Chris Putnam

Communications Officer, University of Saskatchewan

Bachelor of Journalism, 2013

Anything that’s not city council is exciting for me.

Chris Putnam has a job tailor made for the curious. He’s a communications officer at the University of Saskatchewan. One of his responsibilities is to profile researchers engaged in fascinating work.

“Everyone’s got a story and a personality,” says Chris. “There’s always something interesting going on.”

Indeed. Shortly after he began working Chris had the chance to interview Gabriela Mangano. The University of Saskatchewan professor was part of a team that discovered a huge fossil bed in Kootenay National Park in BC. It is a world class find that is changing our understanding of life five hundred million years ago.

“That was something that was just really interesting, talking with someone who was in the middle of this major discovery that was redefining that era and the life forms that existed at that time.”

On another day Chris talked with researchers who launched data gathering balloons into the stratosphere. He enjoyed learning about that, too.

“Anything that’s not city council is exciting for me. I did a lot of that,” he says with a chuckle.

Reporting on city council was something he did before he found his way to King’s. Chris had been writing for a couple of community newspapers in Saskatchewan. But, as he says, “I wanted a more critical eye on what I was writing.”

He remembered being told about an editor at a major Saskatchewan newspaper who was asked which school aspiring journalists should go to. “The editor said King’s. King’s is what we want to see,” Chris says. “And that sort of stuck with me.”

Chris did develop the “critical eye” he had been looking for at King’s. He discovered how to be more creative with his photography. He learned how to write for the voice, not just the eye. And he learned not to make assumptions. That was a big one.

“It’s a good skill to have in life and any career. They really drilled that into me – to ask that question: ‘How do you know that?’ I try to do that now, even with researchers.”

Chris has many other responsibilities as communications officer. He is an editor of one of the alumni magazines, writes speeches for the University’s leaders and he is in charge of the social media platforms. One of his best days on the job was a social media contest for the students. The students were asked, “What makes your college special?” They entered via Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Instagram. Chris loved watching the frenetic activity on campus.

“It’s about creating a shared identity for a very diverse college which hadn’t been there before.” he says.

Being a communications officer at a university was not what Chris expected to be doing after King’s. But he enjoys the variety in the job and has this advice for King’s students about to graduate.

“Be open minded about where you are going. It’s about recognizing the other applications of things you are learning. And there are a lot of them.”

Posted: Apr. 2016

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