Langara Journalism Review • Issue 21 • May 2017

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aily Hive Q&A DJohn woodward

Which social media Platform is for you?

A change of pace:

Journalists switching to pr


J o u r na l i s m R e v i e w SPRING 2017 | NO. 21

Keeping Up Appearances

Sophie Lui, Margo Goodhand, Vivian Smith and Sonia Beeksma speak on the struggles of being a woman in the media p.26

The Decline of Beat Reporting

Journalists who specialize in one field are a rarity in today’s newsrooms p.18

Covering Corruption on Campus

The difficulties student journalists face when reporting on student governments p.15

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Student unions have a history of tension between them and their student papers, but the extent to which the problems go isn’t necessarily a well know fact.



Working a beat is a dying form of journalism, and some of the reporters who still practice the art speak about what it’s like.



The term “echo chamber” has been a buzzword in the recent U.S. presidential election, though the political divide between the left and right has only grown wider due to the bubbles we keep ourselves in.



A declining industry has forced many journalists out and into the world of communications. Here is how they’ve adapted to changing times, why they made the switch and how they see journalistm now that they are on the other side of the glass. EXPOSING VA N C O U V E R ’ S REAL E S TAT E M A R K E T


After years of arguably soft reporting on one of B.C.’s most important industries, there are some local reporters who are finally looking at the bigger picture of real estate and affordability in the city. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES


Even today sexism is still prevailent, and those in the journalism industry know first hand about the darker side of being in the public eye.

GETTING READY Sophie Lui, co-anchor for Global B.C. 6 p.m. news Cover by Veronnica MacKillop

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a look into the industry


exclusives with content creators



Journalists are rising to the challenge of cultivating a strong following on social media.


How the advancement in technology changed how a photojournalist works.


How public relations companies adapt to the fast paced journalism of today.



A look into the inner workings of a one person newsrooms.




Laura Kane discusses her coverage of sexual assault on college and university campuses.




A Q&A about Daily Hive’s digital only publication and how it contends in an industry that has been slow to make the change online.



Ian Gill talks about his experiences and how we can save the news.


Non-government organizations are taking media into their own hands by self-publishing magazines. A W O R D F R O M J O N W O O D WA R D


Highlights from his career as an award winning journalist, embarassing moments on-air, role models and his Pickton documentary.

p.8 4

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For extra visuals, content, and past editions, visit Photo by Brian Kurokawa and Chantelle Deacon


Editor’s Note

Langara Journalism Review An annual review of journalism trends and issues in Western Canada produced by journalism students at Langara College 100 West 49th Avenue Vancouver, B.C. V5Y 2Z6

Publisher/Instructor Matt O’Grady Editor-in-Chief Chandler Walter Managing Editor Jenna Tytgat Section Editors Chahira Merarsi Alyd Llewellyn Copy Chief Alyd Llewellyn Copy Editors Chantelle Deacon Simran Gill Assistant Publisher Linda Nguyen Writers Alison Pudsey Ashley Singh Alyd Llewellyn Brian Kurokawa Chahira Merarsi Chandler Walter Chantelle Deacon Jake Wray Jenna Tytgat Nico Hernandez Reuben Dongalen Jr. Simran Gill Veronnica MacKillop

Art Director Roberto Teixeira Assistant Art Brian Kurokawa Nico Hernandez Reuben Dongalen Jr.

Photo Editor Veronnica MacKillop Photographers Ashley Singh Brian Kurokawa Chantelle Deacon Jake Wray Reuben Dongalen Jr. Veronnica MacKillop

Photo LJR.caby Veronnica MacKillop

By Chandler Walter


he magazine you hold in your hands came close to not existing in a physical form at all. As with many other print publications, The Langara Journalism Review endured a serious consideration of transitioning to digital-only. It was at the urging of us students and of our instructor, Matt O’Grady, that the idea was scrapped and we went with good old fashioned paper and ink. (The fact that publishing costs come from Langara College, rather than through advertisement and sales, may also have been a factor.) It was hardly the first time my classmates and I have encountered the impending pull of change within the industry, nor will it be the last. Throughout the two years we’ve spent in Langara’s journalism program, we

have faced the realities of the industry we’re being trained to work in, and of the practical value in our education. This under-

standing is illustrated by our ranks; When we began our courses in the fall of 2015 there were 25 of us, now there are only 16. We are those who remain, and whether it is blind courage or sheer stupidity, we have found some hope in the resil-

ience of others in the industry. When we started this program our instructors told us that journalism is not for those who have a romanticized idea of the career; It is hard work, it is low pay, and it is changing. We have also learned that journalism is essential, something that many readers of this magazine must know, as they, too, have chosen to remain. While many of the features in this magazine point to decline, the people in these stories speak of journalism as something that will, and must, continue on. I am excited about the future of journalism, and I am honoured to be among those who have stuck it out, both in this program and in this industry. We have all had our doubts, but we’re still here; someone has to be.

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Chirping Online How journalists have risen to the challenge of cultivating a strong following on Twitter By Reuben Dongalen Jr.


he days of grabbing newspapers hot off the press are no more. While traditional media outlets might still be the primary news source for a handful of people, one online platform has significantly taken over that aspect in the world of news. Twitter has become a go-to site thanks to its ability to share content instantly. The immediate sharing is a vital factor in all social media platforms; Twitter however, is a perfect fit for journalists. In 140 characters or less, your followers can follow a story from beginning to end in real time. The hashtag feature, made prominent by Twitter, allows individuals and readers to follow certain trends and topics. For example, in British 6

Columbia’s political scene, ‘#BCPoli,” is the hashtag to follow. If Twitter users are hoping to check the issues and updates in a city like Surrey, ‘#SurreyBC’ will do the trick. Reporters and news organizations have found Twitter to be a beneficial tool, especially in a city like Vancouver where the networking world is quite small. “How most journalists see [Twitter] now is kind of an outward tool to get their stories, and information and ideas out to the rest of the world,” said Jason Botchford, a journalist with the Province. Botchford, who has covered the Vancouver Canucks for a number of years, has used his Twitter interactions to gain and create ideas for stories. The various interactions

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VANCOUVER VOICES TO FOLLOW Jason Botchford - @botchford


Vancouver Canucks beat reporter at The Province

Andrea Woo - @andreawoo


Multi-media journalist at The Globe and Mail

Nick Eagland - @nickeagland


Reporter at the Vancouver Sun and The Province

Frances Bula - @fabulavancouver


Veteran reporter specializing in urban issues and city politics

Kim Bolan - @kbolan


Award-winning investigative journalist for the Vancouver Sun

Mike Hager - @mikephager


General assignment reporter with The Globe and Mail

Farhan Mohamed - @farhanmohamed 6,416 Followers Editor-in-chief & partner at the Daily Hive

Travis Lupick - @tlupick


Reporter with The Georgia Straight

Keith Fraser - @keithfraser


Court reporter at the Vancouver Sun Source: Twitter (Mar. 2, 2017)

THE FEED he’s had with fans, bloggers and colleagues have been encapsulated into something he calls “The Provies,” highlighting the best, the funniest, and original tweets about the Canucks and the game. “That kind of became the genesis of […] what I do, daily, or at least two, three times a week every time there’s a game,” he said. “That is something that gets the most clicks, the most reads, gets the most attention, something that’s picked up not just by fans and the typical market, but it’s also something that NHL insiders read.” However, the close connection with readers that Twitter provides can have its negative side. Twitter users can tweet hateful messages as quickly as a journalist can share news.


ick Eagland, a reporter with the Vancouver Sun, has been responded to with negative and “nasty” comments towards his own, personal opinions. “I do occasionally get nasty tweets from people accusing me of liberal bias, or conservative bias. I get it from both ways, so it’s kind of interesting,” he said. “They’re keen to knock down journalists because there’s not a lot of trust in media these days, and so, it comes from both sides equally. Being accused as a right or left wing; I don’t want to put my personal opinion out there to be honest.” He still shares the similar sentiments as Botchford; Twitter is a

useful tool, and Eagland encourages all – both new and veteran journalists in the industry – to adopt the social media platform. “I didn’t realize how it can be used for research and for sharing information […] Twitter’s advanced search options are for locating people who are going through a time of crisis, or who are being affected by some local issues,” he said. “I totally recommend using it for research and for using information, but do it carefully.” For a storify with personalities best tweets, check online a t l j r. c a

Which Social Medium is Right For You? The first thing you do when you wake up is… A) Read people’s thoughts on important issues B) Look at photos your friends have been posting C) Take a silly morning selfie and send it to your closest friends D) Browse through the latest news articles What is your preferred way to socialize online… A) Do you like to express your thoughts quickly and concisely? B) Do you like to comment on photos or videos? C) Do you like to send quick photos that won’t clog up your camera roll? D) Do you like to write and read long posts?

When you are browsing the Internet what catches your attention? A) A link to an article about the provincial government B) A photo of a sunset C) Food D) A behind the scenes news story or how-to video What catches your attention? A) Links B) Visuals C) Videos D) Headlines Do you have time to think about what you post online or you do in the spur of the moment? A) Mostly the spur of the moment B) Take a lot of time to think

something through C) Definitely spur of the moment D) Take some time before posting

If you answered mostly A: Twitter - You enjoy getting news from Twitter because it’s short, to the point and if you want a further analysis, more often than not, there is a link attached.

Do you like to get right to the point or enjoy a longer read? A) Quick and to the point, but can easily follow up B) Not too time consuming C) To the point and quickly onto the next thing D) Read-over-lunch long

If you answered mostly B: Instagram - You are very visual and would prefer to scroll through a feed of photos to see what’s everyone is up to. You like reading shorter straight to the point stories about what is happening!

What website could you spend all day on? A) Huffington Post B) A niche magazine C) TSN D) CBC News

If you answered mostly C: Snapchat - You enjoy taking photos of what you are doing and seeing, and you take advantage of the fact that they disappear in 10 seconds! If you answered mostly D: Facebook - You enjoy making posts on Facebook and relly on your feed to know what is happening around the globe.

