Using Storytelling to Stay Connected With Her Community

By Alex Madill

Calvi's hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Attending school during the COVID-19 pandemic, Calvi Leon learned to make human connections and tell compelling stories despite challenges presented by physical distancing.


As a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the London Free Press, Calvi Leon gets to put her energy into something that she’s always gravitated towards - telling human stories. And she tells those stories from a range of different subjects and interests.

“It’s an interesting job and that is why I love it so much—because I can cover everything. Anything from crime to real estate to small-town politics.”

This style of reporting appeals to Calvi in how it differs from traditional beat reporting. Rather than focusing on a single area of interest, such as entertainment, politics, or health, she instead sees it as “shedding light on issues that are happening in surrounding counties.”

Fun Fact

On her first solo trip to Australia, Calvi went skydiving by herself and said it was one of the coolest experiences she has ever had.

Calvi’s interest in journalism and storytelling pre-date her work at the London Free Press, and even her time as a graduate student in the Master of Media in Journalism and Communication program at Western University. She has been reaching out to connect with people since her stint as a Western TV reporter when she was an undergraduate student in the Media and the Public Interest program.

Western TV gave her that first taste of journalism, which she then pursued further by enrolling in the MMJC program in 2020. What she didn’t know is that the program, coupled with the global COVID-19 pandemic, would give her a crash course in how to make genuine connections with people in a time of physical distancing.

While taking the required course “The Social Media and Digital Production Dojo” in her first term, Calvi set up shop in Victoria Park in downtown London and looked for ways to bridge the physical distancing gap, thinking outside the box. From this, “Pandemic Portraits” was born.

“If I was going to describe (my MMJC) experience to someone I would say challenging, rewarding, and so much knowledge packed into one year, you walk away from the program being confident that you could do anything.“

“I took portraits of people and asked them open-ended, philosophical questions to spur conversation. I was out in Victoria Park all masked up asking people these big questions."

Through this project, she found the warmth of human connection during months of isolation.

Calvi looked for ways to tell these compelling human stories in virtual spaces.

I was able to combine the things I love, video, photo and text. That (project) was a notable moment for me because I was able to essentially combine my whole first term in MMJC and see all my favourite aspects come together.”

In her final term, Calvi joined the London Free Press to complete her program internship requirement. While she was there, she covered crime reporting and her passion for journalism grew. Now staff, she has been with the newspaper for almost two years.

Calvi hopes to exercise her love for video storytelling more frequently in her current role.

“I would like to get back to my roots in a sense and do more video projects that I enjoy, that is what I love. In MMJC I got to do so many video projects and be creative. That is something that helps me even now.”

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.