Tuesday, November 29, 2011


In my journalism class we read the book Hiroshima by John Hersey. It is an account of six characters in Japan after the atomic bomb was dropped. This is what I thought of it.

I think that the very first page in the book, Hiroshima, really works. It is a list of all the main characters in the book. Since the names in the book are foreign to me, I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of the characters. It was nice to have a list at the very front of the book to keep track of them.

I think what doesn't work in the book is the fact that there isn't a lot of dialogue. It was confusing to keep track of who I was reading about because there was little dialogue, which is usually a literary device that breaks up narrative. I also think it would have given better insight into the characters. I could imagine that the characters were feeling horrible after the bomb hit Japan, but I think that dialogue could have shown how the characters were really feeling, instead of me guessing. What if they weren't feeling horrible? What if they had other feeling when the bomb hit? I don't know, because I've never been in that situation.

In regards to what's missing, I think it is dialogue once again to clarify the characters and their reactions and feelings. I also was confused as to why people in Japan thought the doctor who brought the young Japanese girls or "maidens" to America would think that it was selfish or conceded. I think that could have used a little more explanation. To me, I could see where he would get recognition, but I also thought that it was a pretty good thing for him to help the girls scarred in the war.

I think that journalists can learn that sensationalism isn't needed when you have a really good story. The tone of Hiroshima is very dead pan, calm, not over exaggerated. When you have sentences that say people's skin peeled off when there hand was touched or that people's eyeballs melted down their face, there is no need for exaggeration. I think journalists can learn from Hersey to look for the engaging parts of a story, instead of adding one's own exaggerations.

Although they are not about the same topic, I liked the fact the Hersey in Hiroshima did not really insert his own thoughts or say directly what the characters were thinking opposed to Mike McIntye in To the Grave. To the Grave was a non-fiction book our journalism class read last year. I found Hiroshima to be more believable and true to the events that happened because Hersey's own comments were not included.

Hiroshima was first published in The New Yorker in 1946. It was so widely regarded that is was then published into a book and distributed all over the world with high sales.

When reading Hiroshima I often felt sick. I couldn't believe that one country could do this to another country. I understood that this happened in a time of war, but the suffering the Japanese people had to endure just doesn't seem right. The most chilling thing was that after all this suffering that countries still continued to develop atomic bombs. Could you imagine another bomb like that being dropped today? Frightening, especially after all we know.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just chatting journalism with Dawna Friesen

Friday night was a very exciting evening for this aspiring broadcast journalist.

I was lucky enough to attend the RRC Alumni dinner, where Global National anchor Dawna Friesen was the MC. Thank you to the wonderful Rachelle Taylor who offered me an extra ticket to attend.  

Joanne Kelly, my journalism instructor and past reporter for CTV and Shaw, was kind enough to encourage me, along with a group of other aspiring young journalists, to actually go up to Friesen and speak with her. 

As her necklace and earrings sparkled under the lights, Friesen generously passed on some valuable advice. It was surreal to just be chatting about journalism with Dawna Friesen. She took the time to speak with us for was seemed quite a while, and even asked us all what we wanted to do in the future. She shared with us that she started out peeling potatoes and working as a waitress right here in Manitoba. However, she shared with us that she always thought about how she could turn where she was to where she wanted to go next in life. 

She also shared with us that even though we might be covering stories that don't seem like the best, to try and tell them the best we could, because you never know what it might turn into. She also shared that she pretends that she's telling a story to one person when she anchors the news. 

To be honest, I was a little star struck. It was and is so inspiring to see how much she's accomplished starting right where I am right now. I tried to absorb as much as I could from her as a fellow CreCommer put her arm around Friesen and basically interviewed her for the rest of us wide eyed journalism majors. 

Friesen was down to earth and happy to share her experiences with us. One of the best moments was that she told all of us that we "could do it." 

Other highlights of the night were meeting Sylvia Kuzyk, seeing Global reporter Lauren McNabb again (I interned with her on election night) and meeting Gord Leclerc. Did you know Sylvia Kuzyk actually went to Red River College for nursing and when she first started in television she was shy? 

