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LANGARA JOURNALISM REVIEW Spring 2018 | No. 22

Chasing the Forgotten Why reporters like Neal Hall can’t shake their cold cases | 16

Fashion at

50

A mid-life career change leads to fashion blogging | 19

Behind the Podium Journalists making careers in politics | 10

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Journalism Part-time Courses summer 2018 continuing studies Our instructors are well-regarded industry professionals with extensive knowledge of industry standards and expectations. They teach the most current requirements in their field and also advise on what’s trending. Specialty Writing in Journalism Science and Technology Writing How does stuff work? Behind every gadget, every app, every new drug or life-changing technique there is a story to be told about how it came to be. Learn how to share your specialized knowledge with others.

instructor: al shapiro saturdays (june 16 & 23), 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Opinion Writing Laying out the facts, presenting a side, and knowing how to argue a position respectfully are fundamental to why journalism remains such a valuable tool in critical thinking and debate - especially when dealing with politicians and powerful institutions.

instructor: daphne bramham saturdays (july 7 & 14), 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Business Writing Numbers tell a story. But, how do you make that story interesting? Expert storytelling can provide perspective, telling readers about what they need to know to make financial decisions that are right for them.

saturdays (july 21 & 28), 9:00 am - 3:00 pm instructor: andrew poon

Travel Writing

Podcasting for Journalists Technology gives consumers more news than ever before but not the time to actually consume it. So, people are turning to podcasts for information during their commutes, their trips to the gym or while shopping for groceries. In this course journalists can develop formats, master the necessary technical skills and promote a podcast to the right audience.

instructor: niki reitmayer tuesdays & thursdays (july 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26), 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Social Media for Journalists In today’s ever-evolving media climate, social media expertise is mandatory—for journalists, bloggers, publications and businesses. This course teaches students how to strategically use social media platforms to achieve their goals: be it engagement, increasing audiences or building a brand. With hands-on tutorials, case studies and guest speakers, classes will introduce best practices for posting content, creating a strategic social media plan and measuring results.

instructor: julia dilworth tuesdays & thursdays (july 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26), 7:00 pm– 10:00 pm

Accessing Information Like a Journalist Reporters aren’t the only ones who can benefit from accessing information from governments, school boards, non-profits, private and public companies. Many people are unaware that, although journalists need to access this type of information to do their jobs properly, much of the same knowledge is available to any member of the public that knows how to ask for it.

mondays & wednesdays, (june 18, 20, 25, 27, july 4, 9, 11, 16), 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm instructors: tracy sherlock and kelly sinoski

Paid to travel? Yes, it actually happens. But while everyone might compete for this plum assignment, savvy journalists can actually become successful travel writers and photographers by knowing how to pitch the right story to the right editor.

saturdays (august 11 & 18), 9:00 am - 3:00 pm instructors: adrian brijbassi and guillermo serrano

Photo Credit


CONTENTS LJR SPRING 2018

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19

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FEATURES 16 Out in the Cold

22 Hitting the Paywall

19 Fashionably Late

26 Women of the World

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29 Loss of Faith

The impact when cold cases go unsolved

Marilyn Wilson switches careers at 50

Anything Goes

Vancouver’s so-called newsroom fashion

Why making the news available to all matters

The benefits of female foreign correspondents

Out of 32 Priced Vancouver

Young journalists flee Canada’s most expensive city

For more exclusive stories, podcasts, videos and more...

LJR.ca

How does media covering religion affect its appeal?

@LJReview Cover Photo: Evan Hagedorn

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CONTENTS LJR SPRING 2018

THE LEAD

THE SCOOP

06 Do the Side Hustle

36 What to Share

08 Analyze This

38 Our Man in Rome

09 In the Name of...

40 Coping with Closure

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Crossing Over

42 Fair Comment?

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Canned Response

44

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How I Work

46 Last Word with Kim Bolan

How much can a journalist discuss with family?

The problem with reporters writing books on the side Why newsrooms are paying attention to numbers

The Globe and Mail’s Eric Reguly on a life abroad Finding new work after newsrooms shut

How to define a word as big as “terrorism”

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Former journalists like Jas Johal find new life in politics

Journalists on new forms of public feedback

Are email interviews ever acceptable?

Spring 2018 | Langara Journalism Review

Leaving steady work for a job in journalism Vancouver Sun crime reporter on media working together

A tour of five reporters’ desks—and what they say

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The New Recruits

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e

LJR CREW Publisher

Matt O’Grady

Editor-In-Chief Laura Brougham

Managing Editor Duncan Anderson

Section Editors Kurtis Gregory Shoji Whittier

Production Manager / Assistant Publisher Rica Talay

Community & Video Editor Sydney Morton

Creative Director Sasha Zeidler

Assistant Art Directors Jason Gilder Cass Lucke

Photo Editor Evan Hagedorn

Photographers Violetta Kryak Daniel Dadi-Cantarino

Assistant Managing Editor Saša Lakić

Copy Editors Kurtis Gregory Shoji Whittier

Fact-Checkers Violetta Kryak Daniel Dadi-Cantarino

Writers Duncan Anderson Laura Brougham Daniel Dadi-Cantarino Jason Gilder Kurtis Gregory Evan Hagedorn Violetta Kryak Saša Lakić Cass Lucke Sydney Morton Rica Talay Shoji Whittier Sasha Zeidler LJR.ca

ditor’s note

Making this magazine was bittersweet.

On one hand this is an accumulation of several months of work we put in as a class, as well as everything we’ve learned during our two years at school. On the other hand, this is the end of our time as a class. We’ve spent so much time growing and learning. This is the last thing we will do all together. We’ve lost some of our classmates along the way. There have been a variety of reasons, and I think those of us who remain have all experienced someone trying to talk us out of pursuing this career. There have been people who have mentioned the uncertain futures, pay rates and treatment from the public, but as a class, we remain optimistic about our prospects. There are things that give me reason to pause, but I always remember that there are reasons to be in this job. Some of which are presented here in this magazine. One thing we looked into was how rising housing prices are affecting journalism in Vancouver. Since younger people aren’t able to afford to live in the city, that changes what gets covered, and who’s covering it. (pg. 32) Another issue came up when we were learning about online journalism, and we were told about the importance of analytics. When reaching out to various news outlets we learned that each one has a different outlook on them. Some put quite a bit of weight on analytics, whereas some use them as background information to know what stories their readers find important. (pg. 8) Since the topic of people leaving journalism to find other jobs kept coming up, we also looked into why some people are choosing to join the industry now. These people had jobs they chose to leave, so why? (pg. 44) Journalism is always changing and evolving, and we’ve worked to capture this moment in time, and some of the new issues and ideas in the field. - Laura Brougham

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T H E LEA D

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Photos: Spring 2018 Laura| Brougham Langara Journalism Review

BOOK DRAMA Rob Shaw (left) and Richard Zussman (right) at the B.C. legislature

Spring 2018 | Langara Journalism PhotoReview Credit


Do the Side Hustle

When reporters choose to take their expertise and turn it into a book, some find employers who are more understanding than others B Y E VA N H A G E D O R N

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hen British Columbia shifted from a BC Liberal government to an NDP one in May 2017, legislative reporters Richard Zussman and Rob Shaw went behindthe-scenes to chronicle the dramatic political campaign. By spring 2018, they had published their tell-all book, A Matter of Confidence. Many reporters, immersed in their beat, eventually decide to turn their experience or expertise into a book. But as the ensuing termination of Zussman by the CBC highlights, not all reporters are treated the same when they decide to do so. Zussman, who was CBC’s provincial affairs reporter at the time, found himself out of a job in December 2017 after a third-party investigation concluded that his forthcoming book breached CBC’s code of conduct, conflict-of-interest rules and the collective agreement with the Canadian Media Guild. He was not, stressed CBC spokeman Chuck Thompson in a statement, “terminated simply for co-authoring a book.” The controversy, however, brings up an important discussion within the journalism industry about the policies that are set

between book authors and their employers— and what reporters can and cannot do. The code of conduct for Postmedia, parent company of the Vancouver Sun and The Province, discloses rules on third-party relationships and dealing with unethical issues, but nothing appears to be set in stone about side projects, such as books. The Globe and Mail

Rob Shaw says he doesn’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t told his editor about the book. “It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for me not to tell him. I think they would have wondered what I was doing, but I honestly don’t know.” According to Shaw, he and Zussman, who are long-time legislative reporters, have built up contacts from their beat and were able to do interviews outside of work. He adds that he usually deals only with his editor and doesn’t interact with other staff at Postmedia. Travis Lupick, staff writer at The Georgia Straight and —Harold Munro author of Fighting for Space, a book about activists pushing code of conduct, meanwhile, states a reporter for safe injection sites in Vancouver’s Downcan’t withhold scoops from the publication. town Eastside, says smaller outlets are often Harold Munro, editor of the Vancouver more lenient. Sun, says he would like to be notified if a “There’s probably more flexibility in a Sun reporter began a side project and would smaller corporation,” Lupick says. “They want them to work on it on their own time. can react and respond a little quicker be“Its common sense,” Munro says. “Using cause they don’t need to go through five levyour connections, and the access that you get els of management.” from being associated with a major publiSix weeks after Zussman’s dismissal, he cation like the Vancouver Sun or The Province, was hired as an online legislative reporter by opens doors and gives you access. You can’t Global BC. His CBC arbitration hearing is exploit that access for some other purpose.” currently scheduled for the fall of 2018. n

“Using your connections and the access that you get from being associated with a major publication opens doors”

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T H E LEA D

Analyze This The digital world makes it easier for newsrooms to track what’s most read —and respond with more or less coverage of what readers want B Y R I C A TA L AY

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he digital revolution has given journalists an unparalleled ability to gauge audience reception to a story and boost traffic numbers. But does that data change the way media are covering the news? It’s a question many media organizations are asking themselves. In 2018, Corus Entertainment Inc.—the media and content company that owns Global Television and CKNW, among other assets—decided to double their investment in data analytics due to a decline in traditional ad revenues. According to an article in The Globe and

CKNW’s Estefania Duran says there’s no perfect formula that can make a story a viral hit, but finding great stories that are important for your audience is a good start Mail, Corus’ goal is to sell targeted ads “that reach smaller, better-defined audiences.” Vancouver Sun digital editor Carey Bermingham says that while stats don’t necessarily change how they cover the news, they do signal what readers want more of—say, real estate or crime stories—and that the Sun should put more resources into those sections. From analytics, says Bermingham, the Sun also knows that 7 a.m. is prime time for posting on the website (it peaks around noon); for Facebook, noon and evenings are the best time for engagement. With this

