An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die. 


TODAY: Sportscaster James Duthie

James Duthie is host of the award-winning NHL on TSN. Outside of broadcasting, Duthie’s recent accomplishments include publishing two books in 2010: They Call Me Killer: Tales from Junior Hockey’s Legendary Hall-of-Fame Coach and The Day I (Almost) Killed Two Gretzkys.

Rick Reilly: “No Ordinary Joe” (Sports Illustrated, July 2003)

“It was one of the few columns I’ve actually clipped – wanted to read it to my kid, thought it was the best piece of writing I’d ever seen,” Duthie says. The story dates back to 20 years ago, when Kansas City Chiefs football player Joe Delaney jumped into a man-made pit of water to save three drowning boys, despite not knowing how to swim. He managed to pull out one boy, LeMarkits Holland, before drowning with the remaining two. The storyline is what struck Duthie: “I like that it was not your typical feel-good ending because the person he saved went on and made nothing of his life, got in trouble with the law and went to jail, even though Joe gave his life to save his.”

Gary Smith: “The Ripples from Little Lake Nellie” (Sports Illustrated, July 1993)

Gary Smith is one of the few writers whose byline Duthie seeks, and this particular piece stuck out for him. “It must’ve been written over 15 years ago,” he says, “but I remember it. It had a huge influence on me.” Written four months after Cleveland Indian pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin died in a boating accident, the piece explores the lives of the widows and their families’ grief. When asked how he felt while reading the piece, Duthie gushes, “Oh, I bawled. I’m a sucker for the sad stories. It was gut wrenching. He writes like he’s inside these people’s heads.”

Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (1997)

Duthie thinks this is one of Krakauer’s breakthrough books and a definite must-read. “I guess I’m a sucker for first-hand accounts too,” he says. This book recalls Krakauer’s climb up Mount Everest during the deadliest season in the mountain’s history. He reports on the sudden commercialization of Mount Everest and the shocking journey he and his fellow climbers endured. Duthie says, “Krakauer was lucky as lucky gets for a writer, if you think of the story he got to tell.”

Like this? Read more Must-Lists.
Feature writer Ian Brown 
Journalist and author Craig Silverman 
Journalist David Hayes 

Posted on March 31, 2011

So what have people been talking about this week in the digital world? More of the same, but with a few new twists.
We reported last week that the New York Times paywall was full of holes. The Nieman Journalism Lab put up a great discussion yesterday about the moral concerns of jumping the paywall, touching on many questions that have plagued ethicists since the advent of the Internet. For example, it’s generally wrong to take things that you’ve been asked to pay for, even if the price is outrageous or if it’s free elsewhere. Does this apply online? Is reading an online article for free the same thing as stealing a steak?

These are pertinent questions, of course. A Canadian survey was just released that finally put a number to the fact that no one wants to pay for news. Only four percent of respondents said they would pay to continue reading their favourite news site.
Two weeks ago we covered Google’s most recent change to their search algorithm, designed to help weed out content farms and poor quality sites. Now they’re at it again, adding a new “+1” functionality similar to the Facebook “Like” button. If you found a website helpful, clicking “+1” next to the search result will go a little ways towards bumping up their ranking for other people, particularly those in your Google network. The change is being rolled out slowly, but you can opt in right now if you like. Just like the algorithm change, this stands to favour creators of original and quality content – hopefully most journalists fall in that category.

Posted on March 31, 2011


It’s official — Hearst Corp., a US-based magazine publisher, has bought French publisher Lagardere’s international magazines. The final transaction will take place in months to follow, but the purchase agreement has been signed for a cool $917.7 million US.

Hearst has acquired 102 titles in 15 countries — including Elle outside of France and Red in Britain and the Netherlands — from Lagardere. But Lagardere will keep the Elle trademark and receive yearly royalties from sales. The deal also includes digital operations compromising 50 websites and several mobile and tablet applications.

This merger will make Hearst the second largest US magazine publisher by circulation and the largest publisher in the world by number of editions, reports The Wall Street Journal. Although this purchase is encouraging for the print industry, it is rumoured that there may be work force downsizing of 30 percent or more.

Frank Bennack, Hearst Corp. chief executive, told TheWall Street Journal last month, “We think ink-on-paper magazines will be with us for a very long time and we want to strengthen our hand.” As the deal inches closer to completion, Hearst has named Simon Horne as CFO and general manager for Heart Magazines International.


Posted on March 30, 2011

CBC Radio is diving right into the political arena, promising an election coverage smorgasboard. If you're a political junkie, CBC is promising no less than nine shows which will spend time on the election. Our pick for most interesting CBC election coverage? Rex Murphy's Cross Country Checkup, Sundays at 4 p.m., Eastern Time.

Meanwhile, the BBC is promising comprehensive coverage of a serious news story of their own - announcing the broadcast teams for Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding.

Back to the CBC, it's Hip Hop Month on CBC Radio 2. The Torontoist recently caught up with CBC content manager Dalton Higgins to explain why they chose Hip Hop, and why it matters.

