Shedoesthecity turns 10 this November, and to mark the occasion, we’re connecting with contributors past and present to find out what they’ve been up to lately, how their careers have evolved, and what they are looking forward to in the future.
Morgan Dunlop is an award-winning journalist/producer for CBC Metro Morning. She has also written travel and health stories for magazines including Elle, Chatelaine and Cottage Life, among others. Morgan completed an Honours Bachelor of Health Science at the University of Western Ontario before going on to study journalism at Concordia University. Her writing has appeared in newspapers including The National Post, The Globe and Mail and The Ottawa Citizen.
We were lucky to have Morgan share her travel adventures on Shedoesthecity for several years. From sailing in the Adriatic Sea to visiting flea markets in New York City, she enjoyed taking us on a ride around the world, and we enjoyed her worldly anecdotes.
SDTC: How did your career in media begin?
MD: I heard an interview about how We Day brings young people together in the spirit of positive change and I wanted to go. It was too late to get a regular ticket so I applied for a press pass under the guise of “freelance journalist.” To my total surprise, I got the pass. I spent the entire day interviewing whoever would speak to me and soaking up the excitement of the event. I went home to write a passionate and poorly organized story. I then decided to pitch the story to several major publications. When it was rejected, I demanded to know why. Luckily one of the editors took pity on me and explained that perhaps I needed a little bit of training. Jen McNeely was one of the first editors to take a chance on me. And it’s women like her who help us believe in ourselves, who lift us all.
How has your professional life evolved since you first began writing?
I went on to actually become a freelance writer, with stories published in magazines including Elle, Chatelaine, Cottage Life and newspapers including The Ottawa Citizen, The National Post and The Globe and Mail. I was even nominated for a National Magazine Award for a story in This Magazine.
Writing eventually took me into the world of broadcasting, where I have now been for about seven years. At the CBC, I’ve worked as a digital reporter, TV reporter, health columnist and radio show host. I won a Radio Television Digital News Association award for speaking out about a sexist prank targeting female journalists.
When you reflect on the past ten years, what are the biggest career lessons that come to mind?
It’s all about service. You’ll never get where you want to be because the goalpost keeps changing. That’s what makes life exciting. But if you’re driven by wanting to serve a story, the public or a client, you can feel good at the end of each project.
People want to help you. Strangers are incredibly generous, whether it’s veteran journalists you’re meeting for the first time or a sports fan you’re asking for a quote. People are amazing. You really can do anything. I went from being a bad writer with terrible spelling to an award-winning journalist.
What is a recent life lesson that has really impacted you?
Effort feels good. I often joke about the bliss of being independently wealthy and living a life of complete ease. But I feel the best after a day of trying hard.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in the media industry today?
Differentiation and relevance in an era of information overload.
How have you adapted your career to accommodate those challenges?
I’m working on it. For one, I seek out stories I want to learn about.
What do you love most about what you do?
Learning new things. Speaking to courageous people. Being surrounded by engaged journalists.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Enjoy it. Savour it.
What piece of advice, or tip from a mentor, do you think about often that has helped you make decisions about your professional life?
“Talk less. Listen more.” and “What’s your focus?” (This applies to stories and to life.)
What are your hopes or predictions for the media industry at large in the next decade?
I hope for more well-written, insightful articles that unite people at the extremes. I want newspapers to survive. I want to be inspired every morning by amazing work happening around our world. More good news.
What hobbies or passions outside of work currently occupy your time?
Writing fiction and sailing. I’ve been learning to sail at one of the community clubs in the east end and it’s the best thing. Each class overflows with metaphors for life, like “Don’t fight the wind or your boat, adjust your sails.” It reminds me of the importance of working harder than you thought possible until you think you’ve failed. Every time I do this in sailing, and in life, I emerge on the other side feeling rejuvenated and fearless.
When you think back to 2007 and compare to now, how do you think you’ve changed the most?
I take things less seriously.
Anything else you want to share right now?
Go She Does The City! Thanks for everything you do for emerging writers!