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information, Bermingham and her team can post at a specific time on the Sun site and post on social media at peak hours. For CKNW digital reporter Estefania Duran, the number of shares and clicks on a given article should be taken with a grain of salt: “We have to be careful to associate clicks with something else.” Duran, who has worked on the digital side of the business for over two years, says there’s no perfect formula to make something a viral hit, but finding great stories that are important for your audience is a good start. “But yeah, if there was a formula, I wouldn’t give it away anyways.” Paul Bucci, digital growth manager at

Black Press, says that younger people already have a better sense of analytics than a reporter working in 1990, because they’ve grown up immersed in the world of likes and shares. Bucci, a former Vancouver Sun editor, says that what newsrooms really want are people “who understand the importance intrinsically of writing for an online audience.” But Vancouver is Awesome senior writer Lindsay William-Ross says that, despite spending 15 years in digital media, she still looks beyond how a story is received online. “For me, it’s not limited to those social metrics,” she notes. “I’m also older, so it’s not as ingrained in my nature to be driven by little hearts and thumbs.” n Photo: Rica Talay


THE LEA D

In the Name of... Terrorism is a word that often appears in the news. But as it turns out, there is no one definition to fit all attacks BY LAURA BROUGHAM

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ollowing the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas where a man on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel shot at a concert across the street, killing 58 people and injuring 851, journalists found it difficult to say whether it was a terrorist attack or not, including News1130. There is no one definition that fits for all attacks, according to Bruce Claggett, senior managing editor at News1130. “We have discussions that are ongoing—it’s a case-bycase situation,” says Claggett, citing political affiliation, group allegiances and what police, experts and political leaders are saying about the situation as factors that help inform their decision. “That helps guide us whether it’s terrorism or not. They’re not the only determinants, but it really helps us when we think, ‘Is this the one that we put that label on?’” That’s the tricky line that news outlets are treading when covering attacks: finding a definition of terrorism that stays true to what terrorism is, but also delves into the nuance of each attack. A review of coverage of recent attacks might indicate that the word is applied randomly, but newsrooms across Canada make conscious choices in how they label attacks. Bill Amos, a journalism instructor at BCIT, says that, in general, media are doing a good job. But while he feels being cautious is good, there are times when the word “terrorism” isn’t being used—and it should. “I think there’s a category of terrorism that’s not being accurately labelled as terrorism,” Amos says. “I’m going almost the other direction: rather than going back on defining event X or Y as terrorist, I would say maybe we need to label some violent shootings or events as terrorism—even if they were done just by one person.” Claggett says he prefers to wait until a politician or prominent figure labels an attack before choosing how to categorize it, but Photo courtesy: Wikicommons

REMEMBERING Flowers in Las Vegas after the 2017 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival

since the 2016 U.S. election, he says he has to be much more cautious when choosing whose definition to use. “When we see a political leader in the United States like Donald Trump coming out and saying ‘this is terrorism’ right away—as a Canadian, there is a feeling that just because somebody is saying it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true,” Claggett says. “I think, for

the first time ever with a political leader, we’re very careful to not necessarily follow what he says. Just because [Trump] calls an attack terrorism doesn’t mean we will call it that way.” The News1130 staff may continue to be split on future decisions when labelling attacks, but the nuance of each attack requires thoughtful debate. There’s no simple rule that can be applied and followed. n

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T H E LEA D

Crossing Over Why some former journalists are finding a new life in politics BY JASON GILDER

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ost journalists have covered politics at some point in their careers. Some have even decided to cross over and seek elected office themselves. For those who have made the switch, the reason why—according to two local politicians—is that the transition is a natural one, given the emphasis on connecting with people in both professions. Jas Johal is the Liberal MLA for Richmond-Queensborough. Before entering politics in 2016, Johal was a journalist of 23 years, most recently with Global Television, where he worked as a senior reporter focusing on provincial business and politics. His time at Global also included a stint serving as the network’s Asia bureau chief. Whether interviewing British Columbians about issues in their community or getting reactions from Egyptians in Tahrir Square after President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime ended, Johal valued talking to a wide range of people. “If there is a particular issue, it’s not just sitting down talking to the CEO in the boardroom; it’s actually talking to everyday people. It’s talking to activists, union leaders,” Johal says. “You get a great cross section of society that you interact with.” Another person to make the switch is George Affleck, formerly a journalist with the CBC. Affleck is currently a Vancouver city councillor, elected in 2011 as a member of the Non-Partisan Association (Affleck is not seeking re-election in the October 2018 municipal elections). He says journalism complemented his eagerness to learn—a major reason why he entered the industry. “I have always been a curious person,” says Affleck, who is also president and CEO of Vancouver-based public relations firm Curve Communications. “Being able to re-

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search certain things in-depth was enjoyable. We are so used to interacting with people in our community as journalists, so having that skill in politics makes the integration much easier.” Johal says he wasn’t looking for a change; as long as the journalism industry had stayed healthy, he says, he would have had a job for life. But in 2014, he decided to exit journal-

ism when he started to grow concerned with the diminishing returns for the stories he was reporting on. “I noticed that the quality of stories and time we were spending on these stories were declining,” Johal says. “I fought really hard to do explanatory and exploratory journalism, but it was a fight and I could see that slippery slope coming and I made the decision then.” Johal had spent much of his time at the network talking to B.C. politicians, so once he finally made the decision to move to provincial politics, the transition was seamless. Johal says that there was no long-held plan to become a politician, but that it had always been important to him to be invested in his community.

“I believe you have to be involved,” Johal says. “I sort of would think, ‘Well maybe I would like to do that.’ Maybe that’s the idealist in me.” Johal and Affleck are two of many former B.C. journalists to become involved in politics. Others who have made the switch (or attempted to make the switch) include Steve Darling, a well-known morning anchor for Global who ran unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate in the 2017 provincial election, and former CTV and Global anchor Pamela Martin, who was Premier Christy Clark’s director of outreach. On the national stage, ex journalists making the jump include senators Pamela Wallin, Jim Munson and Mike Duffy, and MPs Peter Kent, Seamus O’Regan and Adam Vaughan. Johal believes many have made this switch because both professions involve forms of idealism. “At its core, journalists are idealists—they care about their communities,” Johal says. “We have been in the midst of public discourse our whole career, or a good chunk of our career. Politics, in many ways, is no different.” Johal’s political career began with him door knocking for six months—a pre-election rite of passage that produces no income. Nowadays, he is fully involved in the issues of his local Richmond riding, as well as what goes on in the legislative in Victoria. Johal says he is enjoying his current job, but adds that the most challenging part is juggling the daily processes of legislation, making sure the concerns of his constituents are heard, and playing the role of husband and father. “It’s been a transition on the government side, on the constituency side, and on the personal side,” Johal says. “Time management is a really big thing.” The MLA says that, when it comes to significant decisions that impact the commuPhoto courtesy: George Affleck


POLITICS OF JOURNALISM This page: Jas Johal, former reporter at Global and current Richmond Queensborough MLA. Opposite: George Affleck, ex-journalist and current Vancouver city councillor

LJR.cacourtesy: Jas Johal Photo

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T H E LEA D nity, the most important thing he can do is listen to the questions and concerns of residents with an open mind. “I don’t think you need to take a side on everything,” Johal says. “It’s really making sure that all the [residents] are heard from, that their concerns are coalesced together and you can at least articulate them.” In his seven years in office, Affleck says that he has taken pleasure in being on city council and being able to listen to the ideas and concerns of Vancouverites. He has also enjoyed being involved in efforts to improve the city. “I get to play a role in building up Vancouver,” says Affleck, “and to me, that’s pretty cool.”

As a reporter, Johal became an expert at asking politicians tough questions. He finds it interesting and challenging being on the other side—and is bemused when politicians take issue with the questions journalists ask.

The MLA says many of his former colleagues in journalism have asked him for advice on potentially leaving the industry. Even though he moved on to politics, Johal says he encourages them to stay in the media business because there is a need for journalists throughout society. “Anytime I can encourage them to stay, I try to do so,” Johal says. “Everybody is in a different point in Jas Johal their life, but we still need strong journalism.” “The day that I am happy with all of the Both Johal and Affleck say they are hapcoverage is the day that journalists aren’t do- py where they ended up after leaving the ing their jobs,” Johal says. “When they are industry, and say they are encouraged when annoying me occasionally, that’s probably there’s a journalist who comes out to chalhealthy and good for democracy.” lenge them. n

“We have been in the midst of public discourse our whole career, or a good chunk of our career. Politics, in many ways, is no different”—

Canned Responses Many people—especially politicians—prefer to respond to questions by email, but should we let them? B Y S H O J I W H I T T I E R & K U RT I S G R E G O RY

In an age where just about everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, email is just as popular as phone or in-person communication. But does it hold up under media scrutiny? We asked three local newsroom leaders for their take on accepting email statements for stories.

FROM: Valerie

Casselton

FROM:

Ken Goudswaard

FROM:

Martha Perkins

Dear LJR,

Dear LJR,

Dear LJR,

We try and give everyone involved in a story an opportunity to comment, and sometimes those commenting can’t get back right away, but they’ll send an emailed response. I’ll try and discourage that. I think it’s better to have a face-toface or on-the-phone [interview] with someone. . . If it’s emailed to us, the story has to say that it was emailed to us.

I think it’s fairly open. . . I’ve only been here a year, but I don’t think we have a real direct policy [for emails.]. . . A lot of times, it’s difficult with time constraints, and whether you can actually meet with the people you want to interview, and sometimes an email interview is the only way possible. And if all parties are amenable to it, I think it’s fine.

Context is everything. . . Let’s say you’ve been trying to talk to somebody and they say email is the best way to do it, [then] yes we will accept that. The caveat is that when we say it in a story, we’re clear that it’s an emailed response. . . It’s really important that you let readers know that it was emailed.

Kindest Regards,

Cheers,

Regards,

Valerie Casselton Vancouver Sun, Managing Editor

Ken Goudswaard Abbotsford News, Editor

Martha Perkins Vancouver Courrier, Editor In-Chief

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PhotoLJR.ca Credit


THE LEA D

How I Work Five local journalists share the stories behind their work spaces WORDS AND PHOTOS BY D A N I E L - D A D I C A N TA R I N O

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work space is often a home away from home: a comfort zone, with everything a journalist needs to thrive, in the midst of newsroom chaos. If you walk around the newsrooms of The Tyee, the Vancouver Courier or Daily Hive, you see the myriad ways journalists organize their work life—and the items each journalist keeps on hand to not only maintain sanity but remind themselves of their humanity. For Michael Kissinger, editor at the Vancouver Courier, this involves a bottle of Frank’s RedHot, a picture of Johnny Cash flipping the bird, and a custom-made Vancouver Courier trucker hat, among other eccentric items. His small cubicle serves as a reflection of his individuality while also acknowledging his important daily work. “[My desk] also has lots of little personal details that I can feel a bit more human and not just like a content factory. It makes me remind myself that I am a human being,” Kissinger says. Kelsey Klassen, digital editor at the Courier, has only recently moved to her desk. The former editor of the Westender is slowly personalizing her workspace, but Klassen believes preparation and organization are key to newsroom survival. “There’s so much happening all the time, so I surround myself with everything I need,” says Klassen. “I’ve always been taught that your desk is a reflection of you professionally and so I do try to keep it as tidy as possible.” From Albert Einstein bobbleheads to office cacti, LJR details the whimsy and wonder of local journalists’ office spaces in the pages that follow.

