Archivo de la categoría: Periodismo

Periodismo basado en eventos

Retransmito una idea para el futuro de las noticias, que levanté del blog del periodista Adam Westbrook: “event based reporting”.

Me pareció interesante (la idea) en este contexto (en la puerta del 2010) en que se habla -o se piensa- en el futuro del periodismo… no ya desde el debate pobre y chato de si periodistas o ciudadanos colaborativos, sino a partir de la interacción de los periodistas con los medios colaborativos y de su desempeño profesional en el marco de un periodismo en tiempo real… En este sentido podríamos estar hablando ahora del twitter journalism. Pero el texto a continuación aborda tanto a la tecnología (medio) como a la flexibilidad que ésta le aporta a la práctica del periodismo y al sistema mediático.

Espero que os resulte interesante.

Ideas 003: event based reporting

The Berlin Project

By: Alex Wood, Sheena Rossiter, Marcus Gilroy-Ware, Dominique Van Heerden, Marco Woldt

The five people behind the Berlin Project are the perfect example of young journalists refusing to be battered by economic storms, or waiting for journalism to sort itself out. When many recent graduates would have been preparing themselves for another 3-week unpaid internship at some dodgy music mag, or scouring the papers for PR jobs, these guys decided to go do some journalism instead.

It takes a fair bit of chutzpah to fly yourself out to Germany to cover the Berlin Wall anniversary with no real audience and not much financial backing. But they did, and you can see the results on their website.

Under the banner “journalism like you never thought possible” they went into Berlin under the radar covering the unofficial story. The site is a real multimedia mash too with audio, video packages, mobile video and photographs rolled into one.

Something lots of the big boys talk about all the time, but rarely produce themselves.

This aside, I’ve labelled the Berlin Project as an example of event-based reporting, a different angle on journalism, and one perhaps with commercial possibilities?

The Berlin Project was about one event, and offering in-depth coverage of that time defined moment. It is nothing new of course, we’re all used to ’special coverage’ of the Olympics, elections, and remembrance services in the mainstream media.

But until now, they’ve been an extension of larger broadcasters or papers.

I think the advantage of the Berlin Project is its size (small, nimble) and therefore flexibility. They were also able to work cheaply, getting footage on iPhones and editing it quickly with iMovie. All told, a valuable alternative to mainstream coverage.

And I wonder for a second whether there’s a business model here too? Imagine being commissioned to cover all sorts of awesome events, because its what you do really well. It’s not a traditional niche, but hey- a niche is a niche right?

The Berlin Project team were able to get backing from Reuters  and do some business with smaller sites and Alex reckons they’ll break even, all told. Not bad for a pilot project. And there could be plans for more events coverage in 2010.

And even if you don’t like the idea, these guys have shown what’s possible when you just get off your ass and do something.

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Archivado bajo Periodismo

Clubs de miembros on line, ¿podrán salvar a los diarios?

Por: Marina Kempny

Comparto nota de Fast Company, hoy que abundan las membresías y clubs no sólo a fines de marketing sino también para el acceso a los contenidos e información.

¿Pagar o no pagar por contenido? Ya no desde la perspectiva del negocio de una empresa de información/contenidos, sino de los usuarios, aunque la que se cobre sea solamente cierta información seleccionada, ¿valen en el mundo web las mismas reglas del off line? (pagar por la información).  ¿La regla es el medio?

Could Paid Online Member’s Clubs Save Newspapers?

BY Kit EatonWed Aug 12, 2009 at 10:27 AM

The U.K.’s The Guardian newspaper is about to try an alternative model to charging for online content that sounds infinitely more digestible: Bonus content “member’s clubs.”

The idea was spawned from a survey email sent out to registered members of the the paper’s Web site, with the following text–“The Guardian is considering launching a members’ club which will provide extra benefits in return for an annual or monthly fee. These benefits might include, for example, a welcome pack, exclusive content, live events, special offers from our partners and the opportunity to communicate with our journalists.”

After the story surfaced, to quell assumptions that such a club would result in some of the existing online content slipping into the pay-per-view zone, The Guardian’s director of digital content made it clear that that’s not going to be the case, with an emphasis on the point that restrictive pay walls would turn away users.

This is interesting–it’s a wholly different take than some suggestions made by Rupert Murdoch that the future of online newspapers is to charge for all published content. The Guardian‘s thinking is far more groovy, in a progressively Internet-savvy kind of way, and it borrows a jot or two from the marketing of DVD and Blu-ray disc extras and even Apple’s upcoming Cocktail music album-wrapper. These last three content delivery systems are marketed, in part, on the idea that behind-the-scenes footage, or special artworks and video extras will increase sales of the product–and clearly The Guardian feels the same way. In fact, with a suggestion that club membership could involve direct communication with the paper’s journalists, The Guardian is even tapping into the whole Twittering-celebrities meme, which has brought a wholly new degree of accessibility to stars.

