November 01, 2012

The Ryerson Free Press mysteriously halts publication

Stands, stands everywhere, but not a paper to read. (Photo by Dasha Zolota/The Eyeopener)

Well this is certainly weird. From The Eyeopener:

The Ryerson Free Press (RFP) will stop publishing for the foreseeable future after the abrupt departure of editor-in-chief Clare O’Connor, who is now entrenched in legal proceedings with the Continuing Education Students’ Union of Ryerson (CESAR), the paper’s publisher.

“Through a series of unfortunate events, it appears that our October issue is postponed indefinitely,” said James Burrows, the RFP’s news editor, in documents obtained by The Eyeopener.

“I unfortunately can’t [say] any more than that, as I don’t know any more, other than we no longer have an [editor-in-chief] and there appears to be no plans on the part of CESAR, our publisher, to hire one.”

One of Ryerson’s three campus newspapers, the RFP is an alternative publication aimed at part-time and continuing education students.

It is largely staffed by members of CESAR and publishes on a monthly basis.

O’Connor, who was in her first semester as editor-in-chief of the RFP after taking the reins from long-time editor Nora Loreto, published the September issue of the paper before her departure. Under the RFP’s mandate, they are unable to publish both online and print articles without a sitting editor-in-chief.

The circumstances surrounding O’Connors departure and the status of her legal proceedings with CESAR remain murky.

Student union to strategically review The Gazette at Western

They're investigating the newspaper! It's like Britain!! Ahh! (Photo by Ritchie Sham/The Gazette)
The Gazette, the student newspaper at the University of Western Ontario (or Western University, or whatever the hell they're calling themselves these days) will be undergoing a "strategic review" conducted by the University Students' Council, Western's student union.

From The Gazette's story:
For once, the Gazette will not be the one reviewing the University Students’ Council. Last Wednesday, council voted to undertake a strategic review of the paper. According to the USC standards, the Gazette is long overdue for an assessment.

“We like to review all our operations to ensure that they meet certain standards for our organization,” Jeremy Santucci, vice-president communications for the USC, explained. “The Gazette hasn’t been looked at in five years or so, so we want to look at the operational structure and ensure that it’s operating as a tight ship.”

The review will look at the organization and operation of the Gazette, which is Canada’s only daily student newspaper and is paid for by a student fee of $15.39 per student, as well as by advertising revenue.

“It will be focusing on the overall organizational structure of the Gazette to ensure it’s […] operating like a modern newspaper should be,” Santucci said. “It will be more in-depth because it will be more on the operational side, but the inherent implications will be financial.”

More after the jump:

The Salvation Army responds to The Ubyssey

(Photo courtesy of tojosan/Flickr)
In response to The Ubyssey's decision to not run an advertisement by the Salvation Army, the philanthropic organization has submitted a letter to their editorial board.
My name is Graham Moore and I am the public relations and development secretary for the Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda. I am writing in response to your recent editorial, “Why we declined to run an advertisement from the Salvation Army: an open letter,” in order to clear up some discrepancies and paint a clearer picture of the work that the Salvation Army has done in Canada for the last 130 years.

First, the Salvation Army in Canada has a long history of serving those in need without discrimination. All of our social and community services are equally available, based only on need and according to the capability of the Army to serve. We uphold the dignity of all people and believe that all are equal in the eyes of God, regardless of sexual orientation. We firmly oppose the vilification and mistreatment of gays and lesbians.

Secondly, the Salvation Army is a Christian organization, founded on Christian values and biblical standards. However, this has no negative effect on our extensive social work, which is supported by public donations. We are the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in this country, serving more than 1.8 million people each year. In fact, it is our faith that motivates us to help anybody in need, regardless of who they are.

While we understand that it is ultimately up to you and your editorial board to choose which advertisements to run in your newspaper, I hope that you may reconsider knowing a little more background about the Salvation Army and the work that we do.

I do hope that this helps to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Graham Moore
Public Relations and Development Secretary
The Salvation Army
Headquarters for Canada and Bermuda
Toronto, Ontario

October 30, 2012

The Peak gets murdered at SFU

Four of the editors of The Peak, Simon Fraser University's paper, have been gruesomely murdered within the halls of the university they loved so dearly. All that remains is a video recording that leaves us with more questions than we began with. They died in the lines of journalistic duty, and for that, we salute them.

