Third-year journalism student Michael Citrome has parlayed a class assignment
into a weekly financial strategy column in the Montreal Gazette.
The column grew from a course Citrome took last fall taught by Gazette
editor in chief Peter Stockland. As part of the course, Citrome wrote
a piece on mortgages and how, for young people, buying a house can be
a viable alternative to renting.
He [Stockland] gave me a very good mark on this assignment and
had very positive comments, recalled Citrome. So I asked him,
Can we turn this into something for The Gazette?
What Citrome had in mind was writing a financial column aimed at younger
people, an idea he believed The Gazette would be attracted to because
of the papers well-publicized efforts to lure younger readers.
He also felt the paper would be interested in his column because it targeted
an audience many financial writers overlook.
For example, when discussing RRSPs, columnists arent really
talking to people in their twenties, he said. Theyre
talking to people in their forties who are looking for the best value
in the RRSP market. Theyre not spurring people on to start an RRSP
for the first time.
Stockland liked Citromes idea and gave the column the go-ahead.
It began running in business section in late February.
To date, four of Citromes columns have been published in the paper,
offering advice on RRSPs, saving money on credit cards and Internet service,
and home office tax deductions.
His articles have also been picked up by CanWest News Service and have
appeared in the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Province.
One reason Citrome thinks younger readers might not find personal finance
exciting is that many other writers dont speak to their needs.
For example, he pointed out that explaining retirement options at age
55 is probably of little interest to someone whos 23 or 24.
However, if you talk about how you can get air miles when you pay
your tuition, thats interesting to them, he said.
Citrome added that his target audience those in their twenties
and early thirties is usually in a much different financial situation
from people in their forties or fifties.
They dont have kids, theyre starting out in their careers,
and they generally have lower incomes than people in their forties,
he said. They have different goals.
They also have different expenses, he continued. Because
they dont have kids, theyre not putting kids through school.
Theyre living in apartments rather than buying houses. Its
a very different financial sphere. So this is a column that addresses
these financial concerns, which are very under-represented I find.
Enn Raudsepp, director of Concordias journalism department, said
how Citromes column developed from Stocklands course is an
illustration of the very fruitful relationship with The
Gazette over the years.
Raudsepp estimated that during his time at Concordia over two dozen Gazette
employees have taught journalism courses at the school.
Weve been very successful in bringing in people from the
Gazette who have excellent teaching skills, said Raudsepp.
We offer a career-oriented program, so its essential to have
instructors like Peter Stockland who are working in the field come here
to teach, he added. These people are in a position to act
as mentors and contacts, and can also recommend hiring talented students.
Michael Citromes New Money column appears on Mondays in The Gazette.