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How to Turn Your Writing Career Into Journalism

On November 5th, 2009 Tyler R. Tichelaar and Victor R. Volkman spoke with Toronto-based educator and print, radio, and TV journalist Donna Kakonge about how any writer can successfully refocus their work into the freelance journalism marketplace. She believes that you CAN break into the journalism business without having to have a specialist bachelor’s degree in the subject. Donna has been involved in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Radio Canada International (RCI) on and off for 15 years at the local, national and international levels of both television and radio. She has also worked for the Discovery Channel and Discovery Channel International, Vision TV, the BBC and various publications around the world. Key talking points of tonight’s talk were:

  • How can I educate myself to start a career in journalism?
  • What important trade associations can help me on my journey?
  • Besides book writing, what other kinds of journalism are out there now today?
  • Should I establish some sort of business identity?
  • Can I make money just form my blogs?
  • What about rejection, how do you deal with it?


Donna Kakonge started writing seriously at the age of seven. Her grade two teacher, Mrs. Chen, had the whole class keep a journal. She wrote a story about dinosaurs that Mrs. Chen deemed “outstanding.” Ever since then, she has been hooked.She went to journalism school at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada where she graduated with the Marjorie Nichols Award for being the student with the most promise of becoming an exceptional journalist. She has also been nominated for a Gemini Award (the Canadian version of the Emmy) for work done with the Discovery Channel and has been part of a W Network project “Tell it Like it Is” that won a Hugo Award.Her education continued with a master of arts in media studies and communications from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Her thesis was on the politics of black hair. She has written 31 books, one of them called What Happened to the Afro? that gives a different side to Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair. She has also edited Being Healthy: Selected Works from the Internet and has a book called How to Write Creative Non-fiction is published by Lulu. You can find her books on and other fin e-tailers.She can speak both French and English, a bit of Italian and Spanish. She has received a Quebecor Documentary Fellowship from DOC Toronto. She currently teaches at Seneca College and Centennial College in Toronto. Her subject areas are writing and broadcast.

Guest: Donna Kakonge
Topic: How to Turn Your Writing Career Into Journalism

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Irene Watson and Victor Volkman


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