Brett Luft is a graduate of Mount Royal University’s journalism program and now works as a digital fulfillment specialist for Great West Newspapers.

When I was in Grade 2 or 3 I got my first magazine subscription. It was for “Nintendo Power.”

It was a video game magazine that was made by Nintendo. They just talked about video games, and I was a huge gamer growing up; I wanted to write for them.

I was diagnosed with chronic ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I was 10. I was pessimistic for a little bit, but when you’re young… you tend to trust the adults around you more. It helped that I really couldn’t remember what it was like to be healthy. It was my life, and I could either let it define me or choose to let my actions decide who I would become. I chose the latter, and it definitely gave me more control.

I was a bad student, but I was really smart. I was taught at home due to my health condition. I would sleep in all the time, I didn’t care about doing my school work and because of that, my grades really suffered. But in Grade 12 I realized I needed those grades…so I turned it around. I graduated a bit late, but it worked out in the end.

“I’m constantly looking to improve myself,” – Brett Luft says. 

I wanted to be an engineer, because I assumed that’s what my dad wanted me to do. It wasn’t. I thought it would be easy to follow in my dad’s footsteps and work in his workplace because he made a name for himself there.

First year of Mount Royal University I took open studies, where I took a bunch of engineering classes. But I couldn’t use a calculator so I didn’t enjoy that very much.

Every day I would walk past the communications wing, there was always broadcasting students making news programs, or content, and I wanted to do that. They’re making things that people are consuming and enjoying, it doesn’t matter what you’re interested in – you can always write about it in journalism…so I applied, but I didn’t get in. But the next year I did!

We had a speaker come in for online journalism and he was talking about how journalism used to be a printing press for money. If you had a newspaper you would be making tons of money off advertising. But he talked about how the landscape was changing and how we had to rethink how to monetize journalism.

So I started thinking about the business side of journalism. I started following Vox News, V-O-X, not F-O-X because I have a soul. I found out that they were actually making a lot of money through journalism. They had what they called “Vox Creative,” essentially a marketing agency where journalists with multimedia experience produce commercials, build ads or websites, and the company makes money off of that.

When I graduated I found out that Great West Newspapers were doing that exact thing! They own 18 community newspapers across Alberta. They were looking to hire a “digital fulfillment specialist” in St. Albert, (Alta). I applied and got the job two days after I graduated.

We help businesses succeed and make sense of the chaos in the digital world. It’s really cool to help companies reach new people. It’s rewarding even though it’s the monetary side of the industry.

 I’m constantly looking to improve myself. Yesterday I looked into applying to a video game news site that I’ve wanted to work at for about four years, so I still have that goal to get into that industry, it’s my end game. And I understand it takes some time and experience to get there.

Even though people think it’s ridiculous that I want to be a video game journalist, it’s informing people. Even about smarter buying decisions, people are naturally in the dark on a lot of stuff; shining a light through that darkness is really important.

You can’t succeed without learning how to fail. Success is just having the ability to bounce back from something and make something positive from something negative. I’ve always attributed that to my health condition because I had to make a lot of tough decisions in my personal life when I was little, and that helped me make tough decisions in my adult life. Whatever I decide today isn’t that drastic in comparison.

As told to Rayane Sabbagh. This interview has been edited and condensed.

rsabbagh@cjournal.ca

Editor: Anna Junker | ajunker@cjournal.ca