Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton and Centennial Journalism

Toronto Star coverage of Layton's visit to Centennial Journalism January 17, 2006

Jack Layton and Olivia Chow scrumming with reporters at Centennial Journalism, photo by Mark Toljagic

Jack Layton scrumming with students at Centennial journalism during election campaign January 2006/photo by Mark Toljagic

Jack Layton has been one of the most high profile newsmakers to be interviewed by students at Centennial Journalism over the years. Not only was he the local MP for the riding where our college journalism school is located, Toronto-Danforth, but as national leader he brought his campaign bus to the School of Communications, Media and Design on Carlaw Avenue for a whistle-stop tour.
The Toronto Star story from January 17, 2006 shows journalism students including Sean Pearce, Justin Warner, Liz Dewdney, Vanessa Gates, Dharm Makwana, Megan Eves, George Zicarelli and Neil Springer, as well as instructor Ellin Bessner, scrumming Layton in amongst the national news reporters like James Murray of CBC.
Layton's campaign office in the May 2011 election was on Broadview, just a few blocks away from the Toronto Observer newsroom, where our students put out an online and bi-weekly newspaper.
He will be missed.Check out the Toronto Observer for more coverage and archived stories about him by our students.
This note was sent today by the marketing department of Centennial College.
"It is with great sadness that we have come to hear that Mr. Jack Layton - by far the most trusted federal party leader with whom a majority of Canadians had wished to share a drink and a chat - passed away early this morning in his Toronto home surrounded by his family and close friends. He was 61 years of age.
Mr. Layton visited Centennial College during the 2006 federal election when he came to The Centre for Creative Communications in his East York riding to hold a press conference, in part for the benefit of our Journalism students. By all accounts he was a polished and eloquent speaker who chose to take the high road and speak about sound policies and nation-building, rather than engage in mud-slinging.
Our country has lost a passionate leader and a great Canadian. As someone remarked online today, when we lost Pierre Trudeau we lost a link to our past; when we lost Jack Layton we lost a link to our future. Out of respect for the Layton family, we are lowering our campus flags this week until Mr. Layton is laid to rest. "

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Centennial Journalism on Facebook

Back to school

Monday is the first day back to work for many Centennial Journalism faculty members, although Malcolm Kelly and the sports journalism students have been hard at work all summer. It’s exciting to see the renovations to the Toronto Observer newsroom take shape. Here are the latest photos of the newsroom under construction (from Friday Aug. 19) taken by Ted Fairhurst.
looking north towards Ted Barris' office

From room 147 no wall between classroom and old 149 newsroom

Ted F and Malcolm's new offices

No more door near TV news anchor desk entrance

Another view of new faculty offices 

This fall, all four journalism streams will be attending classes and taking courses only at the Carlaw Avenue campus.

Orientation for new students is Tuesday Aug 30.

Fast track students @ 8:30  a.m. in room 295/297 (lunch included)

Three year, and UTSC joint journalism students @ 9:45 a.m. in room 295/297 (lunch included)

Parking is free. Parents welcome.

First Day of Classes: all programs

Tuesday Sept 6 at 951 Carlaw Avenue.

Centennial Journalism is on Facebook

The program now has its own official Facebook page for announcements, news, photos and events.  Thanks to Steve Cogan and family for setting it up. Check it out! Like us!

Observer Radio News

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Centennial Journalism webmaster and multiplatform instructor Phil Alves has posted dozens and dozens of Observer Radio News voicers from this past semester to the college student portfolio portal Centennial onDemand. Have a listen! If they are yours, don't forget to save the links and post them to your own personal portfolio.

Where are our grads:

Murray Crawford is out in Lloydminster, Alberta at the Meridian Booster, a Sunmedia paper. He was just promoted to senior reporter.

Jane Wang completed the Joint Program in Journalism in December 2007. She then attended law school. Jane wrote her bar exams in the spring of 2011. She is now articling with the Toronto law firm, Torkin Manes LLP.

