Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at "Ford Fest", a party held by the Ford family where the public is invited, at Thomson Memorial Park in Toronto in this July 25, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

 

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in the middle of a scrum in 2014.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in the middle of a scrum in 2014.

Robert Bruce Ford, Toronto’s contentious former mayor, has died at the age of 46 in hospital after a battle with a rare form of abdominal cancer.

In his more than 16 years working in Canadian politics, Ford built an army of followers behind his name. Known for his heavy-breathed rants and lumbering gait, his humanistic approach to city matters garnered a hard-and-fast following of Ford Nation supporters. From his first election as city councilor to his most recent admittance to the hospital, Ford’s fans stood firmly planted behind the politician who broke the mold, in every sense.

Mayor Ford signs bobble heads as onlookers wait for a chance to buy their own and have their picture taken with him.
Mayor Ford signs bobble heads as onlookers wait for a chance to buy their own and have their picture taken with him.

Born in Etobicoke in 1969 and the youngest of four children, Ford was raised in a family with both a political legacy and history of substance use. The Fords have been referred to as the “gatekeepers of Etobicoke”, the “Canadian Kennedys”, rich and popular. His father, Douglas Bruce Ford, Sr., was the late Progressive Conservative MPP, from 1995-1999. Ford Sr., a multi-millionaire who was raised during the depression, was a strict and demanding father, even going so far as to submit his children to lie detector tests after money had disappeared from the family home. Rob Ford stepped into politics just as his father left, a position meant for Doug Jr., but had been saddled with taking care of the business. It was the death of his father in 2006, according to former Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle, which would send Ford into a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol. A year before that, his sister Kathy, was shot in the head by her boyfriend, but survived the incident. In 1998, her ex-husband killed her boyfriend with a sawed-off shotgun, right in front of her. Kathy was a drug addict, Doug was a pot dealer in high school and recovering alcoholic, and Rob, too, had a history of drinking and substance abuse.

In 1999 Ford was arrested in Miami, Florida for a DUI and marijuana possession.
In 1999 Ford was arrested in Miami, Florida for a DUI and marijuana possession.

Raised in a privileged home, Ford dreamt of becoming a professional football player and attended several high profile sports training camps as a teenager. After graduating high school, he went on to attend Carleton University only to drop out a year later. While at university he made the football team, but never managed to make it off the bench. In 2000, Ford married his high school sweetheart, Renata Brejniak, and had two children. Police were called several times over the course of 2008 to 2013 in response to domestic disputes between the two, though no charges were ever laid. Ford lived out his childhood passion from the sidelines as a high school football coach. His first coaching job was with Newtonbrook Secondary School, which he was later dismissed from over a dispute with a player. Then, with Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School until the Catholic School Board dismissed him over evidence that surfaced in 2013 showing Ford’s drug usage.

Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs in front of a sign that says "Keep Calm and Carry On" at City Hall in Toronto, in this March 19, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files
Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs in front of a sign that says “Keep Calm and Carry On” at City Hall in Toronto, in this March 19, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

Ford stepped on to the political field in 2000 when elected councilor for his local ward, Etobicoke North (Ward 2), a position he would not return to until after a tumultuous, allegation-riddled reign as Toronto Mayor. Here began the corpulent football coach’s first encounter with the harsh awakening, and a hard spotlight, that elected leaders face in politics. With his lack of regard for the political process and perpetual annoyances with reporters and other councilors, it was the perfect recipe for the making of a YouTube sensation. One of the first videos to surface was Ford’s verbal confrontation with Globe and Mail reporter, John Barber, who had mouthed a rude name aimed at Ford during a combative back-and-forth. Ford chased Barber to the elevator of City Hall, using his bulk to block the embarrassed reporter’s exit and berating him for an explanation.

Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford yells at reporters and photographers to get off of his property in front of his house in Toronto, in this October 31, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files
Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford yells at reporters and photographers to get off of his property in front of his house in Toronto, in this October 31, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

Not long after, in 2006, the public began to see evidence of his self-titled “drunken stupors” after being ejected from a Maple Leafs game for intoxication and belligerence. A pattern of deflection gradually began to develop after each incident when questioned: a flat out denial until presented with hard evidence, followed up by an admission of guilt, complete with pettifogging and blame. Ford served as a councilor for a decade. Nearing the end of his last term as Toronto City Councilor, his political career was again overshadowed by personal turmoil when his wife of eight years, at the time, Renata, called police to her home on March 26, 2008. Renata pressed charges, accusing her husband of assault and death threats, which would later be dropped before his run for Mayor. These calls to the police would become regular occurrences at the Ford house.

Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (L) is congratulated by his children Doug and Stephanie as his wife Renata (R) looks on while watching the municipal election results in Toronto, in October 27, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files
Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (L) is congratulated by his children Doug and Stephanie as his wife Renata (R) looks on while watching the municipal election results in Toronto, in October 27, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

 Despite consistently landing in the eye of controversy, ranging from his comments regarding “Oriental people” to his pitchy outbursts at City Hall meetings, Ford overcame criticism and ran for Mayor in 2010. His harsh criticism of city spending and his promise to “always answer the phone” made him relatable to the voters. Ford would spend hours a day walking through the worst neighborhoods of Toronto, knocking on doors and talking to residents about bad transit and cracked sidewalks. If you called his office, Ford would answer the phone. If you left a message, Ford would call you back. He was a politician that had time for his people. Ruddy-faced, ungainly and perpetually sweaty read as ‘human’ to many voters, while the ability to command his voice among a din of shouting was seen as endearing. Ford was anything but the classic cutout politician that ran alongside and before him. To the people, he was one of them, coining terms like “stop the gravy train” and “respect the taxpayer”. Running on a platform that axed streetcars, gridlock-causing marathons, and about half of the city council staff, all while claiming to save $2.8 billion over four years, Ford won.

Rob Ford with his 2010 election team in Toronto, Ontario.
Rob Ford with his 2010 election team in Toronto, Ontario.

His four years as city Mayor played out much like his time as city councilor – a domino effect of public intoxication, slurs, slanders, lies, admissions, city council violations, police calls and topped off with a drug scandal. Ford’s abuse of the inner workings of city council aggravated and embarrassed members on all levels of the political institution. City Hall became a harshly divided battlefield with Ford steamrolling through backlash to pass improper, even technically illegal, policies. Numerous attempts to try and curtail Toronto’s wild mayor failed and only gave him more power as a naysayer. A violation of the Council’s code of conduct when using his official letterhead to solicit donations for his charity, the Rob Ford Football Foundation, would be the sign of things to come as Ford used his power to pull personal strings. From diverting TTC busses to pick up his football team, leaving passengers stranded in rush hour, to expediting drainage and road repairs in front of Deco Labels, his family-owned business, Ford continually misused his position for personal gain.

Rob Ford meets the press outside Metro Hall after the dedication ceremony for David Pecaut Square in April 2011.
Rob Ford meets the press outside Metro Hall after the dedication ceremony for David Pecaut Square in April 2011.

The platform he ran and won on, as an average man of the people slowly began to crumble around him, too. How he treated the public quickly went from patient and perseverant to discriminatory. The public heard Ford speak out in revulsion against a number of marginalized groups present in his city, but nothing was quite as prevalent as what would be deemed his war on the LGBT community. It began in 2005, when he announced to council that he didn’t understand the need for grants for transgendered and transsexual people. This clear discomfort with Toronto’s diverse and growing community carried on when he became the first Mayor of the city to not attend Pride in 2011, at first blaming a commitment to an annual trip to a family cabin. He would not attend any of the parades for all four years in office, and very purposefully failed to attend a Pride flag raising ceremony.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the Group Centre of Canada in Little Italy.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the Group Centre of Canada in Little Italy.