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“I’m a big fan of clean surfaces, and a lot of clutter definitely stresses me out. This is kind of a halfway between clean and clutter” —Michael Kissinger editor, Vancouver Courier Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2018

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“I always hate getting up from my desk because there’s so much happening all the time. So I surround myself with everything I need” —Kelsey Klassen, digital editor, Vancouver Courier

“What we try to do is create a comfortable space that you’re happy at and happy with—whether that is smells, sights or sounds” —Farhan Mohamed, editor-in-chief, Daily Hive

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“I would say that it is a much more comfortable environment for me when I’m surrounded by the things I love” —Rob Benac, production designer, Business in Vancouver

“I like to keep various books and documents, even funny posters, at hand that can help me. Keeping my space organized also keeps me calm and clear-headed, which is especially important around here” —Chris Cheung, reporter, The Tyee

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Photo Credit


OUT IN THE

COLD

Longtime crime reporters discuss the impact of unsolved murder cases from their past W O R D S A N D P H O T O I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y E VA N H A G E D O R N

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t’s been five years since Neal Hall retired from his position at the Vancouver Sun and the long-time crime reporter continues to think about the unsolved murders he covered, wondering what happened to the victims, longing for a conclusion. Covering cold cases can take a toll on a reporter’s mental health. The public looks to journalists for information on murders and missing people, but when cases go unsolved, information becomes increasingly scarce. Sitting outside a busy Gastown cafe, the 65-year-old Hall describes a career full of unsolved cases with no conclusion in sight. It is not far from the neighbourhood where Hall and fellow Sun reporter Kim Pemberton began writing about disappearing sex workers in the 1980s. “We had noticed these women going missing in the Downtown Eastside and we kept suggesting there was maybe a serial killer,” recalls Hall. “But the police said there was no evidence of a serial killer.” He compares reporting on the Downtown Eastside’s missing women to covering the case of Clifford Olson, the late B.C. serial killer who murdered 11 children and young adults in the early 1980s. Looking at articles from that time, Hall says, there was an obvious bias against sex workers, with headlines using the term “hookers,” and police largely failing to take the plight of sex workers seriously. Hall remembers when a drug-addicted woman came into the Sun newsroom claiming she witnessed Photo courtesy: Vancouver Sun/The Province

Vancouver Sun reporter Lori Culbert

a woman being killed, but since she was a “junky,” no further investigations were made by police. It was this passive attitude that annoyed Hall—and also made the process of covering such cases so challenging. Hall has slowed down now that he’s no longer covering murders and court hearings. Aside from trying to keep his wife’s Gastown clothing store afloat, he is remarkably free of stress these days. “Covering death does have an effect on you and I got to the point where I wanted off,” says Hall, who officially retired from the

Vancouver Sun in 2012. “I sort of had it; I had written about death so much.” Death and a legacy of unresolved cases is part of Vancouver’s history, with some cold cases going back more than a century. While reporters may point to a variety of troubling cases, in any conversation about crimes in B.C. they will most likely bring up serial killer Robert Pickton, who confessed to killing 49 women (mainly sex workers from the Downtown Eastside) from 1983 through 2002; in 2007, he was convicted of second-degree murder for six victims. It was the Missing Women’s case and the imagery from that trial which ultimately pushed Hall away from covering crime and unsolved cases. “You get a lot of death, a lot of horrible death, ugly humanity, and it can affect you.” Author Eve Lazarus detailed some of those cases in her 2015 book Cold Case Vancouver: The City’s Most Baffling Unsolved Murders, including the case of the Pauls Family (murdered in their east side home in 1958) and Babes in the Woods (a case of child murder victims found in Stanley Park in the late 1940s). As Lazarus makes clear, unsolved cases often fade from public view because other events overtake them: five days after the triple homicide of the Pauls Family, for instance, the Second Narrows Bridge collapsed, sending 79 workers into the frigid waters of the Burrard Inlet; 18 died. “Cold murder cases, or as some police

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ble to bring comfort to the grieving families. It’s a feeling she’s had for much of her career: before covering the Highway of Tears, Culbert wrote about the missing women of the Downtown Eastside, along with fellow Sun reporter Kim Bolan and former Sun reporter Lindsay Kines. “I’ve covered so many tragic stories, it’s hard to remember them all...you can become desensitized to them.” Wayne Clary, a retired RCMP investigator, understands how Culbert feels. “These unsolved cases are difficult,” says the 61-year-old Clary. “They’re a marathon, not a sprint—and even then, you don’t get the results. That’s not really satisfying, and it’s hard to keep your [officers] motivated.” Clary notes that a lot police officers like to be solving cases and moving onto the next, but with unsolved cases you can’t simply “catch the bad guys and put them in jail.” For the long-time cop, the most emotional aspect of investigating unsolved cases is meeting the victims’ families. “You connect because you’re right there and you experience all their feelings and frustrations and you get emotional.”

COLD HISTORY Neal Hall holding a copy of one of his early Missing Women stories

T officers like to refer to them, ‘unsolved’ cases, are never closed,” writes Lazarus. “The detail of the lives and deaths of the people I’ve written about are active files in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Langley, and Surrey. The names of the police officers on the case files may change, but their desire to solve the murders does not.”

B

etween Prince George and Prince Rupert is a section of Highway 16 known as the Highway of Tears. In that lonely stretch of road, a suspected 40 women, mainly Indigenous, went missing between 1969 and 2011. Though a majority of those cases have gone cold, Vancouver Sun reporter Lori Culbert, continues to pursue several of them. She has travelled portions of Highway 16 for a week with a photographer and two local Indigenous people to speak with families of victims still searching for answers. “It’s devastating. You think about the Highway of Tears, and some of the victims were 12—

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“They’re children—and you meet the parents and this has taken over their lives. They never stop thinking about it, and those cases stick with you” —Lori Culbert they were little girls, they’re children—and you meet the parents and this has taken over their lives. They never stop thinking about it, and those cases stick with you,” says Culbert. What makes the investigation even more difficult, she adds, is that the victims’ families are often marginalized and feel ignored, leading them to put a great amount of faith in reporters to tell their story and find their loved ones. It frustrates Culbert—being una-

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alking to reporters who have covered cold cases in B.C., there are certain common elements, including cases being so old that information is lost or family members have died. Then there’s the issue of DNA testing, which has improved dramatically since the Highway of Tears and Pickton cases. “Since those days, when no evidence was kept— or it was kept improperly, so any DNA was gone—police today are working under different circumstances,” says Culbert. Even with those advances, however, Clary says that the majority of unsolved cases will never be solved. “If it’s a missing person—if we haven’t uncovered the body, if we have no DNA at the crime scene, if they haven’t told anybody— that’s probably not going to get solved.” As for Neal Hall, he still thinks about the cases he covered, but discussing them brings up unwanted memories from the past. “I was glad to get away from the murder and mayhem. It weighs on you after a while. You aren’t writing fiction. They’re real people, real families, real victims—and it’s upsetting.” n

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To listen to author Evan Hagedorn’s podcast on PTSD, visit us online

Photo: Evan Hagedorn


FASHIlate ONABLY Marilyn Wilson switched careers careers at at 50 50 when when she she decided decided to try her hand at at fashion fashion blogging blogging

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arilyn Wilson Wilson never never thought thought that, at the age age of of 50, 50, her her life life would take a sharp sharp turn turn in in the the direction of fashion. fashion. “It “It didn’t didn’t come easy, the the writing writing didn’t didn’t come easy,” says says Wilson, Wilson, now now 62. “I had to fight and I’m still still fighting fighting every every inch of the way.” Wilson recounts her improbable improbable journey journey during a break at Vancouver Fashion Fashion Week Week in in March. She certainly looks the the part part amongst amongst the dressed-to-impress crowd, crowd, wearing wearing high high heels, a narrow skirt, a loud printed printed top top and and an abundance of accessories. accessories. “They were all purchased purchased over over aa 10-year 10-year period, at different times,” says says Wilson Wilson over over the din of the crowd. “I know know the the designer, designer, I know why I bought it, I know know every every piece piece I’m wearing.” Throughout her dozen years years in in fashion, fashion, Wilson has gathered a collection collection of of funky funky pieces, pieces, which which she she wears wears for for big big events events like like VFW. VFW. In In everyday everyday life, life, she she dresses dresses simply simply in in effortless effortless combinations combinations and and clean clean colours. colours. “Day “Day to to day, day, it’s it’s yoga yoga pants pants and and comcomfy fy tops tops and and flannel flannel shirts, shirts, but but my my good good clothes clothes are are taken taken care care of of because because they they cost cost me me so so much,” much,” says says Wilson. Wilson. “I “I had had to to give give up up aa lot lot to to buy buy them, them, so so II treat treat them them well.” well.” An An asymmetric asymmetric haircut haircut with with clear clear geometric geometric lines lines and and aa contrasting contrasting highlight highlight LJR.ca LJR.ca

complements complements her her style, style, while while her her glasses, glasses, which whichshe shechanges changesdepending dependingon onher hermood, mood, range range from from barely barely noticeable noticeable to to large large and and dramatic dramatic frames. frames. ItIt took took Wilson Wilson over over half half aa lifetime lifetime toto rerealize alize her her passion passion and and fight fight her her way way into into the the industry. industry. Raised Raised in in aa strict strict home home environenvironment—her ment—herfather fatherwas wasaaChristian Christianminister ministerinin aa tiny tiny town town in in South South Dakota—Wilson Dakota—Wilson says says she she never never thought thought about about fashion fashion as as aa young young girl. girl. She She describes describes her her style style then then simply simply as as “cheap.” “cheap.” When When she she was was growing growingup, up,Wilson Wilson had had to to be be the the example example for for other other kids kids toto folfollow, low,which whichwas wasnot notalways alwayspleasant. pleasant. “I “I was was not not allowed allowed to to go go to to the the movie movie theatre theatre [on [on Saturday] Saturday] with with the the kids kids from from school, school, because because somebody somebody might might see see me me go go to tothe themovies moviesand andthink thinkititwas wasOK OKto togo gosee seeaa porno,” porno,” recalls recalls Wilson. Wilson. “Literally, “Literally,IIwas wastold told that.” that.” Originally Originally she she planned planned on on becoming becoming aa counsellor, counsellor, but but living living in in San San Diego Diego inin early early 1980 1980 she she stopped stopped working working on on her her master’s master’s degree degree in in counselling counselling and and drug drug abuse abuse after after realizing realizing how how daunting daunting the the profession professioncould could be. be. She She took took on on various various office officejobs jobsand andendended ed up up in in Seattle, Seattle, where where mutual mutual friends friends inintroduced troduced her her to to her her future future husband, husband, aa CaCanadian. nadian. They They moved moved to toVancouver Vancouveraacouple couple weeks weeksafter aftertheir theirmarriage marriagein inlate late1984. 1984. The The couple couple had had three three kids kids in in three three and and Langara Langara Journalism JournalismReview Review| |Spring Spring2018 2018

