Storytelling is everything

Mohawk graduate, Nicole McCormick ‘02 has trailblazed a career in Canadian news television, working to bring more diverse stories to our screens.

By Meaghan Drury ‘12

At Toronto-based CityTV News, Broadcasting - Television & Communications Media graduate, Nicole McCormick ‘02 is working behind-the-scenes to bring equality and diversity to the stories we see on our screens.

If anyone is up for such a crucial task, it’s Nicole.

Over the past twenty years, Nicole has worked her way up through Toronto’s television industry, to her current role as the senior manager of newsgathering at CityTV News Toronto. It was in high school, when Nicole was first captured by the power of television and its ability to reach a wide and varied audience. 

At first, Nicole was interested in working in radio. “I had a voice for radio,” she shares. However, fate and circumstance had different plans. Due to the radio spots being filled before she was able to secure a co-op placement, she was placed instead at Cable14, Hamilton’s community television station. “From there something just changed. I fell in love with television. I realized I had a real talent for it and people in my life – teachers, guidance counsellors and my family – were encouraging me to pursue a career in television broadcasting.” she says. “Television quickly became something I didn’t think I could live without.” 

With a new career path in mind, Nicole set her sights on Mohawk College. “It was the only school I applied to,” she shares. Growing up in Hamilton, attending St. Thomas More High School, she wanted to stay close to home.  

“I remember the day I got accepted... It was one of the greatest days of my life,” says Nicole. “For the first time, other people than myself and my family saw a future for me in this field. To get that ‘thumbs up’ was a lifechanging experience.” 

At Mohawk, Nicole helped run the on-campus television station.  

She was also encouraged by her professor, John Bradford, to combine her Indigenous culture with her broadcasting career. “He was the first person to tell me that the two did not need to be separate,” she says. He let Nicole know that there was a place for her in the field, and that television needed more Indigenous voices. “I realized I can be a Journalist and Indigenous at the same time.” 

With John’s encouragement, Nicole applied for the Global Television Aboriginal Peoples’ Internship Award. Upon winning the award, Nicole was placed at CHCH in her last semester, working on their morning show. “At CHCH I was given the foundation to build my career,” she shares.  

After graduation, Nicole spent time at YTV, Treehouse and W Network, working on producing promos. From there she moved to Global Television, where she was first introduced to news broadcasting as part of their morning show.  

From her Cable 14 experience, Nicole first focused on how fun the industry was, but quickly saw the power of television to expand the reach of a story. “I enjoyed listening to people tell their stories in the medium we were giving them.”  

Although she may have not been conscious of the connections to her Indigenous cultural traditions of oral story telling at the time, she sees them now. “Storytelling is everything,” says Nicole. “As an Indigenous person storytelling is how we go through life. Our traditions are shared verbally. I always tell people that this was my natural calling, to tell stories.”

Often in her line of work she and her team are connecting with people in some of the worst or best moments of their lives. “It’s an honor to share their stories in that regard. It’s something I take very seriously,” she says. “Growing up I never saw my face on TV. I consider myself very privileged to be able to use my voice as so many others don’t have that opportunity.”   

As the senior manager of newsgathering at CityTV News Toronto, Nicole starts her days early. “I am accountable for our editorial decisions,” she explains. She has to balance the stories her team pitches with the news of the day. She also looks to see what other resources they can leverage and cross promote from other Rogers channels like SportsNet or Omni Television. Then her team gets to work – all before 10am.  

Things move pretty fast to ensure they are staying current and delivering timely stories to their viewers. At the end of the day, she looks back to see if they created a good broadcast by weighing the diversity in the stories they shared. 

In addition to her day-to-day role, Nicole also chairs employee resource groups at Rogers called The Indigenous Peoples Network. These networks help Nicole expand the communities she’s connected to, by accessing more stories from more perspectives. The groups are also working to expand diversity at Rogers Media.    

She has worked hard to start to change the narrative around Indigenous people at Rogers. “In the last three years, I’ve come into my own as an Indigenous person. I’ve learned to trust my voice,” says Nicole. “Previously, I had struggled with the idea of whether Indigenous people could tell their own stories without a perception of bias.”  

It started with Nicole leading the project to open a meeting room at Rogers Media in 2019, that celebrates the diversity of their team members. Created in partnership with the Downie Wenjack Fund, the space is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting a greater understanding of Indigenous art, history, and culture.  

Next, land-acknowledgements began to be said at the beginning of all meetings at the organization.  

Then, Breakfast Television dedicated their September 30, 2021, broadcast to Indigenous culture and reconciliation. That broadcast has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. “Three years ago, that wouldn’t have happened,” Nicole says. “I’ve been trusted to shape the way Indigenous people are covered at CityTV News and in Rogers Media as a whole.”  

In the last year, Nicole has been honored both as a Mohawk College Alumni of Distinction and Employee of the Year for Business Excellence at Rogers. Although she has achieved so much, Nicole has stayed grounded and humble, “It’s not about me. What I do is to ensure that whoever comes after me does not have to go through what I went through. The fight that I had to face to get to where I am.”  

Looking to the next generation of journalists, Nicole gives back as a mentor with Indspire’s Rivers to Success Indigenous youth mentorship program, and also contributes to the Program Advisory Committees at Mohawk College and Centennial College.  

Her advice to anyone looking to follow a similar path is a simple and inspiring call to action “Don’t be afraid,” Nicole says. “If you don’t vocalize a story idea, those stories will not get told. Your lens and perspective on something may not be shared by the rest of a newsroom. The newsroom benefits from that.” We need new voices, if we lose those perspectives, we also lose the stories they would tell.