Sunday, November 28, 2010

John Hersey's Hiroshima

For journalism class we were assigned to read John Hersey’s Hiroshima. I’ve read it before (for a conflict resolution class that I took at the University of Winnipeg) However reading it now, knowing that it was actually written as a form of journalism and not as a piece of non-fiction, it seems to have a different context to me.

Perhaps this is because when I read it before, I never once gave thought to the notion of how hard and how much work would have gone into this piece. What's more, is the fact that Hersey was able to keep a neutral tone throughout the book.

It's hard to stay neutral when writing about emotional issues. Imagine writing about the devistation that happened in Hiroshima after the nuclear bomb was dropped?!


In researching Hersey's article, I discovered that it took him a year to write, and it was inteded as a four part series for the New Yorker Magazine. When he handed it into his editor, it was decided that the article would run one entire edition -- cover to cover -- of the Magazine.

The piece lacks any sort of American viewpoint, however that didn't deter Americans from buying that edition of the New Yorker Magazine; it still sold out within hours of hitting the stands.

The book Hiroshima was published the same year the article came out, 1946. It was updated in 1985, to tell the stories of the six main characters 40-years later.

I can't think of a body of work that I can compare to Hiroshima. Hersey's writing style and view of Hiroshima is written in such a way that it makes room for the reader to form their own opinion without him guiding it. Even in journalism, that is hard to find.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life is like...Uhh, I don't know.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

My cable got cut off last week. This morning, it was my home phone. Though I tried to make arrangements with MTS last Friday, my attempt came too late. I couldn't pay a sufficient amount to keep myself connected, so they cut me off. (The disconnection notice came two days prior and was for $149--and change. I only paid $100 of it, with a promise to pay the rest on my next payday at the end of the month. The lady and her supervisor both informed me that it was too late, my credibility was shot. They refused.)

I can live without a home phone and cable, those things aren't even amenities. However, I won't deny that the feeling of being disconnected hurts the 'ol ego a little bit.

The bottom line: I effed up.

Going to school full time has been extremely difficult. College is a lot different than university, and the CreComm program is pretty much a nine to five gig that is loaded with homework to sustain us, the students, through the non-school hours. I knew this going in, but until you live it, you really have no idea how intense and time consuming it is. CreComm is a way of life.

That being said, this week I picked up a few extra shifts at work. -- I already work 20 hours a week regularly, so picking up a few extra hours here and there isn't really a big deal. By the time Sunday rolls around, I will have amassed 40 hours. Thank god! (I'm in a financial crunch at the moment, I need to work because I am too old to live with my folks, I don't have a significant other to share the load with, and I have financial obligations that I made before I became I student that must be paid.)

Needless to say that I am tired, but I know I can do this. I've come too far in this program to fall apart or quit now. (I know I joke about my nervous breakdowns and being overwhelmed, but it gets me through. Let me have it!)

I know that this entire experience will come in handy one day, when this chapter of my life has passed and things become comfortable again. -- The upside of any troublesome situation is that it makes for an excellent story in hindsight. And, hell, I'm a journalist, telling stories is what I want to do for a living...

It's almost time for winter break, which means that I can pick up more shifts at work. I have already decided to leave my television disconnected, but I will probably reconnect my phone and internet once I get back on track.

Life is short, can certainly be chaotic, but I am thankful for all of the experiences I've had thus far...Even the bad ones, like getting my cable cut off. The past year and a half has certainly given me empathy for anyone trying to fight their way through school.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A profound loss.

When the Olympic torch made it's way through Winnipeg on January 6th of this year, 13-year-old Winnipegger Noah Palansky was the official torch bearer for the city.

Selected by Mayor Sam Katz because of his efforts in raising more than $60,000 (at the time) for CancerCare Manitoba, Noah Palansky was a good choice to carry the torch.

While interning at the Winnipeg Free Press during Christmas break, I had the honour of meeting the Palansky Family when I was assigned to write a story about Noah.

I met the Palansky's at their Winnipeg home, after the kids finished hockey practice one night. They welcomed me into their living room, and began to tell me about their lives.