That's it for this week on the Latest in Radio. Don't forget to tip your waitresses - we'll be here all week (locked up in the RRJ office with periodical visits to the world outside...).

Posted on March 29, 2011

 If you couldn’t make the symposium on women in the media last week, here’s the lowdown on what you missed.
“‘Equal’ in the Newsroom: More Like Sweet and Low”



Moderated by Ann Rauhala, director of the newspaper stream at the Ryerson School of Journalism, she spent 16 years at The Globe and Mail where she worked as a copy editor, assignment editor, beat reporter, foreign editor and featured columnist.
With panelists:

Karen Levine, prize-winning producer with CBC Radio, who for many years worked on CBC programs including As It Happens, The Sunday Edition and originally produced Hana’s Suitcase as a radio documentary before making it into a book.

Sadia Zaman has spent her entire career in television, both on the screen and behind the scenes. She’s currently director of in-house production at VisionTV and has worked at CBC radio and television in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, as well as TVOntario.

Judith Timson is an award-winning freelance journalist and author whose writing about politics, business, social issues and popular culture has appeared in many of Canada’s leading magazines and newspapers. After writing columns in The Globe’s Report on Business, Careers and Focus sections, she began a weekly column in the Life section in late 2007.

Kathy English the Toronto Star's public editor. She has reported and edited for the Hamilton Spectator, London Free Press, Toronto Sun, and The Globe and Mail. Kathy taught newspaper journalism at the Ryerson School of Journalism for 10 years and served five years on the board of the National Newspaper Awards.

AR - The average female news director is white, middle aged, middle income and has a less likely chance of having children them other women their age [funnily enough all the panelists and the moderator all have at least one child]. There have been papers written about how women report differently than men, namely that women include more nut graphs, are more descriptive and use more local sources; in other words they are good journalists.

SZ - It’s discouraging to be a woman of colour in this industry. Through a concentrated effort, the CBC has made itself one of the only places where women are in a lot of management roles. “Absolutely yes,” she has experienced discrimination because she’s a woman, specifically when she was being interviewed for a job as an educational journalist, she found out years later that she didn’t get the job because she had a funny name and they didn’t think she would fit into their viewer demographic. In the last few years she has decided to shoot for executive positions where the decisions get made, and she got them.

KL - During a five-hour ride home from Ottawa where she had nothing to do other than listen to the radio Karen was enraged to hear nothing but male presenters and male guests. It’s not enough to just promote women into management roles, it will make no difference if the stories don’t reflect the opinions of women. Noticing is half the battle; male sources and voices send the message that women’s voices aren’t important. Change only happens when it’s demanded, it’s only demanded when it’s made a priority and it’s only a priority when zealots are in charge. She’s nervous about the road ahead and that in a post-feminist 21st century young journalists won’t keep up the fight.

JT - When she first started as a journalist in the 70s, sexual innuendo plagued her and her other young female colleagues. Although this overt sexism would never be tolerated today, she still gets unbelievable sexist and ageist comments on some of her articles. “Don’t assume it’s over, it’s not over and you need to speak up.”

KE - Showed regret that she allowed a male editor to remove the fact that she is an mother of two from her writer bio. Journalists tend to try to hid the fact that they are mothers because of the idea that a woman can’t be both a mother (who can pick her children up at daycare every night) and a journalist (who in theory should be able to drop everything for a breaking story). When she started in her 20s she realized that men were getting the hard news stories where women were getting all the fluff, her worst was a doggie fashion show. But she is happy to see her graduated students take on management roles in newsrooms.

Their last pieces of advice to young journalists about addressing inequalities in journalism…

KE - Find mentors, it’s important to have people to look up to, talk to each other and share issues.
JT - Trust your instincts and find your voice, it doesn’t matter how stupid a story seems, propose it.
SZ - Leave Toronto and turn your back on every obvious story you have ever seen. Think about what’s missing and go get that story.

Posted on March 29, 2011

Even if opposition leaders did not support the 2011-2012 budget released by the federal government Tuesday - and set the ball rolling for a likely spring election - there is some good news: the figures announced by Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty include hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent toward digital media production and content development in Canada.
The Conservative government will provide $100 million each year to the Canada Media Fund starting April 1, 2011, one year after it first officially opened for business with a mandate to help companies produce quality content available on multiple platforms, not just TV. Now media formats that work on the Internet, wireless devices and other new platforms need to be considered.
This influx of cash is a significantly heftier amount than the budget plan from 2009, when the government said it would give what was then called the Canada New Media Fund $28.6 million over two years and then $14 million a year after that.
"With the help of this commitment, the CMF will continue to drive innovation and to support Canada's creative talent in contributing to our competitiveness in the global marketplace for content," Valerie Creighton, president and CEO of the CMF told Broadcaster magazine recently.  "This is most welcome news for the industry as a whole."
In total, combined with the funding the CMF receives from various Canadian cable and satellite distributors, the CMF could potentially provide over $350 million to the television and digital media industry in 2011-2012, the organization reported.
As well, the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) will receive $80 million in new funding over three years to help smaller companies adopt new information and communications technologies. Compare that with past initiatives in this area, like the 2009 budget’s $750 million for the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and it doesn’t amount to much.
We will have to wait to see if this investment by the government will stimulate innovation in the digital content Canadian media produce. Issues like broadband policies and foreign media ownership still need to be addressed. If there is a federal election, perhaps all parties will offer substantial digital economy strategies. The media can only hope.

