Monday, 28 January 2013


I am watching The Carrie Diaries, which is a book-made-into-television-series about Carrie Bradshaw before we see her in Sex and the City. 

In The Carrie Diaries, Carrie is still in high school. She is around sixteen or seventeen at the time and it shows her developing into the columnist we see later on.

She deals with a lot of different experiences while growing up -- friends and their issues related to identity and typical of youth, her boyfriend who in the show is named Sebastian Kydd and had sex with his art history teacher before joining Carrie at Castlebury High, and losing her mother to cancer. 

I like the show because it shows Carrie, who in a way is an inspiration to me, growing into being her own person and finding her style as a writer. I like that is shows her using her experiences as material for her diary even at a young age, like I used to do.

And I feel as though a lot of people might write the show off as superficial or less than profound, but that alludes to another reason why I like it -- it shows that not all writers have to write to change the world, or whatever. There are writers who write about things that bring comfort to people, like Carrie writes about relationships in Sex and the City. 

I feel as though as an aspiring documentary filmmaker and journalist, I often pressure myself to produce something that is poignant and profound and will provoke thought and change minds. While that will always be my ultimate goal, watching the young Carrie every monday night with one of my best girlfriends Aneisha reminds me that it’s okay to write about every day experiences, however big or small, just for the sake of writing. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Yesterday my classmates and I watched the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry take place at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

The inquiry is trying to discover the factors that led to and allowed the death of the little girl, which happened in 2005. It was at the hearing that I remembered, in part, why I want to be a journalist/filmmaker/person who creates art to raise awareness and provoke thought and social change.

We were all sitting around listening to witnesses who had worked at Winnipeg Child and Family Services at the time that Phoenix’s file passed through, and admittedly it wasn’t the most thrilling experience. But I tried to listen really carefully and take as many notes, as accurately as I could. And then they got to the details surrounding what Winnipeg CFS workers typically look for when trying to assess if a child is being abused.

They named bruises and children walking funny and having trouble sitting down and a variety of other things that made me have to blink away tears. They said Phoenix went to Wellington School, and I don’t know why but that made the whole thing very real to me and it felt like my heart was fucking breaking right there in the room.

Journalists are, in some cases, required to know about things that are too horrible to imagine, like in this case. And while I am not claiming to be an expert on the case by any means, I did gain a lot of insight into what might have happened by attending the hearing yesterday knowing I was going to have to report on it. It reminded me of the importance of doing that; of listening carefully and gaining awareness about whatever is going on in this crazy world and of raising the awareness of others, too, so maybe one day they will rally for change. Basically making sure that people don’t forget about the Phoenix’s and the Beverly Rowbothams and the Aileen Wuornos’s (whatever your views are on her) and the Debs (see my post titled “Flying High Again -- Deb is the name of the woman in that story) and all the rest of the ones who can be noticed and even helped, maybe, if me and you, and all the other journalists can lend them a voice.

I will elaborate on this in my next post.  

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


I have learned a lot about coming up with story ideas in my second year of Creative Communications. For example, in Broadcast Journalism, I cannot simply put down the first story idea that comes to me. I have to consider what I will use for b-roll, who I will interview, whether the story will make an interesting one visually, and if I can arrange to pull the story off in time for it to be aired (or, so far this year, submitted to the instructor by the deadline).

While I, as a student, haven’t talked or thought about story ideas as much in regular journalism class as I have in broadcast journalism class, I have still considered it, and I feel as though my idea about how to find a story has changed.

While I never saw the value in ripping off stories from larger media outlets, such as the Freep or the Sun, I have developed some techniques that might appear basic to everyone but are news to me. I call them my “skills as an observer.”

The first skill as an observer I have developed is looking around at thing when I am walking, rather than texting on my cell phone or going on facebook. It is very surprising how much I actually notice when I really give things a good look and my eyes are open and all of that.

For example, in the summertime I was walking on Main Street by the Seven Eleven that’s a few blocks away from my house and I guess I decided to be more observant than usual that day. I noticed the Manitoba Clothing Company and for whatever reason, I stopped in front of it and just stared into the window. The mannequins in there had been figures in the backdrop for my entire life; I remember not noticing them as I walked by thousands of times with my mother when I was a kid, and later, by myself. I decided to go in and ask some questions about this place for the first time in my 21 years on earth. 

I found out that in addition to having a sweet selection of deadstock, high-waist Levi’s from the 70s, the company was closing. It had been open since 1944 and used to make uniforms for a whole bunch of city services and stuff (the Winnipeg Police Force, etc.) until outsourcing basically put them out of business. They had a whole factory upstairs that the owner told me used to be filled with forty workers, and now can only afford to employ seven. There were old men that still hung around there that had been working there since being sixteen. For those people, it was like the end of an era, or a bunch of eras. Now that’s a story.

The second skill I learned as an observer is to listen carefully to what people say. This includes reading things carefully, too.

And even if it looks weird, carry a notepad wherever you go. That way, when you are trying to brainstorm story ideas one day before your broadcast J class, you can just get out your notepad and look what you have written in there, waiting to be reported.  

Those are just a few tricks I’ve learned about finding story ideas. You might find, as I have, that using observational skills will not only make you a better journalist, but it will make you acutely aware of your surroundings and that might make your life easier. It’s made mine easier, and I generally feel better about myself, too. It might even make you a better friend or girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever you are. Sweet.