Monday, 11 February 2013

Don't fear the Advertorial

When I came to Crecomm it was because I knew how much I enjoy writing. To be honest I didn't know exactly what I would be writing on a week to week basis while in the program but just wanted to learn as many forms of writing as possible. I had spent years writing 1,000- 4,000 word essays in University and that is why I knew I had some talent at it and wanted to pursue it.

Last week in journalism class, we got an assignment that was totally different than anything else we have done.

The advertorial assignment was, in many ways, trying to get us to combine the skills of a journalist with the skills of a copywriter. I enjoyed ad class last year so for me I ended up enjoying the  advertorial assignment. We have done so many journalism assignment with very similar specifications that this was a chance to remember what it is like to do a copywriter's job and do something totally different. I also found it a challenege because I have never done anything like this before and really had to work at figuring out what the tone of the work should be.

Although I was totally fine with the assignment, I believe some of my classmates were not. I completely understand that people came to Crecomm to be journalists and journalism has a set of standards, but I think it is very clear that we are doing advertising here so I am not completely sure what the problem is. I almost feel like some thought they were above this sort of work, but don't really understand that way of thinking. As second year J students still working towards our diplomas do we honestly think that somehow we are too good for this?

Advertorials is definitely not what I want to do when I leave Crecomm, but I did come hear to learn about as many different forms of communication as possible. Whether people like it or not this is something that newspapers are doing in the on-going battle to stay profitable and who are we to tell newspapers how to run their business?

I've tried to stay away from the idealistic discussion about what is and isn't real journalsim. It seems to sprout up a lot in class. However in this case, I fully understand that Advertorials are not real journalism, but I think advertorials understand that about themselves too.

In the end we researched a company, wrote about them in a advertising tone and handed it in, so really- what's the big deal?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Big Bad Bob returns

Tomorrow during our regular two hour journalism class we will have a seminar on media law by the man affectionately known as 'Big Bad Bob Sokalski.'

I will be the first to admit and I think many of my Crecomm pals would agree that the Sokalski seminar we attended in year one of the program was not something that really stuck with a lot of us. Many of us were still debating over our own choice in majors and really hadn't written enough to be particularly worried about things like slander or defamation.

Well a year has passed and I am far more interested in what Mr Sokalski has to say to us this year. In the journalism major we have spent time in the law courts and the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry and have been learning about what we can and can not say in an article when it has something to do with a court case or the reputation of cops or even social workers. We have also learned when even a simple Tweet could cause a mistrial in a court case.

I have also had some very different experiences with my IPP trying to get information from the police about cold cases.

In the case of a missing person I covered recently, a police officer was doing everything he could to make sure I get as much information and pictures out of him as possible, while for a murder case I am covering now, the cops I have contacted so far barely want to say a word to me, and seem to be trying as hard as they can to get off the phone with me as quickly as possible.

I have also written articles where I had to be careful what I said or even the order in which I said it in order not to possibly cause some big problems for the paper I was writing for.

This is why I am looking forward to tomorrow's seminar. Now that all us J majors have gone farther into the world of journalism we are understanding more and more that these issues are extremely important for us to know and can have long lasting effects on our careers.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Press Box: From the Fish to the Jets

I am very excited and a little nervous about an upcoming opportunity this month.

On February 17 and February 28, along with March 30 and April 20 I will be up in the Winnipeg Jets press box covering Jets games for For the reports, I'll be covering the games and also going down to the player dressing rooms to get quotes from players and coaches. As a huge hockey fan and someone who follows the Jets and the NHL this feels like a dream come true for me.

I had the opportunity to do some Folklorama reviews and cover a Winnipeg Goldeyes
playoff game for ChrisD in the summer and he asked me if I would cover Jets games for him when his regular sports reporter Darrin Bauming had personal tickets to games. I was happy to write for in the summer but was not expecting to be asked to do Jets games so it was a extremely pleasant surprise.

I spent my summer in a press box almost every night but I know the differences between the two will be huge. I covered the Winnipeg Goldeyes all summer for Metro Winnipeg. It was one of the best experiences of my life and a great place to start covering sports. The press box had three reporters, one from the Winnipeg Sun, one from the Winnipeg Free Press and me. Other than that there was a group of Winnipeg Goldeyes front office people and the voice of the Goldeyes Paul Edmonds.

Some days I wanted to pinch myself for having this summer job. I spent beautiful summer nights at the ball park watching baseball, writing and some nights even watching fireworks and if I saw someone I knew I could go down and sit with them for a while.

It felt like the perfect way to ease me into sports reporting. I've already been told I'll be back in the Goldeyes press box this summer and can't wait to spend another summer at the ball park.