The Ubyssey rejects an advertisement from the Salvation Army

There is no gay sex or any abortions happening inside of that trailer. (Photo courtesy of tojosan/Flickr)

Last week, The Ubyssey, the student newspaper at the University of British Columbia, declined to run an ad from the Salvation Army, both because of the content of the ad (weirdly anti-abortion) and also because of the Salvation Army's publicly homophobic stands. Here's what they had to say about it.
After considerable staff discussion and a vote by the editorial board, The Ubyssey has opted to decline to run an advertisement from the Salvation Army, slated for the Oct. 25 print edition.

The editorial board had grave concerns about both the content and source of the advertisement and thus cannot, in good conscience, accept it for publication.

In a unanimous vote, the editorial board decided that we are uncomfortable running an ad from an organization like the Salvation Army. In the past 10 years, branches of the Salvation Army have petitioned all levels of government for policies that deny equal rights to LGBTQ people. In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to leave New York City entirely because of an ordinance that required groups with contracts from the city to “offer benefits to gay employees’ partners,” according to the New York Times. Their current position statement on homosexuality “calls for chastity outside of heterosexual marriage.” While the Canadian branch has been less vocal on this front, we believe the organization as a whole ultimately dehumanizes a group of people on the basis of their sexuality.
The rest after the jump.

September 08, 2012

Back issues: The Martlet's favourite headlines 68-89

The staff of the Martlet busy at work in their office in the basement of the Student Union building, 1976.  (Photo by Ian Anguish/UVic Archives)
The Martlet, at the University of Victoria, ran their favourite headlines from The Martlet 1968-1989.

“DRUGS: where’s it at?”

March 5, 1968

Current UVic writing instructor and Vancouver Sun contributor Steve Hume wrote an article investigating the prevalence of drug use. He explained the illegal drug market, related legislation and international considerations in the first piece of his series on the subject.

“SUB opens Monday”

Aug. 22, 1972

The Martlet reported on renovations to the Students’ Union Building (SUB), including expansions to the cafeteria and the air-conditioning. The highlights, however, were two 18-foot, dark oak-stained tables and several barrel tables “intended to give the impression of a campus Medieval Inn.” The updates included high oak stools, benches and oak barrel armchairs purchased from England for the then-brickwork foyer.

“Trudeau, ‘beating the drums of national unity’ ”

Oct. 26, 1972

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau addressed a crowd at the Royal Theatre in Victoria, saying that Canada no longer had an identity crisis and that we were no longer “in doubt” about who we were as a nation.

“Math prof proposes 90-minute classes”

March 1, 1973

Today’s schedule of having two 90-minute classes per week, as well as the three hour-long classes, was proposed in 1973 by Marvin Shinbrot, a professor in the Math Department at the time. Previously, the schedule fit courses that went from Monday to Saturday. Shinbrot had professors in mind when devising the re-formatted schedule, giving them days off from teaching responsibilities to conduct research.

“Disco hits the Library”

Oct. 13, 1978

A large donation to the library’s music and audio department brought Saturday Night Fever to its collection, filling a gap in contemporary music with artists such as the Bee Gees and Jethro Tull.

“Women physically capable”

March 15, 1979

The Martlet printed an article outlining the work of two Massachusetts researchers whose study dismissed the notion that women aren’t strong enough to do what was traditionally considered “men’s work.” Almost all of the women involved in the study completed “heavy work,” and 92 per cent completed “very heavy work” such as carrying a 10-kilogram load up a slope and using treadmills at various speeds for an eight-hour work-day.

“Line-ups make reg[istration] ‘sweatshop’”

Jul. 15, 1982

Students began to line up at 6 a.m. in the SUB, and by 11 a.m. on the first day of course registration, the line was out the door. Students waited up to seven hours to register for their courses, hoping there was still space left in classes that fit into a schedule.

“UVic gets engineering school”

Feb. 10, 1983

The B.C. Treasury Board approved UVic’s request for a $15-million Science and Engineering school and complex. UVic President Howard Petch put forth the request to promote high-technology industry development on the Island.