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“I had no idea how out of place I was, and how little I knew, I was just happy� Marilyn Wilson Wilson -- Marilyn

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a half years, and because daycare was unaffordable for them, Wilson stayed at home raising her children. “When they finally didn’t need me, I’d been out of the workforce for 15 years. Nobody wanted me,” Wilson says. In 2006, she found a Craigslist ad from a fashion and lifestyle magazine from New York. She sent three story ideas off, two were accepted—and so began her career as a fashion writer. Wilson recalls feeling goosebumps during her very first interview for a story on an Indigenous designer. She knew, then and there, that interviewing was her passion. “Then I had to learn to write—and no, it wasn’t as easy as I thought,” she adds. “There is a style and a format, then a rhythm. It’s not like turning in a high school term paper. There were a lot of tears and a lot of selfdoubt.” She submitted the stories, but the magazine folded without printing them or paying her. After months of desperation, she went back to Craigslist and found an ad for a photographer who wanted to start a magazine about fashion. They would become co-founders of an online magazine, which they named Fame’d, and Wilson once again had the opportunity to do what she loved. In those early days of going to fashion

events, resources were limited. “I had no money. My shoes came from Payless. My clothes were from Zellers and Costco and I had some from Value Village. My husband cut my hair,” recalls Wilson. “I was so happy to be out of the house and so happy to be challenged mentally again. I was so excited, but I had no idea how out of place I was, and how little I knew.” With tears in her eyes, she remembers the time she came to interview RozeMerie Cuevas, the designer of JAC by Jacqueline Conoir, in her showroom in Vancouver. Cuevas specialized in high-end feminine suits, designed for women in the workforce. Wilson walked into her showroom, saw the beautiful, expensive clothes all around her and wanted to run.

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ilson says she’s thankful to Cuevas, who walked in and did not comment on what she was wearing, but looked her in the eyes instead and told a story about her first fashion show—when she, too, felt out of place. “She gave me permission to be where I was, starting out,” Wilson says. “It was OK to be in this place at this moment, just doing the best I could.” Vladimir Markovich, who was chief

ANYTHING GOES

“This is Vancouver.”

When Martha Perkins was working at the Westender, that’s the response she would get when inquiring about dress codes for various events. Basically, they could wear whatever they want, because in Vancouver, fashion at work is “all over the map.” Now editor-in-chief at the Vancouver Courier, Perkins reflects the city’s energy in her offices, where casual Friday has become an all-week event. People are judged enough every day, according to Perkins, so what one chooses to wear at work should not be overly complicated with expectations and dress codes.

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“I think people here have a lot of integrity and they will present themselves well, whether it’s how they speak with people they’re interviewing or what they’re wearing,” says Perkins. The idea of “business attire” is certainly changing. When Steve Lus started his career as an early-morning radio host 20 years ago, he was convinced that a shirt and tie was the expected way to dress. Now a senior producer on the assignment desk at CBC Vancouver, his main priority is making sure his clothes can withstand the inevitable rain. Otherwise, he lets his reporting do the talking. “If people are focused on

creative director and co-founder of B.C. Fashion Week, first met Wilson when she interviewed him for a profile. “She was very curious,” Markovich recalls. “Genuinely, very interested about where I was from and my life.” While the creative union with the photographer didn’t last—Fame’d folded after four and a half years—Wilson’s reputation within the industry had been cemented. Still, it hasn’t always been easy being “the older blogger.” “There are more older people out now, but when I started hanging around the fashion world, I was it,” says Wilson, emphatically. “I was like everybody’s mother.” Fellow writer Randi Winter recalls ending up next to Wilson at a fashion show in 2013. They soon became friends and have been appearing together at many fashion events since then. “It’s not easy when you’re older,” says Winter. “Often people tend to pass over you and not count you as current because you’re older, and that’s not true.” As for Marilyn Wilson, who wrote her first book, Life Outside the Box: The Extraordinary Journeys of 10 Unique Individuals, at age 59, she has fully managed to reinvent herself. And she’s loving every minute of it: “The best part of my story is that it’s never too late.” n

Vancouver’s approach to so-called newsroom fashion BY SASHA ZEIDLER

what you’re wearing and not on the questions you’re asking, then that’s a problem,” says Lus. This isn’t to say that appearance doesn’t matter in journalism. Your appearance, especially on TV, is a selling point, but it can also be your downfall if you are sticking out for the wrong reasons, advises Lus. “In the same way that if you have something in your voice that’s really distracting on radio, or some bad habits in your writing for online and print journalism. If you have something about your appearance that’s distracting, you should be actually taking care of that.” Man or woman, some people

like to dress up, and others don’t. It’s as simple as that. Vancouver journalists may be on the casual end of the spectrum, but never has this taken away from the authenticity of their work or how they are viewed by their colleagues. “It’s not a male-female thing. It’s general society,” Perkins says. “If you’re a woman who likes to get dressed up, then other staff members respect you for it. If you want to wear pants every day, staff members respect you for it.” It turns out the only fashion faux-pas for journalists is showing up in pyjamas. Otherwise, fully clothed and ready to work, you’re good to go. n

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HITTING THE PAYWALL Paywalls have become a business necessity in media—but limiting access to journalism poses dangers to society. A look at what some local organizations are doing to tear down that wall B Y D A N I E L D A D I - C A N TA R I N O

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s audiences turn to the Internet and away from traditional news platforms, media organizations have had to find new ways to fund their journalism. One method used by many media companies is the paywall—providing news to online readers, but at a price. While paywalls represent a revenue solution for journalism, they also pose a growing barrier to accessibility. “When your readers are paying for your journalism, that’s an important endorsement of its relevance,” says Edward Greenspon, former editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail and author of the 2017 Public Policy Forum report The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age. “By the same token, [paywalls] can also have the side effect of excluding low-income people from being able to access news.” Journalism is critical to informing the population about important ideas and issues, and building civic engagement. When news is put behind a paywall, it has an adverse effect on those who can’t afford to pay for a news sub-

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scription—usually those who can least afford to be left in the dark. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017, eight per cent of individuals who do not pay for news do so because they can’t afford to. The report also states that only eight per cent of all Canadians surveyed paid for online news subscriptions in 2017. Professor Alfred Hermida, director of UBC’s School of Journalism, wonders if paywalls are worth it, when multiple news outlets often cover the same story the same way. “If you’re The Globe and Mail and you’re covering the Liberal leadership debate, are you offering [something] that is distinctly different that people are willing to pay for, when they could just go to CBC and get it for free?” asks Hermida. According to Hermida, The Globe and Mail has been moderately successful in its subscription fee route, due to specialized content, in-depth articles on financial news, stock portfolios and insider information tailored to its business demographic. Yet when it comes to general news, Hermida believes that most Canadians still prefer free content. “I’d argue that, given that there is so much free news across media, it doesn’t matter if a few people put things behind a paywall because there’ll still be free news in the media,” says Hermida. “What you might not get is more specialist types of journalism.”

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n this age of paywalled content, cost-conscious citizens are largely left with libraries and community centres to maintain their access to specialized news and information. Julie Douglas, assistant manager of e-books and digital collections at the Vancouver Public Library, says the library has seen a 27 per cent increase in use of the subscription-based aggregated news website Pressreader, which provides access to over 7,000 publications from over 120 countries in 60 different languages. (In addition to Pressreader, which is free for all VPL cardholders, customers also have subscriptions for The New York Times online service and its print version.) “I mean, it’s got the daily local newspapers that people are interested in, it’s got the national content. The other draw to it is all of these international newspapers. Patrons really connect with that,” says Douglas. “Just being able to make that available and accessible to people is really what libraries are all about.” In 2017, the VPL registered 185,000 visits to Pressreader. While these visits account for patrons visiting multiple times from the same library card account, the numbers are still sigLJR.ca


CHASING THE NEWS The Vancouver Public Library allows cardholders to access multiple news organizations for free on Pressreader

nificant to Douglas. “It means that we’re investing in the right thing, that this is a resource our community wants and they make use of it so it’s doing really well.”

“When your readers are paying for your journalism, that’s an important endorsement of its relevance” —Edward Greenspon For those who do not have an address or the valid ID needed to apply for a VPL card, there are various community centres around Vancouver that either have partnerships with the library or host tech cafes. One such area is the Carnegie Community Centre, which not only co-hosts a learning centre and a computer lab with Capilano University but also partners with the VPL to deliver news resources to those living in the Downtown Eastside. “A membership at the Carnegie Community Centre is open to anyone in the neighbourhood,” says Karla Kloepper, assistant director of the Carnegie Community Centre. “Our services are for community members. You can get a membership at the front desk; it’s $1 for the year. That provides access to phones, computers, lots of our programming and some of our other resources.” Members of the Carnegie Centre have full access to the resources the VPL offers its own Photo: Violetta Kryak

cardholders, including Pressreader. Offering similar services in the area is the UBC Learning Exchange at Oppenheimer Park.

