Photo courtesy heipei via Flickr

Welcome to the home of #CAJ17, the Canadian Association of Journalists annual conference. We headed to our nation's capital on April 28-29, 2017. 

For those two days, delegates were immersed in workshops and panels featuring fellow working journalists—including international counterparts. They built skills and networked with journalists from newsrooms big and small. Our conversations also confronted our industry's challenges, and offered insight into how journalists can thrive during challenging times.

As always, the conference concluded with the CAJ awards gala, where we toasted the best work in Canadian journalism in 2016. Check out the list of winners here!

We were thrilled with #CAJ17's lineup! Check out everyone who shared their wisdom with our delegates. If you missed the conference, be sure to catch up with liveblogs for every session. Just follow the links.

Jump to: Keynotes | Day 1 schedule | Day 2 schedule | #CAJawards gala



Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly Q&A

A sit-down conversation with the minister on the future of the news media industry in Canada.


Andrew Losowsky, The Coral Project

The Coral Project is a collaboration between Mozilla, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Losowsky will share practical ideas and research to help journalists everywhere get closer to the communities they serve.


eric umansky, propublica

What replaces the journalistic god of objectivity? This presentation looks at the conceit of objectivity, why its death is inevitable, why that's a good thing, and how it needs to be replaced with a new god: evidence.

The schedule


Day One: April 28

  • 8:15 - 10 a.m. Rideau Room — Opening plenary. Eric Umansky of ProPublica talks about the death of objectivity and how it needs to be replaced with a new god: evidence.
    Twitter: #CAJProPublica | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:15 - 11:15 a.m. Salon B — How to write that book you've been mulling. You've covered a beat and want to go deeper than just a feature article. But when do you have enough for a book pitch, and how do you find a publisher? Join three award-winning Hill journalists—Susan Delacourt, Stephen Maher, and Paul Wells—as they describe how they turned their expertise into biographies, extensive investigations and illuminating novels.
    Twitter: #CAJbook | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:15 - 11:15 a.m. Rideau Room — We all know the pressures of the daily chase and the demand to file quickly. So how do you keep the goat fed while doing investigative work? Get advice from two award-winning and longtime journalists, Robert Fife and Jorge Barrera. They will describe some of their big stories and how they juggled the many demands on their time.
    Twitter: #CAJbig | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:15-11:15 a.m. Salon C — The European migrant crisis came sharply into view with the broad circulation of the image of young Aylan Kurdi’s body, washed ashore on a Turkish beach. The image defined both the humanitarian dimension of crisis response, and summoned the stark forensics of images of war. This session. presented by Krista Geneviève Lynes, examines the visual iconography of the migrant crisis, how it was constituted across a range of visual documents including press photographs, immersive and virtual reality reportage, migrant selfies and artistic interventions.
    Twitter: #CAJLynes | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:15-11:15 a.m. Salon D — Finding stories in data (part one). You've heard about data journalism, but you're not sure what it is or where to start. CBC's David McKie and Fred Vallance-Jones of the University of King's College walk you through the basics of finding a story in open data and using a spreadsheet for simple analysis. To gain the most from this session, you should install either Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice on your computer.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

    Please note: For the data sessions, you should bring your own laptop computer. Any recent PC or Mac should do. It should have the Firefox and Chrome web browsers installed, and Wi-Fi capability. For some of the sessions, additional software is recommended, as noted in the descriptions.

  • 11:20 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Salon B — Are you a freelance journalist? Thinking about becoming one? Hear from Dale Smith, Dylan C. RobertsonKate Heartfield, and Carl Meyer, all of whom are making a living at it about what it’s like to have a freelance schedule, how to manage your time and organize assignments. Bonus pitching tips!
    Twitter: #CAJfreelance | LIVEBLOG

  • 11:20 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Rideau Room — Canadian newsrooms layoffs and closures are a personal tragedy for the thousands of journalists across the country who are now out of work. But the resulting decline in coverage is also an emerging public tragedy, resulting in less informed citizens and less accountable governments. Former Globe and Mail editor Ed Greenspon’s Public Policy Forum looked into the causes of this decline in its report The Shattered Mirror, whose title was inspired by The Uncertain Mirror, a 1970 Senate investigation into news media ownership in Canada. Greenspon will speak with conference attendees about the report’s findings and his thoughts on the future of journalism in this country.
    Twitter: #CAJfuture | LIVEBLOG