None of this was nearly as polarizing as the crack scandal. The city became divided, between those who believed the allegations, and those who called it rumour. In May of 2013, Gawker published a story revealing the existence of a video in which the Mayor of Toronto was smoking crack cocaine amidst a homophobic rant. The Toronto Star backed the story saying two reporters, Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan, had seen the video. It wasn’t until November, after the police had raided the home of the man who shot the video, that Ford stood in the middle of a news scrum and urged the reporters to ask him the question they had posed to him a few months prior again.

 

“Yes. I have smoked crack cocaine.”

Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts to a video released of him by local media at City Hall in Toronto, in this November 7, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch /Files TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts to a video released of him by local media at City Hall in Toronto, in this November 7, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch /Files TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

It was a scandal that captivated the world. Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart were among many television personalities who helped transform Rob Ford into a household name across North America. After Ford refused to resign, he was fired as a football coach, a slew of Ford’s staff resigned and a protest at Nathan Phillips Square was organized calling for his resignation.

In 2014, Ford ran as incumbent mayor, only to withdraw his bid on September 12 after being hospitalized with an abdominal tumour.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses with members of the public as he takes part in the East York Canada Day Parade in his first public appearance since returning from a rehabilitation clinic for substance abuse problems in Toronto in this July 1, 2014, file photo. Ford, the former mayor of Toronto who gained global notoriety for admitting to smoking crack cocaine while in office, died from cancer on March 22, 2016, his office said in a statement. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses with members of the public as he takes part in the East York Canada Day Parade in his first public appearance since returning from a rehabilitation clinic for substance abuse problems in Toronto in this July 1, 2014, file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

Instead, Ford ran for the position that first started him on the 14-year long journey under Canada’s media microscope. In a last attempt to maintain the grasp of Ford Nation, Doug entered the mayoral race. The older Ford didn’t command the forgiving heart of the voters quite like his younger brother and lost by a long shot to John Tory. The self-titled straight shooter took a hard backseat after such a public run as Toronto’s most controversial mayor. 

Doug Ford makes a statement about Rob Ford allegations
Doug Ford makes a statement about Rob Ford crack scandal allegations

After running face-first into a CityTV camera and passing it off as an attack, it is easy to see Rob Ford didn’t receive a kind view from the reporters he referred to as “maggots”. He would race from his car to the front door when he saw cameras and microphones waiting to question him on the latest fiasco. Ford went so far as chasing down and mugging Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale while the curious journalist scouted out a park Ford had planned to purchase and fix up. Despite his perpetual annoyance with the press, however, there were brief moments where a glimpse of the bombastic mayor’s efforts shone through the unforgiving headlines.

Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford kisses his daughter during his first appearance since being released from the hospital where he was undergoing cancer treatment at "Ford Fest", a party held by the Ford family where the public is invited, in Toronto, in this September 27, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files
Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford kisses his daughter during his first appearance since being released from the hospital where he was undergoing cancer treatment at “Ford Fest”, a party held by the Ford family where the public is invited, in Toronto, in this September 27, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

On St. Patrick’s Day of 2012, a passerby encountered Ford, “stumbling down the street” and took the chance to tell the city’s visibly intoxicated leader that he was “the worst mayor ever.” Ford allegedly walked over, kissed her on the forehead and responded, “I know, but I try.”

Rob Ford, 1969-2016
Rob Ford, 1969-2016

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An auditorium filled with black folded movie theatre style chairs with a projector screen at the front of the room.
Freelancer's memorial raises questions in the profession, Courtesy of Anika Durisova

For a freelancer, the sound, the smell, the sight and the cause are all correlated when on an assignment. What is also common for freelancers, is the lack of support they receive from either the media community or people in general.

In support of freelance journalism, companies such as The Canadian Guild Media (CGM), Canadian Journalism for free expression (CJFE)  as well as The Ali Mustafa Memorial Collective and others, sponsored People’s Journalism: Reporting Under Fire in honour of Ali Mustafa, a Canadian freelance journalist killed in Syria in 2014.

 

Donya Zleaa, Courtesy of Anika Durisova.
Donya Ziaee, Courtesy of Anika Durisova.

Guests were invited to honour the legacy and work of Ali and shed light on other freelancers who are facing the same conditions and the same mistreatment.