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ynamic shifts in news media revenue streams have forced various news outlets in Canada and abroad to use subscription models to be able to continue their work. Yet the danger of excluding individuals through paywalls and fees remains ever-present. Edward Greenspon notes that news outlets are turning to paywalls because advertising revenue is in rapid decline. They’re trying to find a way to get paid—and this is the one way they’ve found. “Reporting costs money,” says Greenspon. “Both the declining revenues of the established media system and the relatively weak revenues of new digital-only news sites mitigates against being able to make the necessary investment. Therefore, we are at risk—as a country, provinces and communities—of having less and less robust coverage of our public affairs and of having regular dependable sources of information.” Libraries around Metro Vancouver, in partnership with community centres, have stepped into the void to provide financially vulnerable residents free access to specialized online and print journalism. Julie Douglas of the VPL shudders at the thought of a city devoid of the online news resources provided by libraries and community centres. “I just honestly couldn’t envision that scenario,” she says. “I wouldn’t want to, because this is our core mission: to make this content available. Because everyone has a right to learn and read and share information. It is the heart of what we do.” n

1,389,000

Total paid digital subscriptions, Wall Street Journal

2,644,000 Total paid digital subscriptions, New York Times

82,019

Total paid digital subscriptions, Globe and Mail

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Women of the World WHY FEMALE REPORTERS ARE FINDING SURPRISING SUCCESS IN FOREIGN LANDS B Y S Y D N E Y M O RT O N

REPORTING REALITIES An Afghan woman and child walk by the burned out remains of a car in Kandahar in August 2009

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Photo courtesy: Photo Dene Moore Credit


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fter Haiti’s devastating earthquake hit in January 2010, Daniele Hamamdjian touched down in the impoverished nation as part of the first international reporting team to tell the story. That story would change her life. An Ottawa-based parliamentary correspondent for CTV News at the time, Hamamdjian soon found herself walking along roads littered with tarp-covered bodies of men, women and children. Initially, her bosses at CTV were uneasy about sending a reporter so young to an unstable part of the world—but something told them

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BEHIND THE CAMERA Daniele Hamamdjian working in Myanmar in 2017

to pretend like this is not happening,” she says. “It’s our job to bring these issues and shed light on them and put them on the news.”

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“I accepted, before that ever happened, that life can be short—and at the end of the day, you have no control over that” —Dene Moore it was the right decision. “If you’re not going to be moved by that, then you’re not human,” Hamamdjian says of the scenes she encountered in Haiti. “We do this job because we want to tell the story and if you’re going to stop—if you are not going to be able to tell it because you are overcome by emotion—then that’s a problem.”

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eing overcome by emotion is a stereotype pinned on women as soon as they enter the workforce. Because of this stereotype, it is assumed they are at a disadvantage in reporting challenging stories, but for former Canadian Press war correspondent Dene Moore, gender was key to unlocking previously inaccessible stories. During her work in Afghanistan, Moore says she was regularly able to talk to women concealed behind burqas. Due to cultural restrictions under Taliban rule, male reporters are often not allowed in the same room as a woman without a family liaison present. That disconnect hinders what a woman can share with a reporter. Moore says she was welcomed into the homes of many women whose stories

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had previously been untold. Once they were out of sight, Moore recalls, these women would rip off their burqas and begin to confess their secret aspirations to build businesses and independently support their families. Because of this, Moore fell in love with Kandahar. “[These women are] possibly the most oppressed people in the world,” says Moore, who retired from Canadian Press in 2017 and now lives in 100 Mile House, B.C. “To have that kind of strength, despite being raised with people telling you can only be this, you can only do that and placing all these limits on you. But to them, they had no limits. They were just incredible.” After weeks immersed in troubled countries, Moore and Hamamdjian both find it hard to readjust to their normal routines and struggle to understand how the two worlds can coexist. Hamamdjian, for one—returning home most recently from Myanmar to London, while working for CTV—says she cannot believe that the wealthy neighbourhoods of London can exist just a continent away. “I don’t get it, but it’s very easy for people

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hile women may not be at a disadvantage covering challenging stories in dangerous parts of the world, that isn’t to say foreign assignments don’t take their toll. Continued exposure to emotionally charged settings place mental stress on any human being, says Vancouver psychologist Nicole Aube—although many reporters don’t realize they may be having a stress reaction from their work. Aube believes this is because many journalists live a fastpaced lifestyle and don’t have the time to reflect on what they have just experienced. “It’s sort of taboo in this field to discuss what is happening,” says Aube. “They feel they are not supposed to experience that, and they are so busy and they move so fast that they don’t feel it.” Women are especially prone to this way of thinking, given hierarchies in newsrooms and other workplaces that have historically favoured men. Aube says that there are two different kinds of reactions journalists have from working in high-stress situations: stress reaction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She says that between leaving these conflict zones and being back in their homes, it is crucial for reporters to process what they have experienced and ensure proper mental health regeneration. If left unattended, a stress reaction can quickly escalate and develop into symptoms of PTSD once back in their regular routine. However, Aube says stress reaction is a positive thing. “If you don’t have a vehicle to let [emotions] go and express it, they may be quite encapsulated and create some kind of reverberation or shaking,” says Aube. “And emotionally, that could create some kind of disorder [like PTSD].” For Moore, there was no shortage of stress-inducing situations while stationed abroad, especially her first trip to Kandahar in 2009. While covering the deployment of the Royal 22e Régiment with two other journalists, their light-armoured vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device returning from Gundy Ghar. Although she and the other journalists were unharmed, two soldiers were injured by shrapnel in the explosion. “I accepted, before that ever happened, that life can be short—and at the end of the day, you have no control over that,” says Moore. “Being in a war zone is certainly a heightened risk. But it’s also heightened reward.” n Photo courtesy: Daniele Hamamdjian


LOSS OF

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hroughout his life, Vancouver Sun religion reporter Douglas Todd has faced hardships, which led him to a life dedicated to the exploration of faith through journalism. Though his beliefs have helped him find meaning, it has not stopped him from reporting critically. Todd grew up an atheist, but once he met people with other beliefs and visited Salisbury Cathedral in England, he realized religion may not be as “kooky” as he’d been led to believe. Todd largely credits his interest in re-

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ligious life to a desire to understand pain and misfortune. “I’ve always been a bit of a meaning-junky,” he says. “My dad was schizophrenic and he had a terrible life, so I think I was trying to make sense of suffering.” The first time Todd met his father was on a Sunday afternoon, at the age of four, when he visited him in the Crease Clinic at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam. These visits soon became a weekend routine. Back in the 1950s, being mentally ill was seen as criminal, so rather than getting psychological treatment, Todd’s father spent much of his life behind bars.

Is media coverage helping or hindering religion’s appeal?

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His father passed away in 1999, but Todd’s need to understand the reason behind his father’s battle endured. “I still am involved in the search for meaning, and I find some religious leaders can still surprise me with new ways of seeing the world and seeing reality,” says Todd. “I really appreciate that.” Today, Todd is an award-winning reporter who uses his curiosity to explore belief systems for the benefit of the public. While Todd searches for meaning through his writing, not all journalists reporting on religion have had such a positive—or even benign—impact on religion.

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BALANCING BELIEFS Religion reporter Douglas Todd photographed at Vancouver’s St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church

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Photos: Violetta Photo Credit Kryak


“The priesthood, especially the celibate priesthood, is under increasing suspicion by the public for a lot of reasons, and the relatively rare cases of sex abuse by priests certainly didn’t help” —Douglas Todd Father David Poirier is a Franciscan priest currently teaching at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Richmond—the last Franciscan Friar of Atonement in B.C. Poirier believes negative media coverage—especially of scandals within the priesthood—has played a role in the decline of young people pursuing religious professions. “There’s been some scandals and those have certainly had an impact on the number of people entering,” Poirier says. “I don’t think it’s had any impact on the attrition, but certainly on the number of people coming forward to join religious life and priesthood has gone down.” Todd, who has reported on a number of these scandals, believes that they are only partially to blame for the public’s negative perception of the Catholic priesthood. “The priesthood, especially the celibate priesthood, is under increasing suspicion by the public for a lot of reasons, and the relatively rare cases of sex abuse by priests certainly didn’t help,” says Todd. But he also lays the blame on a “culture in general that has become more secular and more suspicious.”

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herever the blame lies for the decreasing numbers in organized religion’s ranks, the trend line is hard to deny. Poirier’s Franciscan Friars of Atonement, for instance, started with over 200 priests worldwide in 1898. Today, there are 65 left—and that number is still in decline. “For some reason, Catholics are expected to be perfect, and as soon as one isn’t perfect then it’s blown all out of proportion. That certainly has had a big impact on the number of people entering the priesthood,” Poirier LJR.ca

says. “Priests are the only people in the United States who are not innocent until proven guilty—they’re guilty even when they prove themselves innocent. That’s the way it works in people’s minds, and that’s the way media seems to feed it.” While Todd believes the news media play a part in the existential debates over religion and its role in North American society, he points to other places in the world where religion is treated more gently by the media— and where “the church” still has significant sway and influence. “The Catholic Church is way more popular in places like the Philippines, where the media is not very critical,” says Todd. “If there was a completely uncritical media in North America, it’s conceivable that more people would be going to church. But is that what we want? An uncritical media? I don’t.” Todd argues that religious leaders who only want positive coverage—who get defensive about tough questions facing their organizations—are doing a disservice not only to their followers but to society as a whole. “Do we not criticize Catholicism? Do we not criticize Judaism? Do we not criticize Sikhs when they’re being aggressive? Do we not criticize atheists when they’re being aggressive?” asks Todd. As for Father David Poirier, because no new friars are completing their training with the Franciscan Friars of Atonement, he has been told that a different social ministry will soon replace him; by the summer of 2018, he was expected to transition out of the community and, indeed, the province. Poirier still does not know where he will live or who will replace him. n

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out

Priced of

Vancouver

When younger reporters can’t afford to live in the city, what impact does that have on the local news? BY SAŠA LAKIĆ

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o make it as a journalist these days is a struggle, no matter where you’re based or what you’re reporting on. The media industry is in turmoil, and good jobs are increasingly hard to hold on to. But for reporters living in Canada’s most expensive city, survival has become an even more precarious proposition—especially for those, like Nick Eagland, early in their careers. Eagland is a Postmedia reporter writ-

ing for both The Province and Vancouver Sun. In April 2017, as a relative newcomer to the troubled organization, he was a natural target for being laid off when Postmedia announced plans to shed 52 staff at its Vancouver operations. “I got laid off, I think, April 28. It was the worst day of my life,” Eagland recounts. Thanks to some tough union actions, however, and a 10 per cent pay cut for all reporters at the newsroom, his job was ultimately saved. While the 34-year-old believes journalism in Vancouver is “thriving,” and is thankful for the second lease on life, he also no longer has any illusions about job security. “I did start drafting resumes and I started emailing people at other news organizations just to see what was out there, but there was 50 of us doing the same thing. I was really worried about it,” Eagland says. “That was a rude awakening.” For Eagland, the brush with unemployment came at a particularly challenging time.