  • 11:20 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Salon C — Bringing migration home: International reporting in an interconnected world. Poverty, climate change and conflict will keep driving people across borders. Shannon Gormley explains why it's so important that Canadian journalists report from the places that refugees and migrants are coming from.
    Twitter: #CAJakfc | LIVEBLOG

  • 11:20-12:20 p.m. Salon B — Finding stories in data (part 2). You've heard about data journalism, but you're not sure what it is or where to start. CBC's David McKie and Fred Vallance-Jones of the University of King's College walk you through the basics of finding a story in open data and using a spreadsheet for simple analysis. To gain the most from this session, you should install either Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice on your computer.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

  • 1:20 - 2:20 p.m. Rideau Room — Keynote with Heritage Minister Melanie Joly. Digital technology is transforming our world, including the media and journalism sectors. In the context of this challenging environment, this discussion will explore key issues, including the need to encourage innovation in journalism to ensure that it continues to support a healthy democracy in which a diversity of voices is heard.
    : #CAJjoly | LIVEBLOG

  • 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Rideau Room— Canadian journalists are covering a cascade of social issues, from Black Lives Matter protests to the inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Reporters are coming across disturbing cases of Islamophobia and uplifting stories of communities embracing newcomers. Three journalists with a range of life experience and reporting—Manisha Krishnan, Desmond ColeAmira Elghawaby, and Francine Compton—will discuss Canadian media's shortfalls and successes, while offering practical advice to better cover our diverse society.
    Twitter: #CAJdiversity | LIVEBLOG

  • 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Salon C Lean Canvas (Part 1) with Phillip Smith. Building on lessons from the Lean Startup movement, you'll learn how to create a one-page business plan—a Lean Canvas—for a news product, and how to validate that the product has an opportunity in a market with real customers.
    Twitter: #CAJlean | LIVEBLOG

  • 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Salon B — What should Canada's access-to-information system look like? With the federal government planning a (delayed) reform, we'll look at what's working well, what needs improvement, and how both ATIP officers and journalists are working around an outdated system. Weeks before ending her seven-year term, Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault will talk about how things have changed over time, as will journalists Mike De Souza and Sean Holman, who frequently file ATI requests.
    Twitter: #CAJatip | LIVEBLOG

  • 2:30-3:30 p.m. Salon D — From newsprint to web maps: Delivering news in a digital world. With the business of media rapidly evolving into the digital realm, how do you best take advantage of the web? Through interactive maps and apps, you can deliver compelling news in real time and incorporate multimedia content in dynamic maps that pull readers to your story. You can easily create these maps and apps with ready-to-use templates in the cloud—no coding skills required. Led by Jasmine Sohal, GIS Analyst at Esri Canada, a CAJ conference sponsor.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:35 - 4:35 p.m. Rideau Room — Thanks to social media, people can easily send journalists suggestions and critiques. But they can also send threats and reveal personal information. Shannon Proudfoot, Holly Moore and Manisha Krishnan, journalists who have experienced intense racist and sexist attacks, will explain how they coped—and what they wish they'd known beforehand. A prominent anti-harassment activist, Julie S. Lalonde, will offer practical advice on how reporters can keep themselves safe—as well as their sources.
    Twitter: #CAJharass | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:35 - 4:35 p.m. Salon C — Thinking about starting a podcast? If you’re not, your competition is. Hear from Mark Sutcliffe, Katie Jensen and Yael Berger on how to come up with an idea, how to tell stories through a podcast, the equipment you need, and what they wish they knew before they got started.
    Twitter: #CAJpod | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:35 - 4:35 p.m. Salon B — Join us as we flip the channel from “Trump vs. fake news” to consider “Trudeau vs. Open Government.” Hill experts David McKie, Dean Beeby, Tonda MacCharles and Manon Cornellier will talk about just how accessible Trudeau's government really is after more than a year in power. Our panellists are access-to-information aces, the past and current president of the Parliamentary Press Gallery—all journalists with decades upon decades of hard digging experience.
    Twitter: #CAJopen | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:35-4:35 p.m. Salon D — Unlocking hidden stories in your data. As a journalist, you have access to vast amounts of data. But how do you get meaningful insights out of them? Jasmine Sohal, GIS Analyst with Esri Canada, will show you how to integrate data from different sources, visualize data to find trends and patterns, and present your findings in an engaging, accessible way.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