“Students party less”

Nov. 2, 1989

A survey on the habits of Canada’s post-secondary students found that students in 1989 would prefer to spend their money on travel, clothing and computers rather than partying. The study noted that students were older and had more disposable income than in the past. Notably, research showed that beer consumption was down slightly — 43.3 per cent of students didn’t drink at all.

Personally I'm a fan of "Women physically capable." Have any great headlines from your campus papers' past to top The Martlet?

September 07, 2012

The Silhouette, the CBC and a "black woman student president"

Stewart is president of the McMaster Students Union and, evidently, a black woman. (Photo by Adam Carter/CBC)

CBC-Hamilton recently ran an interview with Siobhan Stewart, president of the McMaster Students Union, with the headline "McMaster's first black woman student president opens up about Hamilton."

The interview began with your fairly typical profile questions, which led into this exchange between the interviewer and Stewart:

Q: Do you consider “finding your way” as an influence?

A: Yeah. Finding my way was a huge influence for me. There aren’t a lot of women in leadership positions, and there aren’t a lot of women of colour [in those positions]. When I was in high school, there was a Black female president on student council. I looked to her as a big sister and she really inspired me and we still keep in touch.

After a few questions about McMaster's relationship to the rest of the community, they have a longer exchange about race.

September 05, 2012

The Cadre responds!

The editorial team of The Cadre, who are making the move to online only, respond to my post about the shift. From their website:
Hey Arshy,

Thanks for taking notice of The Cadre’s shift to online-only content. As you might imagine, these are wild times for us. We’ve gone from student newspaper, to student news empire, and we’re really excited to start firing with all blasters cylinders in our new format.

In response to your recent article, we figured it would be nice to provide you with a bit more of The Cadre’s history.

As noted in the big announcement last spring, UPEI’s student paper has been around since 1969. Since then, we have gone through a number of names, editors, logos, lawsuits, and pretty well anything else you can think of. Just a few years ago we changed our name to the fucking “Panther Post” and back again before we knew what hit us. Although we’ve been printing for over 40 years, we’re accustomed to change.

Now, we’re going online-only.

Personally, we think this is a good change. Over the past few years our paper has suffered from a small budget, an even smaller readership, and a series of shitty deals with printers that refuse to allow us to run less than 2,000 copies at a time. With a student population of less than 4,500 here at UPEI, we consistently ended up with a foolish amount of wasted paper littering the campus. Issues were thrown out. Issues were taken en mass by representatives of the PEI Humane Society to cover the kennel floors.

You get the idea.

In the end, we believe that going online-only is a move in the right direction, and one that will certainly become relevant to UPEI students on a day-to-day basis.

You mentioned how students often rely on their campus newspapers to read casually, on the bus or in the cafeteria. There’s no denying that The Cadre served that purpose at UPEI. However, by printing new issues only every 3 to 4 weeks, the quality of the paper simply was not there. The new format allows us to cover news as it happens, not a month later.

Just think: had our format remained the same, this response would not have been released for another three weeks, and you likely would never have found it.

The rest after the jump:

September 04, 2012

UPEI's Cadre is going online only

The Cadre will no longer come in a stackable format.
The Cadre, the campus newspaper at the University of Prince Edward Island, is moving online only. From their website:
In an ideal world, a student newspaper serves two purposes: it is an informative, entertaining document that covers the moments we experience between the first day of class and last class bash; and as a place where young writers can grow and develop their voice. We haven’t been accomplishing this.

Our monthly publication schedule hampers our ability to properly cover events. Our stories are long and broad and often come out two weeks after the fact. We’re going to be moving to a daily publishing schedule. Our content will be shorter and bloggier. Breaking news will be covered as it’s breaking. Bigger stories will get four to five posts from different angles, instead of one long, lumbering summary well after anyone cares. We’ll still do booze panels and stuff.

The rest after the jump.

August 24, 2012

BREAKING: College newspaper endorses Barack Obama

The staff of Central Connecticut State University's Recorder.

This one hits close to home. From The Onion:

NEW BRITAIN, CT—Calling him the "best person to lead this nation forward," the editors of The Recorder, Central Connecticut State University's student newspaper, officially endorsed Barack Obama for president in a front-page editorial this week.

