The Electric Pencil

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Does Canada filter journalists, Rendon-style?

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Normally a piece like this wouldn’t make me think twice: of course, as Canadian Press reports, the Canadian government keeps a close eye on what is being written out of Afghanistan by Canadian journalists. The extent of it may seem excessive, but we already know that this government is incredibly tight when it comes to media relations.

What I wonder, though, is what they are doing with all this information once they filter it through six different government bodies? Is there some kind of Rendon-style ranking system carried out by the government? How does it impact who gets embedded, who gets leaks, who’s invited to sensitive press briefings, etc? The article notes that the Privy Office has directly approved or nixed interviews, but doesn’t go so far as to link type of coverage with access.

CP says it got its information through an Access to Information request; hopefully they’ll be digging a little bit deeper…

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Written by Tim McSorley

September 14, 2009 at 12:22 am

Audio from Hoodstock ’09/Fredy Villanueva memorial

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Today was the second and last day of Hoodstock ’09, to commemorate the death of Fredy Villanueva, to remember his life cut too short, and to discuss the questions that his shooting still brings to mind. Questions of racial profiling and police brutality, but also of community response & organising.

Below is some quick edits of audio from the event. More to come, and cleaner version will follow… Feel free to use them for your own work; attribution to myself & CKUT 90.3FM radio would be nice, though.

Aujourd’hui marquait la fin de Hoodstock ’09, évènement pour commémorer le mort de Fredy Villanueva, de s’en souvenir de son vie coupé trop court, et pour discuter des questions que cette tragédie soulèvent. Des questions de profilage racial et la brutalité policière, mais aussi de la réponse de la communauté et comment on s’en organise.

Ci-dessous sont quelques pièces audio de l’évèment, monté assez vite… D’autres clips s’en viennent, et des versions plus ‘net’ suivront sous peu… Utilisez les clips pour votre propre travail, mais SVP attribuer-les à moi et à CKUT 90,FM

Patricia, soeur de Fredy Villanueva:

Manon Massé, travailleuse communautaire et candidate de Québec solidaire:

Mohamed Bennis, père de Mohamed Anas Bennis abattu par des policiers du SPVM:

Written by Tim McSorley

August 10, 2009 at 3:32 am

Who’s afraid of Hoodstock?

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logo-hoodstock-091Hoodstock ’09 is this weekend – two days to mark the passing of Fredy Villanueva, shot dead by a Montreal police officer one year ago this coming Sunday (Hoodstock, by the way, is a combination of the slang term for neighbourhood and, of course, Woodstock). It will allow for a space to discuss the issues that this youth man’s death has raised: poverty, racism, racial profiling by police, gang violence. But it will also be a space of coming together around music and memories. Sunday will see a memorial walk from the site of Hoodstock. The march, scheduled for 5pm Aug. 9th, was called for by Fredy’s family.

All in all it presents itself as a sober, thoughtful and thoroughly necessary event for a neighbourhood, and city, still dealing with the issues that Fredy’s death has raised.

Which made the words used in last week’s Montreal Gazette article all the more frustrating to read:

At first glance it seems a little like the entertainment equivalent of a time bomb.

While the riots that followed Fredy Villanueva’s shooting last year and the fact that emotions could run high this year as well are both valid topics to cover in a piece about this weekend’s events, I find it incredible that a story would be lead off this way. In it’s opening lines it plants the assumption that there is a real threat of violence this weekend, and leaves it to spokespeople for the event to start on the defensive.

The rest of the article gives ample room to event organisers to explain the event, and the question of violence never comes back up. No quotes from residents who fear for their safety, no police saying they will be beefing up security in the area. So where does the introduction come from?

The piece is anonymous, so no way to contact the author to get an explanation. I can only see two possibilities: either a journalist with an agenda, or – maybe more likely given the tone of the rest of the piece – an attempt at a flashy, grabbing opening line.

A journalist with an agenda is arguably the more concerning of the two scenarios. But the second points to a carelessness just as problematic and misleading to readers.

La Presse, on the other hand, has a piece that deals with all the same issues, but manages to eschew the inflammatory first line.

Written by Tim McSorley

August 5, 2009 at 1:46 am

Thursday/Jeudi: La fin du néandertal

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This Thursday at 8:30pm, Bruno Dubuc will be screening his latest film at Club Social in the Mile End (180 St-Viateur East). Three years in the making, La fin du néandertal is an exploration of Montreal city politics, activism, and the hope for a better city friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and all residents, and devoid of cars: a city that has moved outside of the age of the neanderthals. In particular, it follows both the municipal party Projet Montréal and the Maison Aurore Traffic Committee, a community organisation in the Plateau, as they both set out to change the city in their own way. I had a chance to interview Bruno at the end of June just before the premier screening of the film at Cinéma du Parc. Below you can listen to the unedited director’s cut. I haven’t had a chance to see the film yet, but in a year where we are in line for a heated municipal election – and a possibly strong turn out for Projet Montréal – the film is a must-see, based on the topic alone.