  • 4:40 - 5:40 p.m. Rideau RoomFrom convincing people to go on-record about emotionally difficult topics, to cutting through a seasoned politician's spin, get tips from those who do it best: Shannon Proudfoot, Robyn Doolittle, and David Akin.
    Twitter: #CAJintvu | LIVEBLOG

  • 4:40-5:40 p.m. Salon C — Canada’s Constitution says health care should be the same for everyone. But are First Nations people treated equally? One Dene man who lives in Calgary says his care has been woefully inadequate. He says he was left to die. If it’s that bad in the city, is it even worse in remote communities and reserves? APTN Fellow John Murray screens his documentary.
    Twitter: #CAJdoc | LIVEBLOG

  • 4:40-5:40 p.m. Salon B — Some argue that the effects of the so-called 'fake news' epidemic has, in many ways, contaminated the public's trust in mainstream media. But what if the 'fake news' debacle is not a plague, but an inflection point for all competent journalists? A key change to this mindset means affirming ethical practice and transparency in news gathering as a foundation for a professional identity. This session, led by Brent Jolly, will explore was role an oversight and educational body, such as the National NewsMedia Council, can play in renewing and maintaining public trust.
    Twitter: #CAJcouncil | LIVEBLOG

  • 4:40-5:40 p.m. Salon D — Cleaning dirty data. Getting data is great, but it's not always ready for prime time. There may be misspellings, duplicate entries and inconsistencies. CBC data journalist Valérie Ouellet shows you how to use Open Refine, a popular open source program for cleaning your data. To get the most out of the session, you should download Open Refine. (Please download the OpenRefine 2.7-rc2 Release Candidate 2)
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG


7-9 p.m. Rideau Room — Come together and talk about the industry. Meet panellists you have only seen on Twitter. Buy a drink for a new journalist friend. Join us for a casual mixer at the hotel. Everyone is welcome!

Day Two - April 29 

  • 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. Rideau Room — In early February, the Globe and Mail rocked police forces across Canada with a data-driven investigation revealing how often police dismiss sexual assault complaints as "unfounded." The story has already forced a third of the country’s law enforcement agencies to re-examine the way they handle these cases. Lead reporter Robyn Doolittle is joined by Michael Pereira, the interactive editor and data journalist who did much of the back-end data crunching. Get the inside story of how one of the biggest scoops of the year happened.
    Twitter: #CAJunfounded | LIVEBLOG

  • 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. Salon C — Online security for reporters is becoming more difficult to disregard. This session, led by Jane Lytvynenko, will go over the basics of how to be safe and anonymous on the internet, protect sources, and not get your communications intercepted. Bring your laptop and phone.
    Twitter: #CAJsecurity | LIVEBLOG

  • 8:30-9:30 a.m. Salon B — YouTube is a powerful tool for journalists and news organizations—it allows you to build a multi-layer audience and engage with them in a new way. In this session led by Victoria (Vix) Reitano, you will learn how to cultivate and maintain a YouTube audience, how to access and choose lessons on Google News Lab that help strengthen your presence and how to shape stories and playlists for sequential viewing, understand the Google tools that provide a more visual, robust experience for your audience and how to leverage new technologies like 360 video, VR, YouTube Live and more.
    Twitter: #CAJYouTube | LIVEBLOG

  • 9:35 - 10:35 a.m. Salon C  — Freedom-of-information requests have become a standard tool for investigative journalism, but like any tool they can be mishandled and misused. Using practical, real-world examples of actual Access to Information Act requests, Dean Beeby will offer tips on how to avoid the five most common FOI mistakes—and what to do if you make one.
    Twitter: #CAJfoi | LIVEBLOG