 

Part of the Collective, Donya Ziaee, met with Ali when they were students at York in 2007. Her and other close friends of Ali, decided to form the Ali Mustafa Collective to honour his death.

The talk, Ziaee says, was used to discuss “the labour conditions freelancers face and the valuable role they play in our media landscape.”

Deter Green, Courtesy of Anika Durisova.
Detejie Green, Courtesy of Anika Durisova.

The panel was narrated by a (CGM)  freelance organizer, Deteje Green who introduced Sharif Kouddous, Jihan Hafiz and Reed Lindsay.

Independent Journalist and TV respondent for Democracy Now, Sharif Kouddous says, exploitation of young freelancers and editors who take their work to the front lines, without any support, needs to end.

“By support, if a journalist is hurt, kidnapped the institution needs to back them, just as they would a staffer,” says Kouddous.

Anthony Feinstein for Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma writes that a different set of demographic isn’t the answer. He says, Iraq, unlike Syria,improved the conditions under which journalists report during war.

Kouddous also says 81 journalists have been killed in Syria, since The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) started counting the deaths of journalists in 1982. Kouddous recalls a young 17 year old Syrian photographer was killed about a before Ali, who worked for Reuters.

 

IMG_1709
Sharif Kouddous, Courtesy of Anika Durisova

“The was the first time people even knew, Reuters was taking all these photos from this young guy, he had no backing from them whatsoever,” says Kouddous.

Journalist and a filmmaker, Reed Lindsay says Ali impressed people with his work but he also was a human being and became friends with the people he was covering. “He knew when to put down the camera,” says Lindsay.

Independant journalist and a documentary filmmaker, Jihan Hafiz, says Ali became her brother. “We were both half Egyptian,”says Hafiz. They also didn’t believe in objectivity. “We very much stood on the side we covered,” says Hafiz.

To give people an understanding of just how real the struggle can be for freelancers like Ali, Hafiz says, not too long ago after Ali called to tell her he needed money to get out of Syria, her friend Ahmed Deep called Hafiz with the same message, a month after Ali’s death.

Stuart Hughes for Dart Center reports the newsrooms and foreign desks are faced with low budgets and therefore have to rely on freelancers for any footage.

To receive better pay, Hafiz says, she would often tell Ali tell sell his videos to agencies and not just photos that could sell for 20 dollars.

“Agencies treat indigenous people much worse than they treat people with a Western name,” says Hafiz. They also, Hafiz says, aren’t treated them with the same respect and they aren’t paid the same either.

The International News Safety Institute (INSI) sheds light on the realism freelancers encounter when reporting in foreign countries.The Institute also trains journalists and sends them to cover stories in sometimes, hostile environments. They mainly dedicate their web site to safety and write about other fellow journalists who like Ali ought to be honoured or whose death at times needs to be investigated.

Along with 20 other organizations, the Institute reports that they are in support of safety regulations designed for freelancers covering dangerous zones.
The news agencies place seven basic requirements on priority list to allow freelancers to safely do their job as a journalist.

Kouddous says, “even though outlets signed onto a statement of principles regarding freelancers, there needs to be a pressure on these kinds of news outlets, to treat freelancers fairly, is very important.”

However, Kouddous says there is some support for freelancers, such as The Rory Peck Foundation that provides support to do hostile trainings and Reporters Without Boarders who lends out equipment.
Additionally, freelancers, journalists and news organizations need to work together and further support not just each other over e-mails, but inquire about their needs.

“We need to be human,” says Hafiz.

A stack of papers on a desk with a picture of a man on it.
Joseph Kertes attends Literary Reading (Photo Credit: Anika Durisova)

If writing a book is something you wish to pursue, do it.

That’s the message Joseph Kertes brought to his book reading this past Wednesday at the Assembly Hall on Humber’s Lakeshore Campus.

English professor Ben Labovich, organized the reading for his students who are reading Kertes’s Boardwalk as part of their class. Boardwalk is about two polarized brothers from Toronto who embark upon an adventurous road trip to Atlantic City.