Posted on March 25, 2011


Free NYTimes Twitter  

The New York Times has been testing its long awaited pay wall in Canada for the past week – and already people have gleefully devised multiple ways to get around it.

The pay wall – which will go live in the U.S. on Monday – requires readers to pay $15 to $35 a month, depending on whether they want access via smartphone or iPad app. The first 20 articles per month are free, however.

Some of the loopholes are intentional. The Times does not count articles linked through social networking sites towards that limit. Readers can also access five articles a day through Google, although the search engine Bing allegedly has no such restriction.

The authorized ways to access articles free of charge have proved insufficient for some enterprising techies. Taking advantage of the social networking loophole, the Twitter feed @freenytimes is automatically updated with a fresh link whenever the paper publishes an article. And Canadian programmer David Hayes (no relation to the writer) created NYTClean  on Tuesday, a "bookmarklet" that tears down the pay wall with one click and only four lines of JavaScript.

According to an interview with Forbes, the Times is putting pressure on Twitter to close down @freenytimes, but has no plans to change their programming code to dodge NYTClean. Whether the paper decides to further combat such measures will depend on their game plan, but the events of the last week have proven that launching a pay wall can be an even more harrowing prospect than we already knew.

Posted on March 24, 2011

maisonneuve              readersdigest 

Carmine Starnino, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Maisonneuve, recently announced he will be stepping down to join Reader’s Digest, “Canada’s most trusted magazine.” Starnino has worked part-time for Reader’s Digest in the past, and he will now be taking on a full-time position there as senior editor. RD has been declared as being the most influential Canadian magazine ever, and whether one agrees with this sentiment or not, Starnino’s move appears to be a good one based on a recent report prepared by Hill Strategies Research of Hamilton for the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and Canadian Heritage.

To sum up, the coverage of the report by the Globe and Mail, indicated that Canadians were reading fewer magazines in the first part of the most recent decade. In 2008, 46 percent of Canadian households reported spending any money on magazines, down from 54 percent in 2001. You can find the full study on Canadians’ spending on books and magazines here. Yet despite some of the negative numbers, Reader’s Digest English-edition has been cited as the “Canadian for-pay magazine with the biggest circulation in the country.”
In place of Starnino, Maisonneuve will be welcoming in Drew Nelles as editor-in-chief. Nelles has been with the nearly decade-old publication since 2009.

Posted on March 23, 2011
 An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die. 


TODAY: Writer, editor and pop culture critic Hal Niedzviecki

Hal Niedzviecki is the author of ten books including The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbours, which was listed as one of Oprah’s top-25 reads for the summer and the inspiration of the much-anticipated documentary of the same name. He is the co-founder of Broken Pencil, the magazine of zine culture and the independent arts as well as the annual Canzine festival of underground culture. 

Doug Saunders: Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World (2011)

 “As far as I can tell, it’s about the rise of the urban and how the entire world is basically going to be big, massive cities, which I think is really interesting. I’ve often commented on the illusion that Canada is a rural country when, just about everyone lives in cities and suburbs clustered along the American/Canadian border and we are in fact intensely urban and intensely technological.”

Adrian Grenier's Teenage Paparazzo (2010)

[Documents the relationship between 14-year-old paparazzo Austin Visschedyk and actor Adrian Grenier.]

“This is nothing, even remotely serious about world issues, which I suppose I should have an interest in, but I tend to avoid those types of documentaries. These are the types of stories I live to tell, or like to see being told. Just that whole idea of people really trying to enter pop culture in the fullest way possible. Because of course even today the vast majority of human beings are not going to be celebrities, or have any contact with celebrities. So the ways in which people try to get around that fact, that indisputable fact that celebrity will always be a precious commodity and if you want to get your hands on it it’s going to be very difficult. In many ways that’s been the staple of my non-fiction writing and my journalistic career.”

Wiretap with Jonathan Goldstein (CBC Radio)

“It’s Goldstein! It’s Goldstein saying a bunch of stupid sh-it with his dumb friends. Every once and a while it breaks into the sublime, almost by accident, but really, there’s nothing else like it on the CBC that’s for sure, or really not much like it on radio in general. It’s just kind of my wavelength.”

Like This? Read more Must-Lists:

Feature writer Chris Jones 
Sportscaster James Duthie 
Feature writer Trevor Cole 

Posted on March 23, 2011

An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die.



TODAY: Journalist Linden MacIntyre 

Linden MacIntyre is co-host of The Fifth Estate, CBC Television’s investigative journalism program. He has written several books, most notably The Bishop’s Man, which won the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize. MacIntyre lives in Toronto.

Harvey Cashore: “Luck of the Draw ” (The Fifth Estate, CBC Television, original air dates: October 25, 2006; November 22, 2006; March 14, 2007)

“This story has been unfolding for several years, driven to a very large extent by the work of a little team of people here at The Fifth Estate. Three years ago we did a piece about a family who we had [a] very persuasive reason to believe stole a lottery ticket worth $12.5 million.

The piece was part of an ongoing series, where people were routinely getting fucked by corporate store owners, and the lottery corporation was unwilling to risk loss of public confidence by acknowledging these things. Eventually, after several of these stories, the lottery corporation had to start taking a strong internal look at things, and eventually the OPP had to get off its ass. Now, years after the fact, they’re trying to find the people who should’ve won the $12.5 million in 2003.”

Seymour Hersh: “The My Lai Massacre Coverage” (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 1969)

“Just google him, he’s one of the most famous reporters of our age. He took on stories that challenged orthodox beliefs in what was going on and some of the key assumptions that were legitimizing the war in Vietnam, for example. His journalism helped give a total reassessment of that war and contributed to political decisions to get out of it. He’s one of those inspirational guys over many years, one of those grassroots, very down-to-earth types. He’s not a celebrity journalist — he’s just one of those guys who rolls up his sleeves and goes at things.”

David Barstow: “Message Machine” (The New York Times, April 20, 2008)

“The third example is from a friend of mine who works at The New York Times. He has won two Pulitzers during the time I’ve known him, over the last five or six years. The one piece of work that truly impressed me was a major investigative piece he did for The New York Times about retired generals and military officers who were popping up on network television in the U.S. and in Canada to act as ‘independent analysts’ during the war in Iraq. Their analysis was actually based on personal agendas, either because of consulting work they did with military suppliers or because of the connections they had with the Pentagon or political figures in the Bush administration.

He was able to pursue that in huge length and to document egregious conflicts of interest. Barstow found that they were promoting all sorts of vested interests, not sitting up there as objective analysts, but as representatives of various commercial and political interests. That’s a fraud, so you expose it. Now whether or not they stopped doing it, I don’t know, but the fact is that people know now.”

Posted on March 22, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

Postmedia to Go Public

On Tuesday, March 15, Postmedia Network Canada Corp. filed a preliminary non-offering prospectus in order to list its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange. According to the Globe and Mail, the potential listing comes as no surprise because the lenders who bought the company formerly known as CanWest made the condition that Postmedia was to be listed on the TSX by this July. According to the CBC, Postmedia is the largest English-language newspaper publisher in Canada, owning 11 daily newspapers.

Yukon News Sues CBC

The CBC’s investigative reporter Nancy Thomson might be found in contempt of court today if she does not reveal her sources from her 2004 report to the Supreme Court. Thompson obtained 11 anonymous interviews in Watson Lake, when she conducted a story on drug abuse in that small southern Yukon town. According to the CBC, The Yukon News is being sued for defamation by Watson Lake’s only pharmacist, Dr. Said Secerbegovic, after the newspaper wrote an editorial praising Thomson’s report. The Yukon News wants Thomson’s sources revealed as part of its defence. Ivor Shapiro, Ryerson University’s media law professor, told the CBC, “I’m completely stunned that one news organization would sue another news organization to reveal their sources.”

Posted on March 21, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

The stats have been pouring in over the last year, and they all point to one thing: online news is set to dominate the media landscape.

This week the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released their annual State of the News Media report, which found that online consumption of news has finally surpassed newspapers for the first time.Thirty-four percent of American respondents said they got news online “yesterday,” compared to only 31 per cent for newspapers. Television has by far the largest audience with 58 percent. Radio is tied with online, but is declining.

These numbers come a few months after eMarketer reported that the web has surpassed newspapers in terms of advertising revenue as well. This is all especially significant for Canadians consumers – according to comScore, we’re the most engaged online audience in the world, ranking first in average hours spent and visits per person. You can download the 2010 Canada Digital Year in Review here.

This week’s Pew study is crammed full of information on industry trends across all mediums – it’s worth a look no matter your purview.

Posted on March 17, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.


Condé Nast — publisher of the New Yorker, Vogue and Wired, to name a few — announced at the South by Southwest Conference that the company intends to have digital versions of all its 20-plus magazines by the end of the year.

But Condé Nast executive Rick Levine says he is wary of Apple’s dominance in the tablet market. In a report by WWD Media Levine says the marketplace needs to be competitive in order for it to be successful, but he says, “"for the foreseeable future, Apple will rule the roost in terms of the marketplace."


Meanwhile, Meredith Corp. is introducing its first iPad editions of Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and Fitness magazines. The digital verions will have interactive features complementing the specific publications; Parents readers will be able to browse toys and Fitness readers will be able to view workout videos. Better Homes and Gardensis currently the largest circulated iPad magazine. But like Condé Nast, Meredith Corp. will also explore digital editions for Google Android.


Posted on March 16, 2011

An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die.


TODAY: Broadcaster and documentary filmmaker Howard Green

Howard Green is a journalist, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker. He is anchor of the Business News Network’s Headline and Market Call, and the director, writer and co-producer of the Gemini Award-winning documentary The Investigation of Swissair 111.

