A sigh of relief could be heard across the country following one of the longest election campaigns in Canadian history — especially from inside our Parliamentary Press Gallery. Federal politics is a complex portfolio, and is a lot of work for the reporters working to hold our democracy in check. Justin Ling, political reporter for VICE Canada, approaches the role with unrelenting directness and a little bit of humour. We interviewed Justin so that you could get to know him a bit better.
Follow him @Justin_Ling
What is it like to be a political reporter for a fast-paced, online publication?
Well, it’s a lot better than writing for a slow online publication. It basically means that every story is either a question of: can we do it better or faster than everyone else? Or, better yet: can we do something that nobody else is going to do? Too many of the old guards are still thinking in terms of the morning edition of their print paper. So it’s nice to be working in an environment where my colleagues get it.
How has social media changed the Canadian media landscape?
It’s re-invented how we look at traffic and readership, for sure. Facebook, being the great traffic generator, has meant that smaller or upstart publications have had an opportunity to break into the media market in a much more serious way. It also means that you’re only ever a tweet or a message away from your readership — which is simultaneously cool and terrifying.
What does a typical day look like for you?
What’s a typical day? If the MPs are around, it means a fair bit of scrambling between events, committees, and the House of Commons. Otherwise, it’s a lot of sifting through documents, working the phones, and trying to run down whatever stories break in the course of a day.
What’s your number one tip for PR people?
Actually know the journalists you’re pitching to. The vast majority of PR pitch emails I get are either: not Canadian, not remotely associated with my field, or just generally useless. Sending out a mass email to every reporter you have in your rolodex is not a good way to get quality stories.
Favourite story you’ve ever worked on?
It was probably a story I worked on about how all of Canada’s secure phone lines were purchased from the NSA. I love some good irony.
Dream story that you’d love to work on?
I want to go on the inaugural ride of one of the airships that some up North think could be a viable option for Canada’s arctic communities, thanks to my bizarre fascination with Hindenburg disaster.
First website you load in the morning?
Coffee or beer?