Thursday, June 16, 2011

Class of 2011

Thirty eight amazing journalism grads had their names listed in the College's Thursday afternoon convocation program book today, and it was such a pleasure to watch some of them walk up to the podium, shake hands with the president Ann Buller, and with Dean Nate Horowitz,  to accept their diplomas.

My own kids are still too young for me to attend their graduations yet, unless you count the ceremony they had  for kindergarden (yes I cried!) and from Sunday school!  But as a professor at Centennial since 2005, I always find it a great thrill to see my talented students turn up at graduation to receive the well deserved applause and admiration from the administration, from other students, faculty, and family and friends.

We had grads this year from all the three journalism programs - three year, fast track and UTSC/Centennial joint program. Sports journalism had its own procession.

Many of you are working in the field, and couldn't be here today. Others are embarking on new adventures, both professionally (Reinisa Macleod is moving to Grande Prairie, Alberta in July to be the multiplatform reporter for their local SUN Media paper, the Grande Prairie Daily Herald. She says her Internet radio show at Centennial was what truly clinched the interview! ) and personally (Mazal Tov/ Congratulations to fast tracker grad Dan Heyman and his fiancee on their happy engagement). Dan has been hired full time at in Toronto.

Vanessa Brown tell us she is working for two weeklies in the Goderich area, including the Clinton News Record. Check out one of her stories about coyotes here:

Here are some photos from the events today:
Steve Cogan, Alicia Baird, and her mother

Tara Losinski, Natalie Samson, Nastasha Alli, Dan Heyman

Steve Cogan, Tara Losinski, Natalie Samson, Malcolm Kelly, Samantha Butler, Lindy Oughtred

Minshu Mo and family and friends

Ellin Bessner, Tara Losinski, Natalie Samson, Samantha Butler

Aileen Donnelly, Lindy Oughtred, Reinisa Macleod

Alicia Baird, Reinisa Macleod
Nuno Soares (photo courtesy of Nuno's Facebook page!)

For a complete list of the grads today please see this list.
Nastasha Alli
Alicia Baird
Tamara Baluja
Francois Biber
Vanessa Brown
Samantha Butler
Jacqueline Delange
Jaclyn Desforges
Aileen Donnelly
Brad Featherstone
Michael Gibbons
Laura Grande
Victoria Gray
Dan Heyman
Chris Higgins
Emily Hunter
Tara Losinski
Irina Lytchak
Reinisa Macleod
Tristan Carter
Minshu Mo
Meri Perra
Kerry Prunskus
Tanis Reynolds
Leticia Rodriguez
Jennifer Romano
Angela Rotundo
Katrina Rozal
Natalie Samson
Meegan Scanlon
Maxx Smith
Nuno Soares
Jon Spratt
Shawn Star
Roger Tran
Josh Ungar
Monica Valencia
Kirsten Watters

Ted Barris and Ted Fairhurst are out of the country but join us in wishing you all much success and we remind you to keep in touch. In the fall, when the new  East York journalism newsroom renovations are complete, come back and take a tour! 

Here is a look at how it will be when it is done.

  tv control room/ellins office/lindys office/steves office/ moved mailboxes)/large newsroom/ no more room 147/ malcolm and ted f offices now in 147   

ted b office / tv anchor desk w. new lighting grid/ no door/ mailboxes/tvs/ door to 147/2 audio booths 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Does Network TV News still matter? Yes, say head honchos of CTV, Global and CBC

My story published today on

It turns out the future is looking pretty good, writes Ellin Bessner. Indeed, the eastern regional director for Global News, Mike Omelus, believes there's never been a better time to be in the biz. If the flurry of broadcast expansions these past two weeks is anything to go by, he could be right.

Don’t touch that dial. Or your iPhone, your tablet, or your living room TV. Canada’s national television news networks are trying to find new roles for themselves in today’s multi-platform news environment.

Over the past few weeks, there have been a slew of industry-related announcements. Take last Monday, May 30, when Rogers announced it would launch an all news TV channel in Toronto in the fall, called CityNews Channel, to compete with CTV’s CP24.

Or last Wednesday, June 1, when Global announced it was bringing back its Toronto morning show, with former Citytv Breakfast Television host Liza Fromer, and former Citytv reporter Kris Reyes as news anchor. Global is also adding morning shows in the Maritimes, Winnipeg, Regina, and Saskatoon, and expanding its existing morning shows in Alberta.