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Photojournalism Reporters are having to adapt in a world where everyone has a camera Text and photos by Brian Kurokawa


apid advancements in camera technology in the last two decades have altered and transformed the role of the photojournalist. In 1994, the first digital press camera became available: The Associated Press NC2000, which was developed alongside Kodak. When initially released, the NC2000 had a value of around $17,000. Compared to the size of a modern DSLR, the NC2000 is rather cumbersome, with a large bottom base built into the body of a Nikon meant to hold the hard drive and batteries. With the unwieldy size and a now

outdated 1.6 megapixel sensor, it’s undisputable that digital cameras have advanced considerably. Nick Didlick, a veteran photojournalist of over 40 years, said that the shift to digital photography was something that he embraced immediately. “In ‘94, I picked up my first digital camera, and shot pictures with it. (I) knew I wanted to stay digital, that was after about 26 years of shooting film,” said Didlick. He said that in the beginning of digital photography, the advancements were less about the camera equipment and more

about the methods of delivering photos when on assignment. “In the first six years (of digital), while the cameras changed somewhat, the infrastructure surrounding cameras changed radically, ie: the internet, and delivery possibilities from a digital camera,” he said, explaining that shooting digital allowed him to save considerable time when filing photos while on assignment by not having to wait for his photos to develop, giving him a leg up on other photographers. After the start of the digital movement, cameras became

DIGITALIZED - With the advancements in digital photography in the last two decades, the skill level to enter professional photography has dropped considerably, but with that comes a lack of dedicated training for photojournalists. Because of this, jobs for photojournalism have dropped.


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MIC’S ON - Because of the shift to online for many publications, photojournalists should be competent in taking audio wherever they are, whether it be recording a specific person speaking, or taking in background noise of their surroundings.

more powerful, with developments in sensors bringing higher megapixel photos, more accurate colours and the online boom, which allowed for more convenient ways to file photos. “In just six short years we’d seen a dramatic change in the way we had to work as photographers, with not only the cameras, but also learning a (new) software,” said Didlick. According to him, this rapid growth has not ended, with photojournalists having to learn more skills. “From there it just keeps going, now we’re video capable, we are able to do all sorts of thing right

from inside the camera, 360º VR, 360º panoramic, and all sort of other things, so it’s rapidly changed.”


n increased access to professional photography and the ability to share it instantly is not good for the industry, according to Didlick. “I grew up pushing the button when the moment matters, and today’s people don’t do that, they just go up there and start to shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and sure they might be getting some better pictures once in a while, but they’re not getting a lot better pictures, and that’s being lost

in this technological upswing.” “The skill set that the photojournalist should have is slowly being lost in the amount of image captures that we’re making today. It’s too easy to go to an event and shoot 30,000 images, and look for the five best,” he said, adding that the decisiveness that used to be required has gone away. With the ease of access to photography, dedicated photojournalists are getting harder to come across. “I could teach anyone to be a photographer, it takes a bit longer to teach them to be a good photojournalist.”

THROUGH THE LENS - A working photojournalist is now required to be able to shoot in a variety of mediums. Being able to capture video is now a necessary skill when shooting in the field. Alongside shooting regular video, some photojournalists have now started to experiment with capturing 360° video.

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Between t

The journalism industry’s struggle of differen By Nico Hernandez Photos by Brian Kurokawa


hen a company wants to share what they do, they work with public relations to write press releases, though journalists must be careful not to treat them as free handouts. The media often resorts to using press releases as the basis for a story due to time constraints and a lack of resources. Norman Stowe, managing partner of Pace Communications, 10

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has been in the business for 30 years. Stowe is a former journalist and knows the limits within which journalists work. At Pace, he provides media training and shows companies how to write the perfect press release. “We’re simply the vehicle for getting the story out, and we sort of act as the go between for clients or wherever the story is coming from, and the particular media,” he said. Stowe said that companies are

competing to have their stories told, so interesting topics, headlines and introductions are a must. “I think the biggest thing is not to send the media things that they’re not going to be interested in,” he said. “It’s a waste of their time, it’s a waste of your time, and you end up getting a reputation for wasting time.” Credible sources have to be trained to talk to the media as well. Pace trains their clients two to three



the Lines

ntiating between story and press release NEWSROOM TO BOARDROOM - Norman Stowe left the journalism industry to pursue a career in public relations, where he has been working for 30 years times a month so that spokespeople can understand the constraints that journalists work under. “The one thing that we reinforce with everybody is to never, ever, ever lie to the media,” Stowe said. “Even if you think you can get away with it, don’t do it, because sooner or later, that lie is going to come back and haunt you.” “It becomes a nightmare if you’re not [honest], and then you’re trying

to scramble and pick up the pieces afterwards. Meanwhile, you shot your credibility to hell. The media and the public won’t believe you.” Stowe said sometimes clients try to use a reporters’ deadline against them in the hopes of avoiding certain questions. “I can’t think of anything worse that irks somebody in the media [more than having] to put in a phone call, leave a message and never hear from

people,” he said. “The person getting the voicemail knows that the media wants to ask them hard questions, and they often figure if they avoid the phone call, they can avoid the hard questions and the story will go away.” He said that this is not a proper avenue to go down when dealing with reporters. “It doesn’t work that way because the story and questions don’t go away.” However, no matter how well the Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review


THE FEED relationship between journalists and public relations go, a reporter is always wary to avoid publishing a press release as a story in itself. Cara McKenna, a freelancer who has worked for the Canadian Press, said that journalists should first think about public interest when it comes to writing a story from a press release. “You have to think as a journalist like ‘is that an important fact?’” she said. “Just because it is in the press release doesn’t mean you have to write about it.” “As journalists, when we’re working on something that someone sent us, we have to first think about the motive and what is the public interest, is it promotional,” she said. “A lot of [press releases] you


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need to cipher through information and figure out what the story actually is because that’s not what they’re trying to portray.” What journalist end up

The person getting the voicemail knows that the media wants to ask them hard questions, and they often figure if they avoid the phone call, they can avoid the hard questions and the story will go away -Norman Stowe

writing with a press release might not be what the group that released it hoped for, though it may become a story that would pick up more traction. “When you have something else entirely that you see, like a nugget of information and you want to expand on that instead of what they want you to. It all depends on the circumstances. It’s kind of the things that you learn over the years,” she said. Press releases are not always easy to understand and McKenna explained that it is a journalist’s job to translate for the reader. “You have to be careful not to copy the things that they do, like use jargony kind of words,” McKenna said. “Sometimes in a rush I use their language too, but it’s not good.”


Skipping the Middleman Non government organizations are using their own magazines to tell their stories, while cutting out the newsroom By Ashley Singh and Anna Tilley

SELF-PUBLISHED - Sarah Roth is the CEO and president of the BC Cancer Foundation, an organization that publishes its own magazine. he journalism industry is working with a communications team Partners in Discovery publishes ever evolving. This evolusince 2013 to ensure that the stories three times a year and distributes tion has not only allowed related to their cause are told creatively approximately 20,000 copies. The for advancements in the and compellingly through their own content focuses on cancer research way we circulate information but magazine, Partners in Discovery. and medicine, as well as the personal it has also allowed non-profit or“We started in 2013 and really it’s a stories of those affected by the disease. ganizations to carve out their own vehicle, we’re always for maximizing “We’ve seen direct new donations space for self-published magazines. our communications vehicle, so we from the stories that we’ve featured When it comes to storytelling, NGO want to have a very diversified comin the magazine” Roth said. “Peomagazines have a strong impact on munications stream and the magaple are taking the time to read and interested readers while simultaneous- zine is really the place where we can thinking, ‘Oh, well this is really ly benefitting the organization’s cause. have content rich communication important to me. I’ll make a donaSarah Roth, president and CEO of and really sort of tell in depth stories tion.’ So, for sure that’s useful for us.” the BC Cancer Foundation, has been and in depth interviews,” Roth said. Roth believes there are three

T of Sarah Roth Courtesy

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THE FEED challenges to running media outlets have a magazine; keeping your different objectives. readership interested, “I think the potential keeping the content of the for [NGOs] … to determagazine innovative and mine their message obcreative and ensuring that viously to a much greater there is quality writing. extent,” Bernaerdt said. Roth also said organizaThe objectivity of tions need the finances to NGO magazines may be produce quality material. in question, but Bern“I think you have to aerdt believes there is an have a very meaty topic ongoing conversation that is of interest to a around publications wide audience. I think opting for advertorials TAILS OF THEIR OWNAnimalSense is published by the you also have to have a and sponsored content. budget to invest in some- BC SPCA three times a year. “I still don’t think the thing like this and see this two should mix. There’s supporters about issues concerning as a priority to your organization.” studies out there that support the animals and to encourage them to befact that readers react negatively to come advocates in their communities. oth believes that, if done those kinds of stories when it’s not “When we empower our core supright, magazines by done in a really transparent matter,” porters with information, they become non-profits have a place Bernaerdt said. “So, I think with the in the journalism industry. NGOs for instance, are you getting “Any [non-fiction] story telling the same degree of impartiality?” We focus on stories that about what’s happening [...] science, One of the main reasons for medicine and any story telling about non-profit organizations to start let people know where their philanthropy and the role philanthroup their own publication is to get donor dollars are being py is having, absolutely is journalism. their message out to the crowd, spent, but the principles It’s a wonderful form of journalism.” especially since they are fundof good journalism are Lorie Chortyk, the BC SPCA’s ed, usually, by donations. incorporated [into it] so general manager of community “It’s essential for you to get your relations, feels the same about her message out, versus the media, it’s that it is good storytelling organization’s magazine, AnimalSense. their job. It’s driven by advertising -Lorie Chortyk “We focus on stories that let peoversus being driven by fundraising,” GM of community relations, BC SPCA ple know where their donor dollars Bernaerdt said. “With the NGOs, in are being spent, but the principles of my opinion, the reputable ones are good journalism are incorporated being driven by more altruistic means [into it] so that it is good storytelling,” or goals because sort of that idea of ambassadors for animals and help said Chortyk. “We focus on stories being corporately owned media outspread our message,” said Chortyk. that show how people can make a lets, are they as altruistic as an NGO? With some organizations takdifference for animals - by making That’s a tough argument to make.” ing it upon themselves to produce humane food choices, cruelty-free While it seems as though tradiand publish their own stories, obhousehold products and by speaking tional journalism is simultaneously jectivity comes into question. out on issues that impact animals.” expanding and being restricted Darren Bernaerdt, program coAnimalSense, which launched in by its shift online, it is safe to say ordinator of the Langara Publishing 1999, publishes three times a year and journalism is evolving to acprogram and publisher of the prois distributed to 60,000 of their top commodate its newcomers. gram’s Pacific Rim Magazine, said donors. According to Chortyk, the NGO-run magazines and traditional purpose of the magazine is to educate



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Photo by Singh


Muzzling the Student Media Tumultuous relationships between student governments and student newspapers are a common occurence

TRANSPARANCY - The LSU has stymied Voice reporters before, declining interviews and not releasing information By Chahira Merarsi and Jake Wray Photos by Jake Wray and Veronnica Mackillop


n the eyes of student reporters, student unions are treasure troves of stories, but accessing them has proven to be difficult. Student unions run the risk of losing credibility as a voice for students when there is reluctance to provide information about their activity. For years, Langara Voice reporters have tried tirelessly to write about their student union, the Langara Students’ Union, with little success. Whether writing about student union

events or bylaw changes, the LSU has given little to no answer when Voice reporters question their inner dealings. Former Langara Journalism instructor, Rob Dykstra, knows all about this strenuous relationship from his 30 years of teaching in the program. “As soon as the Voice was distributed, they went around and they emptied out all the boxes and threw the papers away,” Dykstra said in an interview with the Voice for a special