Lindsay Bodnaruk was in the 2006/07 college cohort. She did her internship at Entertainment Tonight Canada. Lindsay is now an office manager with Buck Productions, a global leader in commercial, film, and television production.

Eleni Kanavas, (UTSC Spring 2008) is a Communications Officer at Sunnybrook Research Institute ( She took the position in August 2010 after beginning her career as a Media and Communications Assistant in the University of Toronto (Scarborough) communications and public affairs office.  Eleni’s stories appear in Sunnybrook Research Institute’s magazine, Inventing the Future of Health Care. 

Cassie (Jeysman) Prosper is a public relations consultant with Hill and Knowlton. She specializes in the Technology Communications Practice and her clients include Motorola and Hewlett-Packard. She was nominated for a CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society) award in the category of Young PR Professional of the Year. After graduating from the Joint Journalism Program in August 2007, Cassie enrolled in the post-graduate Public Relations Certificate Program at Humber College. She finished that program with honours in October 2008.

Katrina Rozal graduated with her degree and diploma in the spring of 2010. She is now the archivist for Sun News Network. It’s her first full-time job and it grew directly out of her internship as a chase producer for Canoe Live, the current affairs program when the station was formerly Sun TV. Katrina was a recipient of the Dean’s Award.  The award recognizes students who earn the highest GPA score from the college semesters of the Joint Program.

Geoff Micks has a new ebook available on Kindle.

Fans of historical fiction can look forward to an epic family saga covering more than seventy years to include almost everything we know happened between the zenith and nadir of Inca power. More than two-thirds of the characters are based on real people, and every corner of the empire is visited over the course of the narrator’s life: The plot has court intrigue, forbidden loves, triumphs, tragedies, rivalries, heroes, monsters, coups, civil wars, prophecies, plagues, treasures, sex and violence –all before the conquistadors arrive to change everything forevermore.

Jamie Ngo –Graduated from the UTSC/Centennial joint program in 2007, and is now Assistant manager, Communications at Scotiabank. Before that she worked for the bank in the president’s office, after reporting for the Toronto Sun and Omni Television.

Send us your news! We want to hear from you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

London Riots: "Courteous" Pickpocket and Good Samaritan

When I see the images of looters robbing that injured young Malaysian student and taking stuff from his backpack, instead of helping him,  I can’t help thinking about our own vastly difference experience as a victim of crime in London during our trip there just a few weeks ago.

On June 23, after seeing “Billy Elliot” in the afternoon, my family and I went to the new M&M’s candy store in Leicester Square.
London M&M's store, Leicester Square.

We bought some chocolate-covered nuts, took photos with the giant M&M’s solider, and then headed over to walk along Piccadilly to see the famous Fortnum & Mason food emporium. 

Fortnum & Mason, London (street under construction)

Sometime later at dinner on the South Bank, when the bill came, my husband couldn't find his wallet.

I was sure I had seen him put it in his outside coat pocket earlier in the day, but it was gone now.

 I started to panic because the wallet contained all his credit cards, and his driver's license, plus his ID cards, and health card. So I would have had to drive "on the wrong side of the road". And getting new credit cards while on vacation would be a big headache.

After a worried night and calls to our credit card companies’ emergency numbers back home in Toronto, we went back to the M&M’s store as soon as it opened the next morning to see if we'd left the wallet there.  

Their efficient security manager, a South African man in a dark suit named C.J., promised to look through their store security videotapes. 

 Later that day C.J. did indeed call. He said the tapes show my husband placed the wallet in his coat pocket at the cash register, and they didn’t see any pickpockets on their premises.

So we eventually found a police station near our flat. We were staying in the Clerkenwell area on Baker’s Row, which is where Charles Dickens set his famous novel “Oliver Twist”. 