And who can forget the launch in April of Sun News Network, billed as Canada’s Fox News North?

Sure, audiences no longer solely rely on the flagship live national nightly newscasts to hear about breaking news. It’s also true most viewers already know a lot about the news events of the day by the time they tune in to network TV.

But with the potential of video on demand, and a recovering economy, for Canada’s traditional news networks, indeed, there’s never been a better time to be in the broadcast business, according to Mike Omelus, eastern regional director for Global News.

Omelus told a panel discussion at the recent Canadian Association of Journalists conference in Ottawa in May that because of the Bell takeover of CTV, and the Shaw takeover of Global, Canada’s main TV networks are spending money again. Newsrooms are expanding, adding staff, and that is increasing salaries for other journalists in other companies.

Omelus was one of three speakers at the session about the future of network news, which also included Jack Fleischmann, general manager of CTV News Channel and BNN, and Todd Spencer, head of CBC News Network. All three agreed the industry is changing, but are optimistic.

“We don’t serve the same purpose as we did,” said Spencer.

Fleischmann added the traditional model is “out of date”.  He believes viewers want more of the FOX and SUN TV style of news channel, which they can get on-demand.

“People look for reasons and answers, which gives network news a whole new life,” he said. “You’re seeing more people on air now such as analysts, web bloggers, and opinions,” as news stations try to answer ‘Why?’ ”

SUN TV was not at the panel discussion, and it wasn’t clear from the moderator why not.

But CBC, CTV and Global all gave poor reviews to the debut of the Quebecor-owned national news channel, which launched in April.

“I don’t think they’re very good right now,” said Spencer, adding SUN TV needs to present newscasts during their live programming.  “This country may not be big enough [for SUN TV].”

For Global’s Omelus, the country is probably too big for SUN TV’s apparent limited resources.

“They have only two satellite trucks, one in Vancouver and one in Toronto,” he said.

For Fleischmann, it’s not the size of the station or the country that is the problem. It’s the quality of the content, despite pulling in an average of 12,000 viewers, according to a recent Globe and Mail story, which is more then his own BNN does.

“It’s a personality based channel but unless you have the right personalities and issues, it will be hard to attract new viewers,” he told the panel.

Sun executives told The Globe and Mail this week they were thrilled with their ratings, because they are ahead of where they thought their ratings would be by now.

While network television is expanding, it is also taking a new approach to storytelling to a wide variety of audiences, be they online, on mobile devices, or over the airwaves.

Omelus calls the new approach “platform agnostic”. That means some news stories will be told first on the Global website, even before they appear on network TV.

And because there are no time or length restrictions for what can be shown on the Global website, Omelus said the web will be the home for longer news stories, documentaries, and raw feeds of press conferences and interviews that don’t fit into the traditional network constraints.

The CBC also sees longer form pieces finding space on the web, where folks can watch during a commute, or on their mobile platforms when they have time. Spencer cited the strong ratings for CBC’s investigative journalism shows “The Fifth Estate” and “Marketplace” as evidence “there’s clearly an appetite for it.”

But while CTV’s Fleischmann agrees this type of journalistic long form storytelling is valuable, because of resources, “it won’t become a major part of what we do.”

As network television news evolves, one element to watch for, the three predict, is more interaction with the audience even during live newscasts. While MTV has had viewer comments on screen during some of its broadcasts for several years, Global’s Leslie Roberts has been using Twitter on air during his 11 p.m. nightly newscast.

Spencer, of CBC News Network, predicts connected TV is coming, as broadcasters review the companion apps which are now available that will soon allow more interactivity while on air.

“Conversation,” said Fleischmann, “is what the web is about.”


Ellin Bessner has been teaching journalism in the Toronto area since 1999, at Ryerson University, Seneca College and now, on the faculty of Centennial College. She is a former foreign correspondent in Europe, and a former anchor at CBC and CTV and a current. Ellin is also an avid blogger and social media user.

Being Erica at Centennial Journalism, More Awards, Barris on D-Day

(courtesy CBC)


Dean Nate Horowitz informs us that they will be filming part of the CBC series “Being Erica” at the CCC in a few weeks!

The Journalism department has won a Dean’s KPI award for having over 90% student and grad satisfaction.

