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Urbanology magazine is about urban culture
By FELICIA CARTY

Click image for larger view

Somewhere in between The Source , Vibe and XXL , sits Urbanology on the magazine racks.

Urbanology , a quarterly magazine that comes out of the Malvern community in Scarborough, Ontario, is the product of the journalistic efforts of Priya Ramanujam and the digital media art skills of her fellow publisher Adrian McKenzie.

Two years ago, after going to college, the high school friends started talking about putting out a magazine. Now with five issues to date, Urbanology is published on a quarterly basis and distributed throughout Canada and the United States. There are also plans to distribute the magazine in Britain.

While Urbanology is distributed throughout North America, says Ramanujam, it caters to the needs of Canadians interested in urban culture.

“There is a lot of Canadian content,” Ramanujam says. “Even when we feature an American, everything (questions and writing) comes from a Canadian perspective. It shows Canadians do have a place in the media market.”

Ramanujam also says that while Urbanology is based on the hip-hop culture, with R&B and reggae influences, it is not just about music.

“It's a lifestyles magazine, with arts, sports, politics and fashion,” she says.

Through Urbanology we try to look at things differently and bring a new perspective to the urban culture.

“A lot of images in the mainstream media are negative because that's what sells,” says Ramanujam. “People rely on that; they focus on that. But, if you dig deep into urban culture there are some beautiful things.

“We want to share the more positive vibe. I don't know if we can solve the problem, but we try to make it a bit better.”

Like most new publications, Urbanology has also seen its share of struggles. Money is just one problem both Ramanujam and McKenzie -- now in their 20s – must deal have to deal with.

Ramanujam says: “It's a struggle to make ourselves noticed and to get people to take us seriously. We don't look the corporate role. We have to put out really good quality to try and get the product to speak for itself. We just have to work that much harder.”

 

2006 Harry Jerome Awards
By Jules Elder

2006 Harry Jerome Award winners
(Click image for larger view)

The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) honoured the 2006 Harry Jerome Award winners at a gala ceremony held at the Toronto Congress Centre.

In his address to the packed audience, BBPA president Hugh Graham said: “We…celebrate 12 outstanding Canadians and…hold them up as positive and admired role models.”

Graham also said: “Today we celebrate some of the brightest and most accomplished Black Canadians and it is clear that we have much to be proud of.

“As a people of African heritage our circumstances have been forged by our history of enslavement and colonization, but our legacy is not of the enslaved. Our legacy is one of survival, growth and success.”

The 2006 Harry Jerome Award winners are:

  • Ndija Cheavon Makeeba Anderson – Academics
  • Simone Samuels – Leadership
  • The late Dr. J. Douglas Salmon – Lifetime Achievement. (Accepting the award was his wife Bev Salmon.)
  • Larry Gibson – Business
  • Louis Mercier – Arts, Media & Entertainment
  • Edward O. Ndububa – Technology and Innovation
  • Winston Stewart – Young Entrepreneur
  • Dr. David Burt – Health and Sciences
  • Icilda Elliston – Professional Excellence
  • Dr. Joyce Lavinia Ross – Community Service
  • Jaleesa Rhoden – Athletics
  • Steven Lewis – President's Award

Graham, in acknowledging Lewis – Canada's former High Commissioner to the United Nations, and now the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa -- said: “ (We) recognize the immense contributions this humanitarian has made and continues to make to the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Africa and to Canadians of all hues.”

Among the estimated 1050 people attending the Harry Jerome Awards gala were 260 specially invited youth, Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty, and John Tory, leader of the official opposition in the province.

The Awards honour Harry Jerome, a premier Canadian athlete, educator and community worker who died unexpectedly in1982, at the age of 42.

 

Shani Davis
By Felicia Carty

SHANI DAVIS, American speed skater.

American Shani Davis skated his way into history when he became the only Black athlete ever to win an individual gold medal in the Winter Olympics.

Davis, a 23-year-old speed skater from Chicago , made the golden performance in Turin during the men's 1,000 metre skate. He also claimed silver in the men's 1,500-metre race.

"Since I was a kid, I joked around saying 'One day I am going to win the 1,000'," Davis told CBC. "Now it's happened."

