Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hip + Urban Girl of the Week: Natalie Johnson

The hip + urban girl of the week is someone who encompasses a fabulous attitude, job and lifestyle. We will feature a mix of entrepreneurs and urban professionals who are inspiring to follow.  This week we interview Natalie Johnson, a news reporter with CTV Toronto.  You may have seen her around on TV...just sayin'.  We swear she never stops working because we always see her 'reporting live'.  Thanks to Natalie, for taking some time out of her busy schedule to chat with us!

Covering the G20 in Toronto
How did you work your way up to being a regular reporter with CTV Toronto? 
After a few jobs in newspaper and radio, I began my TV career as a reporter at CTV Ottawa. I was in my fourth year at Carleton University at the time, and I was hooked. I’d always loved news of all kind, but telling stories with pictures was really where my heart was. While I was reporting there, a producing opportunity at the CTV Parliamentary Bureau came up and I jumped at the chance. For two years I worked as a field producer for CTV National News, working day-to-day on Parliament Hill and getting to travel for special events, like election campaigns and the Vancouver Olympics. I also got to learn the control room, and spent time producing CTV’s Question Period. Producing alongside some of the best journalists in the country was an incredible learning experience, and I was so fortunate to see that side of TV. I decided that I wanted to return to reporting, and that’s when the CTV Toronto opportunity came up. I figured big city – lots of news! 

What kind of hours do you work? 
My schedule is pretty much all over the map - days, nights, and weekends! There is always so much going on in this city and of course news happens around the clock. We have three newscasts a day to reflect that – so if I’m working a day shift I’ll file for the noon and 6pm shows and if I’m working a night shift I’ll file for the 6pm and 11:30pm newscasts.

What is your typical week like? 
One of the best parts of my job is that every week is different. Every day is different, for that matter. I wake up in the morning and don’t know what the day will bring - I could be chasing breaking news, headed to a crime scene or the courthouse, or spending the day working on a human-interest story. The one thing that every day has in common is that by the end of it, the cameraman, editor, and I have to boil down the information and tell the story. I love the feeling at the end of the day when it all comes together.

Natalie flies in a jet for the Air Show!
How often do you get to travel? 
I spend all day long travelling the GTA! On any given day I could easily drive 100km, depending on where the news is. There are some days where I’m based at one location all day, but usually I’m all over the city interviewing people and gathering story elements. I’ve been in Toronto for six months now and am still so amazed at the size of this place. For me, the beauty of running around the city all day is that it is a fantastic way to explore it. Every time I go out on a shoot I get to see a different nook or neighbourhood, and all the things that make each one unique. 

What is the best part of your job? 
Absolutely – the people. TV is such a team sport; you really need a ton of people to make it happen. Every day I work with producers, cameramen, editors, and other technical staff who make it possible for the story to come together and be broadcast. I think everyone in this industry loves his or her job, and it shows. The other “people” aspect that I love so much about the job is the people I meet out in the field. This job really is a window to the world – I get to meet people from all walks of life, all with stories to tell. I have met some of the most interesting, talented, and kind people out there and have been fortunate enough to hear what they have to say and introduce them to the rest of the city.

The worst part of your job? 
I would have to say the days where I am covering tragedy. Behind every crime scene or accident is a person with loved ones left to pick up the pieces, and as a reporter I am so often witness to the raw grief that comes with that. Those days can be hard – though they really serve to remind me how lucky I am, and how we shouldn’t take any part of life for granted.

Natalie with Lisa from The Hip + Urban Girl
What did you study in University/College? Would you have done anything differently? 
I went to Carleton University in Ottawa and studied Journalism with minors in Business and Law. I think the biggest thing I would have done differently in hindsight is just enjoyed the whole process more. I loved what I was learning … but in school you’re so busy, always trying to stay ahead, that you don’t necessarily appreciate the feeling of just being able to “learn” for learning’s sake. Now that I’m out of school, I miss the classroom for that reason.

Where are your favourite places to hang out in?  
There is great food in this city! Ever since I moved here I’ve been of the mindset that I’ve got to try everything (or at least – a lot of things!) before I start going back to the same places again and again. So I’ve been exploring a few different areas – King West, Queen West, The Esplanade. That said, the one place I’ve been back to several times that I really enjoy is Hemingway’s in Yorkville. Love the rooftop patio!

Best places to shop? 
I love all the unique little shops along midtown Yonge St. – it’s a great place to window shop! Often when I have a weekday off (it’s always a little less hectic those days!) I’ll grab a coffee and just wander in and out of those neat little stores. Also I’ve got to say that I love the fact that the malls here have everything … I couldn’t believe when I found out that at the Eaton Centre and Yorkdale there are multiple locations of the same store!

Just hanging with the CTV news chopper...
Tell us about your neighbourhood and what you like best about it! 
I’m living in the Yonge/Eglinton area and really like the neighbourhood. When I first moved here I didn’t know the city at all and didn’t have a sense of where I wanted to live – I had a few friends in this area who recommended it and so I thought I’d give it a try. Now my temporary home here has become my permanent home! There are some great mom-and-pop restaurants and shops along Yonge St., as well as green space just blocks in. I love the parks for jogging. I think it’s so great that there are people out-and-about 24-hours a day on the main street, but it’s still quiet and peaceful on the side streets. 

What do you wish someone told you when you were younger and just starting out? 
You know – I was so lucky to have so many great people with great advice around me when I was going through school and looking to get into journalism. I think “be patient” is good advice in that sense. When you’re just starting out you’re so eager to get doing what you want to do, that every job you don’t get feels like such a huge setback. Well, you’re not meant to get every job that’s posted – you’re meant to get the one that’s right for you. Hard work, patience, and it will happen.

The CTV Newsroom
What life advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure out what they want to do? 
Wow – tough question. It’s such an individualized process. I think the best thing I can suggest is: ask yourself what you would have fun doing every day. I could never picture myself sitting in an office day-in and day-out; but running around the city, telling stories with pictures, and getting a first-hand look at what’s going on in the world – to me, that is fun. I love going to work every day and I think that is the most important thing to consider when deciding what to do with your life. 

You can catch Natalie online at:

1 comment:

  1. Natalie brings a fresh and delightful approach to reporting She is very well liked.