LSU edition of the paper. The LSU is so averse to answering reporters that questions cannot be asked in person, over the phone or by email. In recent years, the LSU developed a media policy that states all media questions must be sent through a form on their website and that reporters must allow up to 24 hours for a response. The LSU also implemented a policy that prevents reporters from taking photographs or video within their Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review


FEATURES student union building. In 2015, Voice reporters requested to see the LSU’s budget and meeting minutes. While Voice reporters investigate the LSU for journalistic purposes, they are also students and therefore part of the LSU’s membership. This means they are entitled to copies of the budget. However, obtaining the budget and meeting minutes proved to be a more difficult task than it should have been. Vincent Matak, a former Langara Journalism student, said the LSU refused to release the budget and that reporters were only allowed to view the meeting minutes after multiple requests. “We weren’t actually allowed to do any sort of reporting with any of the information we were granted access. All we could do is sit down in the LSU office and review it. We weren’t allowed to take any notes, we weren’t allowed to duplicate the information.” In principle, student unions collect fees from all students and in turn, they provide access to services, such as transit passes and health care. By law, student unions must disclose their meeting minutes, the budget and financial statements. Often when people with no leadership training are suddenly put in a place of power and are in charge of large sums of money, the very people who are meant to represent students begin to take advantage of them.


ercedes Deutscher, news editor at Douglas College’s the Other Press, interviewed two Douglas Students’ Union council members last year in the hopes of better acquainting the students with their representatives. At the end of one of the interviews, the council member asked to speak to Deutscher off the record. 16

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“That representative, who was not going to run in the election that year, basically told me that there had been members of the then student union that were corrupt,” Deutscher said. “They were very corrupt, they were not really looking to pass anything. One of the people who was implicated in this was the other person I had interviewed before.” Deutscher then tried to contact that council member again, but when Deutscher refused to send her questions in advance of the interview, the

legal trouble and sexually harassed female council members. “Me and my then editor-in-chief decided we should publish a feature story on this during election week,” Deutscher said. “This obviously was a very frightening notion for people who were running for re-election because this would definitely harm their chances of being re-elected.” After a slough of threatening messages between the accused council members and Deutscher’s editors, the Other Press decided, on production night, to refrain from reporting on the allegations for fear of being sued. We weren’t actually “Basically the feature got squashed allowed to do any sort of because we didn’t have the resources to defend ourselves in a libel case, reporting with any of the which I’m sure we would have won,” information we were granted acess. All we could do Deutscher said. “I was absolutely devastated.” is sit down in the LSU office Deutscher said she felt as though and review it. We weren’t she had disappointed the student body and missed out on an opportunity to allowed to take any notes, create change in her community. we weren’t allowed to du“I felt like a lot people, includplicate any information ing the people I had talked to, were -Vincent Matak relying on me to publish this story,” Former Langara journalism student Deutscher said. “This was a story that was supposed to shake the results of council member asked to be removed the student election. This was a story from all the Other Press articles. that was supposed to bring some [...] Deutscher described an alliance of secrets of the student union out into three students that misused funds. the public where everyone could find “It started out with some debauchout about it.” ery at the Canadian Federation of “I felt like there was a great sense of Students conference where a bunch duty, I was afraid of what would hapof them had not fulfilled their oblipen in the aftermath of the story but I gations and attended the panel but felt like the aftermath would be worth instead chose to stay out late drinking it. I felt like it was the right thing, it ... and spending $1000 on partying,” was justice to publish that story. So Deutscher said. when [my editor] told me that we Deutscher said that their only puncouldn’t publish it that week, the week ishment was being barred from future of the student election, I felt crushed.” CFS conferences. Although the story wasn’t pubAccording to Deutscher, the DSU lished, the council members weren’t council members also threatened to re-elected and the Other Press now has involve an international student in a much better relationship with the

FEATURES DSU. In 2011, scandal hit Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s campus. Their student union, the Kwantlen Student Association, was in shambles amid accusations that the KSA had misappropriated student funds. “In 2005, 2006, there was a group that ran for the Kwantlen Student Association called Reduce All Fees,” said Connor Doyle, the managing editor of KPU’s magazine The Runner. “Soon after their time in office it was claimed that they embezzled up to $2 million of student fees.” According to Doyle, the student association in 2011 tried to take legal action against RAF but dropped the case due to “too high legal fees.” It was later discovered that the two student councils were connected. “It was uncovered by a Runner reporter, Matt DiMera, that the 2011 KSA had ties to the initial RAF group including one of the directors of the [2011] KSA being the sister of one of

the lead defendants in the case which was never disclosed.” Doyle said those were tougher times for their reporters. “This [student union] was also trying to do the stuff like trying to

tried to hold onto the cheque and not deliver it to us.” Doyle said that although the KSA is much more receptive to their inquiries, they could be better. “I imagine you’d be hard pressed to find any student editor that would call their student union sufficiently transI felt like there was a great parent,” Doyle said. “ Every generation sense of duty, I was afraid is different than the previous one, alof what would happen in though what we’ve found in common is that they always seem to tighten up the aftermath of the story and become less transparent the lonbut I felt like the aftermath ger they’re in office. Perhaps they feel would be worth it. I felt like they’ve been burned by certain stories it was the right thing, it was or certain writers.” justice to publish that story There’s a long history of animos-Mercedes Deutscher ity between student unions and the News editor at Other Press newspapers that report on them. It’s important to repair the relationship between student union and student prevent recording devices at council. paper so both organizations can funcIt withheld funding from the Runner,” tion and serve students properly. Doyle said. “The money is levied from To r e a d f u l l c o v erage on the LSU the university, from the students, to check out our the KSA and then handed to us. They link at

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Endange r The Stru g

Journalists who specialize in one field are a rarity in today’s news rooms

By Alison Pudsey and Chantelle Deacon Photos by Brian Kurokawa and Chantelle Deacon


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red! ggle of th e Beat Re porter

WATCHDOGS - Court reporter Keith Fraser is one of the last crime reporters left in B.C.

Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review




eat reporting is becoming Some of the few Vancouver beat writing about than things I do write a thing of the past, as many reporters that are left do not have the about, because so many people are media outlets no longer luxury of only staying in their own constantly approaching me, on both have the funds to support it. beat. For Sherlock, this means worksides for education and books.” Instead of focusing on one area ing shifts just to cover general news. Building relationships with of expertise, modern journalists are “If I work an odd shift, like on the people in your beat makes required to cover all kinds of topics, a Sunday or a Saturday or a night the reporting run more smoothwhile constantly adapting. With fewer shift, I have to do general reporting ly, according to Sherlock. beat report“I have been ers than ever, in this role, those who as an educaremain are tion reporter adamant since 2013. It’s that beat coming up to reporting is four years, and essential, but I think it takes still feel that a good solid new journalyear [to build ists need to relationships], be versatile but even those in every same people element of who I knew journalism. after a year are The few reeven closer to maining beat me now after reporters three years.” are hoping Pamela Frayto keep erman has their jobs been a health for as long and medical as possible. issues reporter Tracy for the past Sherlock has 20 years, managed and is curto remain rently workMULTITASKER - Tracy Sherlock specializes in two beats: education and books as a Vaning for the couver-based beat reporter at the because who else would do it? If Vancouver Sun. She said that Vancouver Sun. Sherlock covers there is a fire, got to cover the fire,” covering a beat is always challengthe education beat in Surrey, B.C., Sherlock said. “There are just fewer ing, rewarding and dynamic. and the book beat once a week, resources, it’s harder to keep people “I thrive on interviewing brilliant while also managing to cover some dedicated to one specific beat.” people and on this beat, most are very general reporting when she can. It can be challenging to not intelligent. I’m a curious, keen learner, “The media is shrinking, there are burn any bridges in beat reportso the beat also satisfies that need. I fewer and fewer reporters, and every- ing, as Sherlock says, but it also love the fact that I am sharing importone has to be flexible and has to be has some great positives. ant information with the public, inable to do everything,” Sherlock said. “It becomes very easy getting formation they need to stay healthy or “I’m the education reporter, but I still story ideas, because people will get better treatment,” said Frayerman. have to do other things and I still have email you with ideas,” she said. “I Frayerman enjoys covering a beat to do a second beat, which is books.” have way more things I could be because she loves ‘sinking her teeth’ 20

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FEATURES into a particular subject area. Due to high recognition in her beat, Frayerman said doctors and other health professionals often share tips, and patients and their family members reach out to share their stories. A typical day for her starts with over 200 emails in her inbox. “I canvas the major medical journals, as well as journals for health professionals and then see what health authorities are up to, make calls to the provincial ministry of health and then put together story packages so editors know what I’m working on,” said Frayerman.

“I’m fairly happy focusing on one area, the advantage of doing that is you can inquire knowledge and experience in an area. In a case such as the law, the criminal code is a huge book and there’s a lot of stuff to learn in there, so you’re always learning new things and every case is different.” Fraser said that at one time CBC had two offices in the courts and there were three reporters in CKNW’s office. Now they don’t have anyone. “They don’t have a presence down here any longer, and it’s safe to say that there is less coverage. I think the reason for that is that simply he believes that beat the fact that many newsreporting is disappearrooms have been cut back ing in the industry quite considerably in the last because media resources are number of years,” Fraser said. dwindling, and the reality “We’ve all been following COVERAGE - Keith Fraser files stories from the is that most media outlets that in the news, how that court house can’t afford to have reportthey’ve been reducing the ers on specific beats. She staff of newsrooms. That’s the said the Vancouver Sun is lucky to result, that’s what you’re seeing now; have a strong readership in the areas I’m the only reporter down here.” They don’t have a where they still have beat reporters. Fraser cherishes his job as a court presence down here “Bigger entities like the Vancouver reporter and said that it is important any longer, and it’s safe Sun can’t afford not to have a dedto have strong coverage of that beat. to say that there is less icated medical reporter. These are “The court system is an importcoverage. I think the stories our readers want and demand, ant pillar of democracy and the rule reason for that is that and these are stories we usually of law is very important in any desimply the fact that have exclusively,” said Frayerman. mocracy, and our job down here is many newsrooms have Along with Sherlock and Frayto basically be the eyes and ears of been cut back quite erman, the Vancouver Sun still has the public — making sure the court considerably in the last managed to keep another beat alive. system is working,” Fraser said. number of years,” Keith Fraser is the only reporter from “It’s unfortunate if there’s fewer any Vancouver-based media outlet reporters doing that, I don’t think -Keith Fraser reporting on the B.C. courts full-time. that is good for a democracy.” Fraser has also spent the past 13 three other beat reporters covering years covering crime in Vancouver. law in the office in 2004, but due to His office sits tucked away at the cut backs he is now the only reporter provincial law courts, and could be left in Vancouver solely covering law. easily missed. He said there were


Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review



Canadian Echo Chambers Silos of information and opinion, inherent on social media, are exacerbating political polarization By Jake Wray


Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2017


efore the internet, there were only a few major news sources in Canada, all of which enjoyed a significant level of trust from the public. CBC, Global, and CTV competed for the loyalty of TV news consumers, while CBC dominated the radio and the Globe and Mail was the only national newspaper. Then, in the 1990s, things started to change. The internet began to slowly branch out into the homes of Canadians, providing an alternative to clunky televisions, fuzzy radios and print newspapers. By 2017 a torrent of news — accurate and otherwise — has flooded the internet. Canadians are increasingly getting their news from the internet, often through the filters of social media. This new information landscape has begun to affect the way Canadians think, feel and talk about the world around them. Social media contributes to a polarization of politics, according to Stuart Poyntz, associate dean of the faculty of communications at SFU. In a phone interview, he described the echo chamber effect, in which custom feeds of news and informa-


you don’t have to rethink, reconsider, reimagine against something that is not like you or not like your opinion,” he said. “How ideas move and shift is often by encountering diversity, difference. So echo chambers really work against that.” The consequences of polarization haven’t been fully realized yet, but could be deadly. Appearing before a national defence senate committee on Feb. 6, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson was asked if there has been an increase in criminal extremism in Canada, such as the attack on a Quebec mosque in January that left six men dead. Paulson said that sort of extremism has not increased, but there has been an increase in polarized discussion. “There is, I think everyone would agree, a more caustic tone to the political discourse that seems to attract and agitate and radicalize people of all persuasions,” he told the committee. “That represents a concern to [the RCMP].” David Moscrop, a political science PhD candidate at UBC, said that when people group together into silos of political opinion on the internet, their views consequently intensify, and they become more susceptible to inacIf you encounter curate, misleading or otherwise likeness after likeness, tainted news and information. there’s a way in which the “If [news] happens to fit in with narrowing of the scope of the sort of narrow narrative that opinion starts to emerge you’re used to, well then you’re not -Stuart Poyntz going to question it and you’re not going to be exposed to anyone who tion on social media are tailored is questioning it,” he said. “When to fit a user’s pre-existing opinions that intersects with this pre-existing and beliefs. He said echo chamdesire to confirm what you already bers cause a polarization of ideas. believe, what you already think to be “If you encounter likeness after right or true or good, then not only likeness, there’s a way in which the do you not get exposed to countnarrowing of the scope of opinion er-narratives or counter-claims, starts to emerge, because, frankly, when you are exposed to them

you’re less likely to buy them.”


hese themes are playing out in real-time among Canadians on social media, and particularly on Facebook, which was the social network Canadians used most in 2016, according to a poll by Insights West.

CANADIANS VOICE OFF A collection of comments lifted from the Facebook group The Republic of Western Canada

There are many politically-themed groups and pages on Facebook where Canadians gather to share news and discuss strong opinions. These groups often cover niche ideas and have only a handful of participants, but some groups have thousands of members and lively discussions. Take The Republic of Western Canada, for example, a page dedicated to western separatism and home to over 26,000 members at the time of writing. Although the theme of the page is western separatism, people are essentially free to post and discuss anything they want. There is frequent discussion of immigration, refugees, muslims, the shortcomings of Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau and a variety of other topics. These discussions often centre around articles that have been shared to the group. Some of the articles are from mainstream news sources, like CBC and the National Post, but some are from alternative sources. Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review


FEATURES Percentage of Canadians Using Daily Facebook










An article from the Rebel titled “FREEDOM TO OFFEND: Support free speech, not sharia!” posted to the group on Feb. 7 had received 32 ‘reactions’ and 20 comments by the time of writing. One user, Pat Laurin, commented “Is this true?” and another user, Lois McQuinn, replied “Yes Pat Laurin the source is valid — Rebel media with Ezra Levant is one of the few Canadian media sources that we can trust.” Laurin replied “I believe you but watching isn’t enough we need to act.” No one else questioned the veracity of the article in the comments section.


Source: InsightsWest survey

evin Leischner, a 45-yearold mechanic from Olds, Alberta, is a member of The Republic of Western Canada and sometimes participates in the discussions there. In a phone interview, he said he no longer trusts mainstream news media in Canada, CBC in particular, and he looks for alternative sources of news and information online, some of which he finds on Facebook. He said he never fully trusts a single source for information on a given topic, choosing instead to consult multiple sources before forming an opinion. “You’ve got to use your head. The world is like a big huge puzzle, right, you’ve got to take little pieces from If [news] happens to here, little pieces from there, little fit in with the sort of pieces from over here, and you’ve narrow narrative that you’re got to put shit together to get the used to, well then you’re not full picture of what the heck is going going to question it and you’re on, because there is so much cornot going to be exposed to ruption, because there is so much, I anyone who is questioning it don’t know, downplaying,” he said. -David Moscrop “You’ve got to pull little bits of information from everywhere, You’ve got to use your common sense and


Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2017

the brain that God gave you.” In a later Facebook message to the Langara Journalism Review, however, he said he finds the Rebel to be a good source of information. Leischner also holds many right-wing views that fit in with common themes found in The Republic of Western Canada. “[I] would like to see the news cover more of the immigration bullshit going on here and from around the world,” he wrote in a Facebook message. “What the muzzles [muslims] are doing to the countries that let them in [is] not cool. We are in for some serious shit in the future if we don’t address the problems they are causing.” He has left numerous comments of a similar nature in The Republic of Western Canada, and he’s only one of many to do so. Moscrop said that these sorts of extreme ideologies were less visible before the internet because it was difficult for small groups to disseminate information back then. Now, he said, sites like Facebook provide a straightforward and inexpensive platform for niche ideas, and the aforementioned echo chamber effect means that these ideas can snowball once they are on social media.


ohn Nesdoly created a page called Canadians For Donald Trump in March 2016, well before the now-president was taken seriously by the mainstream media. The group had over 10,000 members at the time of writing and the articles and discussion within are similar to those found in The Republic of Western Canada. In a phone interview, Nesdoly said he created the page because he felt Americans had the false impression that all Canadians are liberals, and he wanted to create a forum

FEATURES casing alternatives to that narrative. “[Americans] have this perception, down there, that Canada is a very, very ‘blue’ country, shall we say using their terms, and we’re not,” he said. He said he believes the mainstream media contributed to that false impression, though there may be other factors as well. Nesdoly said he doesn’t completely lack faith in mainstream Canadian news, though he doesn’t trust CBC at all. He said the Rebel is his preferred news source. “There were some muslims bullying some students in Halifax that the CBC chose not to report on, but The Rebel media did [report on that],” he said. “[CBC doesn’t] cover stuff that disagrees with their agenda.” Canadians For Donald Trump

There were some muslims bullying some students in Halifax that the CBC chose not to report on, but The Rebel media did [report on that]

-John Nesdoly

is not totally isolated from opposing political opinions. While there is plenty of right-wing discussion in Nesdoly’s Facebook group, he said the page is sometimes visited by people from the left who leave comments (which are sometimes incendiary) that go against the group’s norms. Nesdoly admitted that he also sometimes visits Facebook pages aligned with the political left to leave comments, such as the pages for Press Progress and PETA. Nesdoly said these exchanges—which he calls “trolling”—are valuable political discourse mixed with “good old fun.”

UNFILTERED A screenshot of a post and comments lifted from the Facebook group Canadians For Donald Trump, which has over 10,000 members. Much of the discussion in this group contains abusive language. Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review



K e e p i n g U p A p p e a r a n c e s


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The ongoing and unfair expectations placed on women in the media By Reuben Dongalen JR. and Simran Gill Photos by Veronnica MacKillop

Sophie Lui in the make up room at Global News, where she gets ready before appearing on television

Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review




any women in the be one of those ‘birkenstockers’ who work hours, part time arrangements journalism industry would remove all the ‘glamour’ from or sabbaticals, and the maternity are no strangers to his section, and turn it into someleave then was only 16 weeks. dealing with sexism thing less sexy,” she said. “He is also “You could take a year off in the work place because it is still a the guy who — when I rejected one to write a book, but not to dominant part of the industry today. promotion because I had a toddler have a baby,” she said. The women’s march for equality at home — scoffed and told me to Goodhand is not alone. Vivian held the day after the U.S. presiden‘hire a nanny’ like everybody else.” Smith, author of Outsiders Still:, tial inauguration symbolized that Consequently, Goodhand was Why Women Journalists Love - and sexism is not an issue of the past, but forced to quit her job – twice – just Leave - Their Newspaper Careers’ it is still a prevalent part of society so she would be able to stay at home — a well known novel that she today. The notion that men are with her children. The Winnipeg wrote while she was an editor for superior to women exists not just Free Press wouldn’t allow for flex Boulevard Magazine in Victoria in personal lives, but is and getting her PhD — still a part of the jourhas been a reporter, an nalism industry much editor, and a manager in as it was 20 years ago. the newspaper industry Margo Goodhand and is no stranger to was the first female sexism in newsrooms. editor of the Winnipeg “Women still now Free Press. Goodhand only represent one struggled with being third of newsrooms taken seriously in a in total, the higher up leadership position in the hierarchy you throughout the ‘90s go, the fewer women due to her gender. Even you see,” said Smith. after reaching the career After doing research milestone of becoming and speaking to women the first female editor in the industry, Smith for the publication she noticed that there is a was still criticized and difference in how men constantly told that she and women view their was ruining the paper. jobs as journalists. “I was refused the city “Men will generally editor’s job at the Winnisay they are here to peg Free Press in the late Margo Goodhand, the first woman editor at the Winnipeg report the news, ‘I am ’90s because two male here to hold power Free Press editors declared I was to account’ — which ‘too nice’ for the job,” she is still important, but said. “I’m not that nice. The issue was the women will often say ‘I’m a that they didn’t think I was tough voice for the voiceless,” said Smith. I was refused the city edienough, that a city editor had to be “It’s this idea that there are people tor’s job at the Winnipeg Free out there that don’t have power a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ guy.” Press in the late ‘90s because The man that was hired on as the and are affected by the system and two male editors declared I city editor lasted only one year. women feel like they need to tell “When I applied for the entertain- was ‘too nice’ for the job their stories and be their voice.” ment editor’s job in the ’90s, the edSmith explains that although -Margo Goodhand itor expressed concerns that I might awareness is growing about sexism,


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FEATURES it is still an ongoing issue facing many newsrooms “A few years ago there was more women in management positions at the Victoria paper, it was a women masthead, now they are all gone. Some got fired, some were moved,” she said. “The women who are there don’t have people they can look up to and think ‘I can do that.’ Awareness is growing, women are voicing their concerns, but across the country, males dominate management positions.”


exism is not only in newsrooms among colleagues, but is still a widespread issue in the broadcast industry. Negative criticism from viewers has been an unforVivian Smith wrote this book while editor tunate part of the job for for Boulevard Magazine Sophie Lui. As a broadcaster since 1999, and currently the of a female figure in the industry, 6 p.m. co-anchor for Global News and has been constantly judged B.C., she has been a leading example by viewers on the way she looks.

