Hayley Woodin is the executive editor of Business in Vancouver (BIV), the first for the media group. In her role she guides various editorial activities, leads the magazine portfolio, and explores ways to increase their subscribers. Woodin is also one of the few journalists in the world to be recognized with a 2022 Overseas Press Club Foundation Scholar Award.
She graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 2014, and went to Central America to investigate Canadian mining operations and its impacts on Indigenous communities in 2015. She was the first journalist to visit Tahoe Resources’ controversial silver mine in Guatemala.
She just recently graduated as valedictorian from Columbia University’s Master of Science in Journalism degree program. After studying in New York City for a 10-month program, she has moved back to the Lower Mainland to continue her work with the weekly business news journal.
She’s also a board director on the KPU Alumni Association Board.
When did you join the KPU community, and why?
I enrolled as a student in the fall of 2009. I wanted to come to KPU because I loved the way the journalism program was structured. It was the only four-year degree program in the region. I liked the ability to stay close to home and I wanted a degree program that would give me a little bit of everything, which the program certainly evolved to be during my time there. I learned everything from print to radio, a bit of broadcast, and a lot of multimedia reporting skills. That’s what drew me to KPU.
After graduating I worked at the university for a number of years, and I’m still involved in a number of ways. I was the media specialist for KPU for about three years after graduating, initially in the marketing department and then later moved into the external affairs department. It was a wonderful experience.
I never intended to go into public or media relations out of the journalism program, but I’m really glad I did. It was great to have a full-time job ready and lined up, and still be connected with KPU because I had such a wonderful experience there as a student. But also, as a journalist, I think it was valuable to understand how public relations work because you spend so much time working with and communicating with PR and media folks. So, to have inside experience on that world and the way it operates has been helpful for me.
What is your favourite story of your time at KPU?
When I was looking at internship and practicum opportunities, there was one that sounded very cool. It was a broadcast opportunity where you’d get to live on a military base in Alberta for three weeks as a sort of “reporter” in these massive war game-type simulations they use to train the Canadian military and Canadian military allies. They require journalists to participate in that simulation.
The idea is you have men and women under fire, under pressure, and they also have to go in front of a camera and talk about what they’re seeing and experiencing. So, they were looking to build a small team of journalists who could fill that function. And I was 100 per cent underqualified for that. I did not have any professional experience in journalism outside of working in my program at KPU.
One of my favourite instructors and mentors, Mark Hamilton who has since retired and was very beloved in the program, said to “just do it.” He wrote me a reference letter and encouraged me to apply. That will forever stick with me. One of the wonderful things about KPU is you actually get to know your instructors and they know who you are. You’re not one of 200, you’re one of 20 or 35, and that’s special. Their warmth, encouragement, and support will forever stay with me.
I ended up doing it. It was a remarkable experience and I loved it. It was very difficult and challenging, but I learned a lot and ended up going back to do it a second time later on.
What is something you’d like to say to people new to the community?
Take the time to discover and explore areas of interest.
Take new courses, take advantage of the ability to take electives and try new and different things. Being at KPU, whatever length your program is, there’s so many opportunities to meet people outside of classes, to engage with and get to know instructors, to get involved and give back to the KPU community, to try out internships and applied-learning experiences.
Take full advantage of the range of opportunities that KPU presents.
I did this to the best of my ability at the time, but if I were to go back and do it again I would full-throttle go forward and really soak up every experience I could. It’s such a wonderful time to learn more about yourself, to explore career options and build new skills.
Having finished a year as a student, doing my master’s, I think going to university is a really great time to invest in understanding what you like and how you want to spend your time post-graduation. It’s a better time to do that difficult work up front while you’re a student and have a very supportive learning environment.
What are you working on right now?
I graduated mid-May, so I’m back full-time on the job as executive editor at BIV. I’m excited to be focused on more of a move toward digital-first reporting, as well as continuing to put out excellent printed products, including the suite of magazines I oversee and our weekly newspaper.
Through Columbia, I also got some grants to do reporting. In my day-to-day life with BIV, I won’t have a ton of time to be reporting actively, but I got an Overseas Press Club Foundation Award. I’ll be using that to go to Guatemala sometime over the next year or so to report on a story that I’ve followed for the past seven years about a Vancouver-owned mine in the region that’s quite controversial. I’ll look at the legacy of that and the contention around it at this point in time.
I also got a Pulitzer Travelling Fellowship, which I’ll be able to put toward another international piece of reporting that is to-be-decided. I’m going to work on a pitch proposal for that over the next year.
What is something you would like people to know about you?
I’m very passionate and optimistic about the future of journalism.
I know there have been a lot of challenges and there’s certainly some progress to be made in general, but especially coming off this year as a student of journalism and reflecting a lot on the industry, I have a lot of hope that it’s going to lead to greater opportunities, fairer coverage, and it’s going to continue to serve a critically important role in society.