Robert MacNeil:The Right Place at the Right Time (1982)
“The title says it all. Robert MacNeil truly was in the right place at the right time. He was in Dallas when President Kennedy was shot; he was in Berlin when the Wall was put up; and in Cuba during the missile crisis. What stuck with me about this book is MacNeil’s sensible, thoughtful and civilized approach to journalism, especially in how he approaches and reports on people. It’s a touchstone on how to practise journalism, and I’ve gone back and reread it a few times throughout my career.”

Paul Hamann: Fourteen Days in May (1987)
“Documentaries have been a huge part of my professional life. I saw this BBC documentary in Philadelphia in 1988 at Input, an international public-television conference. It’s a startlingly emotional film about a Mississippi inmate on death row and the final 14 days of his life before he is executed. You really get to know this man, the doubt surrounding the crime he is convicted of, the inmate’s family and the guy who runs the prison. You get inside these people’s lives, inside their heads, and the clock is ticking down the whole time, and then you’re with him, that night, the night of his execution. There is an unbelievable scene where the film crew says goodbye. It is one of those films that you watch and then have to go for a long walk to clear your head because it was so powerful.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves (2009)
“I have this book dog-eared on my desk and have had the author on my program. It’s a fly-on-the-wall book about the financial crisis and its meltdown. You really get a feel for what key people in Washington and Wall Street were doing, what they were saying to each other, what meetings they went to, what phone calls they had and what they were thinking, minute by minute. It’s very much like watching a documentary. What could be more vivid than former treasury secretary Henry Paulson vomiting in his office as he dealt with the crushing stress? It is a real page-turner of a crisis occurring before your eyes, and the speed at which it was researched and written was astonishing.”

Posted on March 16, 2011

First up, NPR – chief executive Vivian Schiller resigned this week, after a video of a senior NPR fundraising executive was caught on video blasting Republicans and the Tea Party. The video and the resignation both come at a terrible time for the beleaguered public broadcaster, as the organization is already facing Republican attempts to cut funding.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the BBC has been mulling axing local programming (with the exception of morning and afternoon shows) in favour of national programming, cutting up to 700 jobs. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has spoken out against the cuts, but the BBC may have no choice, after British Broadcasting was forced to accept austerity measures last October.

We’ve been following the Toronto sports radio wars for the past few weeks – the FAN 590 has finally decided on their new morning radio hosts, hiring Greg Brady and Jim Lang to go up against TSN Radio’s Mike Murphy. Lang and Murphy are already on the air – Murphy’s new show debuts April 13.

Finally, CBC Radio celebrated a milestone last week, as the “Fisheries Broadcast” celebrated its 60th anniversary. The program is the CBC’s oldest currently-running current affairs program.

Posted on March 14, 2011

 Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

Missing the variety of documentaries featured at TIFF? Think the only other time to see award-winning documentaries is at Hot Docs? Here is another opportunity to get your fix for in-depth and analytical films throughout the year.

Last September, the Toronto International Film Festival opened its very own theatre in downtown Toronto, the Bell Lightbox. They’ve recently had a successful run with the Tim Burton exhibition, the first Museum of Modern Art  display to come to the city in over 20 years. Now they’re hoping other exhibitions and international films will keep the crowds coming back.

You can catch some films celebrated at this year’s Human Rights Watch, like The First Grader directed by Justin Chadwick from the United Kingdom. This feature-length engaging piece tells the story of eighty-four-year-old Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge, who showed up at the doorstep of a local school when the Kenyan government announced an offer for free primary education.

Checking out work by international journalists is becoming easier as well. TIFF is advertising the documentary Enemies of the People by Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin. The Cambodian journalist tells his own tragic story and the oppressive history of his country in this illuminating and chilling feature. His family was killed by the Khmer Rouge regime, one of many families who suffered horrible violence at their hands. Winner of the Sundance’s World Cinema Special Jury Price for Documentaries, this film will linger in your mind long after you see it.

These are just two examples of international films that will provoke you to think, smile, shed a tear, and explore issues more deeply. Check and see if your own city has a monthly film festival!

Posted on March 11, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

Google announced two weeks ago that it altered its search algorithms to help weed out low quality results and content farms – sites largely consisting of plagiarized material – and the aftershocks are still being felt across the web.

Who exactly won and lost is still subject to analysis and speculation. But for some, the change fell like the fist of an angry, capricious god. Some so-called content farms were hardly affected at all while other perfectly legitimate sites saw their traffic nosedive. One start-up had to lay off 10 percent of their employees.

It should come as no surprise that companies can live or die based on their Google search ranking. Search engine optimization has long been critical to survival on the web, especially for sites that subsist off page views and advertising impressions (as most news sites do). It’s a frightening reality that companies like Google and Apple, which control digital infrastructure, have tremendous power over who flourishes and who fails.

It might seem like news properties and other creators of original content have cause to celebrate over the demise of sites that steal their work. But posting material from other sites has never solely been the purview of shady bloggers.

“Reusing material and re-purposing it was basic long before the Internet,” says Jay Rosen, press critic, writer and professor of journalism at New York University. “Anyone complaining about that is just complaining about it sped up.” Most news properties today take part in some form of aggregation or “curating” for personal gain. Without that mainstay of the Internet, the humble RRJ blog might be a very barren place indeed.

