Seneca’s graduates are not only making headlines, but are on the frontline reporting them
Brandon Gonez, a graduate of Seneca’s Broadcast Journalism Summer Institute (now Summer Institute of Multiplatform Journalism) program, recently crossed one more item off his bucket list when he joined CTV’s Your Morning last September as co-host and weather anchor.
“I was working as a reporter/anchor at CTV Barrie and the opportunity came about for Your Morning and I applied. A few interviews later, they offered me the position,” he says.
In 2014, after graduating from York University with a degree in Communications, Brandon enrolled into the one-year journalism program at Seneca.
“I was studying communications and realized that I had a love for it [communications] and for media. Fortunately, Seneca was located at York, so I started inquiring about the program and realized there have been a lot of successful broadcasters that have come out of Seneca,” says Brandon.
Brandon landed his first gig as a video-journalist for CFTK-TV News, and was quickly promoted to a senior reporter and fill-in anchor for the nightly news in British Columbia. His location placed him at ground zero for stories involving the province’s controversial liquefied natural gas sector and reporting on the missing and murdered Indigenous women and the infamous Highway of Tears.
“With CFTK-TV I got to work in northwestern B.C. and I loved every minute of it. It was my first time travelling west of Ontario. But I learned so much,” he says. “I was able to use all my reporting skills from shooting, editing, voicing, researching, radio, web and even anchoring. Plus, I learned so much about Indigenous culture and certain issues facing our Aboriginal Peoples.”
He then moved on to join Global News in Saskatchewan, where he had the opportunity to cover various newscasts for budget-day specials, a provincial election, and the tragic school shooting in La Loche of 2016. Brandon says though the incident affected fellow journalists, it in turn became a learning curve.
“[The shooting] was devastating for the community and heartbreaking for our young newsroom, but we kicked it into high gear and rolled out a newscast that I was proud to be a part of.”
Brandon has taken on a new aspect of reporting as weather anchor, reading forecasts and presenting conditions with pre-written scripts and most times through improvisation.
“The transition [from news reporting] was fairly smooth, slight adjustments. I realized it’s OK to show off your personality, and that is one of my favourite things about this new role. We get to wake up with Canadians from across the country and give them all the news, weather and entertainment they need to succeed,” he says.
A part of staying engaged with the morning show’s audience happens online. “I'm on social media every day. It's one of my job requirements. Every future journalist should know how to use social media because that is where the audiences are now. It's not just presenting the news and weather on TV, but also presenting it on all the various social media platforms so that people have access to the information you're giving them,” he says.
The show also hosts roundtable discussions on entertainment, including fashion and sports, social issues and challenges Canadians and Millennials face like employment rate and the housing market. Brandon’s advice for young alumni and recent graduates for life after postsecondary education: focus on your finances. Job insecurity is real and being prepared for a rainy day or a dry spell in terms of work, is very important.
“Take the time to speak with a financial advisor so you know how to make your money work for you. Try to avoid debt and keep a good credit score,” he says.
Despite his hectic schedule, Brandon finds it important to be an active alumnus and connect with current students. Last March, he participated in a journalism program panel hosted by the School of Media and Seneca Alumni to share his work experience and career tips.
“I remember when I was a student and I was so nervous and worried about if I would make it in this industry or even get a job. I had so many questions and fortunately I had great professors who were there to answer them,” he says. “And while I'm not a professor, I do want to make sure I can be there for future students to help ease those nerves and fears.”