Kertes is also the dean of Humber’s School of Creative and Performing Arts.  His most recent book is called, The Afterlife of Stars. The book takes place in Hungary in 1956, which is the same year Kertes and his family escaped to Canada. The book is about two young brothers who question God and the universe.

Kertes has published four books which earned him several awards and were highly acclaimed. He won the Stephen Leacock Award for his first book, Winter Tulips. He also won a Canadian National Jewish Book Award for his book Gratitude and U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He has also written two children’s books, The Red Corduroy Shirt and The Gift.

Joe Kertes (Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova)
Joe Kertes (CREDIT: Anika Durisova)

Kertes says he likes to plot out scenes in his mind and see where his imagination takes him.

Kertes says he isn’t too particular about his writing ritual. He says because he can write on the subway or in the car, in his book,  Gratitude,  the characters love music. Kertes says while stuck in traffic, the 401 becomes a different place where his imagination is accompanied by the radio.

Kertes describes his own personal writing ritual which is based on his sleeping patterns. He says he likes to write close to his sleeping schedule either early mornings or late nights. Though he says he prefers early mornings because once his imagination kicks in, he cannot sleep.

“Once I start writing, I cannot stop,” says Kertes.

 

Ben Labovitch  (Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova)
Ben Labovitch (Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova)

Labovitch says when he studied English at Carleton University  he learned the literature of dead writers.

“I didn’t connect to them,” he says.

Labovitch says he likes to teach his students about living authors. He started the Humber Writing Series in the early 90s. He says he doesn’t choose a specific type of writers for the series. Instead, he says, “Humber likes to focus on artists from Toronto who are available.”

The process of choosing the right candidate begins with the first page. Labovitch says if after reading the first page he thinks his students will be inspired to continue, it’s a winner.

Kertes’ next book reading is scheduled at the Nadal Jewish Community Centre where he will read passages from his most recent book, The Afterlife of Stars on March 26 at 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

A picture of women from many different backgrounds wearing white shirts.
Women from different ethnic backgrounds, come together to celebrate International Women's Day. Photo credit: pixgood.com

By: Angelica Sydney

International Soca artist, Machel Montano’s song “Like Ah Boss,” created pandemonium on the streets. People started dancing on each other; women were grabbing men from the crowd and pushing themselves on them.

I noticed women of all shapes and sizes wore the skimpiest costumes. The outfits are Brazilian-inspired, which Trinidadians refer to as “feather and beads”. Many of these outfits were worn by women who may not be considered to be a size zero or two according to North American standards.

Tribe masquerader poses in her costume during Trinidad Carnival. Photo credit: Angelica Sydney
Tribe masquerader poses in her costume during Trinidad Carnival. Photo credit: Angelica Sydney

For Trinidadian women, this is one particular time of year where they are free from social criticism and scrutiny about the way they look and how they choose to express themselves.

Richard Lopez, a Trinidadian-Canadian, says Carnival is a time of year where men and women forget their problems. Women especially, forget about the way they look and just want to party and have fun.

“If you observe them at a different time of the year, you might see a lot of similarities between them and North American women in terms of how they perceive their bodies,” says Lopez.

Ombretta Haughton, a Jamaican-Canadian student says people in the Caribbean are happier and stress free because they do not have to compete with one another.

“Ever notice in Canada and the United States, waist trainers are coming into play. If you do not have that hourglass figure, you aren’t cute. Here we have to keep up with image in order to be accepted by certain classes and people.”

Eurocentric beauty standards have dominated the mainstream for many years. These standards emphasize lighter skin tones and straight hair types. The machinery of marketing and advertising has made it harder for women but specifically women of colour to accept their natural looks, whether it’s sporting their natural hair (kinky curls, afros) or shape of their body (fuller figured or curvy).

Elssa Gutierrez, a store manager at Bikini Village says she notices the pressures from women who are looking for a swimsuit. She says the swimsuits are meant to suit one type of body image, Victoria Secret models, tall and skinny.

