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Moira Wyton

Moira Wyton is a health reporter for The Tyee, an independent, non-profit online news magazine based in Vancouver.

Alma Mater Society: When did you work at the Ubyssey and what were your roles?
Moira Wyton:
I started as a senior staff writer for news in 2016 and then served as features editor on the 99th and 100th editorials from 2017 to 2019.

AMS: What drew you to the paper? Did you know much before?
When I arrived at UBC, my friend kept encouraging me to join the paper because I loved writing, but I wasn’t sure I had the time between work and classes. I knew nothing about the paper but had always loved writing, and pitched my first piece, an opinion letter, shortly after going to my first desk crawl [Editor: an office party]. Despite beating me at beer pong the people really drew me in and I spent that year making time for Ubyssey work at the expense of my other commitments.


AMS: Who were some of your colleagues and mentors at the time?
I still look up to the people I met when I joined the paper. Koby Michaels convinced me to write my first feature for the science section, and Samantha McCabe and Sruthi Tadepalli molded me into a news senior staff writer and then convinced me to run for features editor. I wouldn’t be anywhere without their encouragement. Olamide Olaniyan, who I’m colleagues with again at The Tyee, was also an important presence in the office to me.

AMS: What was the big story?
Like other post-secondaries, UBC was beginning to reckon with the campus rape culture and epidemic of sexual violence it had left unchecked for many years when I joined The Ubyssey. Samantha McCabe really led coverage of sexual violence with such grace and determination, it was such a privilege to help edit and publish her an investigation into how UBC was butchering the implementation of its government-mandated sexual violence prevention and response office.

AMS: Favourite memories of UBC in general?
It’s impossible to separate The Ubyssey from my time at UBC. I am thinking of our editorial retreats to Osoyoos, during one of which I cuddled the most beautiful eggplant I’ve ever seen and learning how quickly a vodka watermelon rolls down a mountain, ripping my pants at a desk crawl, the night the 100th editorial definitely didn’t paper mache the engineering Cairn with old editions, watching all the alumni see the new office and write their names on the wall during the Centennial, sitting out on the knoll during crisp fall days to copyedit that week’s issue. UBC itself was also wonderful, paying for two trips to China and one to Japan for me, but it was the folks at The Ubyssey who made it a home to come back to rather than just a place to (sometimes) come for class.

AMS: What did you take away from the job?
A sense of confidence as a journalist, a group of lifelong friends, the comfort that I had done something to hopefully make campus just a little bit better or at least better understood to the rest of the community. Oh, and a dingbat tattoo I was told was temporary. [Editor: a dingbat is a glyph used in typesetting.]

AMS:Did you carry on in the media? How did the Ubyssey shape your path?
I was a few too many drinks at the Ubyssey’s centennial celebration in 2018 when I introduced myself to Sarah O’Donnell, a former coordinating editor who would then encourage me to apply for an internship at the Edmonton Journal where she would become my boss and a trusted mentor. I had post-grad plans that didn’t involve journalism but that internship showed me I could be a journalist and never would have happened without The Ubyssey. When The Tyee hired me in 2020, it was an easy yes to come home to Vancouver and continue down this path that had unexpectedly opened up for me.

AMS: What is your current job?
I am a health reporter for The Tyee, an independent, non-profit online news magazine based in Vancouver.

AMS: Consider those in the same role who came before and after you. How do you feel to be a part of this lineage?
The 18 months before me there was no features editor, so I was really rebuilding the section from the ground up with a longform club and recruiting writers. I love seeing how the section changes to reflect the strengths of subsequent editors, and how we all have a small piece of us immortalized in the archives as we graduate and move on to journalism and politics.

AMS: How has your association with UBC advanced your life, personally and professionally?
The friendship, collaboration, and travel UBC brought to my life gave me a taste of the life I want to live after graduating. University showed me how rewarding work, learning, and deep friendships can really be, making it hard to not grab every available opportunity to build that once again post graduation. I refuse to believe my best years are behind me, but UBC will be hard to top.

AMS: How did you make an impact on students during your time at the Ubyssey?
The mentorship aspect of being an editor really nourished me. It was so rewarding to work with so many talented writers on their stories, some of whom went on to win awards, become editors and pursue journalism or writing later. At the same time, I hope other students felt more informed, entertained, and heard through the stories I wrote and published. The university is such an important place in people’s lives, and I think many stories reminded people they had the power to change it for the better, too.

AMS: What advice do you have for UBC students today?
Take every opportunity you can because you truly never know when one might turn into a calling or a passion. Also, you’ll never regret that group tattoo.

AMS: Favourite clipping?
I had a lot of fun leaning into humour writing towards the end of my time at The Ubyssey, like this letter:

And the one I’m most proud of but would report much differently now is this story on racism at UBC, which was nominated for an Emerge Media award for feature writing:

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