Titled "Our Choice For Tomorrow," the 600-word endorsement—which follows recent staff editorials on late-night student shuttle service and expanding the use of DevilDollars meal-plan credits to off-campus eateries—carefully lays out why Obama would serve the nation better than Mitt Romney, whom the newspaper called a "worthy candidate" but not the one most qualified to serve in "the highest post in the land."

"The important decision of whom to support in the 2012 election is not easy, and it is not a task we take lightly," wrote the editorial board of the newspaper that is published each Wednesday during the academic year. "The road ahead will be difficult, with continued challenges such as climate change, the debt, and ongoing global threats, but we believe Mr. Obama is prepared to deal with the hard choices of our time."

"Despite not being able to turn the country around completely during his first term, the president has nonetheless delivered on many issues," the editorial continued. "That's why The Recorder offers its support to Barack Obama in 2012."

The publication praised Obama's "bold vision," citing his commitments to higher education, technology, and "helping the poor and the environment." The editors also noted that they were particularly impressed with Obama's visit to the school's campus two years earlier.

Despite its endorsement, the editorial aimed to serve as a "wake-up call" for Obama, sternly warning the incumbent that "slogans won't be enough this time around." The Recorder's staff, whose members receive four English Department credits for their work on the newspaper, went on to offer the president even more pointed words, stating that it was imperative he "stand up for the middle class" if he wanted to triumph in November.

Flanked by articles on the volleyball team's recent 3-1 victory over the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights and an annual drag talent show planned for Greek Week, the editorial noted that it was providing a realistic assessment of Obama's first term by not only focusing on his successes in office, but also candidly shedding light on his "share of failures."

Listing several unfulfilled promises and questionable policies that "did not please the editorial board of The Recorder," the editors went on to state that it was their duty as members of the press to ask tough questions, and declared the newspaper would "lend its support to Barack Obama, but not let him off the hook, either." In particular, they drew attention to a number of issues on which, they asserted, the president would have to "step up" and show some "real leadership."

"Mr. President, we must ask you: What do you plan on doing about Guantánamo? And what about the situation in Syria, which has grown increasingly messy?" inquired the publication with a circulation of 1,500 copies that is usually picked up in the student union and flipped directly to the crossword puzzle. "These are real concerns that matter to the people of this country, and they deserve an answer."

According to sources, The Recorder called an all-staff meeting last week at its offices in the basement of the East Asian Studies building to discuss which candidate to endorse, scheduling the assembly on a Sunday night so as not to conflict with the editor-in-chief's intramural broomball game.

"We definitely took into consideration that Mitt Romney had success as a businessman," said 19-year-old Alfredo Cortes, the publication's managing editor and also the contributor of a twice-monthly house and dubstep music review column. "There was a pretty long discussion about who would do better on the economy, and a couple people were upset with the president's unclear stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but eventually we decided Obama would be best overall, and we felt it was very important to get our paper's voice out there behind him."

In making its endorsement, The Recorder acknowledged the "big expectations on the president's shoulders" and called on him to live up to his ideals. It also appealed directly to the nation's 140 million likely voters, commenting that the "future is in [their] hands."

"America stands at an important crossroads, and we look to Barack Obama for a brighter tomorrow," concluded the newspaper of record for almost 10,000 undergraduates. "Hope? Change? We certainly hope so."

August 22, 2012

How a student newspaper story at UC-Berkley turned into a 31-year odyssey

Mario Savio was one of the student activists targeted by the FBI at UC-Berkley. (Photo by Duke Downey/Chronicle File)

San Francisco-based journalist Seth Rosenfeld has just released a book that details how deep and invasive the FBI's involvement was in the student protests that rocked UC-Berkley in the 1960s. Titled Subversives: The FBIs War on Student Radicals and Reagan's Rise to Power, the book is the result of 31-years of reporting that began when Rosenfeld was a writer at the Daily Californian, Berkley's student newspaper. In a recent Fresh Air interview, Rosenfeld explains the book's genesis.
I first got interested in the subject when I was a student at the University of California at Berkley in the late 70s. I was a writer for the Daily Californian student newspaper. The Daily Cal had requested some FBI files on Berkley under the freedom of information act. So I looked at those files and I wrote a story about the FBI spying on the Free Speech Movement and on the Vietnam Day committee and they were published back in 1982, but I realized there was far more to the FBI's activities on campus. So I submitted a much larger freedom of information act request. I figured I would get the files in a year or so, write the story and go onto the next project. I had no idea that I was embarking on what would become a 31 year legal odyssey. 
The project would take him through five different court cases and $600,000 in legal fees, something Rosenfeld never could have anticipated when he was a 25-year old student journalist.

