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Photo courtesy Kristy Archibald // Calgary Citizen

U of C alum Kristy Archibald on local journalism and navigating life post-grad

By Cristina Paolozzi, May 21 2021—

A new Calgary-based publication aims to highlight the city by supporting local communities and spotlighting the people of Calgary through storytelling. 

Calgary Citizen is a community newsletter created not only to bring diverse perspectives of community leaders to the forefront, but also acts as a way for people in the city to stay connected and support local initiatives. 

University of Calgary graduate and Managing Editor of Calgary Citizen, Kristy Archibald, spoke with the Gauntlet about the changing nature of journalism in the city, and navigating life as a post-graduate of the university. 

Graduating from the university in 2015, Archibald studied communications with a goal of working in public relations (PR) and social media. 

“I love telling a brand’s story, I like getting to know the entrepreneur or the person behind the brand and I loved bringing that story to life,” said Archibald. “That was always the part of PR that I loved — less of the admin part.” 

Pursuing more seriously her passion for writing, Archibald began freelancing and pitching to different publications. Eventually starting her own agency, she was presented the opportunity to be the editor of Calgary Citizen, steering her career towards a more editorial role. 

“I’ve always wanted to take my career in more of an editorial route, but I just wasn’t really sure how,” said Archibald. “This is sort of the stepping-stone to that, I suppose, and I’m super excited about it.” 

Calgary Citizen was created to fill the missing gap in local journalism, as Alberta is the lowest province per capita for journalists. Archibald said that while she was working as a writer in Calgary, she was mostly writing for publications outside of Calgary. As well, when stories about Calgary were featured, they weren’t always covered by local journalists. 

“At a lot of the places I was writing for, if they were writing for Calgary, either I did it, or someone in Vancouver or Toronto did it,” she said

This initiative to create more Calgary-based journalism also sparked from the need to have easily consumable updates in the city along with quality stories about the community. 

“That kind of intersection of really quality writing and journalism, and being a resource at the same time, I’ve always seen a need for that,” said Archibald. 

Commenting on her time at the university, Archibald said that the most valuable thing she learned from her time as a student was the integrity of writing and the importance of language and communication. She said that her appreciation for the theoretical side of communications has come “full circle” and frequently reflects on how important it is to consider how a message is communicated through different mediums. 

Archibald also obtained a minor in business, and said that the skills she learned from her business courses helped her once she eventually branched out into the world of freelance. 

“I think U of C has such a good way of forming their programs in terms of the foundation and the actual content that they’re teaching, and I think that you don’t really even realize it until you’re out and you’re working and you’re applying it,” said Archibald. “It’s that knowledge that really gives you a base for where communication is going and how to adapt with it.” 

While many students will ultimately be graduating in a time of great uncertainty, many post-grads are moving away in search of employment in their chosen field. Archibald sympathizes, graduating during a recession in 2015. Taking the first job she could — at a social media marketing firm — she learned to ultimately go where the opportunities lie, but also not to force something. 

“When I graduated I had this picture in my mind that I was working at a PR firm, and I was going to be one of those PR girls, wear heels everyday — very Sex and the City,” Archibald joked. “But I think what students should really be mindful of is being adaptable and be willing to pivot very easily. You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself.” 

Being from Calgary, Archibald also encourages students to continue to stay and look for those opportunities, as bigger cities like Vancouver or Toronto have a very competitive and saturated market. 

“There’s a different perspective here, where we’re so open to support local, we’re so open to support people doing it themselves,” she said. “There’s so much more opportunity to stand out and to do something different and to try new things.” 

Archibald also said that her favourite part about writing and covering Calgary-based stories are the people she gets to meet. In writing and editing for Calgary Citizen, Archibald is able to take her passion for writing and storytelling, and present it in a way that uplifts and uncovers some of the unique perspectives from people in the community. 

“I love hearing those stories, and I love being able to have a platform to tell those stories,” said Archibald. “Calgary has so many interesting people and so many different industries and facets. [Calgary Citizen] is such a nice place to feature those people and that’s really something that our newsletter is going to focus on.”  

The first edition of Calgary Citizen will be coming out on May 25 at 9 a.m. Archibald encourages people to reach out to her at kristy@calgarycitizen.com or at contact@calgarycitizen.com to get involved. You can sign up for their newsletter here, and be sure to check out Calgary Citizen on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  

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