If You Aren’t Outraged, Then You Just Aren’t Paying Attention

Ignorance is Bliss.

Not Afraid

I understand, I think, for the first time why most people prefer those sugar-coated, mind-numbing movies and TV shows packed with celebrities and other pleasant things.

Watching the National last night, I realized that Peter Mansbridge and his guests were not discussing the possibility that this is our “new normal” – they were confirming the obvious. An over-used term, but still applicable. These recent attacks, homegrown and ruthless, in Ottawa, in Sydney, and now in Paris are horrific and terrifying, to me anyway. I feel like we are all at risk now. This is our normal, we of the post 9-11 generation. Which city will be next and when? London, Washington, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo? Toronto has been spared for now, but for how long?

I remember learning in journalism school that therapists and journalists have higher levels of something like secondary PTSD. While they may not be experiencing these events first-hand, their exposure to first-hand accounts on a regular basis can generate a wave of similar symptoms.

Watching all these news programs, reading these articles (some fantastically well-written, answering the questions I didn’t think to ask), following the chaos of Twitter – it can be exhausting. I found relief last night during the commercial breaks of the National, with previews for silly shows about space, animals, and consumer trends. It was like a dose of comfort before getting back in the ring when the program started again. I felt like a character in Brave New World, but it wasn’t taking hits of Soma that made me feel better, it was television. And with it, the promise of a familiar-but-novel distraction, spread to the masses to keep us somewhat entertained, but mostly chained to our couches, away from the news, newspapers, books, and somewhere out there, the truth.

O Canada…

The True North Strong and Free.

Parliament Hill - May 2013

We are in unchartered territory and I don’t really know where to begin. A situation that is still ‘fluid and unfolding’. My beloved Ottawa, my home for four years, in lockdown and under attack. One of the longest days. Watching, listening, following along feeling helpless and horrified. And now, more than twelve hours later, we are still in the dark.

War Memorial - Nov 11 2009

My former journalism student instincts have never really gone away. I love Twitter, and I continually browse headlines during the day to keep an eye on things. It makes me feel like an adult to have a basic understanding of and ability to form a valid opinion on current events. I have taken to reading news on the CBC website, one, because it’s still free, and two, it seems mostly free from partisan bias. Around ten this morning I gave the CBC home page a quick browse, and felt my stomach plummet. Quickly pulling up Twitter, what followed was one of the darkest hours I’ve ever experienced, filled with misinformation, graphic and disturbing photos, and several first-hand accounts from Canadian politicians and journalists on the ground. This whole day has been surreal.

Parliament Hill - Nov 11 2009

I am lucky to follow some truly fascinating people. Their collective commentary during any major event, be it an awards show, the Olympics, any major breaking news, Ferguson in the last few weeks, and now today, is always on point. My carefully curated group of journalists, politicians, key contributors, and news makers, and those who they follow, are always witty and informative. After spending four years in Ottawa, I am following a lot of folks on Parliament Hill, and too many of them were caught up in this fray today. They provided terrifying and viscerally real accounts of what they saw and heard. For me, Twitter is not filler, it is often the most up-to-date and reliable source of breaking news, much more than cable tv or radio news. These people are on the ground and they take their jobs seriously.

Canada Day - 2012

I checked in with my friends who are still in Ottawa and who spent the day in lockdown (thankfully, they were all okay), and admired the quiet authority of Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, during the RCMP press conference. My news feed was overflowing, and I couldn’t refresh fast enough.

Canada Day - 2012

My Parliament Hill has a stray cat sanctuary, and free yoga on the front lawn, and concerts on Canada Day with accompanying light shows and fireworks. My Ottawa has a free skating rink running through the middle. My Ottawa is clean, beautiful, vibrant, and safe.