Rosenfeld's reporting not only revealed that the Hoover's bureau was a partisan force that ruined the lives on students and administrators, including the university president, who they believed to be politically suspect, but that future President Ronald Reagan was heavily involved in these activities and benefitted personally because of his relationship to the FBI.

August 21, 2012

The hotbed press: what the Canadian Senate said about student journalism in 1969

The red chamber was not impressed with the student press in '69. (Photo courtesy of jonath/Flickr)

In 1969, the Canadian Senate's special committee on the mass media put out "Uncertain Mirror," a report examining the state of, well, the mass media in Canada. It was a comprehensive look at the subject, with sections devoted to not just newspapers and public broadcasters, but the ethnic press, "farm press" [whatever that is], the underground press and student papers, which they dubbed "the hotbed press." The next excerpt captures the essence of their message:

The Committee devoted part of its research effort and a full day of its hearings to the student press in Canada. We find it reassuring to report that although the rhetoric surrounding this subject has changed in the past few decades, nothing else has. Canada's best student newspapers are still un-professional, shrill, scurrilous, radical, tasteless, inaccurate, obscene, and wildly unrepresentative of their campus audience. They always have been.
Read the rest of the section on the student press after the jump.

July 10, 2012

The Kitchener Rangers are suing the pants off of a student paper

Here's a Kitchener Ranger taking on someone his own size. (Photo courtesy of Tabercil/Flickr Creative Commons)
Deadspin reports on a Canadian minor league hockey team suing the Michigan Daily, a campus paper at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, for libel for reporting that the team offered a player $200,000 cash to stick with the team.

Trouba, who was taken by the Winnipeg Jets last month, was selected in the 2010 OHL Draft by the Kitchener Rangers. Just out of high school, Trouba now has a choice ahead of him: play college hockey for the Michigan Wolverines, or go to the OHL and make some money, but forfeit his NCAA eligibility. What an OHL team would normally do in this case is offer something called an education package: reimbursement of tuition, book, and room and board at any university once the player's OHL career is over. The problem with such packages is that they expire just 18 months after leaving the OHL team, and few players take advantage of them, because they're too busy playing hockey in the NHL or elsewhere, or just have no interest in attending college if they're not able to play.  
Last week, The Michigan Daily reported, via two OHL sources, that Kitchener had offered Trouba $200,000—in cash, not as an education package—to pull out of his Michigan commitment and come play for the Rangers. Kitchener strongly denied the story, and demanded that the Daily retract the story and issue a formal apology. Their Monday deadline passed, and today Kitchener filed a defamation lawsuit in Ontario court against the Daily, seeking $1 million in damages.

Deadspin continues:

What follows from here should be interesting. I hope an international paper, even a student paper, isn't compelled to reveal its sources. At the same time, a student paper (rightly or wrongly) doesn't get the same benefit of the doubt as a professional outlet. (For what it's worth, Trouba has affirmed his intentions to attend Michigan.) While I'm not up on Canadian libel law, presumably the burden is still on the plaintiff here. So, thorny issues. It's not a good look to sue a student newspaper, but if the story is actually false, and you're not using court as a scare tactic, a lawsuit is the last and best recourse.

Unfortunately for the Daily, the suit was filed in Canada, where protections for journalists are considerably weaker than the States. The presumption of innocence doesn't apply in libel cases here — you're guilty until proven innocent.

Regardless, it certainly doesn't look good to sue a student newspaper. In fact, it makes you look kind of like an asshole.

July 02, 2012

Why Stephen Toope is the new Jimmy Hoffa

Irving K. Barber Library at UBC. (Photo Courtesy of Dennis Tsang/Flickr Creative Commons)

If you're a student journalist, or a student, or a journalist, or in any way a participant in society, you need to read this article in the latest edition of n+1, which outlines how the university has overtaken the union as the second most important institution (after the corporation) in American, and I'd argue Canadian, life.

