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October 24, 2002 The zero-sum game: money



Shannon Houle


From left to right: Michèle Mischler, Matthew McFarlane, and Clare Byrne.


Photos by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Science journalist Shannon Smith Houle wins $20,000 scholarship

By Barbara Black

Shannon Smith Houle has hit a jackpot of sorts. She has been awarded a $20,000 Graduate Science Writer Scholarship by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the major federal agency funding health research in Canada.

This is an unusually large scholarship for a journalism student, and is perhaps explained by Shannon’s own science background, which includes a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in psychology and neuroscience. It is also a reflection of the growing importance being given to accurate, knowledgeable writing about medical research.

Of the other nine recipients, one came from King’s College (N.S.), two came from the University of British Columbia, and two came from Carleton. These scholarships are usually given to science students for pure research, but Shannon made a convincing case for science writing as a career. Having attended French immersion schools in her native British Columbia, she can also write in French.

Shannon was always interested in science, but she has also been a longtime writer of fiction and poetry. She says she doesn’t get much chance to write poems these days, however, because of the intensity of Concordia’s Graduate Diploma in Journalism program.

This is a year-long, three-semester program aimed at aspiring journalists who already have an undergraduate degree in another discipline. It’s a hard program to get into, and thus attracts ambitious students from across Canada and around the world.

The quality of her fellow students is one of the best things about the program, Shannon said. “They’re so intelligent, and the variety of their life experiences is amazing.”

She also appreciates the faculty members. All are working journalists who “are very encouraging, but have a strong sense of what it takes to work in the real world.”

Young Journalists rewarded
by The Gazette

Journalism students enjoyed meeting working journalists on Oct. 24, at the annual reception at The Gazette, on St. Antoine St. Montreal’s English-language daily has close ties with Concordia’s Journalism Department. A number of reporters and editors teach in the department, including editor-in-chief Peter Stockland, and many students go on to internships and full-fledged careers there.

The Gazette sponsors three awards, which were presented at the reception. The Philip Fisher Awards, named for a former president of The Gazette, were awarded to two graduate diploma students, and Catherine Solyom, a winner from last year who is now a full-time Gazette staff member, said a few words of appreciation.

Matthew McFarlane has a degree in musicology from McGill, and intends to be an arts journalist. Clare Byrne is from Ireland, and speaks five languages fluently: English, French, Irish, German and Spanish.

The Susan Carson Bursary, named for a reporter who died 14 years ago, went to Michèle Mischler, who has a political science degree and is a single mother.

The Lewis Harris Award, named for a reporter who died in three years ago, went to Suzanne Gold, an undergraduate, who was not able to attend.