This is not the first time Davis has been noticed in the Olympic arena. In 2002 he became the first Black athlete on the U.S. Olympic speed skating team in Salt Lake City . However he did not skate in those Games.

Davis received a great share of media attention in Turin after comments were made regarding his decision to opt-out of the men's team pursuit. When Davis announced that he decided not to participate in the event so he could focus on his 1,500 metre race, his teammate -- and now call rival - - Eric Heiden, said: "He's very different to a lot of speed skaters, and we have to respect that, but he is not a team player."

The rivalry came to a climax when Davis knocked Heiden out of second place for the silver in the 1,500-metre race, leaving Heiden to pick up the bronze. They did not shake hands before stepping off the podium.

In what many have dubbed a “bizarre” interview following the race, the two athletes battled it out verbally, hitting on topics from their rivalry to Michael Jordan.

Another situation the United States has put Davis in the media spotlight on him. He is one of four men suing the Chicago Police for alleged racial profiling.

Whatever the talk of Davis is, he has fans at the Olympic Oval in Calgary , Alberta , where he trains.

“He did amazing, a gold and a silver,” Derek Gray, a skater who trains with Davis said. “That's as good as anyone can expect you to do. No one is more deserving.”

 

54East Celebrates Scarborough
By VANESSA LARKEY

Strip malls. Whether considered the offensive offspring of urban sprawl or vital to the functioning of a community, the strip malls of Scarborough are the focus of a photo essay in the new Scarborough magazine, 54East .

“They've become kind of trendy now,” said Raphael Gomez, a founder of the magazine. Gomez, a Scarborough native, said while living in England, “Things I had taken for granted, like a strip mall, seemed very exotic to me.”

The York University professor said we travel to see the exotic, but often don't realize what is in our own backyard-strip malls included-are unusual. “I can go from Korea to Brazil in the span of 50 meters,” he said.

Alongside the photo essay, the inaugural issue includes stories about Scarborough entrepreneurs, “Honk if you Love Scarborough” t-shirts, and the 54East soundtrack-music to listen to while traveling along Lawrence Avenue East. The magazine is part of a bigger initiative, the 54East Project, that hopes to promote new ideas and initiatives in the community.

The magazine's name draws from the 54 Lawrence East bus route, which travels from the Eglinton subway station to the Rouge Hill Go station in East Scarborough . The route passes through many notorious Scarborough neighborhoods, including the ‘arty' Wexford and high rise buildings of West Hill.

“If you cross paths with the bus route, you might be interested in the stories in the magazine,” said Gomez, who hopes to reach a broader audience, like how the New Yorker or New York magazine does in the United States.

“Scarborough used to be identified as ‘just a suburb' but now the suburbs have expanded, and Scarborough's identity has developed,” Gomez said.

“I think we are finished with the stereotype of Scarberia,” said Michael Tamburro, editor of 54East . It has taken Scarborough awhile to mature and develop, Tamburro says, hence the reason a magazine like 54East has not come out of the eastern part of Toronto. He also said it has taken the community a long time to examine itself without being negative. “It's grown up.”

The magazine is not subsidized by the government, and is currently funded solely through advertising.

“I think this magazine has proved you don't have to rely on the government to do something that serves the community,” Tamburro said. “I think a lot of mainstream publications lean on the crutch of the government.”

Michael Thompson, ward 37 city councillor said, “It's the start of something really amazing that will happen in the Scarborough 54 Lawrence East community.”

54East plans to expand by adding more pages and involving more artists, writers and advertisers to contribute to the magazine. The paper is currently published quarterly, but there are plans to increase the number of issues.

“The sky's the limit,” Tamburro said.

Gomez said there are plans of creating another magazine, named after another bus in the west end of Toronto, the Junction 40 .

54East is available in libraries, restaurants and businesses along Lawrence Avenue East.

Vanessa Larkey is a journalism student in the University of Toronto at Scarborough College/Centennial College joint program. This story first appeared in the student newspaper The East Toronto Observer

 

The stars shine at annual Urban Music Awards
By FELICIA CARTY

Maestro
Blessed
Julie Black
Farley Flex

There was a sense of community at the 7th Annual Canadian Urban Music Awards held in Toronto this year.