“I’ve had some really terrible comments. When I worked in Victoria, I had short, spiky hair and a viewer sent me, via Canada Post, a comb,” said Lui. “Just a comb in an envelope. No note, no return address, just a comb.” Lui is no stranger to malicious comments; she has received emails, from both female and male viewers judging not the quality of her work, but her appearance. “It was just last week someone wrote me to complain about my makeup, and he said ‘Usually your makeup looks good, but something went wrong today, you should let your makeup artist know,’” said Lui. “And I’m not really even sure what he didn’t like, because he didn’t get specific. He just didn’t like my makeup.” In Lui’s transition from the morning show to the 6 p.m. newscast, it took some viewers time to adjust to the change. Many were unwelcoming to the idea of a woman being alongside her current co-anchor, Chris Gailus.

Sonia Beeksma does her best not to let public opinion of her influence how she presents herself on CTV

Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review


FEATURES “I think it took a little getting used to for viewers seeing me in the afternoon show because it’s always been a solo show. It’s always been a man,” said Lui. “There were comments saying, ‘Chris doesn’t need a helper,’ which stings, because that’s not what I am, and Chris would tell you that too,” she said. “It’s not about us. It’s not the Sophie and Chris show, or the Chris and Sophie show. It’s the news hour. It’s about the news and the stories our whole newscast got, and puts on air, and we just happen to be the face of it.” Women play a vital role in the industry, yet they are still perceived as less than their male counterparts. Lui said she believes that this is not something that is done consciously, with malice, or intent. It is just the way society has been for many decades. Men have a very standard dress code: suit jackets, button ups, dress pants, dress shoes, and pomade in the hair. There’s usually less for a man to change, which gives less for viewers to be concerned about. Women 30

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change their outfits daily, haircuts can be much more apparent, and with the bright lights on stage, make-up is a necessity, which leaves more room for scrutiny. “Men, they wear suits, and it might matter the placement of buttons as to how it’ll look when they are sitting down. With women there’s so much to think about,” said Lui. On-air personalities are seen by viewers every day. Lui said she is all too aware that if the viewers see something new it will have an impact, and not always a positive one. “Because we go into their living rooms every night, they feel like they know us, and they do to a certain extent, but because they feel like they know us, they feel like they can tell you anything. They feel close to us.” About a year ago Lui Sophie Lui constantly has to consider how what she wears on air will be received by viewers

was on air for the 11:00 p.m. newscast with Squire Barnes. She had just gotten off air and was beginning to take her makeup off when an earthquake shook Metro Vancouver, leaving her with no choice but to go back on-air without any makeup on. “I actually said to the viewers ‘my apologies,’ because there are so many lights that if you’re not wearing makeup, it’s glaring, it doesn’t look good,” said Lui Working in front of a camera and becoming the face of a newscast as Lui has experienced is vastly differ-

It was juts las week [when] someone wrote me to complain about my makeup, and said ‘Usually your makeup looks good, but something went wrong today, you should let your makeup artist know -Sophie Lui

ent than working behind the scenes.


arry Link works as a podcaster, and he is the former editor of the Vancouver Courier; he is not an on-air journalist. Link has the opportunity to dress however he is comfortable. He has expressed his personality in the way he dressed, always putting comfort before fashion. “My view is that journalism is a working class job, and so you should dress working class. Suits are for bankers — except at weddings and funerals, and maybe Valentine’s Day,” said Link. Link sympathizes with the way women are treated in the industry, and said that for him, even when his hair was a little out of the norm,

FEATURES he did not feel judged for it. “I used to have long hair in a ponytail, I had that even while reporting in Alberta, and while some people looked at me funny — this was the ‘90s in rural, redneck Alberta — no one ever said anything. Sometimes [they did], although never in a threatening way, and I wouldn’t compare it to what a woman experiences,” said Link.


ink said he does not give much thought as to what he’s going to wear each day. He said he usually just grabs whatever’s not in the laundry. “Most of my bosses and probably most of my colleagues have been women, and in my experience they were treated as seriously as the men, but my experience might be unique,

and I’m sure I missed the realities of their experience because I’m a man. People 10 years older than me

about her appearance, though she still manages to stays true to her personality, even when on-air. “Being on air does not influence my style. My style is my own and I like to use it to reflect my Anytime you put yourpersonality,” said Beeksma. “I’m self in the public eye, there’s a conservative woman to begin room for judgment. You with, and you never want your just can’t focus on that, and appearance to be a distraction from what you are trying to achieve.” [then] continue doing what Beeksma explained that dedicayour are passionate about tion and perseverance in your craft -Sonia Beeksma should be the focus, and to disregard any sort of bullying from viewers. might have a different experience, “Anytime you put yourself and women I know in the industry in the public eye, there’s room have told me about the difficulties for judgment. You just can’t fothey have faced against male peers.” cus on that, and [then] continue Sonia Beeksma, a host with CTV doing what you are passionVancouver, said she is no stranger ate about,” said Beeksma. to receiving emails from viewers

Sophie Lui’s and Sonia Beeksma’s tips on must haves before going on the air Safety Pins

“when You never know something is going to fall

-Sophie Lui


Face Powder

“beThe lights can really glaring -Sophie Lui

“ Sometimes bad breath can be a distraction to your co-anchor or even yourself! Ha!

-Sonia Beeksma

Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review



CHANGING TRACKS - Randene Neill worked at Global News for over 16 years before going in a different direction.

A Change of Pace and Direction A declining industry has forced many journalists out and into the world of communications By Anna Tilley and Ashley Singh Photos by Ashley Singh


he ever-changing journalism industry has made some reporters decide to set down their notebook and pen and jump onto the other side of the glass to communications and public relations work. Whether it’s for the sake of a career 32

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change or to escape certain pressures of the workplace, journalists switching into communications have become an emerging trend. Even those who spent over 10 years as a journalist are not exempt, evident in well-known anchor Randene Neill. In late October, following the

departure of Steve Darling from Global News, Neill surprised viewers by announcing she would be leaving Global News after just over 16 years to pursue a new job opportunity. Neill’s interest in journalism first began after receiving a degree in political science, but difficulties in the

FEATURES job market prompted her to apply to the broadcast program at BCIT. “As soon as I finished [at BCIT], I did my internship at CHBC [Global television station] in Kelowna. They weren’t hiring, so my first job was out in Brandon, Manitoba and I did that for a year. I was a reporter, an anchor, I mopped the floors, I ran my own teleprompter, I did all that kind of stuff,” said Neill. Neill was eventually hired at BCTV (Global) for a summer and was then hired as a full-time writer. She worked her way up to a producer, and then finally became an anchor. Neill was first thrown into anchoring during the morning show when previous anchor, Jennifer Maler, wasn’t able to come in at the time. “The producer at the time knew that I had some anchoring experience in Brandon, so she literally said ‘find some clean clothes to wear, brush your teeth, and get on the air.’ So I just filled in. It was a three-hour show,” said Neill. “I kept trying to go back to reporting and they’d keep putting me back into anchoring, but my best times at Global was doing stories, winning a couple of awards, and being really proud of the reporting I did.” Neill was able to work on a variety of stories, some of which have stayed with her to this day. For Neill, Global News was a supportive and uncompetitive workplace. Neill has noticed a change in the industry from when she first began her career, when she could spend a large amount of time on one story. However, as the news team was hit with smaller budgets, the resources became tighter. “Fifteen years ago, you were doing just one story for the news hour. Now you’re doing five or six different stories on the same topic, and in that time, a story that would be

three minutes, is now a minute 30 [seconds],” said Neill. “It became harder to tell that story with depth and perspectives, so people understood how it fits and how it is important.” As her career and the industry

My first job was out in Brandon, Manitoba and I did that for a year. I was a reporter, an anchor, I mopped the floors, I ran my own teleprompter, I did all that kind of stuff -Randene Neill

continued to evolve, Neill felt it was time to leave. She researched different job opportunities and heard about the development company Anthem Properties, where she has now been

working as their first communications director since leaving Global. At Anthem Properties Neill works to rebrand and to raise the company’s profile by reflecting the company’s values, missions and goals. “It’s brand new. I go to bed every night with my head swimming […] Like, oh my god I have so much to learn, but that’s a good thing, because you never want to stop learning,” she said. Neill believes what makes journalists well suited for communications is their ability to tell stories. “I think it’s hard to find a really relevant story that the public will be interested in, that’s the key, right?” She said. “That’s something that you need to know how to do to be valuable to a company to spread their message.” Many veteran journalists are making a similar move. Kirk Williams, now a media relations and communications director for Pace Group Communications in Vancouver, spent 27 years at CBC Vancouver. Williams covered breaking news stories, some of which earned him award nominations. It was a job he felt lucky to be involved in and today there isn’t one thing about journalism he doesn’t miss. “It’s an incredibly important thing to have the freedom to call somebody up and ask them questions about something, and also make them accountable,” said Williams. “It’s a fantastic job where you’re actually paid to satisfy your curiosity.” More online platforms are being used nowadays than when Williams started working in the industry, and workloads and deadlines changed to make the average journalist even busier, though Williams embraced the extra work. He loved what he was doing, but thought if he was Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review


