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A SOBERING WEEK FOR JOURNALISM

Dear members,

Wednesday's infamous events brought into focus the critical work journalists perform each and every single day around the world, in times of both peace and conflict. It is a journalist’s duty to seek and report the truth, bear witness, and explain complex events so that society can make informed choices. 

Regrettably, we have been reminded that a free press is not something we can continually take for granted. It's something we must continue to defend in the face of manufactured outrage and vitriolic epithets that seek to undermine our collective credibility. 

Journalists are not so-called ‘Enemies of the People’. We are agents who weave together the fabric of our democracy through sobering images, candid questions, and honest words.

At the same time, if we are truly being honest with ourselves, journalism’s flaws have become distressingly clear. Whether it's our failure to confront issues of race and inequality or our inability to tackle the volumes of online mis/disinformation, we can no longer abdicate responsibility for the consequences of decisions we make in our newsrooms. We cannot assume that our existence, as a stronghold of democracy, is guaranteed. 

These flaws have real-world consequences. The storming of the U.S. Capitol only serves as our most recent memory. As we have learned time and again, we are not immune to this infodemic in Canada. The 2019 Quebec mosque shooting, or the rise of far-right movements across the country - fuelled by hate, distrust, and a fragmented factual foundation - are all symptoms of the same disease. 

We saw this all too clearly on Wednesday. While insurgents stormed Capitol Hill, inscribing ‘murder the media’ on walls or making nooses out of camera cords, CBC photographer Ben Nelms was sucker-punched while covering a small rally of Trump supporters in Vancouver. 

Said Nelms to the Vancouver Sun: “(I) was just taking photos of the group and people - and one of the men charged me after seeing I was a journalist.” 

It’s true that a journalist never wants to be the focus of their story. However, the work of journalists needs to be more widely celebrated and simultaneously scrutinized. 

I hope you will join the CAJ in sending a huge ‘thank you’ to all the brave journalists who repeatedly demonstrate courage and professionalism in the line of duty. I hope you will also join us in reevaluating the mechanics of our profession and working with the CAJ to make journalism better, more equitable, accurate, fair and constructive. 

Together, we can ensure that the truth will always win. 

With gratitude,

Brent 

 

Here is your CAJ newsletter: 

 

NEW 'Off The Record' sessions: Beginning Monday, Jan. 11, CAJ president Brent Jolly will be hosting weekly virtual meetings to talk to members about anything journalism-related. So, whether you're stuck on a story and looking for some help, or you've got a brilliant idea for an upcoming CAJ event, or just need to vent, we're here to listen. 

'Off the Record' sessions will be held from 8 p.m to 10 p.m. ET. If you'd like to book a time to talk, please email Brent directly: [email protected]

 

 

 

LETS CELEBRATE: Entries are now being accepted for the 2020 CAJ Awards program, featuring Canada’s top investigative journalism award, the Don McGillivray Award. 

Most awards come with a $500 prize.

“The past year has been an extremely challenging one for Canadian journalists,” said CAJ president Brent Jolly. “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the longstanding inequities that exist in Canadian society. But through it all, Canadian journalists have pressed forward, testing their mental and physical limits in an effort to tell compelling stories that both advance the public’s understanding of critical issues and demand accountability from those in power.”

The deadline for entries is Jan. 18, 2021.

Finalists for 2020 CAJ Awards will be announced in early spring 2021. Winners announced at a virtual gala celebration currently being planned for late May 2021.

 

NEW ADDITIONS TO THE CAJ TEAM: We are thrilled to welcome three post-secondary students to the organization for the Winter 2021 internship. These students will be working with the CAJ's board of directors, as well as other journalists, on a variety of projects including the CAJ's newsroom diversity survey, awards programming, and press-freedom advocacy:

Nadia Trudel

I’m a first-year student at Concordia University double majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing. I’m currently a staff writer at The Concordian and the host and producer of a weekly radio show called Seoul Sister on CJLO1690am. I write a lot about culture and social justice, often with an intersectional, historical, or philosophical perspective. Outside of journalism, I submit work to literary journals and competitions, and I have a background in theatre as a playwright and actor. In my spare time, I love reading classic literature, though I’ve recently been on a bit of a Carl Jung kick, and I’m trying to improve my Spanish and learn some Korean. I'm really looking forward to working with the CAJ team this semester!

Matias Brunet-Kirk

I'm now in my final semester of the Graduate Diploma in Journalism at Concordia University and will be joining the CAJ team as an intern this winter. I am currently working as a freelance journalist and video editor in Montreal, with a byline in The Concordian and credits on multiple commercial video projects. I am a seasoned media professional specializing in audio-visual production, with an array of experience in setting up new media properties. In the past, I worked with Le Délit at McGill University and also co-founded Index Media, where I helped set up the processes necessary to regularly produce and publish multimedia content. With a BA in Political Science and a global upbringing, I love anything to do with international events and global politics. I am really looking forward to joining the CAJ team, to both actively contribute to exciting new projects and to learn from some of Canada’s best journalists! 

Joe Bongiorno

I am a graduate journalism student at Concordia University as well as an English teacher. I have contributed to news publications including The National Observer, CBC, The Montreal Gazette, Ricochet Media, and CJAD. When not chasing leads, I can be found at my desk reading a paperback or plotting my next novel. My short stories can be found in literary journals including Geist, Canadian Notes & Queries, Event, Broken Pencil, Freefall and The Antigonish Review. I'm thrilled to work with CAJ this winter.

ICYMI: Here is our 2020 in review note from CAJ president Brent Jolly. We also took a moment over the holidays to remember some of the voices that Canadian journalism lost over the past year. That video is available here

COMING SOON: There is so much to look forward to in the coming months. In particular, we can’t wait to launch the second edition of our virtual mentorship program for emerging journalists, as well as complete our first-ever survey of diversity in Canadian media.

Thanks for being with us!
—the CAJ team

 

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