The big winners were k-os, who took home the Songwriter of the Year award as well as Fan’s Choice Award, and Divine Brown, with the R&B Recording award for her new single Old Skool, and New Artist of the Year award.

Other big winners for 2005 include:

• Archie Alleyne, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his career as a jazz drummer.

• Farley Flex, a Canadian Idol judge, received the Special Achievement Award for his key role in the development of the Canadian urban music industry.

• K’naan, Hip Hop recording of the Year for Strugglin

• Blessed, Reggae Recording of the Year for Reggae Time

• Saukrates -- Producer of the Year.

• Ranee Lee and Oliver Jones, Jazz Recording of the Years for Just You, Just Me.

• Fito Blanko – Global Rhythms Recording of the Year for Me Voy A Marchar.

Aisha Wickham, Executive Director of the Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC), during the awards ceremony, said: “This amazing showcase of talent that we’ve assembled … has provided an opportunity for us all to come together and recognize the hard work that has enabled us to shine a light on the best that this country has to offer us as well as the world.”

UMAC, which produces the annual awards show, has as its mandate to boost the domestic and international profile of Canadian urban music. This not-for-profit organization, created in 1996, first produced the awards show six years ago. It was called the Urban X-Posure Awards.

The host of this year’s UMAC awards was comedian Russell Peters who had the capacity audience reeling with laughter.

And among the many performers was Maestro, who has a recurring role on Omni TV’s Metropia. He proved that he did not forget his musical past by performing before the sold out crowd at the Kool Haus, with surprise guest Toronto rocker Gowan.

A full list of the Urban Music Awards winners can be found on the Website www.umac.ca.


Regent Park film festival
By FELICIA CARTY

The annual Regent Park Film Festival is being held at Nelson Mandela Park Public School, 440 Shuter Street, November 7 -13. And as with previous years, it is free of charge.

The event, in its third year, promotes unity and diversity through film. This year's spotlight focuses on East Asia.

It showcases both national and foreign films, addressing social issues such as:

  • Class and race
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Religion
  • Politics

The festival will open on Wednesday, November 9, with Regent Park Rocks. It is a series of films produced by youth through the non-profit organization Regent Park Focus.

Wednesday evening will also feature films that focus on the culture of Asian youth in San Francisco.

The festival turns its attention to the residents of Regent Park on Thursday, November 10, with Regent Park Spotlight.

Featured films include: Angry Girls; and Breakin' In: the Making of a Hip Hop Dancer .

On Friday evening, November 11, the award winning animation film out of Hong Kong, McDull Prince de la Bun, will be screened.

Short films by Asian Canadians from across the country will also be shown that night.

The programming on Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13 includes selections of South Asian, Asian, Latin American and Canadian films, both fiction and documentary.

Among the Some highlighted films to be screened over the weekend are:

•  Chokher Bali , a film based on a famous Bengali story; and

•  Sancharam , a lesbian love story based in Kerala, India.

The screenings will be followed by question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers, panel discussions and workshops.

 

NEW DOCUMENTARY DISCOVERS CANADA'S “UNKNOWN” MEDIA
The Third Element:Canada's Diverse Media

BEN VICCARI, President of the Canadian Ethnic Journalists' and Writers' Club.

The Third Element , a new Canadian documentary, shows a facet of the nation's media unknown to most Anglophones and Francophones.

Directed by Karen Shopsowitz, the film takes journalist and broadcaster Ben Viccari across Canada, meeting more than a dozen men and women responsible for communicating with their communities.

“These media keep their readers and audiences informed about Canada as well as providing a vehicle for expression of freedom of thought that many editors and broadcasters never found in their countries of origin,” Viccari, writer and co-producer says.

He is president of the Canadian Ethnic Journalists' and Writers' Club.

In B.C, Viccari meets a young woman who's giving the big multi-national Chinese language papers a run for their money.

And in Toronto he interviews Raj Girn, publisher of a glossy new magazine for South Asian Canadians which is breaking through colour barriers and selling at major vendors like Indigo and Chapters.

Rupinder Singh Bains, publisher/editor of the national, Punjabi language Indo Canadian Times speaks of the loss of her publisher father Tara Singh Hayer to an assassin's bullet and his elevation to Canada's News Hall of Fame.

