Monday, March 19, 2012

The Savage War thinks women are pretty

As I read The Savage War I found myself comparing it to Hiroshima, which we read earlier in the year as a component for Journalism class. I found a drastic difference in the story telling styles of the two journalists. I preferred that of Hersey in Hiroshima.

I found The Savage War difficult to read because it felt more like a story than a summary of what happened. In Hiroshima, I felt as though I was reading a long article with very little personal opinion from the author. The editorializing from Brewster in this book really weighed down my interest. His opinions clouded the story and over exhausted moments.

Examples of editorializing:

 Page 94 "They chatted in stiff, high-backed, Queen Anne-style chairs before an unlit, grey marble fireplace in the heavily guarded presidential palace. Karzai wore a sport coat over his white shalwar kameez. He was without his trademark green-and-purple cloak and his karakul, the grey wedge cap he usually wore. "

Page 171 "He has weathered charm and lined face of a grandfather. Maybe it was the sweater vest. I'd never seen anyone wear a knitted sweater vest over a shalwar kameez. ......Kandahar was as hard on the faces of its people as it was on windows.

These extra details removed me from the story. I found myself drifting off and wondering why they were included. This was not an easy read and being over descriptive and more fruitful didn't fit in with the theme and was jarring to me as a reader.

Another thing I didn't like about the book was the way he spoke about women. I feel like every time he brought up women in the story he was stereotypical and condescending. Most females were described with overtly feminine qualities that could stereotypically be cast upon any woman. I feel like most of his female orientated commentary could have been left out, or introduced in a different manner.

Page 68 "The fact that Goddard now sat before me in the middle of war zone seemed both remarkable and gently inspiring. It was evident by the conversation that she fussed over them; several times she referred to team as "my crew." 

The way he uses the word fuss really irritates me. Not to mention that he doesn't just call her inspiring, he calls her gently inspiring. Was that necessary? And what does that even mean?

Page 179  "With beauty-queen poise she spewed such ugliness it made you cringe."

I understand that he chose to use the word beauty-queen poise to make a large contrast against the ugliness spewed, but I feel as though he could have left it out. If what she was talking about was so disgusting, did her beauty really add anything to it? Wouldn’t it be just as vile if a man was delivering the news? Is it harder to hear disconcerting truths from a woman?

 Desert Lions:
 I was weary of Desert Lions because it was paid and edited by the military, so how much truth could really come from it? But I found the truths presented relatable.  On a second note due to Brewster's opinion on women I basically second guessed everything he said. I took his opinion very lightly, which took away from the read because I wasn't connecting with his writing. Even though I'm sure the documentary, Desert Lions left a lot out I still trusted the voice that was presenting it to me. I wanted to listen because he has valid points to make. I did not trust the point of view of Brewster.

What can a journalist learn:
Don't alienate people. As Brewster said his goal for this book was that people would pause and think about what went on, and what is going on in Afghanistan. I think the way he told the story hindered my "pausing moment". I took more negative feelings away from the book than I did take time to reflect. I think he should have considered his audience more.

But what I can learn from this as a foreign correspondent, things aren't fair and you have to move on. And that YOU are the journalist, not the person taking you around, not the army Sargent who wants a certain story, and not the government who wants some positivity. Your name will be on the by-line, so tell the story you want the public to know, the story the public should know.

Tell the truth and leave the rest out.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A life of neglect / Cry from a Diary of a M├ętis Child

Imagine growing up and the government telling you that you have to be white. They don’t give you enough information to be successful, just enough for you to lose who you are and adopt their characteristics.


Imaging growing up and every time you spoke your own language you were shamed and beaten.


Now try growing up to become a functioning person.

Richard Cardinal was a product of the 60’s scoop.

This is a period were aboriginal children were taken away from their families and adopted out into white homes across North America. Many parents have no idea where their children ended up.

By the age of nine Richard Cardinal had already been placed in eleven different care facilities, foster homes and emergency wards.

Richard Cardinal desperately wanted to make it back to his family. He never made it back home as he took his own life at the age of 17.

Although Cardinal resided in Alberta and his suicide took place more than 20 years ago (1984), his story still resonates with the aboriginal community as an example of a “life of neglect.”

I spoke with a Metis student who is currently in her last year of pursuing her Bachelor of social work at the University of Manitoba. Danielle Wedalke told me that a high concentration of the suicide rate in Manitoba is made up of aboriginals. Wedlake explained to me that the aboriginals in residential schools and even those in care had extreme problems with understanding or even having their own identity. They had an internal conflict of self. Some students at residential schools were able to go home on the weekend, or throughout the summer months. The constant back and forth, and the contrast between the back and forth was confusing. Students ended up either hating their parents who made them ‘native’, hated white people for shaming them, or found no other source of solace but to hate themselves.

As I watched the documentary about Richard Cardinal it seemed apparent that this is not a healthy way of life. What did the government expect the outcome of these living conditions to be? 

Traditionally aboriginal people are against conflict. It’s not a part of their society. They have such distaste for conflict that most choose to internalize to avoid the cause of any disruption.  When you are continually confronted with conflict, such as the situations Cardinal faced on a daily basis, and you are internalizing all of it, where does that path lead you?

Cardinal was taken away from his home at the age of 4. After more than 28 different living placements, physical abuse, mental abuse, starvation, being dismissed as a human due to bed wetting, being asked to retrieve his own stick for his foster parents to beat him with, where did this leave Cardinal?

