From the muse to the news, David Cochrane is building himself a career. And taking advantage of the rich opportunities for extracurricular activity at Memorial University has had a lot to do with it.
David, aged 28, is working as political/legislative reporter with CBC Radio One in St. John's, and is heard on regional and national news broadcasts. Not that long ago, however, he was cutting his journalistic teeth with Memorial's student newspaper, the muse. His experience there, he pointed out, "was a great stepping stone - rather than going to a journalism school and learning theory in a classroom, you pick up a tape recorder and a note pad and you march off around the university and find stories.
"The thing about university is that what you learn in the classroom is only half of it," David added when describing how volunteering at the muse built up his professional qualifications, and provided him with life-long friendships and valued memories. Somewhere in between the interviews and the deadlines, he also managed to squeeze in a double major in English and history, receiving his bachelor of arts in 1997. He was very enthusiastic about the role of a number professors in his education: "Professors like Dr. Joe Cherwinski, Dr. David Facey-Crowther, Dr. Annette Staveley - these are professors people should get to know, because… you will learn as much from (them) outside of the classroom as you will inside."
Looking back, David remembered that he did not enter MUN planning to become a roving reporter."I went to university with every intention of going to law school, but along the way, that idea just sort of faded. I ended up joining the muse, around 1994-95. I wrote a few stories, liked it, and within a few weeks I was elected news editor." This responsibility absorbed the lion's share of his time. "I would say that I majored in muse and minored in MUN," he laughed.
The muse led to work with the Canadian University Press from 1996-98, and that decided the issue. "I got to write stories that went national, across the country, and having some success at that and really enjoying it is sort of what . . . made me decide I wanted to make this my career," he related. All of this hard work had gotten the attention of local media outlets, and landed him a column at the Telegram. This got CBC interested in him, which led to a summer job, and then an offer of full-time employment.
With CBC, David is responsible for coverage of politics, and it is this sort of journalism that he feels typifies the variety of being a reporter. "You get to do all kinds of things that you wouldn't be able to do in a normal career: in terms of getting to meet a lot of famous politicians, if you're excited by that sort of thing… To me, the most fun I've ever had in this job was being on an election bus for 23 days during the 1999 provincial election campaign… To witness the campaign from that angle was just remarkable."
His love for the job is clear in the way he describes the nature of the journalistic life, although, judging by the scenario he outlined, some days he must ask himself whether he made the right choice or not. "Normalcy is not a big part of the job," he commented. The schedule can become particularly gruelling when an unexpected story breaks. "Most days are pretty much 9-6… but then there are these periods of insane activity, like when the World Trade Center bombing happened on Sept. 11… I would start work at 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the morning, because we would have to be at the airport or chasing to get the latest information for the Morning Show, which starts at 6 a.m. Then you leave around midnight, go home, get three hours sleep, come in, and do it again."
But there is no regret here: David is passionate about his profession. "The great thing about being a journalist is that you are one-half gossip, one-half private detective: you make money asking people questions that they don't really want to answer, and you get to tell the whole world what's going on," he reflected. "It's sort of the Lego of careers: it's a new job every day."
© Copyright 2002 Memorial University of Newfoundland
More Alumni Profiles: