Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Press box etiquette

During the past few months, I've had the pleasure of interning with the Winnipeg Jets and hanging around the press box at the MTS Centre.

One important thing I've picked up is press box etiquette. You see, I've been to both Leafs games (You all know how big of a fan I am), but I've never gotten up and cheered...but I will admit I did do a small fist pump.

When you are surrounded by media professionals and players from both teams, it seems inappropriate to celebrate or watch the game as a "fan." However, there have been times when different people have gotten up and cheered, or boo'd, or showed their displeasure for a call...and to be honest, it felt really weird.

You are supposed to look and act professionally there and when I see people yelling and screaming, it comes off wrong.

So if you ever have the chance to watch a Winnipeg Jets game from the press box, have fun. But don't come off as that crazed fan, because it is not the place to act like one.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Insiders and Sources

Being a sports fan, you hear insiders reference their "sources" all the time...with them being wrong most of the time. And most notably, a big NHL television personality went on the radio about a month back saying Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry wouldn't be re-signing with the team.

Now, he is one of the most respected analysts in the game, but all he said was that "sources" told him it wouldn't happen. Fast-forward to Monday night and news broke that Corey Perry did in fact choose to re-sign with Anaheim. Whoops.

One thing that has always bugged me about sports journalism has been the "sources." With the NHL trade deadline soon approaching, the three major sports networks (TSN, Sportsnet and The Score) will have their top analysts feeding us rumours from these unnamed sources.

It bugs me because in many cases, they will be wrong during the day and it won't affect anything. The NHL trade deadline is the only example where these journalists can get away with being wrong...not that they try to. The goal is to break every trade first. And if that means they get it wrong - and I've seen them get it wrong many times - then so be it.

As an aspiring sports journalist, I can't stand it...but I also understand the importance of being first on days like the trade deadline. It's really hit and miss. Sports journalism is just a different kind of beast.

Monday, March 11, 2013


It seems like it was years ago when I finally got my IPP, I've Seen the Elephant accepted. Well, it's March and in two days I'll be presenting my IPP at the Convention Centre.

It was a great experience to write a book, edit it, lay it out on InDesign and then host a book launch. I couldn't have done it without the help of Duncan McMonagle and Diane Livingston.

While the IPPP's aren't the end of CreComm, it feels like they are. Anyways, I hope y'all can come out to the Convention Centre on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to see the great work CreCommers have done over the past year.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Have You Seen Candace?

Over the past two years, I've had a chance to learn about Candace Derksen and her disappearance by reading Journey for Justice and Have You Seen Candace?

The story has struck me personally, because I lived near the area where Candace disappeared and it shows that actions like these are not just happening in the core of Winnipeg. Sadly, tragedies like this can happen anywhere.

Although it's hard to choose a book, I felt like I connected more with Wilma's because it was much more personal. It's hard for anyone to get much more personal than writing about their child's death.

I also feel that Mike's book was dry when the focus went on Mark Grant and some of the trial.

Journalists can learn that while it's hard to approach a family that has lost a child, or any other family member in such a terrible way, many people want to get tell their story. So while it may be hard to ask the tough questions, or gather courage to go to their house, or make that phone call, the families of victims usually want to talk to the media and tell them about their family member they lost - and Wilma made that clear when she talked to us last Tuesday.

Wilma's visit was much better this year than last. While I really enjoyed Mike's presence last year, I felt he overshadowed Wilma - and personally - I wanted to hear Wilma's story more than his.

The most enjoyable part of her visit was hearing her talk about her fears when facing the media. Being a former CreComm student, it was interesting to hear her insight into how she dealt with the media when Candace disappeared and when Mark Grant was on trial. It's really true that CreComm can prepare you for almost any life event - and this was no different for her.

It was also interesting to hear about her two other children and how they reacted to Candace's disappearance and to the trial and conviction of Mark Grant.

Looking back, I would have liked to ask a question to Wilma. While I knew she came to talk to the class knowing we read her book, I still felt like it was a really personal topic and hard to ask a question about Candace. I really admire her coming back every year and telling her story to CreComms.

Monday, February 25, 2013


With CreComm slowly coming to an end, finding a job has been on my mind more than ever. One problem: I don't know what I want to do. Let me rephrase that. I'm not sure which aspect of journalism I want to get into. I've done a lot of print work and I know it better than radio or television, but the job prospects aren't the greatest.

Then you have television which is very hit and miss for me. Some broadcast journalism classes I feel like I get it and everything clicks...then the following week is an absolute disaster. I love anchoring too, but that isn't something that I can make the jump to right out of CreComm. Still very open to a television career.

Finally, we have radio. I love radio. I co-hosted a fantasy sports show with Mr. Mark McAvoy last year and it was honestly one of my favourite things that I did in first year. And with my second work placement being TSN 1290, I hoping to get my foot into the radio side of journalism.

There's a month left of classes and a ton of jobs out there...now it's time to make a big decision and choose what's best for me. I'm starting to feel the pressure.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Custom Publishing

In journalism class this week, we took a different angle and worked on some custom publishing. I can't say it was one of my favourite assignments of the year. In fact, I'd go further and say I strongly dislike customer publishing.

As an aspiring journalist, there's nothing worse than writing a piece that a company has paid for. And for my assignment, I had to write a "story" on a local business as if they were paying for it.

Now this wasn't no ordinary story. I had to puff up the ego's of the client and make them look like they were the best thing since sliced bread. No interviews and no getting two sides of the story. Nothing. Just make the business look good.

Now I have no problem going out to a restaurant or seeing a show and writing a nice review if I had a good experience. But this is a totally different beast.

Custom publishing has been becoming more and more frequent in journalism in the past few years and frankly I'm not a big fan of it. I did a lot of similar stories in Portage when I was at the Daily Graphic and those stories aren't ones that I'd put in my portfolio.

It's not that it's poor writing - it's just that they feel so fake to me. Going to businesses and getting owners to tell me how great they think their work is isn't something I find particularly compelling as a reader or writer.

As someone who wants to be in this business a long time, I'm hoping that papers find different ways of bringing in revenue and don't solely rely on this method to bring in cash.

These advertorials don't evoke any passion, emotion, or anything that made me fall in love with journalism in the first place.

But that's just my take though.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The diet of a journalist

Journalism life is busy for the most part and getting a having a proper diet is tough.

It's hard to have that balance of healthy food and fast food when getting fast food is so much quicker and convenient.

During my summer internship at the Portage Daily Graphic, I would be on the road close to three hours a day. I didn't have time to make a lunch or even eat a dinner in the evening. Most times, I would be stuck eating Tim's or Subway mid-afternoon with the odd snack. Safe to say that it didn't help my waist line over the summer months.

But it's not always about having to eat bad food. There are days where you don't get to eat until the evening. During most broadcast journalism Thursday's, I don't always get the time to eat. Is it partially my fault? Yes. But with the hectic schedule of a journalist (whether it's print, radio, television, etc), it's not always easy to get the right number of meals in during the day.

And with limited healthy options for snacks and meals out there, it doesn't make it any easier to get the proper nutrition your body needs.

For example, the last month at the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry and Law Courts, I ate Boston Pizza three times and pub food the other. Not to say I didn't enjoy the food, because I did, but it's so easy to get caught up in a bad diet when you're on a deadline.

So after I finish CreComm and get my first true journalism job (fingers crossed), the first goal is to become a much more responsible eater and to save the beers and pizza for the weekends.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winnipeg Jets Intern

Myself and eight other classmates are currently Communications Interns with the Winnipeg Jets organization.

My first game was Sunday night and it was an amazing experience. First of all, the game was great. The pace was fast, there was a lot of scoring and the crowd was electric. Pretty much everything you need to have the supreme sports experience happened on Sunday evening.

It's an internship that you could only get from being in the CreComm program and it shows how deeply rooted CreComm is in Winnipeg.

As a journalist, it was also a little interesting interning on the PR side of things. My primary job before and during games is to hand out the lineup sheet to each teams television and radio broadcasts. I also hand out the lineup to every media member in the press box.

After the games, I got to go back to the journalist side of things and do scrums in the Jets lock room and then attend Claude Noel's post-game press conference.

Evander Kane scored the overtime game winner against the Isles, so naturally, everyone wanted to talk to him. As we waited, the media grew and grew and grew. It was one of the larger scrums that I've been apart of.

And finally Kane entered the locker room and it was a free for all to get in position to get their sound clip or video of the Jets star.

Luckily I was able to get a spot right next to Kane and once I got the clip I needed, I left for the Noel presser.

