Laura Woodward is more than four years into a six-week internship.
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She arrived at CTV Saskatoon in March of 2018, ostensibly for an apprenticeship, and loved it so much that she stayed.
“It felt like home when I got here,” says Woodward, 27, who grew up in Caledon, Ont., before studying journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto.
Although she originally had designs on becoming a writer, everything changed shortly after she was introduced to — and most intrigued by — working in television.
Originally, she was behind the camera at the Business News Network (now known as BNN Bloomberg) and striving to immerse herself in a profession that is also her passion.
“The position was called ‘broadcast associate,’ so I was printing scripts, doing some graphics, working in the control room, rolling the teleprompter,” says Woodward, a self-described workaholic whose reports also routinely appear on CTV Regina. “That was my first job in television, because I had always wanted to do print.
“Then I went, ‘What was I thinking? I actually love this. I love TV!’ It just was like, ‘I talk so much. What am I doing in print? Broadcast is the fit. Hello!’ I mean, I do love to write, but it worked out that I ended up at BNN.
“I wanted to be more hands-on. It was a little frustrating watching people do the job you want. I was working in the control room and I really wanted to ask the questions. I wanted to be covering the stories, but I had to just kind of watch for a while, which was a good learning experience.
“Obviously, you can’t just jump into it, but I was thinking, ‘When can I go on-air? When can I do more?’ They said, ‘Well, you have to go smaller-market.’ I was like, ‘OK, well, where should I go?’ This was my university professor talking, and she said, ‘There’s this place — Saskatoon — and they’ll let you do anything there.’ I was, ‘OK!’ ”
There was only one problem. Woodward wasn’t precisely sure where she was going.
“I was like, ‘Where is this province? Where is this city?’ I honestly had to look at a map,” she says, laughing. “I needed help with my geography.”
Fortunately, the job was easier for her to navigate.
“Just doing my first story gave me a high, to be honest,” Woodward recalls. “Going out, getting the interviews, editing it — you do it all here in Saskatoon.
“That makes it kind of a rare market, where you shoot, you edit and you do your on-camera stuff. It was so exciting to me and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! What am I going to do tomorrow?! What am I going to do the next day?!’ Well, I have no idea. It’s so exciting and spontaneous.
“The turnaround was just so cool to me, right from the start. You do the interview in the morning and then you get it on-air for 12 o’clock. I was just intrigued that you could start the day with nothing. You don’t have anything in your broadcast — just an empty lineup — and then it’s full at the end of the day.
“The next day, you get to start fresh. I loved that pretty quickly after I moved here. After doing my first couple of stories, I just wanted more.”
To the extent that she eventually started a business — Love Laura Videos. (There’s another “E” word: Enterprising.)
The seeds for a sidelight as a wedding videographer were sown when a colleague at CTV, Angelina Irinici (now Angelina King of CBC Toronto), was preparing to get married.
“She said, ‘I’m getting married, but we didn’t get a videographer to do a wedding video,’ ” Woodward says. “I said, ‘Well, I have a video camera. I’m a guest at the wedding, but I could get some video footage for you.’
“So I put together a little video after her wedding and I just signed it, ‘Love, Laura.’ It was my gift to her. Then another friend saw it and said, ‘Oh, could you do my wedding?’ So I started to do a couple more.
“Then my dad, with the business background, said, ‘OK, this isn’t a non-profit anymore. You should make this into a business,’ so it turned into a little side-hustle for me.
“Of course, the process is still my bread and butter, which is video and editing and telling a story, except that it’s about weddings. It’s so funny how things worked out.”
As one who routinely covers court stories, documenting the culmination of the courtship process was a natural evolution.
This year, Woodward will shoot approximately 30 weddings, in addition to immersing herself in her primary vocation, which is more like a labour of love.
“I’m busy, but I’m meeting all sorts of people,” she says. “It’s kind of funny, because shooting wedding videos is similar to news. It’s not the same, but it is the same.
“When you’re out in the field, getting a news story, you’re, ‘Go! Go! Get the shot!’ It’s the same at a wedding: ‘Oh my gosh! The first kiss is happening! Get it!’ It is a similar kind of rush of getting breaking news at a wedding.
“It’s an outlet for me — a happier outlet, sometimes. You’re covering dark, hard news all the time. It’s kind of nice to see a nice, happy love story on a Saturday.”
Especially in today’s world, where the targeting of reporters and the “fake news” misconception is far too prevalent.
“It’s really difficult for me to watch anytime a reporter gets verbally assaulted on-air, because that’s what it is, whether it’s people yelling inappropriate things or taking a microphone or jumping in front of a camera,” Woodward says.
“I don’t think it’s funny at all. I think it’s very disrespectful and it’s hard to watch your colleagues try and do their job, and do their job well, when you have this added barrier.
“I think it’s just important to stay focused on the big picture. Sometimes, it can just be a loud minority. I mean, it’s frustrating. I’ve gotten emails where people have said horrible things, even when I wasn’t covering some of the big stories.
“It blows my mind that there’s that much hate in the world. I think it’s a difficult time to be a journalist. But then you see the tragedy in Ukraine, and now people are tuning in to watch the news and realizing how valuable it is.
“It’s just a timing thing. I know that there is value in what we do. I don’t think that this time in our life is going to ruin the big picture for me. It sucks to see, but I don’t think it’s going to make me quit.
“I really feel for the mental health of journalists and I can understand why people are leaving the industry, because it is tough. But I also think there is some value in being scrutinized. It is good to take a step back and look at what we’re doing.”
Woodward cherishes that opportunity, despite the stress that can be induced by deadlines or detractors. She is also pleased and proud to pursue a career in a province to which she quickly became attached — despite the initial geographic challenges.
“I love doing what I’m doing,” Woodward says. “People ask, ‘Do you want to go to a bigger market?’ I really don’t have a desire to leave. I really love what I do every day.
“Even though I’ve been doing this for four or five years, it’s not repetitive. It’s always different. I just enjoy continuing to do news stories with different angles. I love covering courts and different trials … and covering different weddings.”
Either way, Laura Woodward is happily married to what she does.
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