Intern farewell: Q&A with Stephanie Schoenhoff

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last week marked the end of Stephanie Schoenhoff’s academic internship with CJFE. It’s hard to believe it was only two months that she was here, as she fit right in from her very first day in the office. Steph’s insight, positive attitude, and desire to ask every question imaginable, were amazing assets to both her work and everyone in the office. Although sad to see her go, we wish Steph all the best and can’t wait to see what she gets up to next!

As usual, our intern exit interviews are public – here are Steph’s final thoughts on her time with CJFE:

What made you want to work with CJFE?

Laura Tribe, CJFE’s National Programs Coordinator, spoke to a class of mine in the Faculty of Information Media Studies (FIMS) about the Canadian government’s poor infrastructure for access to information and the need for free expression advocacy in Canada. After meeting her and hearing about CJFE’s work, I became increasingly interested in press freedom advocacy. Being in Media and the Public Interest, interning at CJFE was a natural progression from what I’m learning in the classroom. Ultimately, CJFE’s advocacy and publications are a dream for anyone interested in the media and human rights development. It has been a perfect fit, and I’m very sad to go.

What have you learned about free expression from your time here?

First and foremost, I now understand that free expression underpins all rights, which means that freedom of expression and press freedom must be vehemently and tirelessly protected. I have learned a great deal about the volume and extremity of free expression violations that occur every day around the world. In my view, and according to many of my colleagues here at CJFE, the right to free expression is an integral aspect of global development and personal freedom. I have also recognized the need for the protection of the right to free expression on a local level here in Canada. While Canada is from the bottom of the global Press Freedom Index, it is also far from the top. I’m thankful that organizations like CJFE and IFEX exist to promote and protect press freedom.

What is the project you worked on during your internship that you are the most proud of?

Over the course of my internship I worked with Alex Zakreski, our International Programs Assistant, on an article that looks at the climate for free expression and press freedom in Ukraine amidst the current political unrest. While working on this project I was able to interview Antonina Cherevko from International Media Support, and research Ukraine’s history of impunity and corruption. Thanks to Alex’s guidance, I was able to produce a piece I’m quite proud of. I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Antonina, based in Ukraine, and was thankful to get an on-the-ground perspective on the conflict. Researching and writing about the threats and attacks against journalists in Ukraine proved to me just how relevant and pressing it is to advocate for every citizen's right to free expression.

What are you going to miss the most?

I have loved working in such a kind and friendly environment with articulate, informed, and hilarious coworkers. CJFE’s office is an incubator for creativity and thought. I have learned so much just by talking to my colleagues about current issues in the press, and have loved reading through tons of articles of all kinds as part of my job daily. I will also miss the life-sized cardboard cut-out of Ai Weiwei that watches over me as I work.

What are you up to next?

I’m excited to head up to camp to canoe and roast marshmallows for two months. After that I will be heading into my last year of my undergraduate degree in Media and the Public Interest (MPI) at Western University.

Anything else you want to add?

A sincere thank-you to the entire staff at CJFE and IFEX is in order; I am so thankful for all you’ve taught me over the course of my internship. Let it be known far and wide that everyone who works at CJFE and IFEX are kind and intelligent czars of free expression. Thank you a million times over, CJFE; it’s been an absolute pleasure!