Ted Barris will host June 7th Goldhawk show on Rogers Cable TV, as part of a new collaboration with CCC and Rogers TV.

Barris was interviewed by 680 News this week about his late friend Charley Fox, a former Canadian Spitfire fighter ace during the Second World War who wounded Rommel by bombing his car.  On June 6, 2011, a London, Ontario landmark was renamed in honour of the late pilot, who died in 2008, in a car accident, at age 88.


On Wednesday this week, June 8, at 2 p.m., at the University of Toronto downtown campus, graduating students from the UTSC/Centennial joint journalism program will be marching solemnly in their gowns to receive their degrees. Congratulations to all of you.  Centennial’s graduation ceremony for journalism is set for Thursday June 16 at Progress campus.


Rachel Muenz is now a reporter for Northern Pride news, in Meadow Lake Saskatchewan. She won 2 awards at the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association ceremony in April. Best tourism story (second place) and best post secondary education story  (3rd place).

Allison Werbowetsky also won awards at the same ceremony. She won third place for best story of the year, second place (she beat Rachel!) for best post-secondary education story, and tied for third for best health care coverage. Allison was working for the Prairie Post in Swift Current, Alberta. 

Yamri Taddese traveled to Victoria, B.C, to the Broadcast Educators Association of Canada award ceremony where she accepted the award for best audio spot news story for her G-spot Valentine’s Day story. Here is part of her acceptance speech:
BEAC's Jim Carr with Yamri Tadesse accepting her award.

I just got back from a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, where I received Broadcast Educators Association of Canada award for my Valentine's Day radio story on the best-selling sex toy in Scarborough.

The story wasn't my typical assignment, and I blush a little every time I play the audio clip. But I must admit that I had a lot of fun doing it. I had never been to a sex shop before, and walking in to ask how the We-Vibe II works was definitely outside my comfort zone. Yet, this is one of the many reasons why I love journalism. I get to go places I normally wouldn't -- with the right to ask questions I would otherwise be too shy to ask.

WHERE our Grads Are:

Alexandra Innes has a regular podcast on the Women’s Information Network where she talks about happiness. Innes is the author of several books, including “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.”
Listen to her podcasts here: 

Baseer Syed is an editorial assistant at the Toronto Star. He writes that he is having a lot of fun working for the websites, social media networks and interacting with readers.

“This is a great experience for my career. I work in the newsroom alongside amazing editors who I learn so much from. And I am starting to "get" the psychology of online readers of news, something I think is very important in order to attract heavy traffic to media websites.“

Matt Romanda has a new job at Pagemasters starting this week. He graduated in 2006 and has been working as the Movies and Travel editor at Metro. His new job is with the Canadian Press/Pagemasters.

Theresa Suzuki has a new job at the Globe and Mail as assistant photo editor. She was a photo editor at the National Post.

Recently coordinator Ted Fairhurst asked us to tell him where our grads are working professionally since leaving the UTSC/Centennial joint program.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, so if you can add more, or update me, please let me know at

Josh Ungar, 680 News
Denise Falzon
Jeannette Rabito -  The Marilyn Denis show
Rosalyn Solomon- Toronto Sun
Eric Heino   Town Crier
Mahesh Abeywardene    The Lanka Reporter
Tasneem Yahya  _Canada Immigration  
Alexandra Sienkewicz   CBC Toronto
Joseph Taylor runs his own custom t-shirt printing company on Yonge Street
Uriel Mendoza is a teacher at a public school in Malvern
Louis Tam is a photographer
Laura Redpath is a reporter in Jamaica
Crystal Cossitt, working for SUN TV
Tyler Edwards took a post grad diploma program in sports journalism at Centennial College
Tiffany Kallinikos is taking a post grad diploma in public relations at Centennial College
Thandiwe Vela was a reporter in Edmonton and before that the Toronto Star and now is posted to Yellowknife with Northern News for the summer
Nicole Watts took a post grad sports journalism diploma at Centennial College.
Courtney Roberts Lawes in managing editor of Polysh magazine
Rima Ramoul is at the Town Crier
Selena Mann is a reporter with ComputerWorld Canada
Rachel Muenz is a reporter with the Northern Pride newspaper in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan
Jason Jajalla is a photographer and designer in Toronto
Alexandra Lucchesi – Lifestyles magazine associate editor
Frances Horodelski - anchor, BNN television network Toronto.