  • 9:35 - 10:35 a.m. Rideau Room — Ever wondered what’s behind the rationale for news paywalls? Hear from three editors at politics-focused news organizations—Kristen Shane, Stephen Maher, and Chris Hannay—who are successfully employing the paywall model about how it gets decided what goes behind one, the benefits and pitfalls of them, and the different forms they can take.
    Twitter: #CAJpaywalls | LIVEBLOG

  • 9:35-10:35 a.m. Salon B — Imagine you follow a story and it ultimately lands you in a courtroom. That's what happened to Justin Brake, reporter and editor of The Independent in Labrador, when he was reporting on Muskrat Falls last fall. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression executive director Tom Henheffer will lead a Q&A that explores what happened and the consequence of Brake's editorial decision to keep covering a story no matter where it was happening.
    Twitter: #CAJbrake | LIVEBLOG

  • 9:35-10:35 a.m. Salon D — You get the data from your FOI request or download an open data set, only to discover it's locked in an unreadable PDF file. PDFs are great for documents, not so much for data. But fear not, CBC data journalist Valérie Ouellet will show you how to free that data using online tools and specialized software.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:50 - 11:50 a.m. Salon B — The CAJ is updating its ethics code and we want input from journalists across the country. For the last six months, select members of the CAJ Ethics Committee have been working on the revisions. At this workshop, Lisa Taylor and Karyn Pugliese will present the committee's work to date, identify the thorniest issues we have confronted, and seek feedback and guidance from workshop participants.
    Twitter: #CAJethics | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:50 - 11:50 a.m. Rideau Room — Many journalists face grievous threats to their freedom of expression and safety. In some countries, journalists are routinely vilified by the state. In extreme cases, journalists are jailed, physically harmed or killed. This panel, which includes journalists Luis Horacio Nájera, Kennedy Jawoko and Arzu Yildiz, takes us to the front lines of the fight for free speech and journalism under duress in Mexico, South Sudan and Turkey.
    Twitter: #CAJglobal | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:50-11:50 a.m. Salon D — Web scraping 101. Government agencies don't always post their data online in a nice, easy-to-download format. It may be in HTML tables, spread across many pages, or behind a search interface. In this hands-on demo, Fred Vallance-Jones of the University of King's College shows you how to turn online information into data using simple online tools.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

  • 10:50-11:50 a.m. Salon C — Archives and libraries are often seen as a tool for historians rather than journalists. But those institutions can be repositories for important secrets that can help inform not just the past but also the present. This session will teach you how to unlock these secrets for your audience. Speakers include Mark Bourrie, Kirsten Smith, Claire Banton, and Richard Provencher.
    Twitter: #CAJarchives | LIVEBLOG

  • 12:50 - 1:55 p.m. Rideau Room - How we rebuild trust: keynote speaker Andrew Losowsky from The Coral Project will speak. As revenue spirals, filter bubbles grow, and dialogue gets ever more vitriolic, it's time for a reset. Losowsky is the project lead of The Coral Project, a collaboration between Mozilla, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. He will share practical ideas and research to help journalists everywhere get closer to the communities they serve.
    Twitter: #CAJCoral | LIVEBLOG

  • 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Salon C — How to get hired: A good cover letter and resume will get you in the door. Find out what you need to do—and avoid—from two people who hire journalists. Karyn Pugliese is APTN's executive editor of news and current affairs, and Ruth Zowdu is managing editor of CBC Ottawa.
    Twitter: #CAJjob | LIVEBLOG

  • 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Rideau Room — Covering protests: Idle No More. Muskrat Falls. Standing Rock. In between tweeting, Facebook Live, and covering all sides of the story, you'll want to make sure you're dressed for a snowstorm, have a mask for tear gas, a bottle of water, a granola bar, and a good lawyer on speed dial. APTN journalists Tom Fennario and Dennis Ward, along with Independent reporter and editor Justin Brake, will walk you through how to organize and plan, find good eyewitnesses, and what to bring.
    Twitter: #CAJprotests | LIVEBLOG

