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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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Editor wants to immerse 'people in hockey culture'

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Jordana Divon

Jordana Divon did not know Charles Lewis, but a feature on her Facebook account kept suggesting that she might.

“We had a bunch of friends in common so he kept popping up,” she says.

When Divon recognized his face while covering an event for the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010, she approached him.

Lewis is the director of communications for the hockey lifestyle magazine The Fourth Period. The magazine happened to be looking for a new editor, and Divon fit the criteria.

“The guys running the magazine really knew hockey,” Divon says, “but they didn’t know publishing.”

Although she knew very little about hockey, she took the job. She describes it as somewhat beneficial that she isn’t as big of a fan, since it allows her to read the articles from the eyes of a more passive fan.

“When I look at an article, I’m not clouded by my knowledge of the player,” she says.

The magazine’s title comes from the idea that the fourth period of hockey is what happens after the game is done. It’s the period off the ice, Divon explains, when the players go out into the world and live their lives.

After just two years in production, the magazine has a circulation of around 30,000 throughout Canada and the United States. The magazine is involved with the National Hockey League, most notably the NHL Awards, and it co-hosted the after-party for the NHL awards in Las Vegas in June.

I was so the last person who deserved to be there because there were so many NHL players walking around and I couldn’t pick out any of them,” she says, adding that she thinks a diehard fan would have appreciated her spot at the party – and she would like to make this happen if they get to host again.

Although she doesn’t call herself a diehard fan, the Toronto native did watch hockey when she was a child, and she enjoyed attending games with her father. Her interests began to change when she was a teenager and noticed how violent the game is.

However, she has since recognized that fighting is part of the game, and that the players tend to be interesting, educated people.

“What we’re trying to do is, you have this culture of celebrity, particularly in the States, regarding football players and basketball players,” she says, “but you don’t really see the same with hockey.”

The magazine aims to bring people into the players’ lives outside of the game, and immerse people in the hockey culture, she says.

But The Fourth Period doesn’t exclusively feature interviews with hockey players. For example, earlier this year, Divon interviewed Canadian rock band Sum 41, as well as Napanee-born punk-princess Avril Lavigne.

The nature of the magazine fits perfectly with Divon’s outlook on journalism.

“I think everyone has fascinating stories to tell about themselves, and about their lives,” she says. “My dream job would be to write about those stories and bring them to fresh eyes.”

In an era when freelancers are going extinct, Divon has also been able to carve herself a career in the field. Her positive attitude and perseverance come through when she discusses her career.

“The beauty about [freelancing] is you really are privileged to meet and talk to some incredible people,” she says. “That’s why I love this and that’s what keeps me going when things get difficult.”

Among these difficulties is not knowing when the next job is coming, or conversely, working every single day of the week. She describes the past year as a series of seven-day work weeks.

“Anything worth doing is going to be challenging,” she says. “It’s going to be difficult, but you can’t let that get in the way of your dreams.”

The field of freelance journalism really belongs to those journalists who stick with it, she says. “It’s nothing more than being a struggling freelancer and trying to take every opportunity.”

It’s this open mind that allowed her to succeed in print journalism, though she primarily trained in broadcasting, earning her master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Boston University.

She got her first professional writing assignment from The CJN, and she later spent a year working for Metro Toronto, where she produced the “Metro Minute” and “5 Minutes With” columns, as well as freelancing for many other Toronto newspapers.

Although she has interviewed numerous well-known figures, including comedian Russell Peters and legendary Fashion Television host Jeanne Beker, she describes the most moving stories as the unexpected ones.

They’re the ones you might be interviewing for a quote for one story, she says, but you wish you were interviewing them for a profile.

She describes her experiences as very rewarding, getting to know a wide variety of people and watching her overcome every challenge in her path.

“You keep your nose down to the grindstone, close your eyes, grate your teeth and keep going,” she says. “It’s all you can do, and it’s all you have, because there’s nothing worse than giving up your dreams.”

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