Jade Prévost-Manuel likes pushing herself. After spending a year between degrees working on a macadamia nut farm in Hawaii and exploring underwater shipwrecks while living solo on a dive island in Thailand, she’s up for anything.
The Master’s in Journalism & Communication student will be a little closer to home for her next adventure, as the 23-year-old was named the recipient of the Joan Donaldson CBC News Scholarship. She is set to begin a four-month paid internship with the CBC Toronto this summer as one of eight nationwide Donaldson Scholars.
“I’ve always been a writer, writing poetry and fiction growing up. I went to school with the mindset that eventually I would be a writer. But I’m also a huge nature nerd,” said Prévost-Manuel, who earned an Anthropology and Biology degree from McGill University in 2018.
“When I started working for the (McGill) Tribune, I realized I had this ability to take complicated subject matter and synthesize it in a way that’s more acceptable to a public unfamiliar with science. So even though I went to school for different subjects, I had a love of learning my whole life. The same routine can make you stagnant.”
Quebec-born and Turks and Caicos-raised, Prévost-Manuel arrived at Western with hopes of doing science journalism. After realizing research wasn’t for her, it was about trying to figure out a path “to go somewhere where I can do the most good.”
She continued, “Communications was always my strong suit. With anthropology, it’s pretty much like journalism. It’s an interest in people, an interest in cultures and why they do what they do. A journalist is really an ethnographer – you’re sitting in your corner observing your surroundings and then explaining what that means.”
While the last few years have sown distrust and wariness of journalists and journalism, Prévost-Manuel is adamant there remains opportunities for the field to surge public knowledge and shed light on what matters.
“There’s a spread of misinformation, but that term has been perpetuated so much that it’s somehow exceeded the scope of what it was,” she said. “Digital is such a powerful tool and it’s something you just can’t rule off as dangerous. It’s something that can work for you.
“Every current technology has always said the ‘next technology’ is a bad idea. Radio said TV was bad; newspapers said the Internet is bad. But, at the same time, there is so much positive that can come from it. It’s about harnessing the power.”
During her internship, Prévost-Manuel will have two rotations at CBC Toronto, along with time in a regional location. The breadth and depth of the public broadcaster’s reach is an early attraction to the post, she said.
“This is something I wouldn’t have had the chance to do had I worked for a local newsroom,” she said. “Every story is a learning experience. I realized, especially in school, that I couldn’t go for every subject that I was interested in. But in journalism, I get to learn about every subject. Every day is different and it’s never a boring job.”
She added her time at the CBC is less important about where she’ll be, but rather the people she’ll be meeting.
“I’m looking at this as a big opportunity and I’m excited to see and meet the other students,” said Prévost-Manuel, adding being in such a competitive pool of candidates can only make her better. “Everything I’ve done in life has been for the sake of having new experiences. I like being around people I can learn a lot from. You learn best from the best.”
A highly respected senior journalist, Joan Donaldson was the founding head of CBC Newsworld responsible for the development and operation of the network. Her career came to an abrupt halt in 1990 after an accident resulted in long-term brain damage. She died in 2006.
In 1999, Newsworld established the Joan Donaldson Scholarship for aspiring journalists.