Noah, at the ripe ol' age of 12 decided that he wanted to participate in CancerCare's Challenge for Life walk. -- His parents were hesitant to let him, because the entry fee to participate was $1,000. However they decided to let him sign up and Noah astounded them, and everyone else, by collecting $14,000 in three weeks. His goal, is to raise $1-million for cancer research. (To date Noah has raised $125,000!)

Noah's inspiration was his mother, Naomi, who had been diagnosed with the disease two years earlier.

"I knew there was nothing medically I could do to fix this," he told me. "So I did what I knew I could do."

After I left the Palansky household, I felt inspired. Bruce and Naomi (the parents) and Noah and Lexi (the kids) seemed like truly wonderful people. They were extremely down to earth and easy to talk to, and they were passionate about Noah's cause. Notably, they were also a huge hockey family, with a dog named Crosby, after Naomi's favourite hockey player, Pittsburgh Penguin's Captain Sidney Crosby.

The story I wrote about Noah was the last one I wrote for the Free Press before returning back to school. It is one that I am proud of because I got to showcase a kid who did -- and is doing -- a great thing.

Sadly, while reading the Obituaries in Saturday's Free Press, I saw Naomi Palansky's obituary notice. The beautiful hockey-mom passed away earlier this month from breast cancer.

I only met the family one time, but I can honestly say that I am profoundly sad that Naomi lost her battle with cancer. She and her family left a warm impression on me, and I was really rooting for her to beat this...

Sometimes, as a journalist, you become connected to your stories and the people in them.

My condolences to the Palansky family.

To make a donation to Noah's campaign, please log on to and search for Noah Palansky.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Mr. Harper and Canadian residents, please EDIT your priorities...

A picture of The Winnipeg Free Press' series No Running Water.

It has been reported that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is getting $100-million dollars in funding from the federal government, plus $20-million (each) from the province and the city.


I am sure the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be a great destination for Winnipeggers and tourists alike. Perhaps after people have looked at the state-of-the-art facility with elaborate displays of human rights issues at the museum, they can board a flight to one of the remote northern communities in Manitoba that have no running water, and view the violation of basic human rights on a more primal level...

I don't mean to get down on the museum, as I believe that it is a wonderful idea. In fact, I give a great deal of credit to all of the people who have dedicated their own time and money into the development of this project. These donors should feel great that The Canadian Museum for Human Rights -- Izzy Asper's dream -- is coming into fruition. However, I find it sad that all levels of government can kick in such large pots of money to a human rights museum, when they can't seem to do it for the thousands of Canadians living in remote northern communities (in the very province that the museum is being built!) that don't even have the basic human right of clean drinking water.

It's time for all levels of government to EDIT their perception on these types of issues, and consider that it is a mistake to ignore one part of a story for another.

I'm not against the museum, but I am against the fact that people are being ignored.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is what exhausted is...

I am so tired.

Semester three of CreComm is winding down, and the only thing that I can think about is how wonderful it will be to have a couple of days for myself. (As it stands right now, I go to school full time from Monday to Thursday and work ten hour shifts of Saturday and Sunday. Friday is my day of chaos, when I try to get all of my errands done.)

I love this program, but I am beyond burnt out at the moment.

There are only a few weeks left until Christmas break! -- This is both exciting and nerve-racking. (All of these assignments that need to be done, oh my!! And honestly, I am not sure that I am ready to leave the nest. As much as I am overwhelmed by this program, I love it and want to make it my career. "Shelley Cook, lifetime CreComm student!")


I am supposed to be blogging about something related to journalism.


(OK, I admit, this blog post is a bust. Duncan, I will take the fail on this one.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Embracing the Anti-Diet in a Thin-Starved Society

Some of the names of people interviewed have been changed at their request. These changes are indicated by the asterisk (*) symbol.

In North America, the diet industry –everything from weight loss programs, books and videos to prepackaged meals, supplements and diet pills – rakes in billions of dollars a year. Corporations have made a lucrative business of packaging and selling the idea that everybody can be skinny to our thin-starved society.

However, the problem with diets and the diet industry, says Maya Radunz, fourth year Human Nutritional Sciences student at the University of Manitoba, is that they don’t work. Not for the long term anyway.