The piece is broad in it's scope, but here's the key message:

Our elaborate, expensive system of higher education is first and foremost a system of stratification, and only secondly — and very dimly — a system for imparting knowledge.

The editors of n+1 frame holders of university degrees as members of an enormous cartel.

For the contemporary bachelor or master or doctor of this or that ... income and social position are acquired through affiliation with a cartel. Those who want to join have to pay to play, and many never recover from the entry fee.

It examines why creditors are so happy to lend to students (you can't bankrupt out of student loans) and why the Tea Party is, at least partially, right about the Ivy League "elites."

It makes a hero out of Clarence Thomas and casts the New Yorker as a den of fools.

It even argues that a proto-university ranking system, a personal boogeyman of mine, forced the creation of the modern medical degree (with the mandatory four-year degree before you even start with any actual medicine) while simultaneously shutting women and black Americans out of the medical profession for decades.

If not earlier: the AMA owes its authority to America’s most notorious robber barons, who invented philanthropy as we know it by establishing foundations capable of long-term, organized interventions in the country’s political and cultural life. The first foundations poured money into medical schools — but only if those schools followed the example set by Johns Hopkins, which in 1893 had introduced what’s now the standard formula: students attend four years of college, then four years of medical school. Institutions that didn’t follow this model did not get donations, and they also got denounced in a 1910 report sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation. After the Carnegie survey published its “findings,” scores of medical schools — schools whose students could not afford the additional years of study now required, and nearly all of the schools that admitted blacks and women — closed.

And here's the kill-shot:

Introductory economics courses paint “rent-seekers” as gruesome creatures who amass monopoly privileges; credential-seekers, who sterilize the intellect by pouring time and money into the accumulation of permits, belong in the same circle of hell.

This essay has struck me in a way that few ever have. I'm going to collect my thoughts and report back on them, especially on how this applies to journalism education, a subject I've been thinking a lot about.

The white world of literary journalism

According to The Rumpus, 88 per cent of all books reviewed by the New York Times Book Review are written by white authors. Amanda Hess from Poynter compares the discussion on racial representation in literary journalism with the recent focus on the gender disparities in the genre.
Most bylines can be instantly sifted by gender, but race is more difficult to parse. The 50-50 gender ratio is easy to quantify, but the racial breakdown of the U.S. population is complex. It took Gay, an assistant professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, 14 weeks to complete her research, employing a student for 16 hours a week to mine authors’ ethnic backgrounds. They couldn’t confirm the race of six authors. Gay plans to execute a similar count for the bylines of The Times’ book reviewers, when she gets the time. And that’s just one publication.
And here's the really key point:
The whiteness of The New York Times Book Review represents the structural inequality of elite journalism stacked on the structural inequality of elite publishing stacked on the structural inequality of income and education in this country. But for women, the system is breaking down at an advanced stage of the game. When female graduates don’t end up in newsrooms, female MFA program stars don’t get book deals, or female editors are not promoted up the chain, publications can be held accountable for that problem. When writers of color are disenfranchised at every stage of the process, everyone is to blame, so no one is.
You only have to look so far as the racial composition of student newsrooms, even at very diverse universities, to realize that the problem of representation for people-of-colour in journalism starts right at the beginning.

At the paper that I came from, our staff of volunteer writers were fairly representative, but the editorial staff rarely was. In conversations with many other people, we were never able to pin down any concrete answers as to why that was the case, but we tossed around a lot of possibilities.

A lot of the time, people immediately assumed that it had to with language ability and that a disproportionate number of people-of-colour on our campus spoke English as a second language. And yet we still had a strong cadre of non-white writers who had no trouble distinguishing between en- and em-dashes.

Was it because white people were more drawn to "softer" subject areas such as English and political science, the primordial ooze from where student journalists are created, with people of colour disproportionately represented in the sciences and engineering? That was certainly true to an extent amongst the faculties, but then why were non-white writers who were already interested in journalism less likely to stick around the paper long-term?