As much fun as I had in the press box I also remember how completely nervous I was the first few times I was up there. Many of the people up in that box have been up there for years and walking in as the new reporter that nobody ever heard of was completely intimidating at first. It took me a while to get comfortable up there but once I did I started to have a great time.

It was also high stress because my stories were often due by around 10:15 p.m. at the latest and sometimes the games wouldn't end until after 10. I learned to write the story as it happens and edit the finished stories very quickly.

Although the Winnipeg Jets press box will be a whole new world as compared to the Goldeyes box, I hope the things I learned with the Goldeyes help me when I am covering the Jets and I appreciate how perfect it was for me that my first press box experience was with the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The best and worst of humanity in one day

One of my favourite parts of journalism is talking to people from all walks of life.

On Sunday I was working at the Metro and my day started with a cop presser. I've been to enough of these to know that they usually consist of stories about the worst that humanity has to offer and this presser was no different.

After sitting in the cop media room and learning about a man that was almost beaten to death in his sleep, a guy who committed seven robberies with a weapon, and a man at HSC that was acting so out of control that they had to close down an entire road in front of the hospital, I was asked to go take some pictures in front of Siloam Mission for a story about the cold weather.

Walking up to the Siloam Mission building with a camera around my neck was an extremely uncomfortable feeling. Here are a bunch of people that are homeless and desperate for a place to warm up, and here I am with a huge camera asking them if I can take their pictures.

I was given one no after another when asking people if I can take their picture until a women named Louise walked out the door. I was expecting her to tell me to go away but when I asked her about taking a picture she flashed me a big smile. I explained to her we were trying to get some attention to Siloam Mission about the effect cold weather has on the homeless, and that was when she really opened up to me.

She told me about how she was homeless and how the mission has been so good to her. She told me about how friendly the people were to her and said she probably wouldn't survive without the mission.

In the picture I took she looks extremely cold but she never complained because she was too busy telling me how amazing Siloam Mission is.

After talking to her I went into the mission and talked to some of the staff. I saw volunteers working their asses off to make sure people were comfortable, and I know that for many they are not paid and get little recognition.  
After seeing the worst of humanity at the cop presser I saw the best of it at Siloam Mission.

Monday, 7 January 2013

IPP takes big step forward

I said in my last post that I have been feeling very stressed about my IPP, and worried about getting everything done by the due date. But another big concern about the IPP was wondering if anyone would actually find it interesting and read it. That is why I am so happy about what happened while I was doing my work placement at the Winnipeg Free Press.

On my first day at the Free Press, reporter Gabrielle Giroday asked me what I was going to pitch to the editors. I was not expecting the question and fumbled through some answer about how I am doing an IPP about cold cases and could pitch the Edith Smallpiece story. Giroday looked right at me and told me to go pitch it.

At that point, I had been at the Free Press for only a few hours, and was not feeling confident about just walking up to one of the editors and pitching a cold case story, but I did it and they liked the idea right away.

Giroday helped me fix my lead and improve my story and I sent it in still wondering if anyone would like it. Well the Edith Smallpiece story ran on the last Monday of my placement, and I'll admit it was a good feeling to see my story on B1. The response to the story from the Free Press editors was good, and it was the first time I realized that people might actually find my IPP interesting.

I assumed that would be the last of my IPP stories being run at the Free Press, but one day after it ran, Giroday told me I should try to get one more up before I leave. I assumed this was an impossible task but remembered a cold case story I had heard about just a few days before about a missing man named Brent Staple. .

I had absolutely no leads for the story, but did everything I could to track down the sister of the missing man and the lead investigator on the case, and somehow it all came together in three days. Once again I had an IPP story on B1 and this one was tweeted out by both Giroday and Free Press justice reporter Mike McIntyre.

I have also had amazing conversations with the people I have interviewed. People have spilled their hearts out to me, cried while speaking to me and for both stories, I have heard the desperation in people's voices. I realize I can't bring back these people's loved ones but in a way I hope that these stories can help bring some much needed attention to these stories.

A week after the work placement, I got an email from the Free Press saying they want to continue publishing my IPP. To go from pitching this idea and wondering if I could actually pull it off, to having it being published and promoted in the city's most read paper is a good feeling. I know I still have a lot to do to get this project finished but at least I don't have to worry that there will be an audience for the stories.

Monday, 19 November 2012

40 years later family of slain woman still searches for answers

I knew I was taking on a risky task when I pitched my IPP. I proposed to write a book about four cold cases in Manitoba by talking to people whose loved ones had been murdered and writing stories based on those interviews. On the advice of Duncan the book became a blog but the premise remains the same.

Getting people to talk to me has been far more difficult than I had ever imagined and my first interview didn't happen until the Sunday that just passed. Two more interviews are set to happen in December but it has been more than difficult to have to call these families and ask them if they would like to talk to a total stranger about their unimaginable tragedy.