“Losing weight is short term, nothing has been proven to work long term,” said Radunz. “The majority of those (weight loss) programs, people do lose weight on, but they gain it all back because they teach eating behaviors that are not long term behaviors. You can’t always be dieting or tell yourself ‘I’m never going to eat white bread.’ That’s ridiculous, because yes you will, eventually you will.”

Radunz says that instead of focusing on diets and weight loss, people need to change their school of thought when it comes to eating and consider that being healthy isn’t restricted to any one size. Being skinny, she says, is not necessarily an indication that someone is healthy.

“A preoccupation with weight and food is dangerous because it can be a prelude to an eating disorder,” said Radunz. “Society needs to stop thinking that everybody can lose weight, because they can’t. Some people are just bigger, and that’s OK.”

For Grace Macatangay, 27, being bigger wasn’t OK.

The five-foot-two casino security manager said that she was depressed at 155 pounds.

“I thought, I’d like to be more cut,” said Macatangay. “So I ate less carbs and worked out for four hours a day for three months. It was a passion, I was dedicated to it.”

Macatangay admits that she never gave up any particular kind of food, but she did limit her portions of certain types of foods like bread and pasta. She credits her rigorous workout routine, which she still does on a lesser scale, for her 15 pound weight loss.

“It was a lifestyle change, not a diet,” she says. “I still work out four times a week and eat whatever I want. Being healthy is very important to me.”

Kate Greg*, 26, a self described “foodie,” has been on the Weight Watchers program, on and off, for a couple of years.

“Out of all the programs out there, I do believe that Weight Watchers works,” says Greg. “At one point I lost 25 pounds, and then I had a cheat day, which led to another and another…”

Greg admits that she is self conscious about her weight to the point that she sometimes cries.

“I think that the worst thing, in the end, is my self esteem. Yesterday my boyfriend, Jeremy*, had to listen to me cry for half an hour because I couldn’t find anything to wear that looked nice on me,” said Greg. “You can tell I am having a bad day when I wear baggy clothes.”

Radunz says stories like Greg’s are far too common.

“People need to start enjoying food and just listening to their bodies,” she said. “And that will come with size acceptance.”


Dr. Linda Bacon, a biology professor at San Francisco’s City College explains the theory of “health at every size” that Radunz refers to in the article, on her website:

Radunz also uses information gathered from Dr. Michael LeBow’s Dieter’s Snake Pit, -- This theory is confirmed at the end of the story when the second woman admits that she cries about not looking or feeling good about herself.

During our interview, Radunz sourced both authors, and even brought copies of these books (as well as numerous nutrition journals) to our sitting.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When NOT to edit yourself.

So yesterday, when I found out that Marty Gold's show had been pulled from 92.9 KICK FM, I tweeted that I was happy about it, broke the news on my Facebook status message and then I wrote the previous blog post.

I didn't expect to get any feedback, especially from KICK's station manager, Rick Baverstock, but I did. I also heard from other people, who had an opinion on the situation. -- Many people, like me, were not sad to see Gold ejected from the anchor's chair, while many others have taken the news rather hard. There seemed to be very few people who were indifferent to the situation...

Either way, I got a little nervous about my posts when I discovered what a sensitive subject matter this was. It's apparent that Gold is liked, proof can be seen in the comment section of the post below (Of the four comments for yesterday's post, two were a testament to Gold and his show.) That being said, I am personally not a fan of Gold or the Great Canadian Talk Show.

I debated editing myself by taking down my blog post and any comments I made about Gold and his show, but then decided against it. -- I am entitled to my opinion, and it doesn't need to be popular, or shared by others. I do need to stand by it though, if I believe in it.

That being said, I hope that I didn't come across as offensive to Gold, because I don't want to kick him while he is down.

In writing my blog post, I tried to make sure not to offend Gold, or anyone else. My opinion still stands on the issue, though I can see validity in the opinions of the people who would like to see Gold return to KICK.

Either way, I'm fairly certain that I am done speaking about Gold and his termination...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Did Red River College Kill Free Speech?!

Apparently Red River College killed free speech today; at least that's what now-unemployed talk-radio host Marty Gold and his fans are saying.

In an unexpected turn of events, Gold's soap box -- The Great Canadian Talk Show -- was pulled from the airwaves today. Red River College's radio station, 92.9 KICK FM, will no longer host the afternoon show.