In Toronto, broadcaster Lenny Lombardi (CHIN Radio) carries on his father's tradition of multicultural, multilingual radio. Bill Yancoff ( Macedonian Heritage Hour ) and Lina Zakaria ( Munw-aat Arabia ) are seen preparing their television programs.

In Montreal, the Gagliardi sisters carry on the Italian language Corriere Italiano after their father's death.

And at the Kahnawake Reserve editor Kenneth Deer has created a community weekly that pulls no punches in addressing native concerns.

New publishers like Arone Berhane from Eritrea and Myint Shwe from Burma enjoy the freedom of expression they never found in the homelands from which they escaped with their lives.

The Third Element traces the roots of ethnic publishing to Canada's oldest surviving ethnic publication, Winnipeg's Icelandic community newspaper Logberg -Heimskringla, founded in 1886.

And the film reviews the life of Sierhey Khmara Ziniak, feisty pioneer Belarusan editor/publisher who founded the Canadian Ethnic Journalists'' and Writers' Club. It closes at the club's annual awards gala.

The Third Element was exclusively funded through OMNI's Independent Producers Initiative, a $32.5 million independent production fund.

This seven-year funding commitment by OMNI was initiated and made available for independent producers to create third-language/ethnocultural programming. The documentaries will be broadcast in their original language and transcreated into English as well as a range of other languages.

The Third Element offers the opportunity to see the depth and reach of ethnic media in our multicultural Canada,” says Madeline Ziniak, vice-president and station manager of OMNI Television.

Shopsowitz directed the Peabody Award-winning My Father's Camera for the National Film Board and Canada's War in Colour for the CBC.

Executive producer of the 60-minute documentary is Lalita Krishna, award-winning Canadian filmmaker who this year produced Tiger also seen on OMNI Television and which won the National Film Board award for best Canadian documentary at the 2005 Reel World Festival. Her “Jambo Kenya” premiered at the Sprockets festival this year and was also screened on TVOntario.

The Third Element's Broadcast Schedule:

  • English Premiere: Saturday, October 29 th at 9PM ET on OMNI.1
  • Encore Presentation: Sunday, October 30 th at 8PM ET on OMNI.1
  • Italian Premiere: November 12 th at 10PM on OMNI.1

 

Alvin Curling quits politics and joins Canada's diplomatic service

By JULES ELDER

ALVIN CURLING, Canada's new Ambassador to the Dominican Republic

After 20 years in provincial politics in Ontario, Alvin Curling has resigned to become Canada's ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Upon the announcement of his diplomatic posting, Curling said: I feel quite honoured by this.

“(I) am a bit surprised, but quite honoured, because I think to serve Canada is the best position that anyone could have.”

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty praised Curling for his work in politics and the community.

“Alvin has dedicated himself to public service and has been strong voice for Ontarians since he was first elected to the Ontario legislature,” McGuinty said.

“I have no doubt that Alvin will make an excellent representative for Canada, but we will miss him in the legislature and as a member of our government.”

Curling gained prominence in 1995, during the early days of the Progressive Conservative government led by premier Mike Harris.

As an opposition member Curling led a filibuster against an omnibus bill that, if passed would have resulted in major cuts to the public service.

He sat in his seat in the legislature, refusing to leave, for a day and night. The protest resulted in 160 changes to the omnibus bill, following public hearings.

Curling, a Liberal, was first elected as the MPP for Scarborough North -- now Scarborough-Rouge River -- in 1985. And in 2003 he was elected speaker of the Legislative Assembly Ontario, becoming the first African Canadian to hold the post.

Shortly after being chosen as speaker, Curling was the keynote speaker at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists.

Conservative leaders John Tory said Curling “…tried his best, given what I think is the often questionable behaviour of the members of the legislature.”

And New Democratic Party leader Howard Hampton called Curling “a political trailblazer.”

During his time as an elected MPP Jamaican-born Curling served as Minister of Housing and Minister of Minister of Skills Development with special responsibility for literacy.

While in government, the many responsibilities he has taken on include:

•  Member of the Premier's Council on Science and Technology

•  Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of intergovernmental Affairs

•  Chair of the Standing Committee on Estimates

During his time in opposition he served as:

•  Deputy house leader and deputy whip

•  Critic for training and skills development, colleges and universities, and human rights.