(Ed's Note: It’s unclear whether the change, which was initially rolled out in the U.S. only, has been applied to yet.)






Posted on March 10, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

CMC Mag 



Canadian Magazines Canadiens (CMC) has launched its debut issue with the mandate to provide publishing professionals with “innovative ideas, best practices and access to new technologies and investment capital” to 67 countries worldwide — forget starting small.

The bilingual magazine is proud to promote the success of Canada’s magazines across the world and is published biannually both in print and in digital editions. CMC’s press release lists industry professionals contributing to the magazine, including Kim Pittaway, former editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, Deborah Rosser, former publisher of Canadian Business, D.B. Scott, creator of and Madeleine LeBlanc, freelance writer and former associate editor at EnRoute.

CMC targets decision makers in all areas of the publishing field; 54 percent of circulation is dedicated to Canadian publishing professionals and 22 percent to international publishing professionals. The magazine’s readership includes publishers, CEOs and designers, to name a few.

The pages of CMC are clearly divided into English and French content, and it uses clean lines and a simple layout to help keep it coherent. To read CMC’s launch issue click here.

GO Canada GO!


Posted on March 09, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums. 

Newspaper Pile 

Canadian Newspapers Holding Their Own Despite Doubts

A couple weeks ago, the Toronto Star’s David Olive reported newspapers are not only still profitable, but also readership is at record levels. In fact, StatsCan said the pre-tax profit margin for Canadian newspapers last year averaged out to be 9.9 per cent, and 77 per cent of Canadian adults read a print or online version of the newspaper each week.

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade blogged about Olive’s article the very next day, and he went so far as to say that Canada is possibly “about to defy the trend in the rest of the west by becoming the last refuge for printed newspapers.” It’s a pretty bold statement coming from someone who lives in a nation where there are over a dozen daily, national newspapers.

According to Suzanne Raitt, vice-president of marketing at Newspapers Canada in an interview with the Star Phoenix, even Canadian newspapers’ online editions are faring better than the American counterparts in ad revenues, up 16 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

“…more than half of Canadians read the print product, but they also go for different reasons to all the other devices,” Raitt said.

On March 2, the Financial Post reported revenues at Star Media of the Torstar Corp. (publisher of the dailies including Toronto Star and Metroland) at $416 million, well above the estimated $397 million.

And you thought newspapers were doomed…


Posted on March 08, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

Vancouver’s Redeye radio show provides listeners a progressive take on current events. The independent radio program, which has been on air for over 30 years, is broadcast live every Saturday morning on Vancouver Cooperative Radio, CFRO 102.7FM.

This week, Redeye features an interview with Ali Abunimah, adviser for the recently established Palestine Advisory Network, who offers insight about Mubarak’s resignation in Egypt, and the role of the Palestinian Authority in the changing political sphere.The interview is a part of Rabble’s podcast network and can be found here.

As well, two very different, but equally captivating segments in journalism analysis, were broadcast by CBC Radio One recently. The first is titled ‘Too Few Women in Publishing’, and shows a startling lack of bylines as well as a substantial female presence on staff in most major magazines. The second is an interview with Brian Deer, the investigative journalist who discovered the false claims behind the vaccine-autism link controversy.

Listen to both shows here.

Posted on March 07, 2011

 An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die.

 Ian Brown Blog 

TODAY: Ian Brown

Toronto-based journalist Ian Brown is a roving feature reporter for The Globe and Mail and host of The View From Here, as well as Human Edge, on TVOntario. He won the 2010 Charles Taylor Prize, a $25,000 award that recognizes excellence in non-fiction, for his memoir, The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for his Disabled Son.
Ian Frazier: Great Plains 

“He tells an incredibly complicated story in an incredibly clear, accessible and moving way. He takes a subject that would seem fairly uninteresting – the Great Plains – and proves exactly the opposite. He’s a brilliant writer. At one point, he’s describing listening to the radio while driving across the plains, and he describes how a good bluegrass song, like ‘My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darling’ by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, comes at you ‘like a truckload of turkey gobblers.’ If you’ve ever heard that song, or heard a song like that, c’mon, that’s exactly the way the song comes on – like a truckload of turkey gobblers. He has a very precise way of writing and he’s very free. He never tells a story in a way that you’d expect a story to be told. I re-read it every year.”
Tom Wolfe: “The Last American Hero is Junior Johnson ”
“First of all, [Tom Wolfe] goes into the South that’s supposed to be about southern revivalism and conservatism and races, and what he finds is this incredibly vital car culture. Within that car culture, he finds the biggest hero of all the car fans, Junior Johnson. Then he finds out what made Junior Johnson who he was. [Wolfe] connects up NASCAR with running moonshine and he does it in a way that makes it seem like he’s sitting right next to the guy. That’s pretty hard to do. Once you’re in a story and you’re part of it and you’re driving down the road with Junior Johnson, it feels like he’s at your side; it feels like you’re in the car with him. To actually put a reader into the scenes…that’s pretty skilled and requires an incredible amount of reporting.”

