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Concordia scores major gift from Sportsnet

$650,000 donation, the largest ever to Concordia’s Department of Journalism, will create 15 annual scholarships
December 9, 2015
By Howard Bokser

From amateurs to Usain Bolt and Serena Williams, athletes at all levels strive to set records. Thanks to the generosity of Canadian all-sports TV broadcaster Sportsnet, Concordia’s Department of Journalism has reached a career best of its own.

Scott Moore Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL Properties for Rogers Media | Photo: Sportsnet

Sportsnet, which is owned by Rogers Media, is making a $650,000 donation to the journalism school — the biggest in the history of the department. The funds will help advance sports journalism at the university.

“This exceptional gift shows how highly regarded our journalism program is,” says Concordia President Alan Shepard. “Sportsnet’s donation reinforces the importance of journalism education in a quickly evolving medium. It will ensure that tomorrow’s reporters, writers and commentators are ahead of the game.”

“We’re very impressed by the excellent programs in Concordia’s Department of Journalism,” says Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL Properties for Rogers Media. “It has a number of terrific graduates, some of whom work for Sportsnet.”

From left: Samantha Mileto, journalism student, former sports editor of The Concordian; Bram Freedman, Vice-President, Advancement and External Relations; Julian McKenzie, journalism student, online sports editor of The Link; André Roy, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science; Scott Moore, President, Sportsnet & NHL Properties; Alan Shepard, Concordia President and Vice-Chancellor; and Brian Gabrial, Chair, Department of Journalism.

“Our goal is to elevate the training of great sports journalists across the country,” he says. “I grew up in Montreal, and I also feel it’s important to support journalism students at Concordia to help their employment opportunities in the city.” 

Moore adds that it is more crucial than ever to support future journalists. “I tell journalism students that they’re entering an industry at either the best time or the worst time. It depends on them,” he says.

“It’s a time of extreme change and opportunity, which is very exciting. The people in school now are the ones who will create the new media ecosystem.”

The Sportsnet gift will help create 15 annual scholarships for the next five years, all based on academic merit: six scholarships of $3,000 each for undergraduate students, seven scholarships of $4,000 each for graduate diploma students and two scholarships of $6,000 each for graduate students. 

Over the same time period it will also offer two annual prizes of $8,500 each, awarded to students based on their sports journalism portfolios.

“Part of what makes this gift so exciting is that it supports all three levels of our journalism program: undergraduate, diploma and master’s degree,” says André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. “The three programs already attract outstanding students — and with the help of Sportsnet, we can offer them even more opportunities.”

Unexpected gift

Brian Gabrial Brian Gabrial, chair of Concordia’s Department of Journalism

“I received an email in March from Scott Moore, who said he wanted to set up a time to talk,” says Brian Gabrial, chair of Concordia’s Department of Journalism. “I often get these requests, usually for internships. Instead, Scott said that he was looking to make a donation.”

“He’s friends with Bob Babinski, a long-time instructor in our department and a veteran journalist, and Bob suggested giving a gift to Concordia,” Gabrial says. “It’s an amazing contribution to the program, a chance to support our students — it’s a tremendous gift for them.” 

Concordia’s Department of Journalism offers a three‐year undergraduate program, two one-year graduate diploma programs — including a new visual journalism program — and a two‐year MA in journalism studies. The undergraduate and graduate diploma programs focus on all aspects of digital journalism, combining skills development with courses in journalism history, media law and ethics, and critical approaches. 

The department’s small workshop courses provide access to instructors — all of whom are former journalists. Complementing these workshops are lecture‐based courses that focus on journalism’s social, economic, political and ideological impacts. 

Students have access to state‐of‐the‐art media technology, including digital and broadcast labs and studio facilities. The Advanced Radio News course takes a unique approach of recreating a real‐world radio newsroom, where each student works two three‐hour shifts, producing two 15‐minute radio newscasts per week.

Needed support

“A journalism program is relatively expensive to run, since our equipment is costly,” Gabrial says. “Donations from news organizations are important to us because they allow us to be innovative in our curriculum, to be creative.”

This year, the Department of Journalism celebrates its 40th anniversary. “When we were looking back at what makes this program stand out, we realized that we have successful alumni in online, print and broadcast media at the highest levels across the country,” says Gabrial. “That’s impressive because we’re not a huge department.”

The long list of Department of Journalism graduates working in sports journalism includes Geoff Baker, BA 91, sports reporter for the Seattle Times, Stephanie Myles, BA 92, writer and blogger for Yahoo Sports, Jonah Keri, BA 97, best-selling author, andArpon Basu, GrDip 00, managing editor of

Concordia alumni at Sportsnet include Jessica Rusnak, BA 10, sports editor at Sportsnet590 The Fan, staff writer Eric Engels, BA 07, and producer Robert Lendrum, MA 06.

Student appreciation

Sportsnet was already a long-time supporter of Concordia students through a number of awards and scholarships, including the Rogers Sportsnet Scholarship in Communication Studies and Journalism, worth $2,400. 

Earlier this year Julian McKenzie, online sports editor of the student newspaper The Link, won the $10,000 Sportsnet U Recruited award. The national competition judges students on Canadian university sports stories. 

“I know first-hand how it feels to receive financial and career support from Sportsnet,” says McKenzie, an undergraduate journalism student. “Thanks to them, I know I have a future in sports journalism.” 

“As a Concordia student, I value the importance of higher education in making my dreams a reality,” says Samantha Mileto, an undergraduate journalism student and former sports editor of the student newspaper The Concordian. “Many students find it hard to pay tuition and make ends meet at the same time. I cannot thank Sportsnet enough for its major contribution toward scholarships for my fellow journalism students.” 

This gift was announced on December 9, 2015 at Concordia.  

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