Curling, who worked with Seneca College before being elected to the Ontario legislature, was president of World Literacy of Canada, from 1981 t0 1984.

He has been honoured by the Government of Jamaica with the Order of Distinction. And is the recipient an honorary doctorate from the University of Technology in Jamaica.

 

John H. Johnson, Ebony Magazine founder, dies

JOHN H. JOHNSON, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines.

John H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, died on August 8, 2005, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, of congestive heart failure. He was 87.

Johnson was born into an impoverished family in Arkansas City, Ark. They left Arkansas for Chicago when Johnson was 15. He attended the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and started his career as an insurance salesman at the Black-owned Supreme Life Insurance Company. It was while he was still working there as a clerk that he founded Johnson Publishing Company in 1942.

Its first magazine, Negro Digest, was a journal of condensed articles of interest to Blacks and the poems and short stories of Black writers. He then went on to break new ground when he started Ebony, a monthly general interest magazine, in 1945.

Ebony was launched just after World War II, as Black soldiers were returning home, but also at a time when there were no Black players in major league baseball and very little Black political representation.

With the income of Blacks far below that of White Americans, the idea of a Black publishing company was generally dismissed. But Johnson persevered and built up Ebony's circulation from 25,000 on its first press run in November 1945 to a monthly circulation of more than 1.6 million last year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Johnson launched Jet magazine, in 1951. It now has a circulation of more than 954,000.

Ebony was named by Johnson's wife, Eunice, and was created to counter the stereotypical portrayals of Blacks by highlighting the many positives in Black life.

"We try to seek out good things, even when everything seems bad," Johnson once said when asked to explain the magazine's purpose. "We look for breakthroughs, we look for people who have made it, who have succeeded against the odds, who have proven somehow that long shots do come in."

Johnson himself was such a person. He went into business with a $500 loan secured by his mother's furniture and went on to build a publishing and cosmetics empire. In 1982, Johnson became the first Black person to be named to the Forbes 400, and at his death his business empire, which includes the magazines and a line of fashion products, is estimated to be worth almost $500 million.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Johnson gave Blacks the first mirror to see themselves “as a people of dignity, a people with intelligence and beauty.”

He added: “John Johnson changed Black America for the good and we are all indebted to his example.

“A giant has gone to rest.”

Earl G. Graves, publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, said: “We have lost a legend, a pioneer, a visionary.

“As an American, he was ahead of his time. Ebony is part of Americana now.”

Johnson's wife produces and directs the Ebony Fashion Fair, the world's largest traveling fashion show, which debuted in 1958. He remained publisher and chairman until his death.

In the 1980s, Johnson's name appeared on lists of the wealthiest Americans. He liked to remind people that, back in the 1930s in Chicago, his family made only the welfare list. But he also said: "I thought my way out of poverty and Ebony was my passport."

Johnson is survived by his wife of 64 years, Eunice, and a daughter, Linda Johnson Rice -- president of Johnson Publishing.

 

RTNDA launches diversity initiative

The Radio-Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) has launched a comprehensive, multi-year national diversity project to help the news media better reflect Canada's cultural diversity.

The primary objectives of the initiative are threefold:

· to increase diversity awareness among broadcast news professionals;

· to improve the reflection of the full diversity of Canada in news programming; and,

· to help news managers with hiring a more diversified work force.

“Broadcasters so far have had mixed success in diversifying content and staff,” said Terry Scott, president of RTNDA Canada. “Some do it well, others are struggling. We think RTNDA can play an important educational role in our industry and help spark changes that ultimately will benefit society as a whole.”

The first phase of the project includes the creation of a “how to” DVD guide for newsrooms, a PSA campaign for radio and TV and an unprecedented national study of diversity in Canada's broadcast news media to better understand the issue.

“The face of Canadian society is changing rapidly,” Scott says. “It's imperative that broadcasters adapt and reflect those changes to avoid a disconnect with a potentially huge audience.”

The Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage is assisting RTNDA by providing financial support over a two-year period.

“We're delighted to support the RTNDA's initiative,” said Raymond Chan, Minister of State (Multiculturalism).

