Recent Posts

COPA nominees announced

COPA nominees announced. I am very proud to be a member of a team of writers who are nominated for a Canadian Online Publishing Award for a series done on the Russell Williams trial for Congrats to all members and to J-Source. J-Source is also nominated for its three-part series on the coverage of the Russell Williams trial: Has coverage of Col. Williams gone too far? Continue Reading →

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Hyperlocal journalism at its best

So many times journalists think great journalism is complicated, complex, investigative stories that bring down the powerful elite. And, while it is true, there is something about a simple, straight-foward piece of solid reporting that can be beat. Take for example this tiny story done by journalist Bob Owen in Cramahe Now, a hyperlocal news site covering the village of Colborne and the surrounding township about 90 minutes east of Toronto on Lake Ontario. A reader calls up Owen to complain about a $5 fee being charged to local residents for each child using the summer recreation program. Owen reported earlier last month that council decided to make all programs free to kids from the village. Continue Reading →

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Blurring the lines: the evolution of social movements and political parties

First published: March 14, 2005

In McLuhan’s Children: The Greenpeace Message and the Media, author Stephen Dale sets out a fundamental tension between the demands of media, as exemplified in the quintessential sound bite, and its effective use by Greenpeace to capture public attention and empathy, and the desire to move the organization toward resolving deeper issues within the environmental movement. In the reading, Mike Affleck, a former Notre Dame theology professor and anti-nuclear activist and a Greenpeace International member since 1990, says the organization is trapped by the conventions of its own publicity strategy of waging a public relations war based on short, focused slogans, material suitable for bumper stickers, for gaining mass support for initiatives. Greenpeace was able to pierce the numbing mindset of a public swamped by information and television, mobilizing them to support campaigns. Yet, as Dale shows, Greenpeace knows the roots of the environmental crisis are beyond this simplistic debate, involving more intricate tensions between economic interests and damaging environmental consequences. The result of this conundrum is the group’s continuous skirting of the central issues and never getting to the heart of the problem, Dale writes. Continue Reading →

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Journalists and Citizens

First published: June 25, 2006

Within the Journalist’s Creed, written in the early part of the 20th century by Walter William, founder of the first journalism school in North America in 1908, a clear picture of the efforts to professionalize journalism are laid bare: journalism as a public trust; journalism as a public service; accuracy; fairness; clarity; truth; openness; beholden to no one; respectful of the audience; takes no sides; and is a major social force in joining humanity. The powerful, moving language is inspirational while representing a very clear statement, in a historic context, of the role of a journalist. Much has changed since those words were first crafted, as journalism lost the trust and credibility William described as being fundamental. Eighty-years after the creed first laid down its commitment to public service, journalism scholars sought to win back some of the shine that was tarnished over the years as citizens became disillusioned by the news media and civic institutions. Rosen, Merritt and Batten sought to rediscover the public service roots lost over the years through the formation of civic journalism in the late 1980s and public journalism nearly a decade later. Continue Reading →

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Bell Globemedia/CHUM merger cannot leave journalists behind

First published: July 13, 2006

The merger of Bell Globemedia and CHUM Ltd. will certainly be debated around the subject of media oligarchy and concentration of ownership in Canada, but concerns around the quality of journalism may not get the same thorough airing. And, it needs to. Canada needs a major foundation to fund excellent reporting and innovative projects done by journalists. While there are many awards honour excellent journalism, there are very few organizations to fund projects. Continue Reading →

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