LUCKY BREAK Nick Eagland is one of the rare journalists to own property in Metro Vancouver so early in his career

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“I did start drafting resumes and I started emailing people at other news organizations just to see what was out there, but there was 50 of us doing the same thing” —Nick Eagland He and his wife had just gotten married, and had used their savings and proceeds from the wedding to buy a condo. Yet even with the Postmedia job, says Eagland, it was impossible to stay within city boundaries. “We started looking for places in Vancouver, and on our salaries—she’s a teacher, me a journalist who just took a 10-per-cent pay cut—there was no way we could buy in Vancouver,” Eagland says. “We got a two-bedroom condo in New Westminster; had we gotten the same thing in Vancouver, it would have been twice the price.” Enda Brophy, associate professor with the school of communication at Simon Fraser University, says that while he has not seen research specifically on the subject, he speculates that Vancouver’s affordability crisis has had a “tremendously negative” effect on young reporters, just as it has on the rest of their demographic cohort. “Junior reporters in the city are really caught in a double crisis,” notes Brophy. “The housing one, and that of precarious employment, which is an effect of broader political-economic dynamics and the specific crisis of the media sector in Canada.” Brophy points to some of the same factors that have led to job losses across the wider economy over the last four decades: outsourcing and a shift away from what Brophy calls the secure, full-time model of employment, which means smaller staff and budgets. For news media, print especially, there has also been a shift in consumption habits to digital, which has led to shrinking budgets. Brophy’s one “bright spot,” amidst all this cost-cutting, is increased unionization at Photo: Daniel Dadi-Cantarino


online-first news organizations. He cites the example of Vice, whose Canadian division unionized in 2017; in the past two years, unions have also sprung up at Al Jazeera America and at The Intercept. “[Unions] are one of the most effective courses of action for ensuring that journalists and media workers in general are able to secure the kind of salaries, job security and control over their working conditions in order to be able to deal with the housing crisis in major urban centres.”

MOVING CHANCE Jessica Barrett relocated to Calgary due to an “avalance of work” and lack of affordable housing

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or those who doubt the impact of Vancouver’s out-of-control housing market on young working journalists, one needs only to examine the numbers. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver estimates that those who want to buy a single-family house in Vancouver will have to pay at least $1.6 million, while a one-bedroom condo starts on average at $650,000. For those who can only afford to rent, the situation is hardly any better. While the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation puts average rents for one-bedroom apartments at $1,200 a month in Vancouver, this number represents rental-only buildings; in its most recent report, rental site Padmapper puts the actual average rent for a one-bedroom in the city at over $2,000 a month, or $24,000 a year. By contrast, a first-year reporter at Postmedia in Vancouver makes $1,038 a week, which translates to roughly $54,000 a year; at the CBC, the starting salary for a reporter is just under $55,000 a year. For any young journalist trying to make a go of it, that means more than half of your net income goes to paying rent or mortgage—never mind all the other expenses that make Vancouver such an expensive city in which to live. The precarious financial picture, combined with limited job prospects, has driven some young journalists to leave the west coast entirely. After graduating from journalism at Langara, Vancouver native Manisha Krishnan reported for the North Shore News before applying for an internship at the Edmonton Journal. From there, she jumped onto a year-long internship with Maclean’s and worked for the Toronto Star before joining Vice Canada in 2015, where she is now a senior writer. “It seemed like a really small market that was hard to break into,” Krishnan recalls Photo courtesy: Jessica Barrett

about her experience in Vancouver. “Before I came to Toronto, I did an internship at the Edmonton Journal because I couldn’t actually get into any of the Vancouver papers.” She adds that, though the housing situation in Toronto is not much better, she would never think of moving back to the west coast. Jessica Barrett is similarly happy to have left town. She had one of the city’s top journalism jobs, as senior editor of Vancouver magazine, when she decided to leave in the fall of 2017. She says it was a combination of an “avalanche of work” at her staff job, combined with the stress of finding an affordable place to live, that precipitated the move to Calgary. “Professionally, there’s a real sense in Calgary that if you are talented and hard working, there is work for you,” Barrett says. “It’s almost blown my mind. I haven’t had to pitch a single thing since I have been here. People have been approaching me, which is awesome because I have never experienced anything like that.” Besides working part-

time for CBC Calgary, she also freelances for Avenue magazine and contributes to The Tyee. Barrett now rents a two-bedroom house in Calgary for roughly $1,600 a month after utilities, and is looking forward to spending time in her backyard “if the snow ever goes away.” Beside the milder west coast winters, Barrett says she misses being engaged in Vancouver’s many civic issues—and misses the social connections she built up over the years. “The social aspect of it has been really difficult, but there’s been things that offset it.” Reflecting on the state of journalism in Vancouver, Barrett says she worries about what could happen as veteran reporters retire and young journalists flee the city for more affordable communities. “When you have a revolving door of young, cheap or free labour,” Barrett says, speaking of the media industry’s growing reliance on interns, “you dont develop a pool of talent that will develop the kind of expertise and familiarity with a community that takes years to obtain.” n

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TH E SCOOP

What to Share “Unloading” with family is common practice for many journalists. But for some, it causes more harm than good W O R D S A N D P H O T O S B Y V I O L E T TA K RYA K

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or many people with stressful jobs, one thing to look forward to is being able to unload at the end of the day with a partner or family member. For many journalists covering wars, criminal cases and other traumatic events, sharing such experiences with loved ones is often not an option. Logan Abassi spent 11 years in Haiti as a photojournalist for the United Nations. He is now in the process of separating from his wife, in part because of how hard it was to share the horrors to which he had been exposed. “One of the problems was our lack of ability to communicate, because of her lack of ability to have any sympathy for the effects of the trauma,” Abassi says. “No wife or husband will ever understand until they’ve been through it.” Abassi had seen a lot, and photographed many horrors he witnessed. People dying in front of him from a gunshot wound to their chest. Or the remains of people killed in a gunfight, half-eaten by pigs. Or his friends, pulled out of the rubble of collapsed UN buildings in Haiti. “I have no regrets of anything that I shot; I have regrets of not realizing what I was doing to myself while I was shooting it,” says Abassi, who subsequently spent a month in therapy “to get his head straight.” He says the only people who he talked to were his coworkers and fellow journalists who had experienced the same things. It became frustrating for him to tell people who simply didn’t understand what he’d been through. “A lot of people, because of their inability

to really grasp the degree of what was going on, would say things like, ‘Oh just get over it, just forget about it,’” Abassi says. “So you stop telling them and you degenerate and they don’t know why. But you can’t tell them anymore, now that you’ve shut down.”

Reporters working on investigative stories often don’t tell their family the details of their work for a different reason: they are protecting the identity of their sources. Eric Rankin has been an investigative reporter with CBC for the past seven years and says he doesn’t discuss in-depth details about stories because he doesn’t want to violate the trust and the privacy of individuals who’ve

80-100% of journalists have been exposed

to a work-related traumatic event

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14% of examined war correspondents suffer from substance abuse

come forward with information. “[My family] usually gets the Reader’s Digest condensed version of what is going on and I don’t give them any kind of critical or confidential information,” Rankin says. “Oftentimes I’ll take their advice on stories that I’m working on.” It’s the nature of most family members to worry about loved ones. But Rankin says that shutting off completely can cause a problem. “That can be a point of contention and concern when family members don’t know what you are doing and don’t understand why you are working these late hours,” Rankin says. He was a war correspondent earlier in his career and travelled to many hot spots, investigating the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and reporting on the siege in Sarajevo. “I would deliberately not tell family members or loved ones about the situation I might find myself in, because I would just needlessly worry them,” he says. “If I was shot at on Sniper’s Alley in Sarajevo, or being shelled in northern Bosnia, or being sent into a bomb shelter in Baghdad during the allied bombing, I wouldn’t be providing them with those details.” While Rankin is generally not exposed to such dangers any more, he says the journalist life still takes its toll—on the reporter and family. “The people in my life generally know it’s a demanding job and it takes up a lot of hours,” he says. “They kind of tolerate the late-night phone calls or the texts or the emails you have to send off.” n

59% of photojournalists in Mexico suffer from PTSD SOURCE: Dart Centre Europe


HIDDEN IN SIGHT This page: Eric Rankin at the CBC Vancouver office. Opposite: Logan Abassi working with his son, who he tries to shield from what he faces at work

LJR.ca

Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2018

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THE S COOP

Our Man in Rome The Globe and Mail’s European columnist Eric Reguly on escaping riots, human trafficking and the future for young journalists BY DUNCAN ANDERSON

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or the past 10 years, Globe and Mail European columnist Eric Reguly has had a front row seat to some of the most significant stories of modern times. He has covered the Arab Spring in Tunisia, the Athens riots and the Euro Zone crisis, to name a few. His father was an award-winning war correspondent during the 1950s and ’60s, and helped carve a journalistic path for his son. Born in Vancouver, Reguly launched his career at Alberta Report magazine, and has also reported for the Financial Post and the now-defunct Financial Times.

“Who are you?” I said, “I’m a Canadian journalist” and he said, “You should be careful because this place is going to explode in a few minutes.” He gave me a good luck charm: a piece of silver with a cross and an anchor. I absentmindedly put it in my pocket. I basically forgot about it because things were happening all around me.

So the good luck charm worked? It’s a funny story. About two years later, I was in a restaurant in a posh part of town in London, England. My waiter happened to be Greek, and saw the symbol on my watch, and said, “Oh my god, where did you get that?” He said it was the symbol of one of the local mafia gangs in Athens. So the guy who gave it to me was obviously one of the local mafiosi. And he might have been one of the instigators.

What are some situations where you found yourself in danger as a journalist? In February 2012, I was covering the riots in Athens. There were mass protests and general strikes all the time. In one riot in Syntagma Square, there were tens of thousands of people. Cops were everywhere, dressed like gladiators with guns, stun grenades and tear gas. This was the night when all hell broke loose, and 40 buildings burned around me. It was like a Napalm strike. The city was on fire. Your father, Robert Reguly, was a correspondent for the Toronto Star and Toronto Telegram. What’s the best advice he gave you? He told me, “When you are in a situation you think can turn into a riot, remember it can go from peaceful to violent very quickly. Always pick your escape route.” What escape route did you choose during the Athens riots? A Greek guy who was watching me asked,

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just keep on moving. You’re going in this big square, it’s funneling into quite narrow side streets, the tear gas is going and the anarchists are fighting back with big steel poles smashing the marble fronts of hotels to get pieces to throw back. I went up to the balcony of my hotel room and watched the street battles. I was tweeting until my batteries went dead. It was thrilling. After I filed my story, I went to a bar with a bunch of other journalists and we were just laughing. It was so much fun.