“The news media is a powerful tool that can reflect Canada's rich diversity. Working with partners like the RTNDA, we can help ensure that all Canadians' stories are shared and that Canada's multicultural character is represented throughout the media.”

RTNDA formed a diversity committee to oversee its diversity efforts, which also include educational sessions at the association's regional and national conventions.

RTNDA's diversity project complements recent efforts by other national organizations to advance diversity objectives in the electronic media. Most recently, the Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television released a comprehensive study of cultural diversity on Canadian television commissioned by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB).

The Radio-Television News Directors Association is the voice of electronic journalists and news managers in Canada. It represents approximately 400 news directors, reporters, producers, educators, students and industry associates across the country.

Enterprise reporting: Not risk, but ratings reward

By GREG O'BRIEN

TORONTO - If diversity was the overriding theme for the Friday session at the RTNDA annual conference, Saturday's was enterprise reporting.

The very informative opening Saturday session at the Radio and Television News Directors' Association annual conference at the Eaton Centre Marriot focused on enterprise reporting – those original ideas that reporters or producers think up which develop into stories only their station will then have.

Enterprise reporting has long been considered a risky proposition because so-called “agenda items” mostly prevent newsrooms from doing as much of it as they would like. It's costly, the stories might not pan out and if you skip covering a mayor's speech when your competitor carried it, well, that's just scary, isn't it?

There are the press conferences, the media scrums, the breaking news, the court dates to cover, too. As a radio or TV station, you don't want to get caught not covering what your competition is covering, do you?

But what if that's exactly the problem? What if because competing news outlets seem to move in a pack from one “agenda item” to the next, reporting it in similar ways, is the reason why ratings stagnate?

What if enterprise reporting is the main thing that boosts ratings for news programming. Then, if that's the case, why don't more TV and radio stations do it? Why is it considered risky at all? Why isn't it a top priority, rather than something that has to be squeezed in?

Part of the reason is that resources are already stretched pretty thin in most newsrooms. There are places where reporters MUST be on many given days. Original enterprise reporting might take a reporter away from one of those places as he or she chases down their story, which is a competitive concern.

The session's speakers were: Murray Brewster of Broadcast News Halifax; Heather Evans, executive producer news gathering, CBC Radio news; Mark Kelley, CBC News The National; Tony Panacci, supervising producer, The New VR.

Each talked about ways in which they try to get more enterprise reporting done and the plans and processes they have in place to make those types of stories happen. From Brewster saying it's crucial to cultivate your contacts (calling his Blackberry a “magic” device for that) to Kelley's cross-country camper trip during the last federal election (covering the election without ever talking to a politician) to Evans' assertion that a search for balance between agenda items and enterprise reporting is fruitless (“There is no balance, that's an excuse,” she said).

The session truly kicked into high gear, however, when Panacci said that he plans more original stories during ratings periods for his station, which does a breakfast show, noon news, six o'clock news and a late news program.

“Original reporting is what's going to get ratings,” he said.

That's when Kelley piped up, saying: “This is where the disconnect is. If (enterprise reporting) is what sells, what attracts viewers, (then) it is not a luxury.

“It's not elusive or scary or risky when there's a huge payoff for us,” he added.

“We can't be afraid of not doing the same thing as everyone else… I think we need to have more confidence and courage in the reporters.

“Skip the press conferences and go out into the community,” he continued. When doing that himself, “I would get a better story and I usually found a story that would lead me to another – and you can't find these in the newsroom, you have to get out there.”

Even John Roberts, chief White House correspondent for CBS News (and former MuchMusic and Citytv host) used original reporting as a major plank in his keynote speech on Saturday, all but saying it will save broadcast TV news.

He talked about how CBS News will change its evening format, opting not for the traditional star anchor now that Dan Rather has stepped aside, but for several people in a format that more actively engages the viewer and perhaps involves an interactive aspect.

Look for more visible emotion from the anchors, said Roberts, as well as, “a little bit of spice in the writing.” He pointed to the success of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where his often acerbic take on the news resonates very well with viewers.

Roberts added that CBS will certainly not go anywhere near as far as Stewart's show does, but added: “We need to give the writing (of news stories) something called ‘edge.' People are used to that – people are interested in how we say it, and not just what we say.”

