Kurt Muller, journalist and coordinator for the Journalism program, at Mohawk College, has been using the media to leave his mark on Hamilton.
After years in the field as a reporter, writer, photographer and videographer at places like CFTO and CTV National News, Muller discovered a passion for teaching.
“I worked with interns quite a bit and I found that when I was working with interns and teaching them I really had a good time and I found myself getting energized by their energy ,” he said.
Muller told the Hamilton Media Guild that working with students keeps him sharp and he constantly learns from their fresh perspectives and ideas.
“I have students who come in and show me programs, apps, websites. They have approaches to stories, they have story ideas, that I would never have heard of without talking to them,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons why I love teaching, still to this day as much as when I started. I get to learn from my students all the time.”
Muller on Hamilton
Muller has also fallen in love with Hamilton and uses it to its potential when teaching his students how to work in the media.
“It’s a great city with all kinds of stories, he said. “It’s got a real passion and a vibrancy to it that really lends itself to a healthy media environment.”
He said he believes in Hamilton and that it has the best aspects of a small town but also of a bigger city.
“I think there has been a real re-birth, renaissance, in a lot of areas of Hamilton. I think it’s an exciting place to be. There is a real sense of community in this city.”
Muller said attending journalism school in Hamilton is a huge advantage for students trying to break into the industry.
“At Mohawk we are really in the central location in terms of access to media organizations,” he said.
Muller on the changing world of journalism
Muller told HMG that he understands the importance of adapting and is constantly working with his students to keep up to date with the newest technology.
“I don’t think there is another industry that has been impacted by technology or digital technology as much as journalism has.”
Being a journalist means that you never stop learning and if you aren’t learning new things, you will get left behind, he said.
“I think it’s really incumbent upon journalists to be comfortable with this new technology, to embrace it, not to be scared of it and not to cling to old ways of doing things.”
Evolving technology can be challenging but also provides more opportunity, he said.
“These tools that we have now, being able to shoot and edit video and put it on the internet and all with your phone in a matter of 5 or ten minutes, that is unbelievably exciting in terms of the impact and the reach in journalism.”
Muller on his beliefs
Muller said being a journalist comes with responsibilities and he encourages his students to give back to the community.
“There is an old saying in journalism that journalists are supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted,” he said. “What I’ve taken from that, is you are there to hold people accountable, to make sure that people don’t abuse their power, but you are also there to give a voice to people who might not otherwise have a voice.”
Muller and his students spend time volunteering with the Hamilton Spectator, targeting specific high schools and also helping non-profit organizations get access to the media.
In his spare time Muller said he enjoys a game of Scrabble and even tricked his students into believing he was the Scrabble champion in his home town of Cape Town South Africa.