From Jamaica to the School of Journalism

By Costa Maragos Posted: August 4, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Sasha-Gay Lobban, student at the U of R’s School of Journalism, was voted Young Journalist of the Year by the Press Association of Jamaica.
Sasha-Gay Lobban, student at the U of R’s School of Journalism, was voted Young Journalist of the Year by the Press Association of Jamaica. Photo courtesy of Alina Perrault

Sasha-Gay Lobban came to love journalism at a young age. Lobban, who grew up in Ocho Rios, St Ann, Jamaica, is now completing her Master’s of Journalism Degree at the School of Journalism at the U of R.

“Journalism has been a passion of mine since my teen years. I loved what I heard on the radio and saw on TV and loved what I was reading, so I figured it was something I could delve into,” says Lobban. “Everything that I did in high school contributed to building a career in journalism.”

That strategy carried over into her post-secondary education in Jamaica. After two years at Brown’s Town Community College, Lobban moved on to University of the West Indies. There, she graduated with first-class honours with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications from the University’s Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, CARIMAC.

From there it was onto to the real world of journalism in Jamaica. She worked in print and radio with the North Coast Times, a community-based award winning newspaper. Lobban was then hired by IRIE FM, Jamaica’s highest-rated radio station, to work as a reporter and on-air news presenter.

While at IRIE FM, Lobban was voted Young Journalist of the Year in 2014, by the Press Association of Jamaica.

She has a passion for reporting on issues affecting the average Jamaican, including the country’s problematic health care system.

Sasha-Gay Lobban
Sasha-Gay Lobban has been a broadcaster and print reporter in Jamaica where she graduated with first-class honours from the University of the West Indies, UWI.

“Because of intense social issues in Jamaica, and we have many, the health system is one that is always brought to the forefront. We always feel the health system could be much better to help people,” says Lobban.

“I like to work with average people and tell their stories. I think they have the best stories. I feel once I am able to communicate the genuine concerns they have, and tell their story, that will stimulate change,” she says.

Lobban returned to Jamaica early summer to work on her master’s thesis, which includes a radio documentary on the connection between mosquito-borne disease and climate change and the health politics of the chikungunya and zika viruses in Jamaica.

“There was an outbreak of the chikungunya virus in 2014 and it affected a lot of people, mostly the elderly and children. The hospitals in Jamaica couldn’t manage the amount of people that fell ill, and people thought the government was hiding the impact it had,” says Lobban, who will produce a radio documentary on the issue as part of her thesis.

Lobban was asked to reflect on her experience at the U of R’s School of Journalism so far.

“At first I was a bit nervous about coming here. But I received assistance from the professors. They helped me get settled in. The camaraderie at the J-school - that is what I love about it. It made the program more enticing,” says Lobban.

“I have been fortunate to be given some scholarship opportunities from the U of R as well. It was very gracious of the University. If I were in Jamaica, I couldn’t afford a master’s anytime soon. To have somebody from Jamaica come to a J-school and it is one of the best journalism schools in Canada, I cannot say otherwise. My experience so far has been good,” she says.

As for life after J-School, Lobban is keeping her options open which might include doing international work. But right now, she’s focussed on her documentary and looking forward to presenting her master’s thesis.

The Master of Journalism program at the University of Regina is the only one of its kind on the prairies.  The school is expanding the program, accepting more applicants for the Fall Semester.

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