Nicholson Baker: U and I: A True Story 

“In terms of writing about books and reading, you would go a long way to find something better than Nicholson Baker’s little book called U and I: A True Story. Books are pretty serious things. Literature – it’s almost like the pinnacle of cultural achievement. So most writers, when they write about books, get pretty serious and respectful, and they write about ideas and why this idea matters and they try to connect to strains or examples, partly to make them sound smart and partly to make the story sound smart. Baker does that too. He traces the influences of Updike, but he also writes about books and literature in a way that actually affects you. He’s not writing about the way Updike influenced him just as a writer... he’s also writing about the way an older, famous writer can really start to obsess a younger, yearning writer that’s completely ridiculous and irrational. It’s beyond belief how good it is. As a piece of critical writing, it’s very astute, but as a piece of reporting, it’s really brilliant and honest.”


Posted on March 07, 2011
Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums. 


We often find hidden gems on the National Film Board website. From black and white documentaries set in the 1920’s to feature-length pieces examining current events, the free site is an easy way to get more in-depth than a one-minute news segment can offer. To give you a taste, we’ll share two documentaries and what they add to the critical side of journalism. 

Many of us remember the horrors of the Robert Pickton trial, but how many of us can remember the names of the victims. This next documentary reminds us. Dawn Cray, Ramona Wilson and Daleen Kay Bosse are among an estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered over the past 30 years. And with hundreds of the cases waiting to be solved, the need for greater attention inspired Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh to tell the stories of her forgotten sisters.

 Finding Dawn - 2 

In Finding Dawn, Welsh puts a human face to a national tragedy. Her documentary offers insight into the daily realities of many Aboriginal women in Western Canada, from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia to Saskatoon. Winner of the Audience Gold Award at the 2006 Amnesty International Film Festival in Vancouver, the documentary stays away from gruesome details but burdens viewers with the sorrow of families and friends. This is a story that continues, a story that deserves attention, a story crying out for action.

Regent Park

Another documentary that also should be commended is Invisible City by Hubert Davis, one that also looks at societal problems within our own country. Regent Park in Toronto has been in and out of the news camera in recent years.  This short piece brings light to a situation that often is hidden.  Canada’s oldest public housing complex is facing “revitalization” projects aiming to put an end to the community. The director focuses on boys growing up in the neighbourhood, often expected to take on more responsibility than most children their age. The Best Canadian Feature at 2009’s Hot Docs shows the physical destruction as well as the heart-wrenching emotional destruction that families face. Davis brings up the fact that public housing is meant to be transitional, a stepping stone towards independence. The supports are not there and often people can’t take the step on their own. Invisible City invites audiences to look again at what is occurring and ask the questions: why and at what cost.

Posted on March 04, 2011

In the past two months, social media outlets and the news have been flooded with accounts of protests and freedom in the Middle East and North Africa. As I write, reporters are cover efforts by the Canadian government to get its citizens out of Libya. But are audiences missing out? What constraints are mainstream media putting on themselves?

The mainstream media has concentrated on reporting about the violence and danger, and has been cautious to criticize dictatorships and regimes.  Television screens have been flooded with images of soldiers and protesters pitted against each other but rarely delving into the reasons behind the protests and what they means for the region as a whole. In December’s New Internationalist, journalist John Pilger says, “The coverage of war (or uprisings) should be this eyewitness but it should also try to tell us why. That means journalists not colluding but investigating.” In coverage of the recent events in the Middle East and North Africa journalists have been quick to report eyewitness accounts especially through Twitter, but might be slower to conduct deeper investigation.

KimElliott, publisher of, an alternative news site, has seen mainstream Canadian media shift in how they present the protests in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.  “Some of the weakest coverage I saw on Canadian TV was on CBC,” she said.  Presumably to appear balanced the CBC  continued to name the clashes between the thugs hired by the Mubarak government to turn protests violent as “pro-Mubarak supporters fighting against anti-Mubarak protesters”. This identified the two parties as equal, at a time when Al Jazeera had identified the pro-Mubarak people as paid provocateurs and CNN was calling them “thugs”. This coverage was featured when the Canadian government continued to support the regime while the rest of the world called for his resignation. “The critical coverage of this stance seemed underplayed,” Elliott adds.

Likewise, mainstream media fears the “anti-Semitic” label when covering stories in another part of the Middle East, Israel-Palestine. “Many self-censor from criticizing Israel in their coverage, or from reporting simple factual stories about Israel’s actions in some instances, for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic,” says Elliott.  In her view, being critical doesn’t necessarily mean being anti-Israel either.  “One isn’t anti-Canada when we criticize an action of the Harper government, right?”

At the same time, journalists have been jumping from place to place, adding to “hot spot journalism”. “Certainly there is value to having on the ground coverage in a sustained way, and the attempts to intimidate journalists and create a media black out by the Egyptian and other governments illustrate how important it is to have media on the ground. But one has to wonder if resources would be better to spent in pooling coverage,” Elliott suggests. Journalists found their way to the region without knowing how to contextualize the news stories. Mainstream media reporters did arrive in Cairo the weekend before intense violence erupted, but a number of them didn’t have experience covering the region or a fragile political zone.  Most then left before the turning point because their organizations couldn’t afford sustained coverage. It is the audiences that suffer from this incomplete coverage and analysis.

