With a single Tweet, Stephanie Ip changed the face — or, perhaps more accurately, voice — of Canadian transit.
The story began when Translink announced Morgan Freeman would be the voice behind several Vancouver transit announcements. Soon after, Freeman was accused of inappropriate behaviour; therefore, Translink pulled out of the collaboration.
After covering the story and receiving e-mails from readers who asked why a Canadian wasn't chosen to be the voice of Vancouver transit, Stephanie Tweeted a suggestion that Seth Rogen and his lovable laugh may be just what the SkyTrain needs.
To her surprise, Seth not only read her Tweet, but also responded, explaining he'd be up for the task.
So the next time you're in Vancouver and Seth Rogen's familiar chuckle brightens your day ("huh ha huh ha huh"), feel free to thank Stephanie.
20 questions with Stephanie Ip
1 - For those who haven't heard, what is the Coles Notes version of what led you to suggest Seth Rogen should be the voice of Vancouver transit?
Stephanie - TransLink had initially collaborated with Visa and Morgan Freeman (Visa's brand ambassador) for a similar set of announcements. After I covered that story, I received a lot of reader emails asking why we hadn't gone with a Vancouver celebrity.
I joked with my colleague that Seth Rogen would make a great alternative, tried to do an impression of his laugh and then put the suggestion out on Twitter. Once the Freeman allegations surfaced, Rogen responded and said he was game and TransLink took the reins from there and got it going.
2 - What was your reaction when Seth Rogen responded, indicating he may be interested?
Stephanie - I laughed and showed my co-worker. There was a fair bit of excitement in the newsroom but it wasn't until Rogen and TransLink started going back and forth that I realized something insane was happening.
3 - Other than the obvious (the laugh) why did you pick Seth as your suggestion?
Stephanie - I'm a Seth Rogen fan. There is something just so endearing about his brand of comedy and his voice and laugh have just become so identifiable in pop culture. Plus, as far as Vancouver celebrities go, Rogen is a pretty cool one.
4 - Now it seems the Toronto Transit Commission is planning to utilize Seth's services as well. How does it make you feel knowing you are the person officially responsible for bringing Mr. Rogen's hilarious laugh to the public transit systems of Canada's two largest cities?
Stephanie - I think I probably feel a bit like that fan who campaigned for Weezer to cover Toto's Africa.
5 - Would you say this is the highlight of your journalism career so far?
Stephanie - I wouldn't say this is THE highlight of my career but it's up there. It's certainly not something I'll forget anytime soon. It’ll probably become my new go-to dinner party story.
6 - I understand you had the opportunity to interview Mr. Rogen via phone recently. What was that experience like?
Stephanie - It was pretty great. He was very cool and very genuine about his support for public transit. He was very generous with his laugh too.
7 - What led you to pursue a career in journalism?
Stephanie - I enjoy sharing stories about local folks doing cool things, and highlighting challenges in the community. I knew from a young age that I had a knack for writing and this was the best way to make good use of it. (But also to make Seth Rogen the voice of Canadian public transit.)
8 - What is your favourite beat/subject to cover?
Stephanie - I'm a digital reporter with the Vancouver Sun and Province's Van Live team so I'll cover anything and everything. I do end up covering a lot of crime and pop culture items but I particularly enjoy weird news.
9 - Your bio suggests that you've been interested in digital communication for many years. How do you think technology has impacted journalism?
Stephanie - Technology has made it much easier and faster to gather, process and share news. It’s both complicated and simplified communication, which means as journalists, we have to be that much more vigilant and responsible about how we communicate. It also means we now have to adapt to our audience’s habits when it comes to absorbing information; we have to respond to that and deliver news the way our readers want to consume it.
At the core, journalism, its goals and its foundation will never change. What does change is how we connect with our readers.
10 - What was it like reporting from the scene of the 2011 Vancouver riots?
Stephanie - When the 2011 Vancouver riot happened, I was pretty fresh out of journalism school. I had just finished my program about a month and a half prior. I remember thinking I had to keep moving (partly due to safety and also because we were feeding new files every few minutes across the entire country). Afterward, I just remember feeling sad and tired when the adrenaline finally left my system.
11 - Your website invites those interested in becoming Vancouver reporters to contact you so that you can share your experiences. Is mentoring others something you're passionate about?
Stephanie - It’s something that I’d like to pay forward. I had several great mentors throughout my youth and the early part of my career so if there’s a way my own experiences can help or encourage others, I’d like to be able to do that.
12 - What's been your biggest takeaway so far in your journalism career?
Stephanie - The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you need thick skin, you need to be mindful of your own well-being and you need to keep pushing forward. Journalism is an inspiring and rewarding line of work but it can also wear you down if you’re not careful.
13 - This interview is being posted on Steemit: A blockchain-powered social media platform. Do you see blockchain technology impacting journalism?
Stephanie - I don’t see why not. If the idea is that blockchain data is public, always reconciled and non-corruptible, it goes hand in hand with what you would want journalism to be. But that’s just my very surface-level understanding of blockchain.
14 - Who is one person who is at the top of your list to interview?
Stephanie - I’ve wanted to sit down with my parents for a long time now and interview them on video about their childhood. I feel like they’ve lived these great lives, having immigrated to Canada, raised a family and there are still so many things about them I don’t know. I’d love to be able to have all of that on record, to be able to share with future generations of my family.
15 - What's your biggest pet peeve?
Stephanie - As a journalist, it’s probably readers who haven’t read the full story before sending an email or commenting. In general, crumbs. I am Monica Geller-levels of passionate about tidying and cleaning.
16 - Who inspires you?
Stephanie - This isn’t just to score ‘good daughter’ points but I'm inspired by my parents. They immigrated here, they built a life, they raised two kids and it wasn’t easy. I think about my grandparents and all the people that have come before me, just so that I could be here now, doing what I love to do, living the life that I want to live.
17 - I hear you're a fan of The Office. What's your favourite episode?
Stephanie - Hands down, Dinner Party. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.
18 - What's your greatest fear?
Stephanie - I can’t deal with horror films. I watched The Grudge in high school and couldn’t sleep properly for four days.
19 - You get to have dinner with three people, living or dead. Who are you eating with?
Stephanie - Michael Scott, Prison Mike and Date Mike.
20 - What's one thing very few people know about you?
Stephanie - My first byline was when I was 9. I submitted a comic to the Edmonton Journal’s young artist feature back in 1996 and they sent me a cheque for $10 and put my photo in the paper. You can see the acceptance letter as my Twitter profile header.
Thank you to Stephanie for taking the time to answer these questions.
As always, thanks to all of you for taking the time to read.
Who would you like to see me throw 20 questions at? Drop me a comment below and I'll work on setting up the interview.
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