Prof Profile: Bruce Gillespie

Bruce Gillespie
Photo by Cody Hoffman

With his passion for writing and his curiosity to learn about anything and everything, Bruce Gillespie, an award-winning journalist, has proven why he makes such a great assistant professor at Laurier Brantford. However, Gillespie has had quite the adventure before landing here at Laurier Brantford.

Gillespie had an early start in the industry at age 15, working part-time at Mid-North Monitor, a local community newspaper. With his role as a type setter, he typed hand-written work.

He gained his undergraduate degree from Ryerson University focusing on magazine journalism.

“It was great; I really liked it actually, which I think is partly why I like teaching undergraduate classes here because it reminds me of being there again,” said Gillespie.

He worked behind the scenes at a summer internship for Canadian Business magazine fact checking and copyediting. With this experience, Gillespie was offered a job from MoneySense magazine and immediately started work upon graduation.

“Until that point I really thought of myself as more of a writer than an editor … I realized I really liked it, it suited my skills really well and I sort of liked working with writers to make their stories better and I think that made me think of my career path differently,” explained Gillespie.

With ample experience in contract editing, he worked for various magazines and newspapers including This Magazine, focusing on arts and politics, editing special issues for the Financial Post Business Magazine, editing books and even, an online magazine in personal finances. His work has been published in Chatelaine, Applied Arts, the National Post, and he has received prestigious awards including four honorable mentions at the National Magazine Awards.

Gillespie has travelled across Canada and has had his share of interesting experiences.

Gillespie remembers one of these experiences which involved a ice fishing assignment for the Canadian Geographic.

“We didn’t really know how to fish, and once we finally got a fish we didn’t know what to do with it… a photographer had actually come with us and he was taking a picture of us with the fish and we were like… now what?” said Gillespie.

During coffee with an old Ryerson professor, he was told about an opportunity to teach a magazine writing course. Though he didn’t get the job initially, he later received a call to replace another candidate.

“I find that working with journalism students is a lot like the relationship that editors have with new writers … it’s something that I’ve always really enjoyed so after that I thought, wow this is great,” said Gillespie.

Gillespie uses a fun approach to teach his students. While teaching journalism skills, he also uses his experience in the field to provide lessons that require his students to actively participate.

“I’m not a big lecturer; I’m more of a short lecture and then let’s do something in class together …  I think that’s where I can sort of bring most benefits to students,” said Gillespie.

He has advice for students to succeed, emphasizing the importance of showing interest and initiative. He explains that it shows work ethic above and beyond the required minimum.

“I know from somebody who’s hired young writers, I think the best thing you can do in school is to develop some sort of portfolio of published clippings … it doesn’t matter where your clippings come from … most editors would be happy to see your stuff in a student paper or a year book or a local paper,” explained Gillespie.

Currently, Gillespie is co-editing with Lynne Van Luven on two collections of personal essays about the changing nature of the 21st century family.

“It’s a privilege to help people tell those kinds of stories that are obviously really personal and intimate on the one hand, but they feel real need to share with the world at large. It’s fascinating to hear,” said Gillespie.

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