“Having to work with women and trying to find bathing suits is very traumatizing for some. There have been times where people cry in the fitting rooms and that’s when I really see how body image affects others. People want to look like the girl in the giant poster behind cash who is wearing the tiniest bottoms.”

Gutierrez also, mentioned she has a three-year-old daughter, who is of mixed parentage and she constantly reminds her that she is beautiful and she needs to embrace her thick, curly hair.

“I want her to go out and be confident. I tell her, her hair is beautiful and her caramel skin tone, which some people fake (sun tan, spray tan) is gorgeous.”

Female celebrities and public figures have voiced their stories about the pressures they faced in their industries in order to conform to a Eurocentric look. There have been many prominent black female journalists in the United States like ESPN’s sports anchor, Sage Steele and Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox, who’ve stood up against past employers in regards to their natural locks.

Arisa Cox host of Big Brother Canada. Photo credit:sistadiaspora
Arisa Cox host of Big Brother Canada. Photo credit:sistadiaspora

Cox and other prominent black female journalist have vocally and wrote about built-in clauses in some TV/film industry contracts for on air positions that they have control over your appearance. Longer hair and blonde hair is more valued than short, brown and curly hair.

Even though natural beauty movements have been on the rise in North America; especially for women of colour. There have been poor attempts by people in the fashion and television industry to understand afrocentric hairstyles.

Just ask E! Reporter and co-host of Fashion Police Giuliana Rancic, who recently came under fire for snarky comments made regarding Disney star Zendaya’s hairstyle at the Oscars.

Left: Zendaya and Right: Guiliana Rancic at the 87th Academy Awards. Photo credit: Directioner2011/Flickr
Left: Zendaya and Right: Guiliana Rancic at the 87th Academy Awards. Photo credit: Directioner2011/Flickr

Rancic made stereotypical comments about Zendaya’s dreadlocks; saying Zendaya’s hair looked like it smelled of “patchouli oil” or “weed.” Rancic has since apologized for her remarks following the outrage on social media and her co-host, Kelly Osborne, threatened to quit the show.

One cannot help but feel envy towards all the beautiful women in Trinidad and the Caribbean who have grown up with the mindset that all women ought to love the skin they’re in.

A picture of a guy in a sweater reading the newspaper.
5 Thing Journalists Should Know; Pictured, Alex Karageorgos. Photo courtesy of Anika Durisova

5 Things Journalists Should Know:              
From Young Journalist To Another

 

As a journalism student, there is a lot of pressure to learn the core values of the profession and master all its forms.

I’ve been learning and training for the field for nearly three years and I find myself asking more questions now than ever. It would be very ignorant of me to not ask the people around me who make a huge contribution to the profession of journalism.

Elliott 20 in a room Quote

I went ahead with my curiosity and drew out a list of five important aspects young journalists should really pay attention to,  today.

1. Journalists should be inquisitive and driven by a caring curiosity rather than the desire to be well known

Former executive producer for the CBC, Joy Crysdale who also worked for the CTV, is now a book author and an award winning professor at Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber.

She says the technology has changed over the decades and therefore the demands have changed. “But the qualities of a good journalist are most likely still as important as they were thirty years ago,” said Crysdale.

Besides accurate facts and clear writing, Crysdale who spent 32 years at CBC and 5 years at CTV, says,  journalists should be driven by curiosity and caring rather than desire to be famous. If a journalist wants to become successful, he or she must be comfortable in all aspects of the profession. From sound to video to writing, journalists need to embody all forms. However, good writing, above all is the most important because all the forms of journalism require journalists to have good writing skills.

Michael Czulo writing content. Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova
Michael Czulo writing content. Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova

2. Have a real interest in the subject & moral obligation to the profession. Metro News blogger who is an expert on Toronto’s politics and a Humber College Politics professor, Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) says today’s journalists need to have a real interest in what they are writing about.

Elliott who is known for spunky writing and infographics in his older blog, says journalists need to have a desire to digg beyond the surface for facts other journalists won’t. Besides the the real interest in the work that you do, Elliot says, facts are a hard central core of everything we do. “If you don’t get the facts right, you’re screwed,” said Elliott.