Another possible cultural explanation would be that even for those non-white writers who wanted to get into media, journalism school was seen as a better route, especially for people who come from a number of East and South Asian backgrounds that place enormous value on possessing credentials.

Or perhaps the time commitment involved with being an editor at the paper meant that people who still lived at home in the suburbs (which in Metro Vancouver tend to be less white than the cities) and had to commute long distances were less likely to take that sort of opportunity.

The final, and most disturbing idea, was that there was something inherit in the culture of the paper that either turned people of colour off from working there or else we actively and unconsciously created a hostile atmosphere. This could range from a collective love of booze that people from certain background might not share, or else a system where the people in charge would mentor people like them to take over their roles.

The likely answer is, as with all things, going to be more complicated than a single factor. But it does demonstrate that the problems with journalism starts at the beginning. And this of course isn't even getting into the many issues that writers of colour will face when they attempt to enter the workforce or try and move up the ladder.

May 15, 2012

Is journalist the best or the worst job?

Would you rather be a newspaper reporter or to be a taxi driver? What about a meter reader? Dishwasher? 

According to rankings produced by, all of these jobs are better than being working in the newspaper biz. In fact, ranked at 196 out of 200, the only careers that newspaper reporter edges out are oil rig worker, enlisted military soldier(!), dairy farmer and lumberjack. Apparently this is a function of long hours, shit pay and stressful deadlines. But something seems off here...

Luckily for us, the good people at let us know why being a reporter is in fact totally awesome.

Remember how great college was? Every semester brought new topics, new professors, new ideas. Your brain got a workout. You could feel yourself getting smarter. Journalism is like that. You’re always building new mental muscles. You start out on a new beat or a new story as ignorant as a child, and within a few weeks or months you’re an expert. Wait, you didn’t like college? Don’t be a journalist. Problem solved.
Here are a few things I’ve done at FORBES in the name of journalism: gotten a lesson in Texas Hold ‘Em from a former pro poker player; watched a cartoonist for The New Yorker sketch comic ideas; gone jogging on the turf at Lambeau Field with the president of the Green Bay Packers; started a boycott against Mario Batali; got the creators of Words With Friends to explain why their game is so annoying. I’m sure waiters meet a lot of interesting people, too, but if they ask a lot of obnoxious questions they risk getting stiffed on the tip. I get a raise.
Tracking down a scoop on deadline, when the newsroom is buzzing with dozens of people doing the same — it’s an adrenaline rush. Plenty of jobs in this world offer the prospect of unrelieved boredom. I’d rather have one that gets my heart pumping. 
Reporting is rife with chances to get up from your desk, get out of the office and stretch your legs. Don’t like staring at a glowing screen all day? Meet a few sources for coffee, do some man-on-the-street interviews or go cover a trade show. It’s often when you’re playing semi-hooky from the office that you’ll get your best stuff. 

Yup. Journalism is pretty great.

(Photo Courtesy of Geoff Lister/The Ubyssey)

May 14, 2012

Should journalists report on eating disorders the way they report suicides?

The Ryerson Review of Journalism looks at the ethics of reporting on eating disorders. Some of the highlights:

 “There are standards when it comes to reporting on suicide, but when it comes to eating disorders we’re still blaming the victim.”

 “To me, it’s like providing suicide tools for someone who is suicidal when you report about someone’s diet. You’re not reporting on how someone committed suicide because you don’t want to give anyone who may be in that framework any more ideas; you should be doing the same thing with eating disorders.”

For example, when writing a story about an eating disorder that includes details about that individual’s calorie consumption, how much weight she lost, and what she did in order to lose that much weight, journalists must also describe the effects that lifestyle had on her physical, mental, and emotional health; what it did to the people around her; why this person behaved the way she did; and how eating disorders develop and their long-term effects. The same rules should be followed when reporting on any health issue that can or used to be stigmatized like suicide, schizophrenia, depression, or cancer.

March 13, 2012

Fairy tale journalism

The Guardian promotes their open journalism initiative with a fantastically creative look at the three little pigs.
This advert for the Guardian's open journalism, screened for the first time on 29 February 2012, imagines how we might cover the story of the Three Little Pigs in print and online. Follow the story from the paper's front page headline, through a social media discussion and finally to an unexpected conclusion