The biggest change, he said, is that CBS plans to “give viewers more to chew on,” in terms of back story and getting deeper into the news headlines, which people pick up on the web during the day anyway. “This will be much more challenging for reporters and producers,” he said. “We can no longer just play for a tie with our competitors.”

In order to better the competition – not to mention pull in viewers that don't watch broadcast news (like people under 30), the news has to speak to them. Broadcasters have to resist the urge to simply make sure they cover everything else their competitor did.

“It's fundamental that we connect with viewers and listeners and offer them something special and distinct,” said Roberts.

Writers call on the Senate to rethink proposed amendments to child pornography legislation

(The following was released by the Writers' Union of Canada as a press release.)

The Writers' Union of Canada has called on the Senate to hold hearings on proposed amendments to the Criminal Code on child pornography that the writers say will threaten freedom of expression in Canada.

The bill, C-2, was passed without fanfare by the House of Commons on June 9.  It contains many important protections for children, but also puts the onus on writers to prove both that their writing is for a legitimate purpose related to science, medicine, education or art and that what they have created would not cause undue harm.

"Real abuse of real children deserves zero tolerance," says Brian Brett, chair of The Writers' Union of Canada. "But, this proposed legislation forces an accused writer to prove that his or her work does not present an undue risk of harm to children.

“What has happened to the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty?

“We are urging the Senate to hold hearings on these issues and not rush through such important and sweeping legislation."

The Writers' Union of Canada says the revisions on child pornography are window dressing designed to make the public think that the politicians are doing something about the use of real children in pornography and the abuse of children by pedophiles. Yet the definition of what constitutes "child porn" already includes any visual depiction of characters engaging in sexual activity who are or appear to be under the age of 18 and written material advocating this. If the bill becomes law, mere written description of a Criminal Code offence involving sexual activity with a person under 18 will be an offence.

"A whole range of important works, both fiction and non-fiction, for example, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake , Margaret Laurence's The Diviners , Sylvia Fraser's My Father's House and Paulette Bourgeois' Changes in You and Me would fall squarely within the Criminal Code' s definition of child pornography, if Bill C-2 were to become law," says The Writers' Union's Rights and Freedoms Committee chair Ron Brown.

"This law puts a chill on writers who want to explore youth sexuality and child abuse. Once a charge is laid, the writer must incur the prohibitive expense of proving his or her innocence. The language of Bill C-2 is vague and the proposed amendments will increase the likelihood of arbitrary exercise of prosecutorial discretion to lay charges against creators."

Writers have reacted with anger to this legislation intended to undo the Supreme Court of Canada's 2001 interpretation of the artistic merit defence to child pornography offences in the Criminal Code. Bill C-2 broadens the definition of child pornography and narrows the defences, including any artistic merit defence. The Justice Committee of the Commons made no changes to this legislation based on submissions made to it by The Writers' Union of Canada and other national organizations representing writers. The bill has now reached the Senate.

The Writers' Union of Canada is a national organization representing professional authors of books.  Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well being of all writers.  For more information, please visit www.writersunion.ca .

Canadian Ethnic Journalists and Writers Club Awards

By Jules Elder

The 17th annual awards of the Canadian Ethnic Journalists’ and Writers’ Club (CEJWC) are to be presented to this year’s winners on June 24, starting at 6 p.m., at the Velma Rogers Graham Theatre, 333 Bloor Street East, in Toronto.

The categories in which the awards will be presented are: print, radio, television and the Internet.

Also being awarded is the Sierhey Khmara Ziniak award, which honours the founder of the CEJWC. The plaque is presented annually to a journalist who has made an outstanding contribution, though his or her work, to multiculturalism in Canada.

Performances at this year’s awards presentation reflect Canada’s diversity. Performers include:

Yasmena Ramsay, founder and artistic director of Arabesque Dance Company and the School of Middle Eastern Dance and Music Arts.

Suleiman Warwar, a self-taught Palestinian who plays the Arabic tabla. Since migrating to Canada he has been introduced various percussion styles. Now he teaches Middle Eastern, African and South American drumming.