Ce jeudi, Bruno Dubuc présente son nouveau métrage La fin du néandertal au café Club Social dans le Mile End (180 St-Viateur est). Un exploration qui à durée trois année, ce film chronique les changements dans le militantisme urbaine à Montréal depuis 2006. Entre autre, ça suit le développement de deux organismes – le parti municipal Projet Montréal et le comité de circulation de la Maison d’Aurore, une organisme communautaire – qui s’engage à changer comment nous vivons ensemble en ville. J’ai eu la chance de parler avec Bruno en fin juin, juste avant la première de son film à Cinéma du Parc. Vous pouvez écouter ci-bas l’entrevue en entier. J’en ai pas encore eu la chance de visionner le film, mais j’en suis certain que dans cette année qui annonce des élections municipaux chauds cet hiver, c’est une film à voir.

Bruno Dubuc: La fin du néandertal/Le lendemain de la veille/25 juin 2009/19min23sec:


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Written by Tim McSorley

July 27, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Talkin’ and writin’ ’bout 2010: The Dominion and Briarpatch

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2010 promises to be an interesting year in Canada. The Security and Prosperity Partnership makes a return, as does the G8, and, of course, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

The questions and criticisms continue about the costs and impacts of this mega-event hitting the west coast. Building on stolen Native land, ‘cleaning up’ the Downtown Eastside, criminalising dissent: while the image painted by the government and sponsors is rosy, the reality is a lot messier.

A lot has been said already, but there’s a lot more to come, thanks to The Dominion and Briarpatch. The Dominion has sent a call for pitches for it’s special issue on the Olympics due out in November (pitches are due soon!) and Briarpatch has sent the call for it’s Resistance 2010 issue, to be published early in 2010.

I’ve posted both below, or read more here and here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Tim McSorley

July 26, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Sunday: Alt Media Open House

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logosAnother quick post about an event this weekend. CKUT 90.3FM and The Dominion Newspaper have teamed up to host a series of Alternative Media Open Houses in Montreal.

Tomorrow – Sunday, July 26th – we’ll be setting up a table at the Maison de l’Amitié (120 Duluth St. East) at 1:30 and will hang around until 4pm to answer your questions and hopefully recruit a few of you to our groups. (We’ve done two open houses so far; special thanks to the Immigrant Workers Centre and St-Columba House for hosting us). Free food will be provided by McGill’s wonderful Midnight Kitchen.

Both organisations are constantly on the look our for talented and interested folks who want to get involved and help provide an alternative perspective to the corporate dominated mainstream media. We’ll also be joined by folks from Montreal’s Independent Media Centre, a great resource and hub for indie media organising in Montreal.

Part of the goal is to get a bit more visibility for both these outlets, sure. But it’s also to demystify and open our media outlets to folks who don’t necessarily consider themselves journalists/media makers/writers/producers… While there’s a strong emphasis in both organisations on quality of content, there’s just as much emphasis on training, workshops and openness. So stop on by, ask a few questions, and learn a bit more about althernative media in your community…

And while you’re at it, stop by the new Sunday farmers market, Marché Duluth, a little further down the street, at the corner of Laval & Duluth St. East.


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Written by Tim McSorley

July 25, 2009 at 12:33 pm

McNamara passes, Morris speaks

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I’m a little late on the news, but former US defense secretary Robert McNamara passed away on Monday at the age of 93. He was the primary architect of the US war on Vietnam, and the target of many anti-war demonstrations, and accused of being a war criminal.

Coincidentally, as part of my work at the NFB, I’ve been working on promotion of a new film called Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary, directed by Pepita Ferrari and featuring 33 filmmakers talking about their craft. One of those filmmakers is Errol Morris, who made what is one of my all-time favorite docs, The Fog of War, whose main subject and interviewee is Robert S. McNamara himself.

You can view clips of Morris speaking about McNamara here & here.

Errol Morris on the set of Capturing Reality. Copyright 2008, National Film Board of Canada

Errol Morris on the set of Capturing Reality. Copyright 2008, National Film Board of Canada

The rest of the clips on the Capturing Reality site have nothing to do with McNamara, but they do cover the questions and quandries that come with documentary filmmaking. You can watch all four hours of interview clips on the site, as well as the trailer for the film, which features more interviews that aren’t on the site and is well worth the watch (the DVD comes with both the doc and all four hours of clips…). The entire project reminds you why the Herzogs, Obomsawins, Braults and Maysles of the world are phenomenal, and, for me at least, is an introduction to a slew of filmmakers whose work I want to discover.

And in pure self-promotion, I helped pick the 11 clips we’ve put together into a playlist on NFB.ca; they’re my favourites of the bunch and contain some pleasant surprises… You can view them all, my favourite is from the inimitable Werner Herzog…

Written by Tim McSorley

July 8, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Posted in media, politics

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