The police station has a self-service computer kiosk where you can input and report your crime information without talking to a live police officer.  John was starting to type in the information about the stolen wallet, when his cell phone rang. It was our Canadian home alarm security company from Toronto calling.  Did we lose a wallet in London?

The monitoring company said that he had a fellow on the other line from London, England who had found the wallet. We were dumbfounded!

The alarm company conferenced my husband with the caller, who gave us his name, address and telephone number, and suggested we come to his office to retrieve the wallet. He told us he was Kumar Shrivastava, the day watchman at the office building just opposite Fortnum & Mason.

That made sense to me since I thought that's likely where the wallet was lifted. But I admit I was still a bit nervous in case it was a scam, or the man was actually the pickpocket!

But when we arrived at the office building, Mr. Shrivastava was waiting for us with a big smile. He held out the wallet, and indeed it was my husband’s. Inside were all the credit cards, driver’s license, IDs, and everything was intact, except for about $100 in Canadian cash.

“I was never so happy to lose $100,” my husband said.

Mr. Shrivastava offered us something to drink, and a bathroom visit if we needed one, and told us that the postman had popped in and told him he had found someone’s wallet.

But instead of simply letting the Royal Mail process the wallet, as is usually done, and which might take months, Mr. Shrivastava opened the wallet to see if there was any contact information, found the only piece of ID that had a Canadian phone number on it, from our alarm provider, and, using his own personal long distance pre-paid telephone phone cards, he called.

Mr. Shrivastava wouldn't take any money from us as a reward, just our thank you, although he agreed to pose for pictures. We were stunned but thrilled at this amazing turn of events. We don't know what we would have done without his kind gesture.
Mr. Kumar Shrivastava returning the wallet, London.

Later, when we returned to M&M’s to tell C.J. that we had retrieved the wallet, he told us that pickpockets in London are known for being courteous (his words) and usually don't throw the stolen wallets in the Thames or the garbage, but instead, drop them into a post box. So eventually, they can be returned to their owners.

Our vacation was saved and our bad experience turned into quite an adventure, and a great story, and we have to thank not only the “courteous” London pickpocket, but also M&M’s and mostly the Good Samaritan building concierge Mr. Shrivastava for his gesture.  

When we returned from our trip, I tried to track down a personal email address to send Mr. Shrivastava a proper thank you.

I contacted some of the professionals who work in the same office building, to try to find him. One woman replied. She told me in an email she knows the concierge, who she says everyone calls Ravi.

Having spoken to him on many occasions he believes that if you do a kind deed it comes back in other ways which is probably why he desired no recompense,” said Kim Mckenzie, office coordinator of Brian Champion Long, a property management company in the same building, Nuffield House, 41/46 Piccadilly, in London.

I also contacted the London newspaper the Evening Standard, suggesting they do a story about this kind fellow. They interviewed my husband by phone. Here is the item that ran, a week ago.

As for Mr. Shrivastava, he has not responded to any of our emails. I plan to send a hand written thank you letter and hope that he gets it.

So as the rioting and the fallout continue, I say that not all thieves in London are yobs, even the pickpockets are “courteous”, and there are people like Mr. Shrivastava who go out of their way to do what’s right, in an ocean of wrongs.

By the way, I saw on the news this week that the neighbourhood of Catford was one of the London suburbs hit by looting and rioting. 

We had originally booked to stay for a week at a self-catering flat in Catford, because it looked nice, and had a pool, but were advised by friends that it was a “bad” neighbourhood, sort of like Toronto’s Jane and Finch, and so we forfeited our week’s rent there and booked in Clerkenwell, which is where Charles Dickens set his novel “Oliver Twist”.

At the time when Dickens’ masterpiece was published, in 1838, the area was home to a gang of young pickpockets who came from a have-not upbringing. Clerkenwell now is a trendy zone, with Pret a Manger coffee shops, an automated Sushi restaurant, clothing designer showrooms, lots of pubs, a restaurant that serves customers in total darkness, and a Waitrose supermarket that sells gourmet take out for the local suit wearing singles.

