Sunday, October 31, 2010

No Running Water

Yesterday there was a special in the Winnipeg Free Press about the lack of safe and clean water on remote northern First Nations communities called No Running Water.

The piece, a shared body of work between journalist and editor Helen Fallding, photo journalist Joe Bryska and multi-media editor Tyler Walsh, gives an in depth look into the third world living conditions that many people who live in these communities face.

This piece is shocking, even if you already knew that many people on remote First Nations reserves didn't have access to clean water. -- Fallding, Bryska and Walsh, took a story that many of knew (or heard of) but never bothered to care much about (because it didn't affect us), and served it up in a nice little package for our reading and viewing consumption. They made this issue real for a lot of us.

This story is a perfect example of why I wanted to be a journalist.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How can all these cases be unsolved?

Crime: When is the best time to tackle it?

Three people were shot in a seemingly random attack in Winnipeg's North End this weekend. The alleged gunman, described by some witnesses as methodical, was on foot or bike and shot his victims in three separate areas of the North End in a half hour time period. Of the three who were shot, two died of their injuries, while the third is still in hospital.

A horrific crime, especially considering that it appears to be random at this time. -- This kind of crime begs the question: Is Winnipeg getting more violent? And if so, what can be done to fix this problem?!

With the Civic Election less than 24-hours away, crime in Winnipeg is a hot topic.

I know for certain that mayoral candidate, Sam Katz, has already promised 58 new police officers on the streets if reelected. Good, but will 58 more police officers really fix this type of problem? Certainly, a beefed up police presence in crime riddled areas would be good, but will it do much of anything to actually solve the problem?

I think it will be great to have more officers, but I doubt it will do much in the way of cleaning up the streets.

Judy Wacylycia-Leis has vowed to "get to the root cause of crime" if elected, by offering up funding, programs and jobs for at risk people (including those in gangs.) -- This is something that Judy has been scoffed at for, because people don't seem to like the idea of investing time and money into the likes of gang members. I can understand that mentality, but I don't think that I agree with it.

Investing "in the root cause" of crime seems like a logical concept. -- What makes a person, like the anonymous gunman in the North End this weekend, into a killer, or a criminal, or a thief? Is there something that could have been done earlier in this person's life to prevent this type of behaviour?

Before we scoff at the notion of investing "in the root cause," perhaps we should see it it works first.

Perhaps we (as a city) should take a step back and look at why people do things (like commit crimes and murders), and try to fix it at the root, rather than letting it grow and fester.

I don't know.

This is a hot topic, and although I agree with Wacylycia-Leis about targeting the root cause of the problem, I still believe that people who commit crimes should serve due justice for them.

Ah well, tomorrow I guess we'll see what the rest of Winnipeg thinks about the issues...

Friday, October 22, 2010

It hits you like a tonne of bricks, that suffocating feeling; you can't breathe. Your face begins to burn, triggering the rest of your body temperature to rise. Your head begins to ache and your heart pounds heavily. You feel as though you are going to be sick.

What just happened? -- Life seems to have slowed to a frame-by-frame picture. Suffering in slow motion.

The room is so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Only the sound sound of a ticking clock and a settling house comfort you.

You try to catch your breath, but you can't. You lean up against a wall, put your burning face into your hands, and you cry. Helpless and vulnerable.

Those words, those awful words, have changed your entire life. Nothing even looks the same as it did a moment ago. Everything just got a little darker. A little scarier. A little more unfair.

Your heart aches. This is what love feels like.

You are trapped in the moment. The only thing you keep thinking of is that you wish there was more time. The life that you've been fine with living up until a few minutes ago, is now a race. You resent it. You need more time for the important things. More time for the things you take for granted. You just need more time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Editing a monster

The story of Colonel Russell Williams has exploded in the media: Sexual predator who photographed and filmed himself raping and killing two women. A guy who broke into a number of houses (many houses a number of times as well) stealing panties, bras and other women's and girls lingerie and clothing, and taking pictures of himself (often masturbating) while wearing the items.

Yes, the story almost seems like something out of a movie, but it's not. It's real life.