Morning Star River, a group founded by Eddie Robinson five years ago. It is part of the Pow Wow community at large, and has performed with a number of Native groups across North America.

Wes Zaharuk, a comedian with one of the zaniest shows on the market today. He has performed his on-man show across Canada and in countries such as Cyprus, Germany, Israel and Australia.

Truly Devine, a Bollywood Style, South Asian dancer

Singers: Paula Brancati – Italian; Enrique – Portuguese; Daniel Cannis – Greek; and Steve Mikulin – Croatian.

For the third year the CEJWC Awards ceremony is being taped by OMNI Television for later broadcast.

The hosts are:

• Gettika, host of Badhai Ho, a Hindi show on OMNI TV

• Wei Lee, host and reporter for OMNI News – Mandarin Edition

Tickets for the CEJWC Awards Gala and reception cost $35 each. To order call Lisa Warner at: 416-260-3570.

More publications for Black & Caribbean community

ESTEEM Magazine publisher and editor Christian Medy
ESTEEM Magazine publisher and editor Christian Medy

By JULES ELDER

Three new publications – two magazines and the Canadian edition of a Caribbean newspaper – are the latest serving the Black and Caribbean in Canada.

Caribbean Living, with editor-in chief Justin Westmaas at the helm, is a full-colour glossy magazine that promises to publish six times a year.

Distributed free of charge, Caribbean Living says its target audience includes men and women between 18 and 35 years of age with annual incomes between $35,000 and $65,000.

In addition to highlighting the latest in entertainment in the Black and Caribbean community in Toronto the magazine will include record reviews, fashion, technology updates and opinion pieces.

Esteem Magazine, claims to be “Canada’s newest national magazine.”

Christian Medy, publisher and editor-in-chief, says, “The new, 48-page, personal-growth magazine, is hip, informative and news making.

It is targeted to young, ambitious, upwardly mobile individuals 18 to 40 years of age. And will focus on providing readers with “inspirational success stories of people who have attained outstanding achievements, realized their professional dreams, or are currently on the road to success.”

Medy also says: “This is a unique, motivational publication that will…inspire readers with rare and exclusive insights into the remarkable lives of others.

The magazine will also cover a wide range of personal growth issues.

The Barbados Nation, which has been publishing in the Caribbean since 1973, has launched the Weekend Nation – Canadian Edition. The Canadian editor is veteran journalist Angela Carter who worked in Barbados for many years before migrating to Canada.

The launch of the weekly Weekend Nation – Canadian Edition coincided with the 21st conference of the National Council of Barbadian Associations in Canada. It was held in London, Ontario.


The Black press in Canada West – An exhibit

A new exhibit, titled The Black Press in Canada West, is now on show at Mackenzie House, 85 Bond Street, Toronto, until Labour Day, September 5.

This exhibit explores some of the early publications of Ontario, their publishers, writers and the significant contributions they made to Canada’s Black community and the country as a whole.

For people of African heritage the Black press has been a forum for us to tell our stories. And it has also provided a medium for leadership to develop and discuss ideas.

For more information call: 416-392-6915.

Round table on Black history

The Department of Heritage has provided $45,000 to fund a “Round Table” group to coordinate and promote Black History Month activities in Montreal.

The Round Table brings together more than 80 groups from within Quebec’s Black community.

In announcing the funding, Raymond Chan, Minister of State – Multiculturalism, said: “Each year, Black History Month is a significant opportunity to bring Canadians of various ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds close together. That is why our government is proud to support this event.”

The funding, through the Heritage Department’s multiculturalism program, is a means of promoting the full and equitable participation of all Canadians.

Immigration rules for spousal applicants eased

Effective immediately, “all spouses and common-law partners in Canada, regardless of their immigration status,” can apply for permanent residence within the country.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Immigration Minister Joe Volpe announced the changes to the controversial rule, which forced thousands of would-be immigrants to separate from their spouses while their applications for residency in Canada were being processed.

Volpe says this latest change “addresses real concerns about the hardships that some couples would experience if they had to be separated during the application process.”

Prior to this change couples had to separate while their claims were being processed. Sometimes the process took years to complete.

Immigrant groups welcome the move.

“This is a positive step taken by the new leadership,” said Avy Go, executive director of the Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.

 
     


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