FEATURES going to make a change, he should where he is now with media reWilliams has high hopes for jourdo it sooner rather than later. lations, it wasn’t easy for him to nalism, a career that he thinks is “I asked around for advice from leave journalism after so long. transitioning in a world where being various people and the advice I got “It was really emotional. It was 27 an entrepreneur is a good thing, and was to make yourself uncomfortyears of my life. I still miss chasing where digital journalism is growing. able, that’s the “I think the [2016] secret to personal American election has growth, so get out told us that we should of a comfortable pay for journalism. The place you love and days of just going out, throw yourself into surfing websites, and just something [else],” getting our information said Williams. “It for free doesn’t really cut was a whole differit, because good jourent perspective.” nalism requires money,” His current job Williams said. “We have wasn’t something something that’s pretWilliams had ty precious that needs planned out. He protecting and support, had a meeting with and it’s so important to Pace that turned the future of democracy.” into a job offer. While journalists Before he left CBC, like Neill and Williams his colleagues spent a chunk of their made sure he lives in the industry, this was prepared. move doesn’t just exist “As a going away with those who had an gift, my colleagues established career in and friends at CBC journalism. Journalists SOMETHING NEW Kirk Williams left journalism after a 27gave me a comwho have just graduated year run at CBC pass, to keep my or were in the industry moral direction, for less than 10 years because there’s always a joke about have also ended up in PR positions. being on the dark side once you enter Erin Steele, who graduated from We have somecommunications,” said Williams. Langara College’s diploma jourthing that’s pretty “Then they gave me a flashlight, nalism program in 2010, thought precious that needs since I am on the dark side, so I can she would be a journalist forever. protecting and supfind my way home to CBC. ThankThat did not turn out to be the port, and it’s so fully, I haven’t had to test those.” case, so she became a digital marimportant to the Williams took his journalism keter for a publishing company. future of democracy background and applied it to his Steele loved — and still loves — current job. He does media training, journalism, but the pressures that -Kirk Williams assists clients in publicizing stories came with her jobs in communiby reaching out to journalists, and ty papers left her with a changed helps people thrive in the media. the big story. I’ll be honest, you sort mindset, though she also left “At this point I just try to keep of grieve a little bit. It’s a great job, it’s with many proud experiences. sucking up information and skills the best job in the world and people “I loved when I was able to do like a sponge,” said Williams. are very lucky to do it,” said Williams. something that really had an effect Even though Williams enjoys Now sitting on the ‘dark side,’ on the community, or for peo-


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FEATURES ple who didn’t necessarily have a voice and were then all of a sudden able to have one,” Steele said. The uncertainty of the job market and seeing veteran journalists laid off started to make Steele think, “no matter how hard I work, what hope do I have?” “I just started thinking about the long-term sustainability. As much as I love journalism, I started becoming afraid I wouldn’t be guaranteed a job,” Steele said. Now in Kelowna, Steele took her knowledge of journalism and channeled it into a job in digital marketing. Her responsibilities include tasks on social media, email campaigns, and media relations. This career is one she can see stretching far into the future. “With journalism, I loved it, it was great, but the highs were high and the lows were lower. Sometimes I would sit there for 10 hours straight at my desk, eating my lunch with one hand and working with the other, and I don’t have that here,” Steele said. “I start at eight o’clock, I go home at four. I don’t dwell on it. I don’t wake up in the night stressing about whether I’ve missed a deadline, or

if I’ve put something wrong in the newspaper. I would say I have the best work-life balance I’ve had in years.” Even though Steele watches journalism from the sidelines, she still advocates for its future. “Journalism is an incredibly valuable part of society that will always be needed. I think that’s evolving right now, but I think [society is] going to need journalists. For those people who want it, hang in there and maybe be part of what the future of journalism is […] whatever that might be,” Steele said. After Neill’s 16 years being watched on Global, it wasn’t as hard for her to leave as might be assumed. Even

I just started thinking about the long-term sustainability. As much as I love journalism, I started becoming afraid I wouldn’t be guaranteed a job -Erin Steele

though she misses delivering big stories at times, she said she was ready. “My parents were the most upset because they were like ‘how are we going to watch you every day?’ But everyone was great. It was just perfect timing,” said Neill. “I don’t miss standing on Highway 1 in the middle of the blizzard, reporting live.” Under today’s circumstances, Neill believes community papers are not dying, but she sees a big growth in web based journalism jobs. No matter the changes, journalists will still love what they’re doing and the same rules will still apply. “You have to be hungry. You have to be willing to work hard and be willing to move to small markets. I think [journalism] is more valuable than ever before. We have to figure out a way to tell the truth again,” said Neill. “It’s so important for journalists to be able to be the unbiased, truth seekers that we desperately need right now.” For the journalism industry, Neill is confident that it’s a carreer that will always be important, and always be evolving. “20 years from now... you’re going to say, ‘boy, it’s changed!’”

Kirk Williams farewell party at CBC headquarters in Vancouver, November 2015.

Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review



Exposing Vancouver’s Real Estate Market

Some local reporters are finally looking at the bigger picture of housing affordability in the city

EXPOSED - Kathy Tomlinson, Globe and Mail investigative reporter, became an expert in real estate while looking into shaddow flipping By Jenna Tytgat and Ashley Singh Photos by Veronnica MacKillop and Ashley Singh eal estate coverage in estate section and onto front pages. Tomlinson said she faced considVancouver has seen One of those reporters erable pushback from sources while a large shift in recent was Kathy Tomlinson. covering real estate, mainly from years, with much credAfter working for The Globe buyers and sellers who had been it going to local journalists who and Mail for a year, Tomlinson directly affected by deals Tomlinson pushed for harder hitting stories. realized that the high demand was trying to report on. She had put Covering topics related to real estate for news about real estate in Vanout cold calls, but many of the sources in Vancouver can be complicated couver simply was not being met. were embarrassed or unwilling to talk. to tackle head-on. Until a little over She started investigating and dug “It’s a reporter calling out of the a year ago, real estate was reported deeper into the troubled market. blue and I think [they didn’t want primarily as a by-the-numbers story, “I had to build a lot of trust to talk] because it was about their lacking intense scrutiny. A handful with the people in the industry finances, it was private,” she said. of journalists noticed this and began before I could get to what was goTaking the time to build a conwriting hard hitting stories that ultiing on with what [ The Globe and nection with her sources paid off mately found their way out of the real Mail] reported on,” she said. for Tomlinson when they started to

R 36

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FEATURES share evidence of particular deals. Tomlinson said she found that many sources started telling her about realtors and sellers using contract assignments for selling homes. Tomlinson was not initially interested in pursuing that story, but eventually changed her mind. “At some point the light bulb came on and I realized even though we, as reporters, try to look for wrongdoing in terms of things that are against the rules, or things that are against the law, this wasn’t against [the law] at all, so it was rampant. It was being used so frequently because it was perfectly legal and it was entrenched, and so that’s where I just thought, ‘well maybe that shouldn’t be so easy to do,’” Her work was well received and considered to be a breaking point in figuring out why real estate is so complex in Vancouver. “The thing that was really heartening about the whole thing was about how many people care about this community, and how many people really didn’t like what was going on and […] so badly wanted it exposed, but weren’t able to do so because they were in the industry.” As far as real estate stories go for Tomlinson, she said she is taking a step back to work on other things. “I hope, if anything, our reporting raised the bar in terms of the conversation, what reporters and editors feel they can pursue.” According to Statistics Canada the median household income in Vancouver was $76,040 in 2014 and December 2016 figures from- the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver showed the benchmark price for detached properties in Metro Vancouver as $1.4-million, an 18.6 per cent increase from December 2015. South China Morning Post’s Vancouver correspondent, Ian Young,

said he saw a gap in the reporting that was being done on real estate and unaffordability in Vancouver. Although Young had only intended to edit in Vancouver, he said he saw a hole in the coverage and knew he had the ability to fill it. Young moved to Vancouver in 2010, and tackled real estate and unaffordability shortly after. “I didn’t think it was being attacked the way it should be, and so I started writing about it,” he said, “I thought there was a gap in the way [unaffordability] was being reported and hopefully I’ve helped change some of that,” Young said. Vancouver is becoming the first city to deal with unaffordability at the rate that it is, according to Young, making it a worldwide example of how to deal with unaffordability – something that

GLOBAL VIEW - Ian Young has reported in London, Australia and “I didn’t think it was being atHong Kong tacked the way it should be, and

so I started writing about it,” he said, “I thought there was a gap other cities may face in the future. in the way [unaffordability] was “Vancouver’s becoming this little being reported and hopefully I’ve test case for unaffordability and the helped change some of that”

Ian Young

way it’s tackled,” Young said. “It went from a stage where your average upper middle class family, your doctors and your lawyers, would reasonably be affording a detached house,” he said. “That was only ten years ago and that’s history, now that’s gone, and that changes the nature of a city.” According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, 39,943 detached homes, attached homes and apartments were sold in Metro Vancouver in 2016, down 3.5 per cent from 42,326 sales in 2015. According to the MLS Home Price Index, the benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver was $897,600 at the end of 2016, which was a 17.8 per cent increase from December of 2015. Sales of residential homes that were sold with the use of the Multiple Listing Service rose by 0.6 per cent from 2015. “In the past 12 years or so, less than a generation – half a generation – unaffordability […] has increased in Vancouver by 123 per cent,” Young said, comparing Vancouver to Sydney, Australia, where he said unaffordability has increased by about 35 per cent in the same period, and Toronto’s unaffordability, which Young said has increased by about 90 per cent. Breaking into reporting on real estate was trying at first, but Young said he did not worry about being an expert. “I didn’t see any particular challenge to it. I did meet a little bit of resistance from [people in the] industry who probably thought I didn’t know what I was talking about,” he said. “The journalist isn’t meant to be an expert. The journalist is meant to make a judgement about who are the experts.” Young acknowledged the importance of the prior journalism that had been done on real estate, but said that Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review


FEATURES there was more to what was happen11 years, said she got her start critiquGold said she believes that the ing than what could be contained in ing music for various publications, public has not become tired of news the real estate section of a paper. including the Vancouver Courier and on the real estate crisis, though they “Real estate was done more as a con- the Vancouver Sun. She said she got may be getting a bit too used to it. sumer story rather than a social justice into reporting real estate stories due to “I think people are becoming story, and even though they might not a lack of reporters covering the issue. desensitized, I think they’re used to have put it in those words, I think stories of corrupt relators maymost people in the city […] knew be, or corrupt investors,” Gold it to be a social justice story,” he said. “It’s hard to shock them said. “People want to find out really, a lot of the big stories are what happened yesterday, as well really done, but no […] I don’t as finding out the long story.” think they’re getting bored.” According to Young, the entire Gold said that the real estate story of affordability and real issue in Vancouver is unique, and estate in Vancouver is far from other cities with complicated real finished in its telling, but he estate markets aren’t dealing with thinks journalists have made long the same problems as severely. strides in filling the gap that had “The difference with other initially driven him to write. cities, such New York or London, “I think there is a risk of fatigue is that they have high paying [writing about this], but as long SKY HIGH PRICES - High rises in Vancou- jobs to support their needs.” as the stories keep coming […] In Gold’s observations from ver’s False Creek community people know a story when they covering real estate, she’s seen see it. I’m actually trying to step back “It was very much happening, so it a rift occur between younger gena bit because I’m a little bit fatigued became quite fun and quite interesterations and the older, more fiby it,” Young said. “We have reached ing, but at the same time it also felt nancially secure generations. that tipping point where a lot of other pretty lonely. There was also one other “Traditionally it’s been very North journalists and a lot of people in pow- voice out there but there weren’t many American. You own a home as secuer are now talking about [affordability] of us reporting on this,” said Gold. rity for your future, this how you’re and dealing with it in a way that wasn‘t That is no longer the case. Real going to pay for your old age, it’s your happening [before], and so I’m quite estate in Vancouver has become life line,” she said. “Now we’re telling a comfortable stepping back a little bit.” a staple in headlines and is now a whole generation they don’t get that, Young said he respects the driving source for many news stories. they’re out of luck and that’s upsetting competition between journalists “I wrote a piece for The Walto a lot of Millennials and Gen X’ers,” and newsrooms, but also said he rus a year ago and I think that Gold said. “Even if you get a great job, knows that for a story to be told, it made it clear that Vancouchances [are] you’ll be renting for life, there needs to be cooperation. ver’s a freak show,” Gold said. or if you have a parent who can give “I’m not ashamed to sometimes reGold said she believes that a big you the money, or you’re just going fer a tipster to another journalist, and part of real estate blowing up in to be hugely in debt. Things have I’ve had other journalists refer other the news is because publications changed, they’ve changed permastories to me,” he said. “I don’t want are willing to invest in the issue. nently as far as I’m concerned.” it to just be me banging the drum, “When the ball drops on a stoFor visuals in fact there’s safety in numbers.” ry like [Kathy Tomlinson’s shadow on how The Globe and Mail’s reporter flipping piece], it creates shock waves crazy the Kerry Gold is one of the reportsuddenly. You know media follows real estate ers in Vancouver who has thrived media, that’s what we do when there’s market has in the challenging coverage of an interesting story, everybody sort gotten in Vancouver’s real estate market. of picks up on it and runs with it Va n c o u v e r , Gold, who has been a reporter for and tries to find a new angle on it.” go to 38

