Start Your Story: Western's MMJC Program Helped Sameer Develop His Skills for Finding Newsworthy Stories to Share
Sameer's hometown: Toronto, Ontario
From an MMJC student to a writer of 'Sameer Chhabra Specials' -- what Sameer jokingly calls the creative articles he writes for CBC Windsor.
Before attending Western’s Master of Media in Journalism and Communication program in 2016, Sameer’s love for writing was unmistakable.
Sameer attended the University of Guelph from 2012-2016 and majored in English. While studying at Guelph, he worked as the News Editor for the university’s newspaper, The Ontarion. But his writing didn’t stop there: in 2013, Sameer was a copywriter for the Metroland Media Group, writing for the Guelph Mercury’s associated magazines. He was also writing for the Waterloo Region Record’s magazines at the same time, and continued to do so throughout his time at Western.
During his time in the MMJC program, which is offered through the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, one of the skills Sameer developed was the ability to find and pitch many story ideas. Before the MMJC program, Sameer was used to life in Toronto; he didn’t have to look too hard for interesting, exciting or relevant stories in Canada’s largest city. However, being in London—a mid-sized city that is much smaller than Toronto—made it challenging for Sameer to find original stories.
Finding stories was not one of Sameer’s strengths going into the MMJC program, but he said he was grateful for the experience it gave him. “Having to connect with people a little bit more, having to actually participate in the community to meet new people, to learn about new things happening in your town…that is something huge that I took away from MMJC,” he said.
Sameer’s favourite memory from the MMJC program is when he and his project–mates tried to create a story about the abandoned house on the outskirts of London.
After many unsuccessful attempts at getting information about the house and its previous owner, Sameer and his team ended up having to change their story. What was intended to be a history piece about the house ended up being a deep dive on the rules of real estate. Sameer loves this memory because of the fun he had chasing the story and encountering all the challenges along the way.
Sameer has been a certified rescue diver since 2010.
Sameer is now a web writer for CBC Windsor where he follows the daily news in the morning and works in the afternoon and evening. His job includes processing reporter-gathered interviews and finding what’s most interesting and original about them. Sameer also monitors the live streams for the 6 p.m. news and the social media channels, all while writing articles for CBC’s website.
Sameer’s learning didn’t end when he received his master’s degree. Creating original pieces, he said, was something he struggled with going into MMJC. “That’s still something I’m learning. I’m still good at it, but I’m working at it. Definitely being in London and being forced to find those stories in London kick-started that learning process,” he said.
The MMJC program has allowed many students to launch successful careers in journalism, communications, marketing and other media-focused industries. If you’re interested in starting your media career, apply to Western’s MMJC program to Start Your Story!
Profiles in the Start Your Story blog are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.