I have had times where I felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew, but that changed on Sunday. I interviewed Sherry Winterburn, whose great-aunt Edith Smallpiece was murdered way back in 1973 in her own apartment building. Her body was found five days later and the killer has never been caught.

Sherry Winterburn holds up a picture of Edith Smallpiece

I arrived at Winterburn's apartment about as nervous as I have ever been for any interview and when I got in the door, I was told Winterburns' parents were there and had driven nine hours from Ontario because they wanted to be part of the interview.

I may have been nervous for about five minutes but it quickly passed as this family poured out the story of their beloved aunt to me. By the time the interview was over we had talked for about two and a half hours. At times they cried and other times they laughed while reminiscing about Edith Smallpiece.There were other times when the family just talked to each other and I listened, but I never felt like I was not part of the conversation.
Sherry Winterburn with her parents Ina and Bill
What amazes me the most was that this February the murder will have happened forty years ago, but this family has never given up on trying to find the killer. Sherry Winterburn was 13 years old when it happened but remembers details like it was yesterday. The family still hopes for a resolution and that is why the parents drove nine hours to talk to me. I may just be a journalism student but they still want any publicity they can get because it still haunts them that there are people out there that may have the answers they are searching for.

The family still cherishes pictures of Edith

I will only put one quote in this blog post because the quotes will be in the story when my IPP blog is up and running, but Winterburn has a message for anyone who may have the answers this family has been seeking for 40 long years.

"The word man up comes to mind," said Winterburn. "If you did it admit it. If your to old to be prosecuted so be it but at least we can maybe find out why and get some answers."

Monday, 12 November 2012

Remebrance Day assignment sold me on journalism

In my very short time in the journalism world I have written hundreds of articles for J class, The Projector, and other publications in the city, but the Crecomm Remembrance Day assignment still sticks in my head as the best experience I ever had telling a story.

It was in the fall of 2011 I started to wonder if my dreams of being a journalist were going down the toilet. The only reason I joined Crecomm was to be a journalist, but the first few months of journalism class were not kind to me. Three autofails by October and I started to panic. Looking back now I realize I was probably overreacting but at the time it was devastating.

Then the Remembrance Day assignment came along and we were told to talk to someone who had been affected by war. The problem was, the only person I wanted to talk about was my Grandad who had passed away at the age of 92 two years before I joined Crecomm. I became extremely close with Grandad after my Grandma passed away in 2001, as I took on the responsibility of driving him once a week for groceries, which would usually be followed by us going out for lunch.

Chief Petty Officer William Baxter
As we became closer Grandad started to open up to me about his experiences in the Navy during the Second World War. He was an engineer down in the boiler room that sailed with an envoy across the Atlantic Supply Route. He would tell me of his envoy being attacked but only being able to hear but not see what was going on. It's truly a fear I can not imagine. He also told me if guys were drowning in the water they couldn't stop to help them. They had to keep moving or they might be hit too.

HMCS Algoma: The ship my Grandad sailed on during the Second World War

I knew I could write the story just based on what I had heard from Grandad but that is not the way the assignment worked. I also knew my Dad knew a lot of what Grandad had been through so I asked Duncan and he told me talking to my Dad would be OK.

What followed was my Dad opening up to me in a way I have never seen before. I thought I was just going to get an account of what my Dad had heard but instead I got my Dad telling me what Grandad had been through and how it personally affected him and his Mom. It turns out war didn't just affect the person who had been though it but all the people around him as well.

The other great part of the assignment was going to HMCS Chippawa to cover the Remembrance Day Ceremony. I had gone to Chippawa every Sunday when I was a kid with my Grandparents, as the original building had a swimming pool where me and my siblings would take swimming lessons.

The Chippawa I remembered was a building that had been torn down and I had never even been in the new building, but it still brought back memories if only because of the name.

The old HMCS Chippawa building was demolished in 1998
The new HMCS Chippawa building
The Remembrance Day assignment was the first time I felt what it was like to get emotionally invested in a story and made me finally realize there was no doubt I wanted to be a journalist.
RIP Grandad



Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Race pushes to the forefront of American politics

Not long after Barack Obama was elected President, I noticed something become a big part of politics in The United States-racism.

I obviously realize there are racist people in every country but believed their ignorant and racist thoughts were usually kept in the privacy of their living room. I never in my life thought it would come so far into the political discussion as when after Obama became President.

When did I first realize something was wrong? When I saw the Tea Party. This movement claims to be about small government and less taxes and for some of its members that is what it is about. However, the more I saw the things Tea Party members were saying and the signs they were holding I saw that some Tea Party members had another problem - A black man was in the White House.