Other than facts, journalists today, should possess some qualities of their fellow members. However, with the changing profession, should today’s journalists posses all the qualities and what qualities should be changed? Both Crysdale and Elliott are working journalists. Though their current fields are different, they’ve been surrounded by other professionals in the field to know what qualities should good journalists embody.

Crysdale says they should be trustworthy and remember the ‘moral obligations’ of journalism. That too goes for bosses. The example of Amanda Lang’ conflict of interest with RBC is one of few Crysdale mentioned.
screwed
“They must’ve known the rules of journalism but don’t seem to follow them,” said Crysdale.

Today, rarely you get assigned daily stories says Elliott. That’s why, “you  need to have a natural interest in a subject even if it’s a niche subject, write the hell out of it and make your own space,”said Elliott. Afterall, that’s how he scored a spot with the Metro News. He wrote the hell out of coverage on Rob Ford before he became a mayor (in his own blog) and now he is a weekly regular at the City Hall.

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3. Don’t be afraid to try new things

Elliott says he has huge amount of respect for journalists who use data journalism. We should incorporate the access to government data into a visualization feature for our stories. Crysdale says journalists should be creative and curious, which is something you cannot teach.

Journalism program Coordinator at Humber Lakeshore, Dan Rowe Ph.D., says data journalism helps to produce authoritative pieces. He says, data journalism has always been important but because of the technological tools available today, journalists are expected to have those set of skills. “Besides being inquisitive, journalists need to be creative. It is more important now than in the past. Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to try new things,” said Rowe.

Journalism Coordinator, Dan Rowe,Humber Lakeshore Campus.  Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova
Journalism Coordinator, Dan Rowe,Humber Lakeshore Campus. Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova

Digital advisor to the editor at The Boston Globe and former digital director for the Global News in Toronto, David Skok, visited Ryerson University for the Atkinson Lecture last year in March, according to J-Source. In the lecture, Skok said that ‘we need to understand how audience consume news so we can structure our newsrooms.’ He said journalists need to incorporate their platform with visualization. For example, he said ‘if you like print journalism, add some video content. If you like broadcast journalism, learn how to build a good timeline.’ And finally,he adds, bring all those platforms together, such as data journalism, coding and reporting.

 

4. Build your own path
What young journalists should derive from, Elliot says, is a herd like mentality. “If you’re standing in a room with 20 journalists, you probably should be somewhere else.” said Elliott. As a blogger, Elliott often witnesses scrums at the City Hall.

“It’s also important to think about politics not from the sense of who is leading the polls, though that stuff is always gonna be generally important but there’s gonna be tons of people covering that,” said Rowe.

This ties back to finding that topic that really interests you. Though being in a scrum is always a good practice to dodge the bullet and find new ways of covering the same topic as others. One of my professors, Carey French, told us in class to cover stories and interconnect them. For example, if you like health, find the business aspect to it and write that.

So how do you know if you’re on the right path of journalism? As a teacher for twelve years, Crysdale says the students she sees are promising for the industry are ones who are truly passionate and well-informed about a cause or an issue. Such as a particular human right issue or an environmental issue. “Caring is an important part of journalism,” said Crysdale.

Sabrina Biot getting ready to go on air.  Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova
Sabrina Biot getting ready to go on air. Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova

5. Take accuracy further & Educate your audience.

With daily and weekly, deadlines, journalists feel the pressure of a constant turnover and ensuring those deadlines are met. With 24-hour news channels, the scramble to produce content ‘does disservice to accuracy,’ says Crysdale.

She says that a young inexperienced  journalist who may not have the job security can sometimes be put into situations to say the latest news that they heard and that often can lead to huge mistakes.

Another aspect journalists should derive from is the notion that truth is always in the middle when writing a story. Elliott says that too many journalists use one quote that argues for their topic and one quote that argues against it. “In most cases, that’s a disservice to the reader.”

Especially, Elliott says, on issues like climate change or vaccinations, leaving the reader with an impression these issues both have equal weight is dangerous.

