Erica Vella, Journalism (Broadcast), 2014, is a digital broadcast journalist with Global News Toronto, covering breaking news across the GTA. She produced Cold Case Files, a series revisiting cold case investigations, and #FirstTimeIwasCalled, exploring how instances of discrimination follow individuals into their adult years. Both features received Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Canada awards.
Erica has covered historic local events, like the Raptors’ NBA Championship run, and is co-creator, producer and host for Whatever happened to…?, a bi-weekly episodic podcast examining stories that once dominated headlines.
Check out the Whatever Happened To…? podcast
What sparked your interest in Journalism?
I have always loved storytelling.
Growing up, I was very involved in theatre and I studied acting in university, but as I got older, I felt like something was missing. I wanted to tell stories that would help people, either learning something new or sharing someone’s personal experience to help create positive change.
Journalism felt like the perfect fit for me.
Talk about some of the key takeaways from your Humber program that have helped you get to where you are today.
Humber is the reason I got to where I am today. I didn’t know much about journalism when I went to my first class, but quickly, the professors taught me the fundamentals. I learned that journalists are incredibly hard-working; the job really never stops and the work ethic I developed in the two years at Humber helped prepare me for the job.
Also, the ability to work in a simulated newsroom was invaluable. Professors helped connect me with industry leaders, and from there, I took every opportunity that was offered to me.
What are your most memorable interviews and moments in your career?
I have been lucky to cover a wide range of topics at Global Toronto. I love speaking with people and hearing their stories; I know what a privilege it is to have someone trust me to share some of their most vulnerable experiences with others.
Recently, I launched a new podcast called Whatever happened to… and it revisits stories that once dominated headlines. As part of that project, I’ve been able to look back at some of the biggest stories in recent years; the Chilean mine rescue in 2010, the ALS ice bucket challenge and others. On each episode, I speak with people at the heart of these stories – yes, that includes one of the 33 miners trapped underground for 69 days.
It’s a pretty incredible experience seeing how these news events that we’ve seen and read about changed the course of these people’s lives.
How has the pandemic impacted your work as a journalist?
One of the best parts about being a TV reporter is working collaboratively with my colleagues – our digital techs and editors. We have had to take space from each other while working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I also have missed making those personal connections. There is something about getting to know a person when they open up to share their stories.
Part of our role as journalists is to seek answers and hold people accountable. We need to make sure every community's voice is being heard, listening to the most vulnerable people talk about their struggles and what changes need to be made to help them during this trying time.
What message would you like to share with future journalists?
Future journalists, news is always changing and you need to find a way to change with it. Take the opportunities in front of you and don’t be afraid to try something outside of the box.
If you have an idea, pitch it. You never know where it will take you (that’s how my podcast started!).
Surround yourself with people you admire; watch what they do and soak in every piece of advice they give you.
It might be hard sometimes to listen to criticism but be open, take it in and apply it to your work; it will make you better at your job.
We are all going through a really difficult time right now and it’s important that we are there to support each other.
March recognizes International Women’s Day – what does this day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the incredible women who surround me, women who paved the way for countless female journalists.
Many of these women have pushed me to take risks throughout my career, taught me to trust myself, and have been my lifeline and motivation to keep going in moments of self-doubt.
Each day, we need to work to elevate the voices of women around us; one woman’s success means we all succeed.
Do you have a story to tell about your career since graduating from Humber?