I'm pretty sure most people would think these pictures look pretty darn racist. Is this an extreme fringe group-yeah, but the scary thing is the Republican party in the U.S. desperately needs the votes of this extreme fringe group and is going farther and farther to the right to keep them happy.

After seeing video of a few of these rallies it scared the crap out of me that the country next door to us that claims to be the greatest country in the world was starting to see this group move into the mainstream and effect the way people vote and the way politicians campaign.

What was even more disturbing to me was the "birhter" conspiracy. I guess if a President in the U.S. has brown skin and an ethnic sounding name, some Americans just don't want to believe that he might have actually been born there. If a group like The Tea Party demanded to see his birth certificate I would not be surprised but many of the people demanding to see his birth certificate were elected officials in the Republican party.

I like watching Anderson Cooper absolutely destory this guy on every point he is trying to make.

Even after showing the certificate some politicians still could not accept that this black man was born in the U.S. and some were keeping it going only because they know it pleases their base.

When the Americans go to the polls on Tuesday night I only hope most of them vote for either Romney or Obama because they believe they are the right man for the job, and hope they do not vote for either of them only because of the colour of their skin, but hey that is very wishful thinking.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The CNN Hurricane

Sometimes I think the only way CNN knows how to get viewers is by terrifying them.

I've been watching the cable news network's wall to wall coverage of Hurricane Sandy since about 3'o'clock and I have noticed they do a few things that seen completely unnecessary to warn people of possible danger. I do think it is a news networks responsibility to keep people informed during a possible crisis by once again it seems like CNN has gone completely over the top.

Drama makes for good television and I obviously CNN knows that because they are doing everything in their power to make sure their hurricane coverage as dramatic as possible. 

The first thing I notice is they have a special "hurricane music." It's the song they always play when reporting on a hurricane and the tune is tense and unsettling. It feels like the network is using the music to strike fear into the viewer.

I also wonder about the reporters that stand in the eye of the hurricane and tell viewers that it is very windy and trees are buildings are being knocked down. Well no kidding. It's a hurricane.

Is it really necessary to put reporters lives in danger just to make the reports about the storm seem more dramatic? I really don't see how this adds anything to the story and people have seen so many live hits of people standing in hurricanes that I really don't think anyone is all that amazed by it anymore. 

CNN has also been obsessing over a crane that may or may not collapse this evening. I understand that the crane collapsing would be a huge disaster but from all I've heard people in the area have been evacuated. They keep showing footage of the crane and are even interviewing construction experts about what should be done. One expert told Piers Morgan that they should get people out of the area. Sounds like common sense to me but hey, he is an expert.

They also seem to start every new update by saying that they have "breaking news." The hurricane has been going on for hours so I don't see how every new update is breaking. If a President gets shot or a terrorist attack happens I think that is breaking news but a day of reporting on the same story stops being breaking after a while unless something very huge happens.
I honestly sometimes wonder if CNN reporters get disappointed when a storm doesn't turn out as bad as expected. I really feels like they go far beyond reporting and turn storms into "must-see-T.V." But hey It's working on me because I haven't stopped watching all night. 

Monday, 22 October 2012

The sharing generation

On Saturday I went to my mother-in-law's 60th birthday at a local restaurant. There was a group of about 25 people there for the party but the only ones that were under the age of 50 were myself and my wife. I immediately noticed something I haven't seen in a very long time. During the entire four hour party, not one person looked at a smart phone.

Nobody was sharing updates about their meal or uploading pictures of the cake and nobody was taking an obscene amount of pictures just so they could get them up on Facebook and remind the rest of the world what a fantastic time they were having.

It got me thinking about this new obsession with sharing our lives. Concerts are another good example. People used to go to concerts mostly to enjoy the show and have a good time. If they did take pictures it was for personal memories. Whenever I go to a show now half the crowd is standing like zombies holding up a smart phone to get good pics or video and trying as fast as they can to get those pics up on social media with a caption about their awesome night.

Here is a link to a quick and to-the-point opinion piece about smart phones at concerts.

Rock Audience

Vacations are another thing people believe they must share and often accent these pictures with status updates saying things like- 'Having a margarita by the pool in Cancun-Life is good.'
Have we forgotten how to just have a good time and are we now just trying to prove to others that we are having a good time? Must every activity we do or party or concert or trip be shared with the world?
Well I guess I'll get off blogger now. I need to get back on Facebook and look at pictures of what people had for lunch.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Nahlah Ayed's A Thousand Farewells

One of the great thing about being assigned to read a book for school is that it makes me read books I would normally never know about.