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Publication of One

The ups and downs of single-handedly running a community newspaper

By Alyd Llewellyn Photo by Veronnica MacKillop

SOLO NEWS - Samantha Anderson is the only person working at the Cloverdale Reporter


he modern day journalist is expected to know the ins and outs of all aspects of reporting. The ability to interview, write, photograph and edit is now mandatory knowledge in today’s industry, partly due to shrinking newsrooms and the reduction of journalists specializing in one field or another. As large newsrooms become a thing of the past in today’s shrinking news market, small community papers run by one-person teams are becoming more prevalent. This is a result of

larger outlets losing the resources required to cover the smaller, local stories on a regular basis. Because of this, editors taking over these community papers are expected to handle all aspects of production, from the early stages of planning all the way through to completion. These one-person teams show a glimpse into the journalism industry’s potential future, as the paper’s reporter, editor, photographer and designer are all the same person. Samantha Anderson is the editor of

the Cloverdale Reporter, a small community paper in East Surrey, that she runs on her own. A recent graduate of the University of Victoria, Anderson took over as editor of the Cloverdale Reporter only two weeks after walking across the stage at her convocation. She’s two months into the job and couldn’t be happier. She thinks the decision to work at a one-person community paper is the ideal entry point for any young reporter starting out in the industry. “I can’t think of another reporting Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review


THE INSIDER job where you get to follow your own stories, you get to do your own editing and writing, and where I would get to do this for a living in this manner.”

hats, and there’s a fine line she must walk between being a civic employee and an objective journalist. “It’s not unheard of in small towns because it gets difficult to do onenderson works out of a person newspapers, so I just make small office off the main sure that I don’t report on anything strip in Cloverdale, and has in camera. I have to be objective; her door open to the public I try to stay at arm’s length to anyat all times. She claims this accessibility thing that might be controversial.” to her readers is what really helps the She says that even with the jourpaper and the community get along. nalism industry currently going “Sometimes when you write for a through hard times, small compaper you feel like you’re shouting out munity papers aren’t at risk. into the void because you don’t get “I think that the small one-person a lot of response back newspapers that serve in, especially with the small communities smaller papers,” she said. don’t get served in “It’s really nice having any other fashion the store front because and they’re like cockpeople will come in roaches in the sense and let you know when that they’re always you’re doing good and going to survive.” let you know when they According to Andon’t like what you’re derson, small papers doing. It’s good to have have the upper hand those interactions.” on larger publications Anderson isn’t the solely because they’re only recent journalconstantly interactism school graduate ing with their readers starting out their caand are therefore able reer on their own at a to earn their trust. STILL HERE - The newspaper just entered their 21st year small paper in B.C. “You can’t become James Smith is the editor and sole den who runs the Ashcroft Cache a community’s voice without having employee of the North Delta Reporter, Creek Journal in B.C.’s interior. that good interpersonal relationa Black Press affiliate created for the Roden studied journalism at what ship, that day to day waving hi to community of North Delta in 2016. used to be Richmond’s Kwantlen people on the street or talking to Smith said it’s been a great experience College in the 1980s but ended up the people that walk through your getting to know the tight knit circle going into the publishing field, where office door. It’s essential. You can’t in North Delta, even if many aren’t she and her husband ran a small just walk into the Vancouver Sun yet aware of the paper’s existence. publishing company for a numand into the editor’s office, whereas “It’s funny, there are still a lot of ber of years. Thirty years later and somewhere like the Cloverdale Repeople from Delta who — when I she has dusted off her journalism porter, it’s essential to have your door tell them where I work and what I knowledge to take over the Journal. open all the time,” said Anderson. do — have no idea that the paper Roden is also a member of Ash“When something really great even exists, but for those who’ve heard croft’s city council, although she said happens, or something tragic, you of the paper, it’s a big deal for them it’s not an uncommon occurrence want to be the person that they and for the community,” said Smith. for someone in a small town like can turn to, or the person that “They’ve never really had anything Ashcroft to be wearing multiple they trust to share that story.”



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for a very long time. North Delta’s just a little sliver so it didn’t get much coverage in most publications.” He said it’s tough trying to run it all by himself, but he’s starting to get the hang of things. “When I first started with the paper it was almost a seven day a week job, there was just so much to do but now I’ve kind of got it down a lot closer to a regular Monday to Friday, eight-hour day kind of job,” he said. Veteran journalists are also getting in on one person papers, such as publicist Barbara Ro-


Standing up for the students

Re porter Laura K a n e d i scu sse s h e r e x peri enc es i n c ov eri ng s ex ual as s aul t s on c ampuses


By Veronnica MacKillop eporting on the subject of sexual assault can often be a difficult task, but for The Canadian Press reporter, Laura Kane, the impact her stories have had on how sexual assaults are handled on university and college campuses makes it all worthwhile. Kane has written close to a dozen stories about campus sexual assault. Her reporting began in 2015 when Steven Galloway, a former University of British Columbia professor, was accused of sexually assaulting a student. “It was through my reporting on that and my interest in that story that the whole issue of campus sexual assault started to take on this massive magnitude,” Kane said. “I got into the story first through Steven Galloway, then through this case at UBC, then after that, starting to realize that these women across Canada were fairly connected,” she said. “This sort of informal activist network had emerged.” One of the main challenges with reporting on sexual assault is FIPPA, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that is provided in British Columbia. “There are advocates who say that universities and other institutions, especially in B.C., hide behind FIPPA in order to avoid transparency,” Kane said. “It can be extremely frustrating for everyone involved.” Kane believes that sometimes, universities would probably like to defend themselves and share more information, but they cannot have cases disclosed. “In other cases, where you have a student who’s coming forward

to me, sharing her name, and giving very specific details about her assault, and about the university’s response, it remains frustrating that the universities will say they can’t comment for privacy reasons, when the person at the center of the case is okay with those details being public,” she said.

Reporter Laura Kane Kane explained that if you are not a person involved in the case, you must put in an Freedom of Information request to get the investigator’s report, which does not always go through. In some cases, even the victim can have difficulty accessing the report as only the accused has full access. Kane luckily had mostly positive responses from the public regarding her stories, but that is not always the case for the women she reports on. “I don’t read the comments on Facebook, so I’m sure there’s a lot of hatred there and a lot of disbelief and scepticism towards these women’s stories,” she said. “There’s definitely still a public conversation that needs to happen in Canada around the way we respond to women who say they have been sexually assaulted.”

Kane said an important part of reporting stories on sexual assault is contacting the accused. “It’s important to have their voice in there so the story has as much impact as possible.” She believes that when reporting on sensitive subjects, the reporter must be careful not to trigger their subject by making them talk about it more than necessary. “You want to protect the experience of the survivor, you don’t want to re-traumatize them,” she said. “Recently, a survivor was able to provide me with her police report, which was really useful […] because she didn’t have to [talk about] the night itself.” Kane cautions reporters to be careful about vicarious trauma when reporting on things such as sexual assault. “Hearing the details of someone who has been assaulted can impact you as a person, perhaps especially as a woman,” she said. “It’s easy to become somewhat cynical, or perhaps, disheartened about the system. You hope that as a reporter, your stories will have a public impact, you’re not an advocate per se, but you also hope that when you publish a story, the public will sit up and pay attention.” For journalists who are dealing with interviewing people about matters regarding sexual assault, Kane recommends they read Use the Right Words by Femifesto and Collaborators. Kane is hopeful about how conversations around sexual assault are improving in Canada. “I think you need to have a bit of optimism as a journalist,” Kane said. “It’s an industry where you can easily get consumed by negativity. Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review



Growing the Hive Karm Sumal and Farhan Mohamed talk about the digital publication they have guided to success.

DIGITIZED - Karm Sumal (Left) and Farhan Mohamed (Right) talking to Langara journalism students By Alison Pudsey and Chandler Walter Photo by Reuben Dongalen Jr.


rom his parent’s basement to 7.5 million page views per month, Karm Sumal, co-founder of Daily Hive — alongside editor in chief, Farhan Mohamed — is changing the way people consume news. Daily Hive is a digital-only publication that is at the forefront of online content. Sumal and Mohamed came to Langara College to speak about their newly branded publication and how it continues to survive and thrive in a changing industry.


Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2017

Many people still wonder, is Daily Hive a blog or a news site. Mohamed: We are a publication. There are people who still today call us a blog, and I always correct them and say that we’re not. There are others who call us a news source or a news site, which we are. Publication to me just encompasses everything. What are Daily Hive’s biggest influences? Sumal: VICE just because of the way they’ve changed the journalism

game. The stuff that they tell is not sugar-coated, it’s not watered down, it’s as real as it gets. [That] to me is very admirable and they’ve been able to do it and make money, that in itself is very genius. Buzzfeed for the fact that they did it very quickly and they’ve sustained it. They’ve been able to shift consumption of the news and how its consumed, and really latched onto Snapchat and Instagram stories and tell news on other verticals and not just on a main site.

THE INSIDER What has the learning curve been like for Daily Hive?

come back and remind you, it doesn’t work.

Sumal: You [have to] continue to learn, the industry is so dynamic. I think the reason papers have failed to transition to online is because they failed to acknowledge that online is even something that will be a means of consumption for people for news.