This week, images of shamed former colonel wearing women's under garments have been front page news on a national level. Both Winnipeg dailies have used these images of Williams, posing in the stolen lingerie, on their covers. The pictures of the stern-faced colonel standing in front of the camera, wearing both panties and bra seem bizarre. He doesn't seem to be posing, and his expression is still frigid and cold, like an army colonel would be while he is standing at attention.

The pictures certainly add to the story.

However, I wonder what the editors of both Winnipeg dailies, as well as the other papers who published these pictures were thinking?-- Did they question whether they should have published these pictures? Did they think they landed on a gold mine? (Hey, it's not every day you get a picture of a once well respected army colonel turned killer, wearing women's stolen lingerie...) Did they wonder if these pictures, mixed with their headlines would have negative connotations towards other people, not involved in this case?!

I raise the last point because, although it is evident Russell Williams in a pervert based on the the facts that are coming out about him, there is a thin line of behaviour that he may share with many non-perverted people, and that is wearing women's underwear. -- A man wearing women's underwear might seem strange to a lot of us, but there are a lot of well to do cross dressers out there, who are not perverts, that enjoy wearing women's underwear (among other things.)

Don't get me wrong; I think that Williams is a pervert for stealing underwear (especially from young girls) and then wearing it. However, that's a whole different ball game.

I just wonder if the editors of the newspapers that are running these stories have considered the fine line of telling the story (in both words and pictures) and making sure that they don't offend or pervert the cross dressing community while they do it.


Pictures: Courtesy of the Associated Press

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

99 per cent of a young killer

About a million years ago, when I was in grade eight, a kid from my area was fatally stabbed by another teenager, while he was hanging out with a large group of friends one summer night. -- I have to point out that I didn't know the victim or the killer, but the impact of this incident was a profound one on my small circle of junior high friends. (Especially the ones that were there, the night the victim was killed. Horror stories of 13 and 14-year-olds cradling the dying boy in their arms, while waiting for paramedics to arrive haunted many of us for years.)

The story goes like this...

One summer night, a bunch of kids from Grant Park and River Heights Jr. High schools planned to have a bush party (probably at Omands Creek, because that's where all the bush parties happened for the Grant Park and River Heights kids.)

The group of kids met around Grant Park School that night, and sometime (while the lot of them were together) some kind of altercation ensued between a few of them and two other boys from a different area, who were not a part of the Grant Park/River Heights group.

(Yes, I understand that my last paragraph was a vague run-on sentence, but my brain has a hard time articulating what really happened back then because all I remember is thinking that the boy who was killed had been an innocent victim of the other boy; a cold-blooded killer. It was extremely emotional experience to all of us back then. I have no idea what really transpired...)

Anyway, what came next was beyond tragic for everybody involved; apparently, after the altercation, the group of Grant Park/River Heights kids started following the two boys (for reasons I am not sure of.) They followed them through Grant Park Mall, through Woolco, and eventually down Mulvey St., where the two boys stopped and a fight was about to take place.

Before the fight happened though, one of the boys pulled out a knife and stabbed one of the Grant Park/River Heights kids in the chest. The bleeding kid fell to the ground and the two boys ran away. Laying in the arms of his friends and wrapped in a blood-soaked jacked, the young teenaged boy bled to death, right there on Mulvey St.

It was tragic.

In the following days after the boy was killed, I remember the news coverage being pretty extensive: A young teenage boy was stabbed to death in the south end of the city. That wasn't normal. Furthermore, the teenaged killer apparently stole the murder weapon from a Woolco store, right before the incident happened on Mulvey St.

It was sensational, the press couldn't write about this tragedy fast enough...

And then a few days after the murder, after the dead boy had been buried and an emotional retaliation had been promised by friends of the slain boy, The Winnipeg Sun posted a picture of the teenage killer on the cover of the paper with little more than a tiny black bar covering his eyes, to supposedly shield his identity.

It was unusually candid, and outraged all parties involved.

Now, like I've already pointed out, I can't articulate this story very well, given that I was a young and extremely biased teenager when it happened. (I automatically assumed that the murder was done in cold blood. I never even gave a second thought to the possibility that the young killer was also probably extremely frightened by the fact that he was out-numbered by the group of kids that were following him. -- I am not trying to justify the murder, because it's a shame, but I am just saying that in my young eyes, the killer was the antagonist in this situation...)