I generally read quite a bit, but normally stick to fiction and the last four books I read were all horror novels by Dean Koontz so reading A Thousand Farewells by Nahlah Ayed was a great departure for me.

The book grabbed me quickly. There was a familiarity to it immediately because Ayed talks about her time in Winnipeg and mentions streets and landmarks that are familiar to any Winnipegger. But just as soon as I thought the story would be all about a childhood in Canada her family moves to a refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. The sections about her time as a child in Amman were very interesting to me because I just couldn't believe any family would chose to return to such a difficult life only to make sure their kids understand their culture, when they had the opportunity to stay in Canada

While reading about this, I actually found myself flipping back to confirm to myself that the family had actually chosen to go back. The whole idea seemed so bizarre to me, considering the conditions their kids had to endure in and that is what made it interesting. I believe Ayed must have been very affected by this period in her life because she remembers and describes it all so vividly.

When I started the book I wondered why this journalist would even focus any time on her childhood, but the move to Amman suddenly made it very obvious that her childhood is such an important part of her story.

The start of the book works well to paint a picture of how Ayed became interested in foreign reporting.

The book also does a great job of describing the time Ayed spent in some of the worlds most volatile regions. It shows some of the nightmare scenarios she dealt with including thinking she would die. The book also gives a great picture to the reader of what life would be like in war torn countries. North American's see clips of what is going on in the Middle East on the news but rarely get such a comprehensive picture painted for them.

I did find the book hard to follow at times and that was one of the drawbacks. On more that a few occasions I had to flip back and re-read long passages because I got confused about where Ayed was or who she was talking about.

As a journalist the book taught me the importance of humanizing stories. The book is powerful because she is able to show how war and tragedy has affected real people and families. When a journalist can tell human stories it often makes their work far more powerful.

The only other non-fiction work I have read in a long time is Journey for Justice by Mike McIntyre. It may seem like a stretch to compare the books but both books worked because of their descriptiveness. Journey for Justice quickly grabbed me by describing the despair the Derksen family endured during the time their daughter was missing and A Thousand Farewells grabbed me by describing the despair Ayed felt in a refugee camp as a child. Both books flowed like novels in the start despite being works of non-fiction.

A Thousand Farewells affected me because I often don't think about how lucky I am to have been born and raised in a country like Canada. Ayed's descriptions of what many people in war-torn countries deal with on a daily basis and what many children deal with and experience gave me a appreciation for the life that we live here in Canada.

Monday, 8 October 2012

NEFSN works to bring healthy diets to the North End

In May of 2012, Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food blasted Canada for what he called "self righteous" attitudes and for doing little to address the issue of the large amounts of the Canadian population that don't eat healthy foods because of poverty.

The Conservative Party of Canada shot back with a quick rebuttal blasting De Schutter for even spending time and money to travel throughout Canada while millions starve in developing nations of the world.

Jasmine Tara, the coordinator for North End Food Security Network (NEFSN), an organization that tries to make sure "everyone has sustainable access to food in a way that promotes heath, respect and dignity" was angry the federal government dismissed De Schutter's findings but in many ways thinks it was a good thing.

"When the government came out against De Schutter it really started a dialogue," said Tara. "The envoy wasn't getting much coverage before that but then it got more mainstream attention and at least people were talking about it. If the government hadn't come out with the rebuttal it might not have made national news."

Tara said the NEFSN works to "improve food security in the Winnipeg's North End." One of the ways it does this is by offering clinics where North End residents can learn ways to cook healthy and affordable meals.

Tara says the NEFSN focuses on residents of all cultural backgrounds but because the area has a high aboriginal population she definitely says they also focus on the diets of the aboriginal community.
Tara is half native and part Icelandic and Irish.

"It's definitely a problem. There are so many convenience stores in the area and very little large grocery stores in walking distance for many residents. You see a lot of aboriginal kids in the area having Slurpees or chips and trying to get their breakfast, lunch and dinner from convenience stores. It leads to a lot of problems with obesity and diabetes in the aboriginal community."

Tara said that despite the amount of aboriginal kids eating unhealthy foods the NEFSN is doing positive things that are starting to get the message to these kids about eating healthy.

"We teach a lot of these kids ways to cook healthy meals and they go home and teach it to their parents. Kids learn better at a young age because their brains soak it up like sponges. A lot of times when we teach a family to cook healthy we go through the kids."

When the Conservative government blasted De Schutter it seemed defensive, dismissive and not based on facts. The government seemed to be saying that there are country's with far worse situations so the UN should just focus on those country's and leave Canada alone.

On the other side of the issue, De Schutter's arguments were based on numbers and facts. He said that over 800,000 households in Canada are food insecure. At a press conference at Winnipeg Harvest in May that I attended De Schutter said, “In Manitoba alone $300 million went to treating diabetes. The costs will continue to increase and this will be one major reason why Canada can’t ignore adopting a national food policy." CBC news said that De Schutter was "armed with statistics."