Is there a certain responsibility for Daily Hive to provide political news in a different way for their younger readership?

Can you guys talk about the expansion to Toronto and how is it going so far in these new cities? Mohamed: Everyone kept asking when are you going to come out outside of Vancouver so we made that first step with Calgary [in 2015]. We learned a lot and we moved into Toronto and Montreal at the same time and also re-branded. It was a big challenge. It was something that we took on and hired some really good people. The thing that we tried to do differently is that we went in trying to be different. There are a lot of other players out in the market, and [Toronto] is a very saturated city. So far it’s been great, the response has been really good. I think the market was prime for it. Our numbers have shown that we’ve made great progress there, faster then we ever thought. We hired our second person out there in September, who is a food editor. [She was] the food editor of blogTO, so it was a huge move for us and now we have two awesome people who are working there on the ground. What are some challenges Daily Hive has faced getting to where it is now? Sumal: One of the biggest challenges for us has been the way people perceive us. Vancity Buzz of 2013 is not Daily Hive of 2017. Its looking at someone and saying well you made a mistake when you were 16 years old, but now that you’re 40 I’m going to

Mohamed: Every policy that government officials make, it’s to influence and impact your life so it in fact rolls into everything else that’s happening, so politics as unsexy and unappealing as it is, it actually effects everything that happens, from the liquor laws, from the provincial government, to patio hours from the municipal government to transportation funding from all three levels. Everything that happens effects every single aspect of daily life, so yes it is something that people need to care about. How do we do that in a way that’s not boring, is interesting, is challenging, especially when there’s so many other things that are more interesting and more fun that are happening. So it’s a challenge but it’s something that we definitely need to do. What is your favourite story that Daily Hive has covered? Mohamed: I remember we got a tip from one of our writers; it was the shooting in Yaletown a few years ago. I was at the gym, Karm was at Blenz and we had one other guy and he was at home. We wrote the story pretty much through WhatsApp. We communicated through WhatsApp and we ended up leading the entire industry on that day. So that was a few years ago, and we’ve changed so much since then, a lot has changed and we’re always hoping to stay ahead of the game. Are there plans for expanding into the YouTube market?

Sumal: Video as a whole is something we’re looking into, but video is expensive. If you’re putting money into video, is it bringing in the dollars that we need to sustain it and keep it growing, or is that money better spent on more editorial pieces, or going into another market and gaining readership in that market. So you guys have employees in different cities around Canada, but are there any plans to expand operations south of the border or are you trying to keep it strictly Canadian? Sumal: The industry is pretty tough right now and the transition stage that it’s going [through.] A lot of ad dollars are still going to print and as those ad dollars start migrating more and more into digital, that’s when we’ll start. Right now, we’re making money but we’re putting it all back in to invest in better people or tools that we need to organize and be more efficient. America is something that we have in our sight lines; we want to be in every major city in the world one day. Do you have a specific city in mind that you want to start with in the US and why? Sumal: There is two ways we can go about [it], one option is we go to New York and LA. In order to go into both of those markets you will probably need about a million US to go in and have proper staffing, and also the promotional and marketing support that you’ll need in that market. Or you go the second [option], which is going down the coast, starting with Seattle and Portland because they’re close to us. We already know the vibe and we know the culture pretty well, and see from there and then go into the bigger cities. Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review



Ian Gill on the Golden Era of Journalism An interview with the seasoned reporter on the future of the industry Text and Photos by Veronnica Mackillop


edia in Canada is changing every day, and according to reporter Ian Gill, we’re on the cusp of a golden era of journalism, if we know how to approach it. Gill moved to Vancouver from Australia in the 1980s, and worked for the Vancouver Sun for seven years, then worked as a television reporter for CBC before starting his own philanthropic foundation in 1994, Ecotrust Canada, which he ran for about 20 years. “I partly did that because I felt that the impact that journalism was having seemed to be diminishing,” Gill said. Gill left Ecotrust Canada when he realized his true vocation lay in storytelling, which he thought was where he could have the most impact. His book, No News is Bad News: Canada’s Media Collapse-and What Comes Next, came about some44

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what by chance, as he was doing research about social innovation and social finance issues for The J.W McConnell Family Foundation. “I was a journalist; I am a journalist. I guess you never quite get it out of your system,” Gill said. The foundation thought the book was a little too pointed in its critique for them to use, so Gill published it on his own. “They were kind enough to give me my words back,” he said. “They were quite happy that I would go off and publish this.” In Discourse Media’s Chinatown office, Gill talked about his book, and the dire state of journalism in Vancouver. “The funny things about a book like this, is almost as soon as I hit send on the final draft of the manuscript, it was out of date the next day because things are happening so quickly,” Gill

said. “I think that the basic premise of the book still holds, which is that we’ve kind of missed the boat on the digital revolution in Canada from a journalistic point of view,” “It’s astonishing that we trumpet the virtues of this city as being a sort of world class city and the only thing world class about this city, apart from the view, are our real estate prices.” “Vancouver is in shockingly poor shape from a media point of view,” he said. “We think of ourselves as a first-class city and we have third rate media.” Gill said the low-quality media in the city is not being helped by the closing of small newsrooms. “The loss of any journalism in any form is something to be concerned about,” Gill said. He added that what we are seeing is a diminution in actual plain coverage of what’s going on in the city.

THE INSIDER The concept of news poverty, which Gill talks about in his book, addresses how the public is dramatically less informed than it ever has been. “We don’t cover the courts, for instance, with anywhere near the frequency and depths that we used to,” Gill said. “When was the last time you ever saw anyone identify as a labour reporter? We still have labour relations, we still have unions, we still have work place issues in this province, and it’s one of the most under-reported sectors you can find anywhere.” “Where’s the comprehensive reporting about health issues in Vancouver? Who’s really covering the Downtown Eastside?”


ill thinks that what readers used to take for granted as the job of reporters just isn’t getting done anymore. “An ecosystem is stronger if it has diversity, so what we’ve seen in the journalism ecosystem in Canada […] is an increasing lack of diversity.” Like many reporters, Gill believes that the current political situation in the United States is going to force the media to do some serious self-reflection. “These anti-immigration, aggressively retrograde opinions, and the sort of retreat to social silos that are encouraged to appeal to very narrow interests and feed those interests with information that suites people to read because it’s what they already believe.” He said that now is the time for media to take a huge step back and look at how we cover these issues to encourage public discourse, rather than division. Part of this reflection, according to Gill, requires the media to stop pandering to the lowest common denominator. “There’s a bit of a myth, I think, that people only want to read 140 character tweets, and that reflects the

Vancouver is in shockingly poor shape from a media point of view. We think ourselves as a first-class city and we have a third rate media - Ian Gill

ality of people [but] I don’t think that’s true,” he said. “In fact, there’s evidence that millennials are actually very interested in long-form complex journalism about things they care about.” Millennials are sophisticated readers who want quality content, according to Gill. “I think that the age of media being able to insult the intelligence of their readers and their viewers is over, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “I think Canadians have got to come to some realization that if they want quality journalism they’re going to have to pay for it.” As for people just emerging out of

journalism school, Gill thinks there is hope yet, but not necessarily in legacy media. “There will be a lot of work, it seems to me, in new creative pursuits and digital developments,” he said. “Look at the places where reporting isn’t happening. Why is it not happening? It’s not because people aren’t curious about the courts, or city hall, or a whole bunch of other things, It’s because broken business models now have shed coverage of these things because they keep cutting back on reporting.” Gill believes that collaboration is going to be a key factor in saving the media. “I think these days, being intentional and really serious about collaborating is really the only way people are going to be able to make it in journalism today,” he said. “There are very few opportunities, and not really a need to be first to a story anymore. Being first with real analysis and being first with smart reporting rather than just being first is an area that has sort of blossomed.” Without collaboration, Gill believes that journalism is going to continue to go downhill. “Legacy media clings on to this old notion of brand and exclusivity in journalism, which I think is really counter productive,” he said. “The real opportunity that we need to look at is how can our journalism have an impact, and what the intention of our journalism is when we set out to do it.” He believes that looking at stories in terms of ratings rather than public interest is a poor metric that is failing journalism. “I think if some of the legacy media were to begin to think more creatively, and think about collaborations, they may survive a bit longer.” Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review



Last Word with Jon Woodward Embarassing moments, role models, and covering serial killers in the career of an investigative reporter By Simran Gill Photo by Chantelle Deacon


n an exclusive interview, multi-award winning reporter Jon Woodward opens up about his impactful career as a respected journalist.

out things that aren’t well known and then share it in such a way that it’s impossible to ignore and people have to do something about it. This is when the things I do matter.

How did you break your way into the industry? I sent out my resumes and applied to a publication in Ontario, and they didn’t hire me, and I thought, “oh well maybe I won’t get anywhere in this business.” Then The Province had a sudden opening because somebody broke their leg on a ski hill, and I applied. I like to call it my big break.

Who in the industry do you look up to? In no particular order, Chad Skelton, Frances Bula, Mi-Jung Lee, I think she’s a great reporter and she’s managed to take personal things that have happened to her and make incredible stories. Eric Rankin. I could keep going.

Do you like being on-air? I appreciate that being on air gives you exposure and a platform, but for me that’s always been the price of doing business. If I didn’t have to be on-air to get what I needed done, maybe I wouldn’t. For me, the most important thing is the story and the facts that I can find out and share with people. What has been your proudest moment? The proudest moments are when you work hard on a story and find 46

Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2017

Most embarrassing on-air moment? This was early on. I watched this beluga give birth. One whale became two, and all these kids were there and I got on TV and I was just beaming. I was so happy; I just couldn’t control myself. I said so many silly things, like ‘as every parent knows, it took a lot to get to this point,’ things that didn’t make any sense. I was just so excited. How do you cope with the heavier stories you have done? In a way I was lucky, it was pretty early on when I had exposure to the worst

story I have ever done, and probably ever will, which is what happened on the Pickton farm. It was such an indepth documentary; we had to read all the court documents. When I realized what had happened on that farm, I remember feeling very sick to my stomach. It made me care a lot more about the people it happened to, so it sticks with you, but if you don’t empathize with the people you talk to then what good are you? You have to try and feel their pain, otherwise why are you doing what you’re doing? If it’s not someone like me who cares, then who will listen? A lot of the time, it’s nobody. Do you still hear from Robert Pickton? I still hear from him. It’s a funny relationship, I can’t think of another time I’ve had to talk to somebody like that. We have probably spent hours on the phone, lots of letters, I’m not totally sure I have understood him yet, I think he holds a lot back. I think there are more conversations to be had, that’s why I’ll always pick up the phone when he calls, because I don’t know if that’s the call where he’ll say something different.







Spring 2017 | Langara Journalism Review





Langara Journalism Review | Spring 2017