It was very inspiring to meet all of these successful journalists from Manitoba and to hear their encouraging words. It definitely encourages me that my goal to one day work as a television reporter is possible with hard work. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Something I Never Expected

To me, being a journalist is an awesome profession, which is pretty obvious since I'm studying it in school. Eventually, as a journalist you can cover big stories that everyone is talking about. This is what originally drew me to journalism: to be able to talk about the things that everyone is talking about...first. 

However, what I've learned this year is that I love the local stories too. The kind of stories that people don't know about that are happening right in their own community. I have learned this by working as a community journalist, a project we're doing through school with Canstar. I have loved getting to know what's going on in my community and telling everyone else about it through writing articles. Sure, it can be hard coming up with original story ideas and difficult to find sources, but once you have, it is so rewarding. 

This is also why I'm so excited to go on work placement. I think, it's not completely confirmed yet, that I am going to an organization that is all about local stories. I love local stories because they aren't covered because the people are famous. The stories are covered because what the people have done is truly interesting. To me, a good story is good because people want to hear about it because of what has happened, not because the person involved is a movie star.

Sure, I would love to be Anderson Cooper one day, covering everything big going on in the world, but I also realize that covering local stories that matter to people in my community that I live in is pretty rewarding too. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remembering Telling Stories

Last year for my first-year Journalism story I interviewed a veteran of the Second World War. He had amazing stories to tell. Although his stories were amazing, my article wasn't great. It wasn't great because I forgot to check my historical facts.

I had errors on the dates and historical happenings in my story. I was confused when I got my story back because I had taken everything the person I interviewed as fact and didn't check myself. This wasn't his fault at all. This was mine. As a journalist it is my job to make sure facts are right. Looking back, yeah it would have been nice to get both historical information and stories from my interview, but it's my job to make sure facts, numbers, and information are correct.

What I also realized from this was that there are amazing stories out there. I think that as long as there are stories to tell there will be jobs for journalists. On the topic of story telling and Remembrance Day, I'd also like to share a story I heard at an Evening with Peter Mansbridge last Friday.

I was fortunate enough to go for free thanks to my journalism instructors Duncan and Joanne and Red River College.

Manbridge shared three stories about what it was to be Canadian.

In 2005 Mansbridge was in Netherlands on the anniversary of D Day. He noticed thousands of men in their 80s walking down the street with thousands of people watching them in the rain. He spotted a mother holding her four year-old son. The young boy was giving high fives to the soldiers, so Mansbridge approached the mother and son and asked why she would bring her son out here. She said "I want my son to know what a Canadian is."

Mansbridge's story and my wonderful experience last year assures me that there are great stories out there to tell as a journalist. It also encourages me to encourage others to take the time to speak with someone who has gone to battle or had experience in military conflict. I guarantee they have seen things that you could never imagine and have amazing stories to tell, which really are a privilege to hear.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Investigative Journalism

I feel like we've been talking about the ethics of journalism a lot lately. Something that also reminded me about the debate on ethics in journalism was when I watched the documentary Chocolate: The Bitter Truth. It's about the child labour used in the chocolate industry. It's clearly horrible and unethical what some people in the chocolate industry have done to children (child labour, which doesn't allow them to attend school), but as a young journalist I was wondering was it ethical how they uncovered the issue? In the documentary a journalist goes undercover, and does some investigate journalism. Basically, the journalist lies and says poses as a chocolate trader. Is this ethical? Journalists are always told to identify themselves as journalists. Does this go away when it comes to investigative journalism? In the case where a journalist is trying to uncover injustice is it okay to be unethical by journalism standards? I think when uncovering injustice and when it comes to saving people's lives, you have to weigh the good compared to the bad. A little fib about being a chocolate trader vs. saving children's lives seems worth it to me. Here is the beginning of the doc below. You can watch the full doc at cbc.com and I really recommend it.