Broken down, with no one to turn to ...not even being able to self identify.

This is a link to the documentary about Richard Cardinal:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Power of photography

I am currently reading the book Savage War. As I read through the pages I can't stop thinking about the importance of photo journalism and wish that I was more skilled in this arena. It's interesting to think about how much more an image can convey rather than a 500 word story. I came across this image today and I think it speaks a very loud message without any words.

Japan Tsunami one year later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Visualizing Journalism

The information I have found/ The story:

The story I have chosen to visualize is a study done on the relationship between the socio-economic status (of a family or living environment) and obesity in children. According to the Canadian Journal of Public Health kids that live in neighborhoods with a lower socio-economic standing have a higher risk of being overweight or obese.  The study targeted kids between the ages of 5 to 17 year olds. The results showed that a kid has a higher rate of obesity under the following living environments:

-kids who live in neighborhoods with higher unemployment rates
-lower than average family income

-fewer neighbors with post-secondary education

The results:
“The percentage of overweight children varied from 24% in areas with high socio-economic status to 35% in low socio-economic neighborhoods.” (Source: )

The study also gave reasons as to why obesity may more likely occur in kids with lower socio-economic surroundings. Kids in the lower socio economic areas have less access to organized physical activities. The study showed that parents in these low socio economic areas were “three times more likely than other parents to state that their neighborhood parks were unsafe.” From there they took the idea that these kids are getting less physical activity because it's unsafe to be outside where a majority of physical activity takes place for kids.

Potential interview subjects:
-parents of kids who live in lower socio-economic areas (Questions concerning if they think their environment effects their kids ability to be engaged in physical activity/ why or why not?)
-city councillor for the area (Questions concerning what alternatives these teens have)

How I would visualize it/the next step:

They did not have specific data that explained any sort of numbers throughout Canda, it was very generalized. If I was to carry on with this story my next steps would be to gather more specific information and then to follow through with it like this:
1. Map out the different socio-economic areas in Winnipeg (represented by color on the surface of the area)

Additional information for each area would be the following:
- Map of how many parks there are in that area and community centers

- The crime rates that are found in this area
-Find out if there are any ways to figure out the obesity rates per area

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Headline magic

While I was interning at  I came head to head(no pun intended) with my biggest weakness, THE HEADLINE. Sure in Editing for Print and Online we were taught about how to write proper headlines but in the blog world I find not all of the Canadian Press’ rules apply.

What I found out about headlines for a blog post:
-should be in your face
-should be hilarious
-should be interesting to your reader
-don't worry about length if it's clever enough
-say what you want to say

I left the headline writing up to the ever talented Haley Cullingham and would always be so pleased when I would see my stories go up. It’s really an art to create a clever headline for a blog post. Some serious thought must go into it but even when I focused my brain I wasn’t coming up with much.

Here are some of my favourite headlines done by Haley:

Another online presence whose headlines makes my eyes tear up are those over at Here are some of favourites written by them:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Coming back after an internship...

I've just finished my 6 week work placement with This was a huge feat and an amazing learning experience. But finishing our work placement means a lot more than just that. We are at the beginning of the end of our CreComm experience. In roughly ten weeks we embark on our second internship and then we ARE GRADUATED people. Boiling this down means.... in 13 weeks I may be living a completely different life than I am now. The plan is to sell the car, pack up all my goods into boxes, grab my cat and hop a ride to the big smoke. I've always been a dream big type of a girl, and with my goals in mind Toronto seems like the perfect city to get things accomplished in. It's just a weird feeling to have relied on the term student for the past 17 years of my life. What comes after the word student? Professional?

We are all about to step out games up. Lets enjoy these last months of youthful bliss.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


When I read true stories, such as Hiroshima I can never really say what doesn’t work for me in the book. I want the story to be told however the journalist experienced the situation whether that is uncomfortable for me to hear about or not. It doesn't matter if some situations are hard to take in, too gruesome, or graphic because these true stories are not about the reader but about the people who were there. I don’t want to be sheltered as a reader or spared from anything. I’m reading for the truth.

“Of a hundred and fifty doctors in the city, sixty-five were already dead and most of the rest were wounded. Of 1780 nurses, 1654 were dead or too badly hurt to work.”

I would have appreciated more dialogue throughout the book to be able to get more in touch with how the people were acting amongst one another. Although this may have been impossible given the circumstances, but theoretically it’d be interested to know more about the inner conversations. Were people talking? Were people praying? Were people saying good byes?

"They said they would, but the little, broken man got away from them, and the last priests could see of him, he was running back towards the fire."

There is a real art of story telling in this book due to the fact that it feels like very little story telling is happening, if that makes sense? The book flows naturally. One moment, followed by another. Not exaggerating any moment, or expressing opinion but just letting the story be the story. And I appreciate the lack of emotion that was used in the story telling. It’s emotional for the reader to read, but on their own terms.

The whole way, Father Kleinsorge was oppressed by the thought that all the damage he saw had been done in one instant by one bomb.

Like Alyssa mentioned in class, this book was hard to read. I’m not a naive person but when you sit down and just read this book it feels like a story. And then when you shake your head and think this isn’t a story this is humanity, you totally get taken a back. It's important to understand history and if we don’t learn from it as a whole, as a country then at least take your own message from it and keep those morals and live your life accordingly.