It was sad for me to see the government dismiss De Schutter while hundreds of thousands of Canadian families don't eat properly

As frustrating as it was to see the government dismiss De Schutter it is great to see organizations like NEFSN work to help low-income Canadians eat healthier and Tara said they are getting a great response from the community and from Winnipeg's aboriginal community.

Here are some great pictures courtesy of Jasmine Tara showing food clinics at NEFSN.

Monday, 1 October 2012

People watching tonight's fire almost as crazy as the blaze

Apparently my wife has no idea how to watch a fire and almost got attacked for it.

Unless you drove around Winnipeg with your eyes closed this evening you know there was a massive fire in the St Boniface area. Hundreds of Winnipeggers gathered anywhere they could get a good view.

I wasn't with my wife tonight but she happened to be driving in the St. Boniface area with our daughter and pulled into a street where a large mass of people were watching the smoke and fumes from a safe distance. There is something about a fire that grabs people's interest and curiosity and Cheryl wanted to see the blaze.

She pulled up behind another car and was watching from her car when a woman in the car in front of her got out and said "Turn your fucking lights out We're trying to watch the fire."  and then got back in her car. (I quoted this because Cheryl said this is exactly what the women said.)

Cheryl was totally shocked and stunned for a second and didn't put her lights out as she was planning on just looking for a few minutes and leaving. Well when her lights didn't go out immediately the man and woman in the car in front of her turned around a both gave her the finger with both of their hands.

So for pulling up on a public street and leaving her lights on Cheryl got four middle fingers. She didn't shoot the finger back but instead just put her hands up to the couple as to say- 'what the hell are you guys freaking out about.' This is where it got ugly.

The man in the car got out and approached Cheryl's car in a rage. Our two year old daughter was in the back seat so Cheryl threw the car in drive and got the hell out of there while the man continued screaming at her as she drove away.

When Cheryl got home and I talked to her she could not believe what she had just been through. She literally thought the man was going to attack her and she was mad and still pretty shook up.

Well I have news for the couple. This was a fire not a movie or concert. Cheryl had every right to pull up behind them and leave her lights on and for them to lose it the way they did was pathetic and sad but also scary. Had they asked her to turn the lights off politely she would have.

If she had not drove off how far would this guy have taken it? Was he planning to hit a woman with a toddler in the back seat?

I think for the most part we are safe in this city but when I head about people flying off the handle like this it makes me wonder.

Monday, 24 September 2012

David Baxter Portfolio

David Baxter-Reporter/Photographer
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Phone-(204) 995-6141

The following is a sample of some of my published work for Metro Winnipeg,, Winnipeg Free Press and The Projector. I have daily news experience and have covered news, politics, sports and events. I also have extensive experience in photography through my work with Metro Winnipeg and the Selkirk Record. 

Winnipeg Free Press

Print/Web articles

Metro Winnipeg

Print/Web articles


Web articles

The Projector

Print/Web articles

Other communications accomplishments

Awarded the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism Award in 2013 for my series of cold cases stories in the Winnipeg Free Press, which can be found at

I was awarded the Eric and Jack Wells Bursary in 2012

This print ad I created along with my classmate Priya Tandon entitled 'Good Local Beer' was awarded a Big Rock Eddie for best student print ad in Canada.

    Elisha Dacey
    Managing Editor
    Metro Winnipeg
    (204) 228-6068

    Managing Editor
    (204) 479-3650

    Duncan McMonagle
    Journalism Instructor
    Red River College
    (204) 949-8345

The scary world of journalism

The news that some very talented journalists were let go from the Winnipeg Free Press last week put a shock wave through the local media industry.

The layoffs have sparked great debates on Twitter about the future of journalism. A young first year CreComm student even had a piece published in the Winnipeg Free Press being dead honest that she does not read the newspaper. Her article set off a firestorm of both compliments and criticism on Twitter and comment boards.

First year Creative Communications student Stefanie Cutrona

We have been told many times not to worry and that journalism is alive and well. We have been told we will all have job offers when we graduate but despite all of this assurance, I'm pretty sure we all feel a little uneasy.  

I took a chance and came back to school later in life to study journalism. I did this despite having a house, mortgage, a wife, two year old daughter and mounting debt. If my life was a poker game than coming back to school was like "going all in." I also worked an unpaid internship this summer because I know that a portfolio is the only way to get noticed in this industry and I absolutely do not regret working for nothing for two months despite wondering some weeks if we could keep the electricity on or have food in the fridge.