The press conference was pretty standard. I got my quotes and headed back up to the press box to translate everything and send it off.

So that was my first night as a Jets intern. I have six more games to go and I couldn't be more excited to get back inside the MTS Centre.

My next game is Feb 7 when my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs come to town.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Media and Lance Armstrong

Oh look, another Lance Armstrong post. Anyways, as you all know, Lance Armstrong was on Oprah and admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career.

Shocking...well, not really. And boy did the media eat this up. Besides the fact that we already knew Armstrong cheated, all that was left for him to do was come clean.

And when he did, CNN, Twitter and every sports journalist decided they would milk the story for the rest of time.

I love Twitter as much as anyone else, but for a good solid three or four days, my feed was littered with Armstrong posts. And it's not that I didn't read any stories on Armstrong, because there were a lot of great pieces. It was those who don't pay attention to cycling that pushed me over the edge.

You know that person. The one who watches a half hour video and becomes an extra on *fill in the blank* topic (Cough Kony 2012 Cough).

And don't look now, but J.J. Abrams and Paramount are scheduled to make a film on Armstrong and his fall from grace.

Lucky the media picked up another fascinating case of Manti Te'o and his hoax of a "girlfriend."

At least the jokes coming from this story were funny (See the Dallas Stars).

It'll be interesting to see the next turn the Armstrong saga takes. Hopefully I don't have to hear about it ever again, but I'm not too sure that'll happen.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hockey's back!

It’s sad to think that the NHL’s defining moment this season is the Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr press conference, where they announced that a new CBA had been reached.

But that was the reality of the lockout. After months of bickering to the media, lying to fans and using PR tactics to try to gain an upper hand in negotiations, the two sides finally sat down, and bargained for close to 16 hours.

They walked out of their New York City boardroom in the middle of the morning on a Sunday and gave fans what we’ve been dying to hear for months.

But one question still itches at me and it remains unanswered.

Where was the urgency in the summer?

Unfortunately, fans will never know. The league invited players to sit down and talk about the expiring CBA during last season, but for reasons unknown, nothing ever came to fruition.

But that isn’t the most frustrating part of this lockout. The one thing that really bugged me during the past five months was the inflated egos from both sides.

The #LockoutProblems tweets from many of the players didn’t help their cause. When multi-millionaires are posting pictures of a beachside residence, a hotel view of the Las Vegas Strip, or golfing in Florida, do they expect any pity?

It was insulting and left a bad taste in my mouth. Then you had the #ThePlayers, which was created at the beginning of the lockout to gain support from the fans.

Sorry, there are no good sides during a lockout where millionaires and billionaires are arguing over money.

On the leagues side, Gary Bettman has the attitude that the fans will come back. Will I be back watching hockey? You bet. I wish I was stronger and could boycott the league for the season, but it just isn’t going to happen.

He takes us for granted. Especially in Canadian markets. He knows that every Canadian team will sell out. But what he is gambling on is that southern markets don’t fall off the cliff.

Many organizations were already struggling to stay afloat before this lockout, but with a full season lost, you may see attendance numbers look even worse in places like Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Dallas and other similar markets.

The long-term effect of this dispute has yet to be felt, but I think the league is going to suffer like the MLB did after the work stoppage in the early nineties.
All I know is that I’m tired of seeing the suits, the egos, hearing about revenue, contract lengths and cap issues.

When January 19 rolls around and all 30 teams hit the ice, all will be good in the world again – even if it’s just for those two and a half hours.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Work placement review

Starting in late November, I had the opportunity to intern at the Winnipeg Sun. It was my first work placement that strictly focused on the sports aspect of journalism, and boy did it not disappoint.

First of all, the Sun's newsroom is filled with a great group of people. I worked with Ted Wyman. He assigned me numerous stories everyday and gave me the chance to get a lot of pieces published in the paper.

Even with the lack of NHL news at the time, I still covered a few hockey stories - including a few Winnipeggers making a big mark in the WHL.

My time at the Portage Daily Graphic really helped me during my three weeks at the Sun. In Portage, I would usually write around four stories a day, take my own video/pictures and then upload everything online.

While I did take some pictures and video during my three weeks, the Sun has photographers and people who work on the website, so that was definitely different. Writing two or three stories a day became much easier to do.

Now that I have had some experience on the print side of journalism, I'm looking towards radio and television for my second work placement in April.