Saturday, October 08, 2005

J School blues continued

Second year sucks ass.

I feel like the talking plant from Little Shop of Horrors, only better looking and instead of adamantly screaming "Feed Me!," I yell "Teach Me!"

Here's 2nd-year Journalism class(es) for you: (prof) "Hi, blah blah blah, my wife, blah blah blah, mm maybe, blah blah blah, do this assignment and I'll put a letter from the beginning of the alphabet on it upon its return."

Why am I here? Notice who's talking in class this year - it's the "coolies." It isn't the better students, and that's because we're mute from shock.

In most cases, I finished top of my class last year. I was so excited to start this new year, especially in our new building. But I am not bursting with fruit flavour my friends, I am disappointed beyond belief.

NO ONE IS TEACHING. I don't know it all, neither do my friends. Teach us how to interview, how to chase stories and contacts, how to handle deadline, how to edit, how to function equipment and software, how to work in teams, how to write amazingly, whether it be leads, features, short stories, beats, copy, etc. I AM HERE TO LEARN - TEACH ME!

There should be more work, more reading, and more stimulus. I admire pretty much all professors of the department, but I find they won't let me in, they won't rub any of their deep experience and knowledge off. Unless MAYBE I try to visit them during elusive office hours.

I'm lucky I'm part of the minority that has an innate talent for this stuff. So even with a lack of teaching, I can pull off a good job. But I don't really give a shit, I want to be taught thoroughly. I am spending time and money, because I expect to get something from it in the end. But if someone hires me, in any specialization, and I don't know how to do what they ask of me, I'm fired. Maybe the diploma students have it better than we...

Please teach me everything I need to know before leaving. Hit me with it all. Abuse me, overload me with info and work. I can take it. I can't take sitting idle, I can't take lack.

A little Draino never hurt anyone

October 2005 and we're still feeding the American complex of fear.

On 9/11, I said that no attack on American soil will occur until at least 10 years have passed. So far, four years into it, I'm right.

It's ironical how the CIA can spot the hoaxes, but not the real thing, or at least wouldn't want to.

Yes, in case there is strong conviction of an attack about to unfold, intervention must take place. I'm not saying it is wrong to stop all movement within the targeted area in order to prevent lives from being taken and injuries inflicted. I'm saying it's wrong to go that far, to continuously instill fear into the public and disrupt their everyday life, simply predicated on a huntch.

If I were to place a call tomorrow morning to NYPD and state there is a bomb on the blue line traveling Manhattan, what do you think is going to happen?

Ok, ok, I won't do it. But do you see the power behind a prank phone call from a girl in Parc-Ex?

Some of the world's most elite, most ingenious people work for the U.S. and its intelligence and investigation sector. I want them to know what they're doing, know what they're dealing with. Come on peeps, get to the bottom of it - find out EVERYTHING before you act, afterall, you're highly skilled and trained professionals who do such for a living, against the clock, with millions of lives at stake.

Let's not feed the complex. And for heaven's sake, you can't make up for a huge past mistake in the future. A day late, a buck short for 9/11, so suck it up and leave the complex of fear alone.

Nothing exists unless it has a place of foster - this notion, or rather this fact, includes terrorism.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Are you mental ?

This past week I attended a conference entitled "Living with Mental Illness".
I thought it would be an interesting topic for an article, but I wasn't prepared for the effect the main speaker would have on me.

His name is William J. MacPhee, he publishes four magazines concerning mental health, and he himself is a diagnosed schizophrenic. His own classification was that of an "acute" case, and the brief historical data available on the disease, indicated a more favorable outcome than those that have the "gradual" type, can often realize. In fact, since his lengthy battle with his illness, the former commercial diver has become a husband, a father of three, and a successful publisher. He still has to take an injection every four weeks, and most likely will have to continue to do so for the remainder of his life - there is no known cure - but by all standards he is a productive individual who enjoys a quality of life few do.

He spoke of his life, his illness, and the need for active and vibrant advocacies for mental health causes, much like the Aids movement has.

He was engaging and thoughtful, and in turn had the audience respond in kind. This speech caused me to think about mental illnesses in a new way. It seems almost as if every group you can think of has pushed for a public awareness day, concerning their agenda; Gay Rights, M.A.D.D, Aids, Secretaries Day, etc., Now almost every cause has a legitimate reason for not only being, but also continuing, yet I can't help but come to some certain obvious conclusions.

We are not all gay, we are not all women, or men. We do not all drink, nor do we all drive. We do not all share the same language(s), or live in the same regions, but we do all have intellect. We all have a brain, and we can all be overcome by an illness that is brought on not by any action we take ourselves, but because we are genetically predisposed to it. It therefore seems, to me at least, that aside from being respectful to each other and allowing each other to live in peace, we should endeavour to give ourselves the gift of mental health. We have only scratched the surface at to what our brains are capable of, and what can cripple it. It has been statistically claimed that at least 20 per.cent of society will suffer a form of mental illness, in their lifetime.