The circumstances of Gold's departure are still unclear, but he and his team have already taken to Facebook and the show's blog to "protest the censorship" that they feel is taking place.

"...two Red River College employees and two commercial radio general managers who are on the executive committee of Kick FM, made a decision without any involvement of anyone else on the Board, excluding student and community representatives from the process.

- They claim the station needs to focus on "student outcomes" and
want to exclude all volunteer radio programs (like the recently elevated to CFRW Illegal Curve Hockey show, Beer for Breakfast and Breaking and Entering on Saturdays, and The Winnipeg Free Press’s Stop The Presses) and on the job training. No fewer than 7 students and volunteers trained on TGCTS went on to garner professional jobs as a result of that training in journalism and technical operations. Many others started their own radio programs."

I can understand that Gold is upset, but it is important to point out that 92.9 KICK FM is a non-profit teaching facility. Students, like myself, pay good money to learn how to use the radio equipment and gain on-air experience. I don't think anybody can argue that "focusing on student outcomes" isn't a valid reason to cancel Gold's show.

Gold argues that seven people have landed industry jobs by working for the Great Canadian Talk Show. However, the counter to that statement can be that many current students prefer to gain radio experience by having their own radio shows. -- I know I would prefer to have my own radio show than op for Marty...

Either way. I'm glad the board of directors have decided to "focus on student outcomes." Even if it meant that some people are not happy with the decision that was made, I think this entire situation is a damn good indication that my best interests (as a CreComm student) are being served.

Good luck in the future Marty...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Edit your social media.

As CreComm students, my classmates and I have all been warned to death about the ramifications of not maintaining a professional social media existence. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Blog accounts have become unofficial resumes for potential employers. (I'd dare say a potential employer would probably spend more time looking at my unofficial social media resume than my real one simply because it is far more interesting.)

Needless to say, it's a no-brainer that we all have to be extremely careful about what we post. People have lost jobs before they even got them, they tell us. Just for things they've posted on Facebook or Twitter.

I agree with this a thousand per cent, however, I am curious about how far one is supposed to go in order to edit their profile. Do we edit our friends lists too? Do we edit our likes? Political opinions? Pictures? groups affiliated with? Do we edit what other people post on our walls?

So long Facebook Friend!

I think when it comes to maintaining professional Facebook account, then it is probably a good idea to constantly edit your friends list. I get that we all want to be popular and have hundreds of friends, but the bottom line is that you're accountable to who you know. (The ol' saying: "You are who your friends are" rings true for a lot of potential employers in this case.)

I had to delete one of my ex-boyfriends (the only one I still actually like, ironically) from Facebook because his sense of humour was beyond offensive. His status messages made me uncomfortable, and I think I can take a lot.

Either way, I deleted him because A) I was scared that I would somehow be linked to him and his views, just because we're Facebook friends. B) His status messages were too ugly and negative for me to look at every day.

I like...

So, when you join those Facebook groups or "like" something, you're automatically personifying your account.

"Ahh, Jane likes to snuggle!" or, "Oh look at Rusty, he just joined an I love Justin Bieber fan group."

Ok, so I know that Jane likes to cuddle and Rusty likes the Biebs. Cool.

However, when I go to Wally's profile and notice that he has joined a bunch of marijuana fan pages and "I support marijuana" groups, I am going to draw the conclusion that Wally is a pot-head. (Even if he's a "functional pot-head" or simply an avid supporter of pot-heads)

I'll probably pass him up for that awesome job he applied for just because I'd be scared that he's be a non-functional pot-head, who smokes illegal drugs. (As a business owner, I probably don't care that pot is basically legal in Canada. Illegal is a liability. -- And if I am a pot-head business owner, I'd probably still pass Wall up for the job because unlike me, he is so blatant about his illegal pot smoking. Amateur.)

Click, click, click, flash...

Look, if there are pictures out there of you hammered and being goofy, just do yourself a favour and untag yourself (or delete if they're yours.) -- It may seem harmless because Alcohol is legal, but you wouldn't list your resume hobbies as getting wasted...

Just saying...

Monday, November 1, 2010


I tried vlogging, it didn't work.

Oh well, enjoy this funny and non-serious attempt by me, Sandy, Kiran and Yvonne.

We need more sleep.