Parliament Hill - Gold Medal Celebration 2010

I had hoped that these foreign threats would never touch our shores, and now twice in one week, members of our armed forces have been singled out and murdered. We must watch in fear and feel helpless as our enemies walk through our front door. I feel flashbacks to the first few days of grade eight, when we came in from first recess with whispers of an attack. Where my teacher, Mr. Mele, sat at the only computer in the classroom trying to access CNN’s website. The computer was big, white, and clunky, and the internet was fledgling and slow. We couldn’t get beyond the homepage. We had no access to information and no updates and we were totally in the dark. When I got home from school, I sat in front of the TV in disbelief for hours, simultaneously mesmerized and horrified by the loop footage of the Twin Towers.

Today, I rushed home from work and have been watching television coverage for the past few hours. I am older, but still feel afraid. Unable to take my eyes away from the footage of my beloved Ottawa under attack.

Canada Day - 2011

I am of the generation called the Millennials. I am the post 9/11 generation. Raised on Harry Potter and MSN Messenger. Early adopters of new technology. Living under the looming threat of terrorism. You don’t have to tell us to ‘stay vigilant’. We get it. We’ve already had it for a long time. We’ve been maintaining constant vigilance since Moody warned us about the Death Eaters back in the day.

Doubting myself, wondering if my unfortunate heavy double dose of patriotism and sensationalism was causing me to overreact, I felt isolated and alone today. Nobody in my immediate vicinity seemed to know nor care about the situation unfolding in Ottawa. I feel like I need to divide the people and influencers in my life by our shared values. Today was an exercise in that. My close friends, and some fellow former journalism students on Twitter, shared my concerns and I felt comforted by their shared reactions.

I want nothing more right now than for Peter Mansbridge to fold the nation in his warm embrace and tell us all that we’re going to be okay, and that everything will soon be well.

Canadian Flag

❤ Ottawa ❤ Canada ❤ you too, Toronto

Tomorrow is another day, and we must remain the True North, Strong and Free.

Canada Day

* My apologies for disconnected and incomplete thoughts. Written after a stress-filled, anxiety-ridden, very emotional day, while flipping between CBC, CTV, Global, and TVO for six hours straight, heart aching, head pounding…

Verif.

The closest thing to a sacred trust we’ll get.

“Accuracy, as you can see, can be a stretch, well beyond getting the quote right, which is also essential. As for truth, I think of it as an ideal, toward which we strive, toward which all of our work should be an important part. If we are lucky, we may even touch a piece of it.”

-William F. Woo

He was the first person who was not a member of the Pulitzer family to work as editor of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the first Asian-American to be the editor of a major American daily newspaper. He later worked as a journalism professor at Stanford University.

Studying for my J4000 exam. This was part of my presentation about the role of an editor. This quote stuck with me.

Update 04/19/10:
Hahaha William F. Woo was a question on the exam. Sorry to everybody who didn’t pay attention during my presentation.
Woo was a small part of my presentation and I’m sorry that you were tested on a few passing inspirational quotations!

There is no Modern Romance

Well I was wrong. It never lasts.

Walking along Bank Street the other day I noticed something that really made me feel pretty sad. The Swap Box at Bank and Sunnyside is gone. I don’t know how long it’s been down.

It looked like this back in the glory days.

In the fall I wrote a feature piece about the Swap Boxes and street art in Ottawa. I was even lucky enough to interview the artist Elmaks.

Bank and Sunnyside is an important intersection for Carleton students. It stands out in my mind as a huge staple of my time in Ottawa. It took a while for me to warm up to Ottawa back in first year. Walking up Sunnyside from res, past Haven Books, to the Second Cup and the Chip Wagon, walking past the Mayfair and over the bridge into the Glebe… I’m not the only one who did these things. And the Swap Box was one of the things that really made my heart melt. It put Ottawa in my good books.

I never really contributed anything worthwhile. I only ever have bus transfers and bobby pins in my pockets, but I put them in anyway.

And now there is nothing left. I’m just sad that other Carleton students wont get a chance to experience this beautiful little piece of Ottawa.