In order for coverage to shift though, the mainstream media has to prioritize this kind of presentation. News organizations could reconsider how much money they spend on covering international issues, besides the States and Europe. Pooling resources might mean not every organization would need a journalist to cover the protests, but rather having access to journalists already in the place who clearly understood the context.  With alternative sources, the biggest restraint is their budget. “Where we have an advantage,” says Elliott, “is in credibility among advocacy and non-profit organizations working on the ground.” Alternative media may not have the budget to be on the ground, but their coverage is not self-censored out of concern for government or corporate funders.

What may spur a change in mainstream media? Al Jazeera's arrival may force other mainstream media to improve their coverage of the Middle East, but that’s not a sure thing. For new journalists and those continuing to cover the region, it is best to read from a variety of political perspectives and ask as much as possible to understand the whole context before you report.

If you're looking for sources of critical and fuller coverage of protests and tensions in the Middle East and North Africa, try these sites: Al Jazeera, Democracy Now and the Guardian.

Posted on March 04, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

Mark your calendars. Our friends at recently announced the date of their next conference — April 6, 2011 at the Drake Hotel Underground. The Future of Media is a series of panel discussions about how current trends, technologies and innovations in social media affect us. It’s held in Toronto twice every year, usually in September and April.

Future of Media 

The Future of Media is one of the only events in which you’ll see a diverse group of media moguls gathered together in one room arguing and talking about the changing media landscape. Sometimes they agree, sometimes they don’t. From the role of mobile devices to digital media revenue, it’ll all be covered. Expect the panellists to also discuss how social media will have an impact on reporting about the current political protests in the Middle East and Africa, and how new apps and technologies are changing news organizations’ approach to media.

The panel discussion usually lasts about an hour and a half. After that the event features an interactive Q&A session with people on Facebook, Twitter and the live audience. Previous speakers have been the likes of Facebook Canada’s Elmer Sotto and Tim Shore of blogTO notoriety. This year’s panellists will be:

- Jamie Angus, acting head of news at BBC World News.
- Jon Taylor, senior director of content for CTV Digital Media.
- Chris Boutet, senior producer for digital media at the National Post.
- Mathew Ingram, a senior writer at GigaOM. He’s a former columnist for the Globe and Mail and he co-founded the mesh conference.
- Kathy Vey, editor-in-chief of OpenFile. She held various editorial positions at the Toronto Star.

Even though admission is free, you need a ticket to get in, and it’s usually standing room only. According to their Twitter feed, tickets sold out pretty quickly (this year, within four hours!). But fear not—you can be put on their waiting list by emailing

If you end up missing this year’s event, will include a written recap and even YouTube videos of the panel discussion. Here’s a video from last year’s The Future of Media.

Posted on March 03, 2011

Overwhelmed by information? Buried by media? The RRJ is here to help with a new daily section designed to keep you up with the latest and greatest journalism, across all mediums.

To cap off the end of the month, the magazine world saw a new launch: design, food and travel magazine Dabble went online Monday.


Despite so many magazines launching digital these days, according to the 21st World Ad Conference, print continues to provide the bulk of revenue. One of the reasons being that magazine and newspaper companies are the only ones that can offer print as part of the multimedia-advertising package—“a unique advantage offering advertising effectiveness, audience loyalty and an attractive environment for advertisers,” said Editor and Publisher. Still, these magazines’ creators seem attracted to the freedom you get by going online. 
An article that appeared in the Calgary Herald just before Dabble’s launch discussed the new mag’s advantage of space.  It was also a big reason shelter book Covet Garden chose the online route in September: “to save the costs of print, and avoid the hassles of page count,” according to Masthead Online. Dabble’s debut issue manages to pack-in designer profiles, lush layouts of living spaces, and a step-by-step guide to a designer’s process. That’s just a few pieces in the first portion of the publication. Then there’s the travel section, complete with stops in the Grenadine Islands, Nashville, Ethiopia and Prague, among other locations. The food section provides readers with recipes for coffees around the globe, and a how-to on making sushi with Dabble’s resident chef. It’s all packaged in a sleek and fairly simple layout—not that you would expect much less from a magazine said to celebrate good design in its many forms. 

Here’s a list of some of the latest online magazine launches:

-WorkLivePlay Café is geared towards tech-savvy women who want to know about the latest digital trends and learn how to incorporate them into their daily lives.

- Queeries is directed at Canadian Queer women, but also welcomes other like-minded people, no matter how they identify.

- Real Style emerged from the Real Style network and is specifically focused on celebrity, shopping and fashion for women.

- The Kit calls itself “Canada’s Beauty Authority,” an informative and progressive source for beauty.

- Covet Garden is a design magazine based on spaces that haven’t been styled by interior decorators and reflect those who live in them.

Posted on March 02, 2011