Later, I super-glued it to my watch and it hasn’t left me ever since. After this, anarchists literally started picking up rocks and oranges off the trees and throwing them at the cops. The cops were sitting there like robots, just staring. All of a sudden they had enough of being taunted and the place was full of tear gas. They started launching stun grenades and one exploded pretty close to me. I lost some hearing in my ear. People were getting trampled. I don’t think anyone died, maybe one person, but you have to

Spring 2018 | Langara Journalism Review

You’re one of the only Canadian journalists to have interviewed and taken photos of a human trafficker in Tunisia. How did you find him? Through contacts. Friends of friends. This was really scary and it could have gone wrong. My fixer and I flew from Tunis to the island of Djerba. We stupidly, and I can’t believe I did this, landed at night in Djerba and rented a car to cross the bridge into the mainland into Southern Tunisia, which is lawless. There are gun runners, traffickers, refugees, migrants, corrupt police. At that time there were terrorist attacks in Libya. So we’re driving along at night, and every few kilometers, there is a checkpoint. But you Photos courtesy: Eric Reguly


MAN OF THE WORLD Left: Eric Reguly in between interviews in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia. Right: preparing for the cameras in Ramallah

“This was the night when all hell broke loose, and 40 buildings burned around me. It was like a Napalm strike. The city was on fire” don’t know if the soldiers and police at the checkpoints are real, or kidnappers. We go into this checkpoint at 10 or 11 at night, driving across the desert, and a guy sticks a gun in my face and says, “Who the fuck are you?” And I thought, OK, this will end badly. Either I’m going to lose all my money and they’re going to take and sell our passports, or they will kidnap us, maybe attack my fixer, or rape her. I just didn’t imagine any good situation at all. We went through three or four checkpoints and it was pretty aggressive, but they were real soldiers and real police. Not one of them ended up asking for bribes. But that was luck. It could have been very ugly. What advice do you have for journalists looking to get into foreign correspondence? If you are young, take a big risk. Find a spot that is about to become a hotspot and just freelance the hell out of it. Print, TV, radio, social media, photography. Every platform you can imagine for as many people as posLJR.ca

sible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a war, but there is a always a region in the world where there is just tumultuous change. Where would that be now? I think Cuba is going to get interesting [with Raul Castro’s resignation]. What’s going to happen now? Will it turn into the 51st state? Revolution? I don’t know. It’ll be interesting. The question is timing. Right? Burma would be interesting if you could get in there. South Africa is briefly interesting again, but it’s not going to last. Saudi Arabia, you’ve got Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince. He’s 32 years old and he’s fighting a war in Yemen, which is not going in his favour. It’s a disaster. But he’s triggering the economic and social revolution there. He’s allowing women to drive: he is, for the first time, opening up movie theatres. He’s got to get off the oil economy. He’s got to develop an entrepreneurial class. There’s huge appetite for that anywhere in Europe or North America. n

To listen to the full interview with Eric Reguly, visit us online

LJR.ca

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THE S COOP

Coping with Closure When newsrooms close, reporters and editors are left looking for what’s next B Y R I C A TA L AY

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he day the “suits” walked into the 24 Hours newsroom in Vancouver, Michael Mui knew he was getting laid off. “I remember watching them walk through the door,” Mui recalls. “I knew right away it was the day, because when’s the last time you have three people walk into a newsroom like they own the place?” In September 2016, Mui was one of the last reporters working for the commuter paper when Postmedia decided to close the Vancouver office—one of the first steps in shutting down the national paper entirely. The experience is not unfamiliar to those working in journalism, as increasing numbers of small community papers, niche publications and big-city dailies have closed in recent years. But for journalists who have worked years to get a staff position, it’s a devastating loss—leaving them emotional and weary about the future of journalism. After taking his severance pay, Mui went back to school, at BCIT, to study public relations and worked in marketing at a law firm in Richmond. When he initially spoke to LJR, Mui had no intention of returning to journalism— saying it would be “the dumbest mistake I am never going to make.” “My heart wants to, but my logic, my financial brain, my brain that tries to assess what I’m going to do for the rest of my life is saying no, no and no,” he said at the time. About a month later, Mui landed a job at the rapidly expanding Star Metro Vancouver newspaper. While Mui says he’s happy to be back working with familiar colleagues (including Star Metro bureau chief Erica Bulman, who was his editor at 24 Hours), Mui also realizes where the future is heading.

“I know I can go into PR anytime I want… So if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.” Alyssa Noel, former editor of the Whistler Question, says she was “lucky” in terms of how she lost her job. She was kept in the loop about the closure by management and had two months’ notice before the community paper closed in January 2018. “It feels terrible to be the last editor of the newspaper,” Noel says. “You go back and think, ‘Oh God, could I have done more?’ Could I have written differently? Should I have more foresight or tried different things? It doesn’t feel good.”

tainment editor at the Pique, she says she still got emotional on the last production day for the Question, when co-workers and a few past contributors gave a toast to the paper. “Every Monday… I put the last page in for production, to look at and tweak and send to press,” Noel recalls. “Our designer’s name is Lou, and I always shout to her ‘OK Lou, it’s done.’ And when I yelled for the last time across the [Question] newsroom to her, I just burst into tears.” Tessa Vikander is another journalist who considers herself “one of the lucky ones” after being laid off at her part-time staff position at the Westender in December 2017. Two weeks after Glacier closed the community newspaper, Vikander too took a reporting position at Star Metro. The job came about thanks to a call from her former instructor at Langara College, Frances Bula, who knew there was a job opening at Star Metro—and knew Vikander was looking for work. At the time, Vikander had been offered a position at Vancouver is Awesome, also owned by Glacier, so she was hesitant to accept the new position. But on Christmas Eve 2017, she signed the contract for Metro. It also helped that her tweet about the Westender closing was featured in a CBC article about the paper closing. “I was kind of thrust into the spotlight,” Vikander says. “Everyone knew Tessa Vikander was going to be changing jobs.” Throughout this experience, Vikander says she’s learned that there are always opportunities, no matter what challenges the industry faces. “You know, it’s a difficult career,” Vikander says. “My commitment to journalism is I’ll continue to do journalism as long as it’s giving back to me.” n

“It feels terrible to be the last editor of the newspaper. You go back and think, Oh God, could I have done more?”

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—Alyssa Noel According to Noel, the Question was closed because, financially, it didn’t make sense for Glacier Media to have competing papers in a town of only 12,000 people. “To have two papers in a community our size is pretty much unheard of these days.” Ultimately, everyone in the Question newsroom got a position at the Pique, the alternative Whistler paper. Since the Pique is also owned by Glacier, they shared the same advertising employees, so no one lost their job. But Noel had to make 16 calls, to each of their columnists, sharing the unpleasant news they were losing their gigs. “It was brutal.” While Noel understands Glacier’s decision to close the Question and is excited about her new position as arts and enter-

Spring 2018 | Langara Journalism Review

LJR.ca


NEW BEGINNINGS When reporter Michael Mui was laid off from 24 Hours, he (briefly) entered a new world of public relations

Photo: Evan Hagedorn LJR.ca

Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2018

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Fair Comment? Providing feedback has never been easier for the general public. And that’s not always a good thing. BY DUNCAN ANDERSON AND SAŠA LAKIĆ

Public feedback is an essential part of journalism. Reporters may not answer the majority of unsolicited commentary they receive from readers and viewers, but they definitely take notice of it. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have sped up that relationship like little else in history—and every now and then it can lead to a good and important story. The immediacy that social media offers has also turbo-charged haters and trolls. We asked six Vancouver reporters about their experiences with the general public. This is what they said:

Stephanie Ip @stephanie_ip Digital Reporter, Vancouver Sun and The Province You just kinda have to figure out how to determine that in your own experience and how much you want to engage. And if you do want to engage, you need to have really thick skin. That kind of gets ratcheted up a whole notch if you are a reporter of colour. When you’re a [person of colour], they also come after you with race-related things as well, which is a little bit frustrating. But at the same time, that’s kind of the reality that we work in. I let it get to me when I was younger. You realize very quickly when you start working there’s not a whole lot you can do with it… this is the way the world is. The best that I can do is control how I respond to it and how I can channel that into a healthy

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discussion, even if it means not responding directly to that person. But I hit a wall recently where I just stopped caring. If I ignore it and push it under the rug, people aren’t made aware. And when they hear about it, they’re so surprised… shocked. For a lot of people, this is the reality, so I think I am at this point where I decided that, nope, it’s my duty to point it out when it happens and for people to see this is happening and see that this is something we need to be vigilant about, to watch out for.

or even a letter. You would get so many releases through the mail, but you might not necessarily respond to them. While now, online, people almost expect an immediate response to whatever information they have and what you’re going to do with it.

Amy Judd @amyjudd Online Assignment Desk and Online Producer, Global BC

Ted Field @tedfieldglobal Assignment Editor and Producer, Global BC Back in the day, you’d be able to get someone immediately on the phone to get the information and thank them very much,

Spring 2018 | Langara Journalism Review

If it’s nasty and it’s not helpful, generally, I don’t even acknowledge that they’ve sent it and in some cases we just pull them off; they’re just trolls. Being on TV, it’s always about my appearance. I once forgot to pat my hair down and somebody tweeted a screenshot of the TV and said, “The least you could do was brush you hair.” And I just thought, “You would never send that to a man. You just wouldn’t.” Photos courtesy: Twitter


At the beginning, it’s really hard not to, but you cannot pay attention to it. You just have to keep doing the good work that you’re doing, and keep pushing forward and putting out good stories.

Nathan Caddell

going on behind the scenes. I remember in the summer [of 2017], the day of the confidence vote that saw the Liberals fall, there was a young girl who sat on the front lawn. After we went over and introduced ourselves, it turned out she was just fascinated by politics and the media. So, I suggested I take her family on a tour of the B.C. legislature the next day. She, her brother and her mom were ecstatic. Got them into the cabinet room, the Premier’s office, and they were just blown away. They sent me a very long letter about two weeks later about what a fantastic time they had and that it was a life-changing experience for them. In terms of impact, that is a positive bit of feedback. The negative stuff, I just let it fly.

Keith Baldrey @keithbaldrey Provincial Affairs Reporter, Global BC The positive impact I get is when I go the extra distance and show someone what’s LJR.ca

ONLINE EXCLUSIVES SYDNEYS WEB AD

The Ethics of Travel Journalism

@ncaddell Writer, BCBusiness, The Georgia Straight I find that people who use Twitter are more inclined to go after you. It won’t be the same for Facebook at all. There will be more mentioning of you and bringing you into the conversation on Twitter, whereas on Facebook, they will say what they wanna say without actually @-ing you. Having people have to log onto Facebook is huge—that should definitely happen. There should definitely be no anonymous commentators. I think keeping it there, I’d agree with that for now. I don’t think it’s gotten too out of hand. There is some good discussion that happens.