But the more I look at the way that last year's journalism grads have been scooped up so quickly I see reason for optimism. Will I work at the Free Press anytime soon? Hell no. But it seems like everyday more and more communications based jobs are coming up and in many cases CreComm grads are grabbing those jobs.

I want the local journalism industry to thrive for many reasons. I like getting my news from credible sources before I get all the different angles from blogs and message boards. But I mostly want the journalism business to thrive locally for a far more selfish reason. When I'm done school I need a job.

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Falling Man: To show or not to show

The Falling Man photograph by Richard Drew

We had a great discussion today in Journalism class about the decision newspaper editors have to make when considering whether or not to publish disturbing or offensive pictures or videos. The example we were talking about was racist and anti-Semetic posters that were put up in Winnipeg and directed towards Sam Katz and other prominent Winnipeggers.

Some argued that the pictures of the posters should not be published because it only helps the creator of them get more publicity while others argued that it serves a print story better to have a picture with it so the reader can have a better frame of reference when reading an article.

Opinions varied widely this morning on the topic and I believe there is no right or wrong answer. Personally I would have published the pictures as I just think the story is stronger with a picture.

As it was recently the eleven year anniversary of 9/11 I immediately thought about something I saw on TV recently. Whenever a September 11 anniversary takes place news networks like CNN and CBC often show documentaries about that day and this year I watched a few. There is one image from that day that turns my stomach like nothing else. It is the image of people falling out of or jumping out of the World Trade Center (WTC) windows.

I still remember the morning of 9/11 and watching it all unfold on the TV in my parents house. The entire scenario was so over-the-top that it didn't seem real to me. I felt like I was watching a blockbuster disaster movie.

Then I remember the first time that day I saw an image of a person falling from the building. My stomach turned and I looked away in horror and absolute disgust. It was the most unimaginable and disturbing thing I had ever seen and for me it was the first time that it felt real. This was really happening and people were jumping to their death. It also struck me that it was so bad on some of those floors that jumping from over 90 stories was the better option.

The Falling Man is a picture taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew. It shows an unidentified man falling from one of the WTC towers. Drew has admitted he has received lots of criticism for the picture but said that his job as a photojournalist was to document what happened. Others have claimed the picture is exploiting this man's death.

Is The Falling Man picture disturbing- Absolutely. But it is also powerful and shows the absolute despair of that day.

Theologian Mark D. Thompson said of The Falling Man that "perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century is not found in art, or literature, or even popular music. It is found in a single photograph."

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Fort Whyte By-Election: Tracking down the candidates

In journalism class, our first assignment in year two was to cover the Fort Whyte By-Election on September 4 by going to where one of the candidates would be on election night and live tweeting. The only problem for me was that the election was on the very first night that I started another year of teaching at Whyte Ridge Music Centre. Work made it very clear that missing the very first day wasn't going to fly, so I asked CreComm journalism instructor Duncan McMonagle if there was anything I could do as an alternate to being there on Tuesday.

Knowing the CreComm policy that CreComm always comes first, I was very surprised and appreciative when Duncan said I could do an alternate assignment. Thanks again Duncan!

So my assignment was to find out where all the candidates would be on election night and make a fact sheet so my classmates would know where to go. Tracking down the candidates to get this information had its share of challenges.

The number one challenge was having to find out where Darrell Ackman, AKA: Mr. JetzTV, would be. I thought it was very bad luck that the one year I had to do this type of assignment Ackman was a candidate. Well luckily I was able to get his number through Metro Winnipeg but here is where things got completely bizarre.

I would now have to call Ackman to ask him where he would be and to make matters worse I called and his Mom picked up the phone. Sadly, I could hear the level of stress and shame in her voice. She was very pleasant and accommodating to me but I could tell that this is all wearing on her. She told me that Darrell wasn't home but reminded me he would definitely be home by six. I made the mistake of asking if she thought he could email me to which she reminded me that Mr. Ackman definitely wasn't using the internet anymore.

Well Ackman did call me back and I got the information I needed but not before having one of the strangest and most uncomfortable conversations I have ever had. I could go into details but I see no need to. All I can say is that I truly hope this man gets help and I'll leave it at that.

As for the rest of the candidates it did take some persistence to track them down but in the end it was very similar to my experiences trying to find people for stories in the summer for my internship. I find that ninety nine per cent of people I deal with to be accommodating and quick to respond. I'm sure these people are busy leading up to an election so it was a nice surprise to have people respond with info so quickly and make my life a little easier.