There have been no reports of looting in Clerkenwell.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Toronto rainstorm video makes it on Global News Toronto newscast

Leslie Roberts and Anne Mroczkowski and........

If you watched the 6 pm supper hour newscast on Global TV News Toronto last night with Leslie Roberts and Anne Mroczkowski, you might have noticed they led their show with the storm story and rain that soaked the city Tuesday. There were floods in Vaughan, and in East York, and broken water mains. The video that started the story about the severe weather...was shot!

I was spending two days "shadowing" at Global News this week, to gather fresh materiel for my classes at Centennial College, to make contacts, and to discuss internship opportunities for my students, as well as keep my (Spidey) news senses sharp. I was driving with the ENG Camera operator Craig Wadman to meet reporter Marianne Dimain  who was doing a story about the use of social media in the London Riots and the practise spreading to other parts of the world.

At about 11 o'clock the heavens opened, and the Don Valley Parkway became a waterway for the downpour. I had a small HD video camera with me, and since the cameraman was driving, I started shooting weather video (through the window).

When we returned to the station, Craig suggested I give the video to the assignment desk. Executive Producer Jason Keel had it ingested in the graphics department computers, and to my surprise, and pleasure, they did use it on the show that night!

Here's a link to the show: My rain viz comes in at :41 seconds, as the anchors introduce the first reporter story about flooding in Vaughan.

By the way, according to the Toronto Star story (written by one of our Centennial Journalism graduates Amanda Kwan UTSC/Centennial Joint Program) "Environment Canada had predicted between 5 and 10 mm of rain for the day, but the downtown area saw a total of 20.4 mm by 5 p.m."
And the Environment Canada spokesman said it wasn't the quantity of the water that caused such problems; it was the intensity. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Centennial Journalism newsroom construction update Aug 3 week

Ted F and Malcolm Kelly's new offices take shape in old 147

Sylvan Ng (Broadcast technician) meets with Mark Stevenson (Centennial) , Ken Thasan of Videoscope and the electrician about where to install lights for TV studio
A walk through campus this week shows renovations are moving along to the Toronto Observer newsroom at East York Campus. Framing of new offices, location of TV monitors, light switches, ordering of gear, gear arriving. All very exciting as classes begin in under five weeks (yikes!) Now, where will the coat rack go?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why isolated seniors a booming business opportunity: my recent news article

Many of my friends and family are members of the so called "sandwich" generation, where they are dealing with the needs of aging parents while running a busy home caring for their own children and possibly a spouse at the same time. A friend of mine started her own business recently to provide specialized recreation activities for seniors in their own homes, as a supplement to what their own kids already do. She is unique because she doesn't do laundry! That's the role for many of the large international companies who are setting up franchises across Canada to provide housekeeping, transportation, letter writing and all kinds of personal care for seniors who are still living in their own homes. This prompted me to write a feature story about the growing trend, and the story was just published in the Richmond Hill Liberal newspaper, and online by York Region Media Group.

Many thanks to a wonderful Bonnie Craig, owner of Ovation Performing Arts Academy in Richmond Hill, Ontario, who shared her late mother's story with me, and to Harry Roz of Comfort Keepers, as well as to Aviva Lifschitz of Leisure-Ful Life.

Bonnie Craig looks at photo of her late mother Mary

Bonnie Craig looks at sympathy cards tucked above her living room door frame

Special large size Scrabble board the family made for her mother to play

Bonnie Craig gives her mother's Scrabble board to Aviva Lifschitz, of Leisure-ful Life.
 The story was just published in the Richmond Hill Liberal newspaper, and online by York Region Media Group. Here is how the story appeared on two pages July 8,2011 in the Liberal.

Here's the story online. 
YorkRegion Article: Professional visitors for isolated seniors growing trend