(Title inspired by my current favourite song: Modern Romance by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Lyrics here.)

A Somber Celebration

Photos from the funeral prosession in honour of Ottawa police Constable Eric Czapnik.

Walking home after my class yesterday, I noticed a huge crowd of people gathered on the sidewalk. I was just in time to see the funeral procession on the way to Lansdowne. There were endless rows of Mounties, police officers and firefighters all in a row along Campus Avenue waiting to begin. Just the sight of all of these men and women was enough to make me tear up. I saw police officers from Perth, Toronto, Kingston, Barrie, Cornwall and way more than I can remember. It was so nice to see all of them out in support. I wish I was at Bank and Sunnyside because I hear that the kids from Hopewell Avenue Public School came out to line the sidewalks. It was just an all around sad and somber day remembering and celebrating a fallen hero.

I feel like my journalist hat is never off. You’re always on call, always on the clock, always on deadline. You can’t really escape it, no matter how hard you try.

 

New Maclean’s OnCampus Post

A text message that could save your life.

I just hit publish on a new Maclean’s OnCampus blog post about my school’s new Emergency Notificaiton System. Check it out here.

Welcome to the World

Real World. Not WOW.

Just posted my intro to Maclean’s OnCampus. Check it out here. This is just a little note to say hi. Like dipping your toes in the water before you cannonball. (or bellyflop) 

I have many ideas floating around in my head and now all that’s left is to just do it. Like Nike.

Update 08/02/09:
Woah. I just came up on my own Google Reader. This is surreal.

Maclean’s and Me

Moving on up to the Eastside of the internet.

I’m very proud to announce that I have been picked as one of the new Maclean’s OnCampus bloggers!  I am thrilled about this and cannot wait to start.

If you are not familiar with Maclean’s OnCampus you ought to get with the program. Click here to check it out!

Canadian students should put OnCampus on their Google Reader. Grab the RSS feed. Digg it. Tweet it. Blog it. Re-Tweet it. (Ok I’m starting to sound like Daft Punk.)

Whatever method you use to stay on top of stories, if you have any interest about post-secondary education in Canada (#CDNPSE) this is where it all comes together.

The folks at Maclean’s OnCampus are tuned into Canadian students and their issues. The bloggers come from all across Canada, and yes, there are quite a few journalism students. That just means that all posts will be in perfect CP style.

I feel like we’re a little band of Avengers, ready to assemble and spread truth, justice and news.

A Funny Thing Happened in Front of the CBC Building

Step 1: Take off shoe. Step 2: Put your foot in your mouth.

The CBC announced 800 jobs are going to be cut. On Thursday, there was going to be a town hall meeting for employees. We are a group of three journalism students on a same-day TV assignment. The news is scary, but the story is newsy. To the CBC building we go.

Location: Sparks Street
Mood: Optimistic

Our reporter is speaking to two women standing outside the doors to the building. Many of the CBC employees don’t want to talk to us, probably because they’re not sure what’s going on themselves.

Somehow, our reporter persuades the women to go on camera. The first woman, wearing a CBC jacket, gives us a great interview and some even better advice on what to do as young journalists when our industry is facing hard times. She reminds young people to be passionate about what they do, and wait it out when times are tough.

We ask her how she feels, knowing that her job may be on the line. Will her job be one of the 800 cut?

She responds with a very confident no. She say’s that she’s been at the CBC a while and seniority holds a lot of weight.

We wrap up the interview. Oh, and one more thing. Can you please say and spell your name for the camera?

“Kathleen Petty. K-A-T-H-L-E-E-N P-E-T-T-Y.”

Oh boy. We all burst out laughing.

Yes, we spoke to Kathleen Petty on Thursday about CBC job cuts and we didn’t even realize it until the end.

What a rookie mistake. If I become a journalism prof one day, this can be my witty anecdote for the first day of class.