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Returning to traditional journalism: Meet our new staff writer Sarah Rowland

Sarah Rowland
Returning to traditional journalism: Meet our new staff writer Sarah Rowland

Returning to my journalistic roots is a source of pride for me, and not for just any outlet, but a respected, heritage publication.

With its unwavering focus on all aspects of the construction industry, the Journal of Commerce (JOC) has always been much more than a mere industry rag.

It is a beacon of journalistic integrity, propelled by a deep understanding that the buildings we inhabit, the roads we traverse and the bridges we cross profoundly shape our lives.

Behind each architectural marvel lies a compelling story, and behind every project, there are the dedicated individuals who bring them to life.

As the new scribe for the JOC, I look forward to helping the editorial team unpack the broader implications of construction.

It’s not just about bricks and mortar; it’s about the environment, the economy, culture, community and… shelter.

The latter is of significant importance to me, as I’m B.C.-born and bred.

And anyone who lives in Vancouver knows the current housing crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing our city.

I’ve seen firsthand how the high cost of living, scarcity of affordable housing, and the pressing need for sustainable, innovative construction practices intertwine to form a complex, ongoing narrative, one that reverberates through daily conversations.

I believe the JOC is a publication that recognizes the value of informed discourse on these and other topics, and I’m thrilled to be part of this team.

My journey through journalism and the building industry

So, how did I land this gig as a staff writer?

Well, my journey to this point has been a long and winding road, marked by detours through various realms of journalism and content creation. As such, this latest venture feels like a professional homecoming of sorts.

I first honed my craft in print journalism at Langara, an institution known for its commitment to nurturing budding wordsmiths.

My initial steps into the world of writing and editing soon evolved into a cross-country odyssey, during which I had the privilege of contributing to renowned publications like the Georgia Straight, Montreal Mirror and 24 hours.

It was during this period that I witnessed the shifting landscape of print journalism — I mean…how could I not?

The writing was on the wall, so to speak. The digital age was ushering in a new era for storytelling and the decline of print publications became increasingly evident. Time to pivot.

I jumped ship and landed in a content creation role, where I created a unique niche within the building industry.

I authored books on groundbreaking architectural designs, promoted real estate ventures and produced informative how-to videos focused on the use of sustainable wood products — shout out to Real Cedar.

After my 10-year detour through the world of marketing and communications, I seemed to have come full circle.

What drew me back to traditional media? The JOC and how it navigated the turbulent waters of fact-based journalism with integrity, never pandering to the ad department with thinly veiled pay-to-plays parading as objective reporting. Nor as it tried to increase readership by cringe clickbait tactics.

In an era where truth is under attack and publications are struggling to stay afloat, the JOC continues to take the high road by maintaining its commitment to delivering factual, insightful and in-depth content. And I want to be a part of that.


My philosophy on journalism

Even though the bulk of my career in journalism was devoted to subjective entertainment reporting, I never lost sight of the importance of truth telling in newsy journalism.

Few things disconcert me more than attending a family function and being subjected to a relative confidently expounding clickbait conspiracy theories as gospel truth.

When asked where they heard such claims, they often respond with a vague “I read it somewhere.”

As if credible resources are of little consequence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healthy debate. Growing up with a fiery single mom, watching the news was a blood sport in our family. This shared ritual between mother and daughter often led to a slew of uncensored insults (and cheers) hurled at the talking heads on our small screen.

Of course over the years, I’ve embraced a more measured approach to consuming and disseminating information – in both my personal and professional life.

Gone are the emotionally charged, knee-jerk reactions of my youth.

Today, I seek to understand why a policy is introduced, dismissed or tweaked. What’s the rationale behind both sides of the debate? Unless it’s Matt Gaetz, I want to know.

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