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by Violetta Kryak

Rob Smith: Reporting with an Indigenous Lense

Sarah Berman @sarahberms Senior Editor, Vice Canada

by Cass Lucke & Rica Talay

I do want to shout out that there is lot of thoughtful and interesting people out there who only want you to have more facts, more information—a lot of the times. Then there’s obviously the less helpful side of things. I try to actually kill it with kindness in those cases. I don’t do a lot of reporting to Twitter. That’s something that a lot of my colleagues have started doing as practice: getting people reported and kicked off. You can get both sides from readers. But it can get threatening and into a very dark place very fast, and although I haven’t gotten there myself, a lot of the time I know through colleagues that it can be intense and involve police even. Sometimes we do have younger writers and maybe they want to write about something like sex or gender—those are topics that trolls tend to cling to. n

The Comeback Kids: Sportsnet 650 by Jason Gilder & Violetta Kryak

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Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2018

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The New Recruits Despite all its challenges, journalism continues to attract many new people each year—including some from more lucrative professions BY CASS LUCKE AND JASON GILDER

There are still eager newcomers who join journalism each year despite the often grim prospects facing the news industry. The Langara Journalism Review spoke with four of them—a former automotive engineer, an ex-temp, a former Vancouver School Board member and a management consultant—to explore the profession and their reasons for joining it.

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ollowing an eight-year stint with the Vancouver School Board, Patti Bacchus returned to the industry she originally went to school for. The former school trustee worked for the VSB from 2008-16, before being fired by the B.C. education minister, along with the rest of the board, in October 2016. Two years later, Bacchus is the K-12 columnist for The Georgia Straight, producing commentary on current events that relate to education and the school board. “It allows me to stay engaged in the issues and talk to people that I didn’t always get a chance to talk to,” Bacchus says. “It helps me and I like it.” Before entering politics, she was involved in communications for multiple companies and was a reporter for the short-lived Richmond Times in the late 1980s. Bacchus studied journalism at Langara College, and says the education has been beneficial—both in and outside the industry. “Having training in journalism is a really valuable experience for a lot of things,” Bacchus says. “The ability to look at a complex situation and ask the right questions and distill it down and be articulate.” Bacchus represented Vision Vancouver when she was a school trustee, and admits

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“If I’d stayed in [consulting] I would have probably owned my own house, I would’ve had kids—but when I balance those things, I still don’t think I would have changed it” —Masa Takei there were times she did not agree with some of the party’s decisions. Now, as a commentator, she says she doesn’t need to put on a filter when expressing her opinions. “Sometimes I had mixed feelings about things we were doing, but you had to present a certain front,” Bacchus says. “This way I can truly be an independent. As an independent, I’m not speaking for anyone but myself, which is lovely.”

Growing up in India, Yogesh was fascinated by the structure and mechanics of vehicles. Having started driving while sitting on his father’s lap at the age of eight, it was no surprise to his family when Yogesh began to pursue automotive engineering. What surprised him, though, was the love he found for writing while working as a freelancer, during his undergraduate, for Formula 1, an online motor sport magazine. Yogesh describes his Indian family as quite traditional. So when he decided to take a 50per-cent cut to his salary and pursue a career in another country, he says they were shocked. “No one in my family was in this industry. And India … when I started journalism, [was] kind of moving slowly into a digital age.” Automotive engineering may have been personally satisfying, but Yogesh says journalism goes beyond that. If he hadn’t rebelled against the traditional expectations of his family, Yogesh says he imagines he would have ended up with an office job, and a wife and kids, leading a normal life with no worries about the future. Still, he doesn’t regret his choices. “I want to make a difference,” Yogesh says.

Excelling in one career does not always mean it’s what you were meant to do. And that is exactly what Bala Yogesh discovered when journalism came into his life.

For some who go into journalism, the desire is for a 9-to-5 job with a stable salary. Others, however, like the freedom to choose the stories they write, when to write them and

Spring 2018 | Langara Journalism Review

Photos of Bacchus/Gawdin: submitted


PATTI BACCHUS columnist, The Georgia Straight

BALA YOGESH reporter, Surrey Now-Leader

MASA TAKEI freelance writer

“I had no idea what I was signing up for. I thought an editor would give me a story and I would go and write something pretty about it. Once I got into journalism school and learned about what it really was, I was hooked” —Sarah Gawdin how to write them. Masa Takei has always been the independent type. After studying geography at UBC, Takei worked as a tree-planter; wandered and rockclimbed his way through Japan and France; travelled the globe as a consultant; and lived off the grid in Haida Gwaii for twoand-a-half years. While Takei was always in control, he didn’t always know where each decision would take him. “My parents were worried when I took an economic free fall—you know, took a 90-percent pay cut to write, which I can understand,” he says. “But they were still like, ‘You’ll figure it out.’” His original career in management consulting seemed like the perfect fit for Takei. Collecting, making sense of and presenting information satisfied both his love of learning and his natural curiosity. “Management consulting is a license to talk to whoever you want, going wherever you want, and exploring subjects that you’re interested in,” Takei says. “The way consulting was different [from journalism] was that your client would tell you what you’re interested in Photos of Yogesh/Takei: Daniel Dadi-Cantarino

at that particular time.” Journalism didn’t fall into Takei’s lap, but rather crept up to him through a series of small events. He was inspired by peers working as freelance writers, and made connections with people like Charles Montgomery, author of the book Happy City, who offered Takei a position writing alongside eight other freelance writers in an office space in the Downtown Eastside. “If I’d stayed in [consulting] I would have probably owned my own house, I would’ve had kids—I didn’t have kids—but when I balance those things I still don’t think I would have changed it,” Takei says. Though freelance writing may not always be the most sustainable way to make a living, Takei believes if you have to make rent, that’ll get you writing. “I tell my students all the time that the most valuable thing you have is time. We can always make more money—but you’re never going to make time again.” Raising a toddler while in a customer service job was not Sarah Gawdin’s dream. Since the time she was 13 years old, Gaw-

SARAH GAWDIN reporter, The Chilliwack Progress

din knew she was meant to do more and also that she had a passion for writing. But when her mother passed away from breast cancer, Gawdin’s plans for university—and a steady career—were put on hold. “My life kind of went weird. I bounced all over the country,” Gawdin says. “I had a stint of homelessness in Toronto and I ended up in Regina—and I did not like Regina at all.” Gawdin made a promise to herself to apply for the University of Regina’s journalism program. She was working at the time for a local company, where it was her job to listen to every newscast in the evening and write a nutshell blurb about it. That job, she says, helped prepare her for the entrance exams. “I had no idea what I was signing up for,” Gawdin says. “I thought an editor would give me a story and I would go and write something pretty about it. Once I got into journalism school and learned about what it really was, I was hooked. I was like ‘This is just the best thing in the world.’” Now, almost eight years after graduating from journalism school, Gawdin is working in her first full-time journalism job covering the entertainment beat for The Chilliwack Progress. Though her path had multiple unexpected turns along the way, Gawdin says she is thankful for all of the experiences that brought her to where she is today. “I know what it’s like to be someone who has to work from 10 at night until six in the morning, or someone who deals with a cashbased job, or who has to deal with any of those kinds of complications,” Gawdin says. “I’m able to look at it from a different angle than had I never experienced anything besides journalism.” n

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Last Word with Kim Bolan The acclaimed Vancouver Sun crime reporter speaks out on why media should focus more on working together BY SHOJI WHITTIER

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n October 12, 2017, Vancouver Sun crime reporter Kim Bolan was honoured with the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Jack Webster ceremonies, recognizing outstanding achievement in B.C. journalism. During her acceptance speech, the 30year Sun veteran shared her vision of the future of journalism—a future in which newsrooms put aside their differences and cooperate for the good of the story. The LJR spoke with Bolan about why collaboration matters—and her hopes for solidarity among journalists.

other journalists where credit is due, I think it actually bolsters our own reputations. It’s the right thing to do morally, but honestly, I think it helps us all do better in terms of gaining consumers. Do you have any memories where working with competing journalists helped make a story? Yeah. Years ago at the Sun, we did a joint immigration series with the CBC. It was before they had a real online presence; in

During your acceptance speech, you called for unity across the profession. What do you mean? What I mean is that traditionally, news organizations—and journalists specifically—compete with each other. We want to get the scoop, we want to beat the other news organization to the story. But I think because of the dire times that we’re in, we need to be more collaborative. And we also need to recognize good work when it’s done by the competition. So not just collaboration, but also promoting other journalists’ work? Or just acknowledging. Journalists traditionally have been kind of petty. If someone else has a scoop, we shoot it down. I think we need to acknowledge the good work done by others. I also think it’ll help counter the fake news narrative. If we’re more open, more transparent, giving more credit to

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fact, it was totally before they had an online presence. So we kind of worked together to do all the research. We did news stories, and they did radio and TV stories, but we collected the material together. Some of those big collaborations I think can produce some really great work. Have you had any reaction to your

Spring 2018 | Langara Journalism Review

Webster speech in recent months? I would say yes. People tell me, “Yeah, we need to do that.” The problem is we’re also under the gun just with the workloads that we have. Our workloads are bigger because our newsrooms are smaller. It’s very hard to take time to step back to look at the industry and say, “What can I do to maybe change to improve things?” Are there any specific things you’re doing right now to promote solidarity within the industry? I’ve had discussions with journalists. I haven’t been able to take it further because I’ve got a bunch of things happening in my own life right now. So it’s something I hope to spend more time on—but right now I’ve done nothing more than talk to other journalists. What would you suggest other reporters do to foster collaboration with other newsrooms? Well, I think they can maybe suggest it. All I’m doing is throwing out ideas. I’m good at that, but I’m a working journalist with another part-time job, so I’m pretty pressed for time myself. But if you don’t talk and get the ideas flowing, then you’re never going to see anything new come along. We’re still going to compete most of the time. I’m not naive. I get that we’re trying to bring in ad revenue. These [collaborative] journalists, they’re not phoning each other every day and continuing to cooperate and collaborate. But they did for this significant project—and it was a good thing. n Photo: Violetta Kryak


Jeani Read was The Province newspaper’s first full-time rock critic, a lifestyles columnist, and the author of 1986’s Endless Summers and Other Shared Hallucinations. Her husband, Michael Mercer, was an awardwinning playwright and script writer. Their legacy to young writers is Langara Journalism’s Read/Mercer Fellowship.

The spirit of thoughtful, enquiring journalism lives on. ENDOWMENT CREATES JOURNALISM FELLOWSHIPS

201ˎ FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS:

The Jeani Read-Michael Mercer Fellowship for Journalism

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was established to encourage students to continue their

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pursuit of journalistic excellence through mentorship. This endowed fund provides four fellowships annually worth $7,500 each. Successful applicants will receive support for approximately two months while they produce a major work of journalism, such as an in-depth newspaper story, or series of stories suitable for publication in a newspaper, magazine, or on the web, or for broadcast on the radio. Journalism students may apply for this award in their final term. Fellowships will be awarded in the Spring. For more information visit www.langara.ca/journalism.

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Langara Journalism Review Spring 2019 Issue: 22

Langara Journalism Review  

Langara Journalism Review Spring 2019 Issue: 22

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