Either way, the picture of the young killer caught a lot of backlash, because the Sun was accused of going too far in publishing 99 per cent of an image of the young killer.

I've tried to Google the story, to no avail. Perhaps I still have old clippings of this murder in a shoe box somewhere...Either way, it was a strange experience all around, and it's bizarre to look back all these years later with my journalist hat on.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Marker Social

So the CreComm Marker Social was pretty awesome: A room full of white t-shirt wearing "happy" students equipped with markers. Fantastic idea! (As you might be able to tell from this photo, I am sporting a fake Cindy Crawford beauty mole.)

Needless to say, I had a blast.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Missing Manitoba Women: Bernie Smith speaks out

Bernie Smith, sister of missing Manitoba woman, Claudette Osborne-Tyo, speaks out at a vigil on October 6, 2010.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So there's no secret...

One of the most profound things that I have learned in CreComm thus far is that editing is a skill that anyone can be good at. No, seriously.

As it turns out, my poor editing skills are a result of poor time management and laziness. (Huh, who knew?!)

Good editing, whether it's print, video, audio, or any other form, is a time commitment. (Going over the piece of work a number of times with a metaphoric fine-toothed comb.) Yes, it may take longer to produce your work, but the quality results will be evident.

This is something that I need to work on.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snapshot Social Media

Well, I may have gone and done it this time! -- Last week, while observing a mayoral debate that was being broadcast live on Shaw TV, I snapped a picture of a camera man who was talking on his phone during the debate and I posted it on Twitter.

I think my exact tweet was: "GET OFF THE PHONE!!!" (Yes, in all caps with a ton of exclamation marks. What?! I was annoyed.)

Anyway, the next day I log onto Twitter and find out that the chatty camera man had been fired, and the speculation was that it was because of my picture!

I felt terrible.

When I posted the picture of the camera man on his phone, I certainly didn't think it would result in him being fired! I figured that since he was so brazen about talking on his phone while shooting the debate, that it wasn't even a big deal. (Well, I only thought that for a second, before another camera man had to tell him to stop.)

Anyway, the long and short of it all is this: Social media is a very powerful tool, and you have to be so careful about what you post. (And to take it a step further, as a professional, you have to be careful about what you do. Especially in the public eye.)

I later heard that I wasn't the reason that the camera guy got fired. (To be honest, I am not even sure if this guy even got fired!) Regardless, the whole situation made me realize how careful we all have to be when it comes to using social media.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CJOB's Mayoral Debate at Red River College: Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I asked mayoral candidates Sam Katz and Judy Wasylycia-Leis to discuss what they would do, if elected, about the issue of missing and murdered women in Manitoba.

Reposted from: Missing Manitoba Women

Filmed by Jeremie Wookey

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sometimes, even when you think you're prepared, you're just not.

So I went to a vigil at the Legislature tonight, in honour of Manitoba's missing and murdered women.

Equipped with an ENG camera, a tripod, audio equipment, an SLR camera, a notepad and my purse, I was ready to cover this vigil for my IPP Blog, Missing Manitoba Women. Since I had been to a number of these vigils before, I assumed that today's homage would be like any other.

I was wrong.

You see, I'd never attended one of these vigils as a journalist before. Nope. I've always gone as an "advocate" or a "supporter" of the cause.

Even with all of my high tech camera equipment, there were a number of things that I failed to capture:

I failed at my attempt to capture the essence of this event-- where mothers of lost daughters sobbed and comforted one another, and the smell of sweet grass and tobacco wafted through the air.

I failed to capture the tears from friends and family who can't seem to move on from the day their sister/daughter/mother/friend, vanished, and the bonds that have formed out of this tremendous pool of loss.

I failed to capture the utterly unfair reality of partly-orphaned children obliviously running around at an event that has become a normal part of their young life.

At this vigil, with my journalist hat on, I failed at really capturing the emotion of the event. It wasn't until I was faced with the decision to film people in their most vulnerable moments, or turn the camera away, that I realized how scary and intrusive this job can be.

I turned the camera away.

Though, I understand that public vigils are an invitation to the media to film and help these families raise awareness for a cause, it is still hard to cover these kinds of events without feeling like you are exploiting people. Especially when you see people you hardly know, or don't know at all, at their weakest.

Tonight was a real eye opener for me.