What young journalists should cover more, Elliott says, are complicated things. “Journalists are suppose to help people understand and make people care.” said Elliott. He says, journalists sometimes ignore stories with technical aspects because they think the readers won’t understand.
Crysdale says there is fine line between gossip and journalism. She says, in the case of Rob Ford, the news was sensational but it wasn’t gossip because the former mayor, in charge of our city was at the same time smoking crack.

However, she says, “If people are digging for information about politicians that doesn’t matter on how they do their job, then, that’s gossip.”

Crysdale says what people are finding out about is how politics are important to the environment. I mentioned the fact I am subscribed to political RSS feeds to Crysdale and how I wish I would’ve done so earlier. In response, she said, if journalists are informed about these interconnections then so will my readers.

Arieshadela Irwantini editing a video using Adobe Premier Pro. Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova
Arieshadela Irwantini editing a video using Adobe Premier Pro. Photo Courtesy of Anika Durisova

“I think, a younger generation don’t seem to understand how important politics are,” said Crysdale. She says she is aware of the coverage on politics but people really need to understand how much power politicians have.

Rowe says politics deal with everything that we talk about. He says some of the stuff that can get lost in the coverage of politics are the policies that politicians put in place. “We have to ask ourselves, how are these policies going to affect people and not just politicians,” said Rowe.

There is an endless advice on just about everything if you Google it. But, you need to get out there, Rowe and just about every journalist you speak to will tell you to get out there and talk to people.

I was filming a video of professor and journalist Paula Todd (@paula_todd), when one videographer told me you need to repeat something 10,000 times to be an expert. However according to BBC, the 10,000 rule is just about average. So get out there and use that math.

 

 

The art collective Frog in Hand’s installation The Wishing Well allows students and members of the Humber Community to make a wish, adding to the installation themselves, in the Humber Lakeshore L Space Gallery.

Gallery curatorial and collections planner Tara Mazurk said Frog in Hand wanted to create an “interactive space that gave people some ownership of the project while it got them thinking more critically about our contemporary environment in Toronto.”

“The visitors come in can actually help build the space. The installation (started on Aug., 25) with minimal balloons. By the end of September, the idea is that the well is going to be exploding from wishes from our community,” said Mazurk.”

The idea is that Frog in Hand wanted to create a mirrored well so the wishes can be expanded. The infinite amount of balloons reflect on our wishes because they too are infinite.”

A fourth year criminal justice student, DJ Grewall said she made her wish on Aug., 29.

“It is an awesome space. I’m into art. It gives me a piece of mind. I can relax there and talk to new people,” said Grewall.

Mazurk said the art collective has previous experience with installations and therefore was free to play around with the L Space. 


“Frog in Hand was started by two sisters, Noelle Hamlyn and Colleen Snell who actually teaches dance at the Humber Lakeshore fitness centre,” said Mazurk.

Snell, who is no stranger to three-dimensional art work, said the wishing well was based on a larger event held at the Living Arts Centre and Mississauga City Hall for Canada Day.

 “We took this idea an expanded upon it, adding the mirrored box and elaborating the dance portion. We had always thought it would be interesting to work with balloons,” said Snell.

The closing dance ceremony will take place on Sept. 27 between 1 p.m., to 4 p.m. Snell said that she and two other dancers, Mateo Galindo Torres and Philippe Poirier will add their own wish to the installation before opening some of the balloons provided by the audience.

To prepare for the 20-minute long performance, Snell said the dancers communicate over Skype to come up with a  structured yet spontaneous dance.

Snell also said that the Wishing Well will be performed as part of a festival called Night/Shift in Waterloo on Nov., 1.

For the next upcoming exhibition in the L-Space, The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers will bring artwork from children’s illustrators from all across Canada.

“You get to see the very initial sketches, that these artists complete, onto the final product, which ultimately goes into a picture book,” said Mazurk.

Mazurk also said the L-Space will have an art workshop on Oct., 2 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with Patricia Storms, a national best selling children’s book author and illustrator.

 

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