Mr. Pallister won on Tuesday night and it was really no surprise as the Fort Whyte constituency has only ever had Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba representation since its inception in 1999. According to Elections Manitoba only about 42 per cent of eligible voters cast votes in this by-election. This was an election that many may soon forget but a few of the experiences I had for my assignment means that I will likely not forget it for a long time.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Top 10 Moments from season one of Jets 2.0

After 15 long season in pro hockey abyss the Jets soared back into Winnipeg and made this small prairie burg a big league town once again. The first season of the new Jets era has given hockey fans some great moments, so in honour of the Jets first season back in the Peg, here are the top 5 moments from season one of Jets 2.0

1 The announcement
When Marc Chipman stood at the podium at MTS Centre and announced his “purchase of the
Atlanta Thrashers” it set off an all day party at The Forks and Portage and Main. People danced
in the rain, total strangers embraced and euphoria ruled the streets of Winnipeg.

 2 First Game

It was arguably the most anticipated sporting event in the city's history. On October 9. 2011 the new Jets hit the ice for their first ever regular season home game. The crowd noise was deafening even during the pre-game warm up. The Jets lost but it didn't matter. They were back and Winnipeg was whole once again.

3 Draft Party/ Name Reveal

With the Jets set to pick 7th overall, the True North group held a draft watching party at the MTS Centre and gave hockey fans the news they wanted to hear. Mark Chipman stood at the podium in Minneapolis and then passed the podium to GM Kevin Cheveldayoff “on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets.” People screamed and grown men wept. It was real- the Jets were back.

4 First Goal

When Nic Antropov scored at 2:27 of the third period of the very first Jets game of the new era, it was the first time that the Winnipeg Jets put a goal on the board since Norm MacIver scored way back in April of 1996, at the old barn. There will be thousands of pretty plays and beautiful goals in the years to come but this was always be remembered as the first ever goal for the new Jets.

5 Teemu Returns

It was the game that many hockey fans had marked on their calendar. Winnipeg's favourite son was returning home one last time and we were going to let him know that we had not forgot him. Teemu received deafening applause all night and chocked on his emotions at many points during the evening. He did one final lap at the end of the game for the fans that had always been so good to him.

6 Every Home Game

Well this is not a specific moment but the fact is-every home game at MTS Centre has been an event. From the “True North” chant during the national anthem to the Go Jets Go chants reigning down on the players, the atmosphere at every game has been electric. Teams from all over the league have marvelled at the Winnipeg crowds and Jets fans have made it loud and clear why Winnipeg belongs in the NHL.

7 First Pre-Season game

It may have only been a preseason game but it had a Stanley Cup Final atmosphere. September 20, 2011 was the first ever time that the new Jets played at home and the team finally got a taste of the MTS Centre crowd and what they were in for all season long.

8 The Queen emerges

The massive painting of the Queen was a staple of the old Winnipeg Arena but she would not be descending on the MTS Centre, so when a random fan in the upper deck began dressing up like Her Majesty, it immediately got attention, not only from the home crowd but all over the nation on CBC and TSN.

9 Jersey Reveal

When the Jets revealed their new jerseys with much pomp and circumstance at the air force base in Winnipeg it ended months of speculation and revealed a simple, classy and timeless jersey. After the reveal jerseys flew off the shelves. The new look was a hit.

10 Rick Rypien Tribute

After the tragic suicide of newly signed Rick Rypien, the Jets organization showed their class by honouring his life at the first regular season game. A classy and moving tribute played on the score board as Rypien's mom watched with Mark Chipman from the corner of the rink. True North showed the nation that this is an organization that will be run with class.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

A Night at the Theatre

It was a night at the theatre for yours truly last week when I attended Dionysus in Stony Mountain at the Rachel Browne Theatre. Usually my idea of going out and being entertained would consist of a cold beer and a hockey or football game, but I must admit I have seen some theatre in my day, including plays at Manitoba Theatre Centre, and Rainbow Stage.

This was a different kind of theatre than I am used to. Any show I have seen have had music, dancing and flashy sets and lights, so when I walked into the theatre I knew this would be something completely different.

I knew that the show was going to have to have good acting to be entertaining and luckily for me and the rest of the audience it did. 

Ross McMillan gave a powerful performance in two seperate roles. It was his show in the first act as the show felt like a McMillan monolougue. The female character in act one could have been played by a pilon with similar effect.

What amazes me most about the acting profession is that there are definitely actors who are not as talented as McMillan who are making millions acting in Hollywood.

The actress Sarah Constible had a much larger role in act two and her acting is also very good. I appreciate that the lack of effects and color made the actors have to be that much better and they pulled it off. 

I also noticed how much music can add emotion to a situation. There was no music in act one until the very end and it immediately made the dialogue seem more important and impactful.

The best part of the whole experience for me was having to step out of my comfort zone. There is a whole segment of people out there who are entertained in ways other than sports and reality T.V and going to see people entertained in a way that I am not used to was the biggest eye opener for me.