Isn't it time we remove the social stigmas still attatched to matters of the mind? Maybe a campaign that makes fighting mental illness as paramount as fighting terrorism? Or as noble as fighting Aids? Whatever it takes, it will take us all, because in the end whether directly (ourselves, our families) or indirectly (our friends, our neighbours) it will touch us all.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

J school blues

Watch out all first year students. When second year at J school rolls around, you will be hit with the J school blues. My first year as a journalism student was exciting and a constant rush of novelty. This year, I just feel in a lull, things are not picking up as I wished they could be. I began to think, is J school really necessary?

I feel like I could be out there writing more stories, discovering the world, but instead, I am stuck in class, covering stories that will most likely never be printed or aired. I am being taught useless philosophical theories about journalism when I clearly know people won't read a philosophical essay, but they will read the newspaper.

My television and advanced radio classes are the most hands-on classes I've taken so far, and I am grateful we have such an opportunity to fine tune our skills before the entire world can see and criticize our work.

But then, there are certain classes I am taking and some that I have taken that are simply a waste of my time and energy.

Out of my boredom and wish to find out what other j school students think of J schools, I stumbled upon a blog ( This was started by a student from University of Queensland as an angry response to the lack of experience given to J school students.

Their main objection to the J school is that they do not prepare students for the real world.
No kidding.
I have learned the most valuable lessons when actually covering a story for the school paper or the community paper. I have made mistakes, written bland stories, but I've learned that I need to be quick witted and always thinking 10 steps ahead of everyone else, something I will not learn in a theoretical class.

I don't know if I should write this, but I will just outline what I (and most other students) in ConU's Turning Points class are thinking. No offence to the teacher, but the class is absolutely useless. The entire semester is devoted to discussing turning points in the broadcast industry. We are studying how technology or certain events affect media.

Yes, it is a worthwhile topic to discuss, but an entire semester of this is not necessary. We've already taken History of Journalism that discussed similar topics, so why rehash the same issues? This class is a requirement to the degree, but I’d rather be taking a photojournalism class or online writing that this class.

Second point of contention with J schools: students are not given enough work (oh, boy, I can see student's reaction to this!). Writing an assignment (usually around 500 words) every second or third week is not very realistic of the time-constraints real journalists face. Give us one assignment per week. They need to be newsworthy stories (would someone read it?) and timely (not just rewrite about an old issue).

I wouldn't mind a little extra push - j students need to understand that news changes every MINUTE and that we need to be constantly on top of everything that surrounds us. We are not journalists only during class time, we should be constantly working, thinking, questioning things, observing. J schools do not stress that enough.

This is just the start of my thoughts on the J School – I will come back to this in the near future. Hopefully we can have a discussion with other students and current working journalists as to how this program should be improved. If we don’t question, there is no change.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Cheat Beat

Is it just me or are we seeing a rise in scandals involving governments, politicians, bureaucrats, and our tax dollars? I'm no history buff nor do I have the stats to back it up, but my gut feeling is that as our standard of living goes up, financial pressures increase as well. Thus, the temptation to dip into the pool we aren't supposed to dip into becomes stronger and stronger, and more of us start falling for it.

It's not only politicians and bureaucrats. We've all witnessed recent corporate accounting scandals.

Corporate scandals are bad, but government scandals bother me the most, since cheating politicians and bureaucrats defy the public trust - my trust and your trust.

Every time I hear about misuse of public dollars, I wonder how many more cases are out there that we just don't know about.

Perhaps it's time for the cheat beat. Have investigative reporters devoted to finding and exposing public cheaters and thieves by investigating tips and conducting random checks.

Maybe the big shots will be more careful if they know there are people out there intent on exposing the blatant misuse of our money.

Monday, October 03, 2005

CBC Unlocked!

We are very pleased to report that the Canadian Media Guild and CBC management have reached an agreement in principle that will form the basis for a new, fair collective agreement.


Here are some initial highlights of the deal:
-• we have a strong commitment to permanent staff as the standard for employment at the CBC.
- We have improved rights for contract and temporary employees.
- Wages will increase by 12.6 percent over the life of the contract to March 31, 2009. There will be full retroactivity for all employees on the payroll prior to the lockout, including contract and temporary employees. There will also be a $1000 signing bonus.

Canadian Media Guild

Congrats to all CBC employees for sticking this one out and to the bargaining teams for reaching a settlement!

I'm really looking forward to seeing the details of this agreement. That first point is of crucial importance to us. Wages can be a bit lower but if there's no commitment, there's no stability. For most of us, that would mean no life, or a very unstable one at the most. And again, that's not what we're looking forward to.