should be afraid to chase it. The media industry may seem daunting or not all that promising at times, but I think there is so much potential in it.”
Braich encouraged younger people interested in journalism to diversify their interests and try everything to see what they like. She noted she’s done video, photography, writing, podcasts and marketing and found enjoyable aspects in all of those forms.
For more information on the scholarship, visit carleton.ca/sjc/2021/joan-donaldson-scholarships-awarded-to-three-journalism-students.