  • 2:00-3:00 p.m. Salon B — The deadly costs of journalism in Mexico—and how journalists fight back: What's the state of press freedom in Mexico? Luis Horacio Nájera talks about the deadly cost of reporting on the drug war, the hopeless situations that many journalists face, how they're coping with the deaths of so many colleagues—including three during March 2017 and more than 100 in the last 10 years—and what Canadians can do to help.
    Twitter: #CAJTurati | LIVEBLOG

    Marcela Turati could not attend #CAJ17. Luis Horacio Nájera is replacing her.

  • 2:00-3:00 p.m. Salon D — A quick tour through a sample of digital data projects that have impressed audiences enough to explore, enlighten and share. We'll discuss the tools and workflows that help attach data to an idea and bring it forward into an impressive presentation that delivers clarity to readers. With Michael Pereira, interactive editor and data journalist with the Globe and Mail.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:05 - 4:05 p.m. Rideau Room — The long anticipated national inquiry into missing and murdered women and girls is set to start this year. How should we be covering this important story? What does the media do right? What does the media get wrong? Four women—Laurie Odjick, Eva Potts, Lorelei Williams, and Gladys Radek—share their experiences and explain what it’s like on their side of the story.
    Twitter: #CAJmmiw | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:05-4:05 p.m. Salon B — What stories are told by Canadian media to Canadians about the developing world? Who are the voices and sources telling these stories, the perspectives and interests informing them? A study commissioned by Aga Khan Foundation Canada found that the majority of coverage in 2015 told stories of terrorism, conflict, crisis and disaster. Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, health, education or economic development did find their way into the media agenda, in most cases addressing possible solutions to these challenges. This session includes Colette Brin and Shannon Gormley.
    Twitter: #CAJdevelop | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:05 - 4:05 p.m. Salon C — Lean Canvas with Phillip Smith. Building on lessons from the Lean Startup movement, you'll learn how to create a one-page business plan—a Lean Canvas—for a news product, and how to validate that the product has an opportunity in a market with real customers. This is continued from Part 1.
    Twitter: #CAJlean | LIVEBLOG

  • 3:05-4:05 p.m. Salon D — You're on deadline with a data story but there are just so many numbers. What can you do with a text editor and some basic JavaScript and D3 to add a little punch to your piece? In 60 minutes or less we'll find data, shape it into something meaningful, and produce a quick hit visual that shows newsworthy trends. While helpful, prior knowledge of JavaScript isn't necessary. Participants are asked to download and install the Atom code editor and to set up an account on GitHub. Led by Michael Pereira, interactive editor and data journalist with the Globe and Mail.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG

  • 4:10 - 5:10 p.m. Salon B — Blindsided: Journalists and vicarious trauma. We know that anxiety, depression and PTSD rates are high among journalists who put their lives on the line in conflict reporting. Now it's time to recognize a more insidious hazard for journalists working where their physical safety isn't at stake. Speakers include Dr. Anthony FeinsteinDave Seglins and Mary Ann Baynton. The session will be moderated by Cliff Lonsdale.
    Twitter: #CAJtrauma | LIVEBLOG

    This panel is sponsored by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma.

  • 4:10-5:10 p.m. Salon D — Reena Cruz of #CAJ17 partner Investintech Inc. will explore the benefits of the company's online PDF extraction platform Cometdocs. She'll demonstrate how journalists can use it to go smoothly from an unreadable PDF file to story-ready data. Participants will be given access to a premium Cometdocs account.
    Twitter: #CAJdata | LIVEBLOG


Join CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey for a mixer prior to the conference banquet and CAJ Awards gala. A cash bar will be available. Reception sponsored by Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression (CJFE).

#CAJawards gala

Join us at 7 p.m. as we celebrate the end of our annual conference and recognize the finalists and recipients of the 2016 CAJ Awards. We'll liveblog it hereOur gala host is Katie Simpson, senior reporter with CBC News in the parliamentary bureau.

#CAJ17 Annual Conference