Would you consider canceling your physical copy, and going online to pay for a subscription for additional content from your fave newspaper? It’s certainly an intriguing idea, and if newspaper publishers are to remain in business in the digital future this is certainly a business model that’s more likely to win-over the public than charging for access to all content.

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Archivado bajo Comunicación, Periodismo, PR

Quiénes NO son los viejos comunicadores

630 palabras sobre los nuevos comunicadores

Escrito por José Playo – 08/07/09 a las 08:07:13 pm – Peinate que viene gente 
Un público nuevo se come las uñas. Del otro lado de la ventanita, la partera del futuro tira de la cabeza del comunicador que iba a renovar la confianza de la gente; no sale, entonces crece la sospecha de que deberemos seguir escuchando las mismas boludeces sobre las tecnologías y las herramientas multimediales que han venido a destruir el mundo y nos están consumiendo.

 

El público nuevo ya no tolera cascarrabias hablando de Internet como si fuera un pantalón nevado que pronto pasará de moda. Es un público silencioso y paciente, un montón de gente sin raza ni credo que sabe que la Red acelera procesos y sirve, fundamentalmente, para transferir información y conocimientos. Es un público que apuesta por la efectividad y los caminos cortos, que sabe que la enredadera de la paranoia no prende bien en los muros de Facebook, donde la tijera de podar del sentido común hace trizas los brotes que crecen al pedo.

El viejo comunicador, apostado en la redacción solitaria de un diario bohemio, o anquilosándose en un plano americano dentro de un canal de noticias, da batalla por inercia contra ellos, porque cree que las nuevas generaciones son igual de boludas que las herramientas, o que son todos floggers y hay que hablar de sus pelos.

El viejo comunicador está apostado en el andarivel de la comodidad, viendo el humito del tren del siglo 21; cree que esperarán que acabe de fumar y se sacuda las cenizas de su traje de amarillismo e ignorancia. Su tranquilidad se nutre del desconocimiento: ni puta idea tiene de la kilométrica línea de controles remotos silenciándolo a botonazos, o cambiándolo por un documental sobre cultivo de helechos.

Los nativos digitales —a quienes debería respetar si pretende hacer su trabajo en serio— le han picado hace rato el boleto; ya no disfrutan de los informativos que refritan bloopers de YouTube o hacen foco en el sensacionalismo relleno de escándalos y presentados como pescado fresco. Pasan. No sonríen. No perdonan. Se van.

El comunicador que subestima a su público se aplana hasta convertirse en carne de blog o en tela para programas de errores televisivos: sus trucos engañosos sobre la gripe y la inseguridad han sido descubiertos, está solo —a lo sumo con una coequiper— hablándole a una generación con el ojo entrenado en campañas virales que descubre la falacia y se agenda no perdonarlo por eso.

El arma nuclear del periodismo, La Información, ahora está en manos del común de los mortales; la ven de cerca, la estudian, le copian la fórmula y le sacan provecho. Los usuarios hoy consumen y procesan con voracidad los datos de su interés, pasándose por las bolas los pronósticos agoreros y las encuestas sobre tendencia. Al viejo comunicador, para subsistir, sólo le queda la tremenda responsabilidad de empezar a construir una relación distinta con ellos; algo desde cero, con ánimos mucho más modestos.

Todavía rebotan entre las paredes de la obstinación los argumentos periodísticos basados en la negación de las nuevas tecnologías: salen de las bocas de los que odian el mail, no saben qué es Facebook y opinan que Twitter es una boludez para pendejos con tiempo.

Los comunicadores éstos —viles, soberbios— mastican teorías de la muerte del libro a manos del blog y dicen que quienes no leen sus aburridísimas columnas son “malos lectores nuevos que reemplazan a los que se van muriendo”. Los comunicadores éstos se pasean ojerosos, malhumorados y cubiertos de maquillaje, frente al cajón donde se está velando su empecinamiento.

Si lloran, es por enojo, porque no saben cómo cambiar el mundo nuevo. Es fácil identificarlos, llevan la boca más abierta que los ojos.

No estaría mal que empezaran a entender que el mundo está esperando que cambien ellos.

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Archivado bajo Periodismo, PR

La guerra de las percepciones

Por: Damián Fernández Pedemonte

 

Paradójicamente, lo más cierto sobre el delito es su percepción.

Tenemos, por un lado, el dato incontrastable de que la población de los centros urbanos está muy preocupada por la sensación de incremento de la inseguridad: así lo expresa en las encuestas, en los medios y movilizándose. Por otro lado, a partir del análisis de la cobertura de las noticias policiales se pueden verificar varias estrategias de amplificación de la violencia. Esta constatación no puede menos que darles la razón a Raúl Zaffaroni y a Carmen Arguibay cuando sostienen que los medios exageran la inseguridad.

Obviamente, los delitos que narran los medios suceden, no son un invento. Pero por

cada uno, hay decenas de notas periodísticas, en cada medio. Las “olas de violencia”     -como la de asesinatos de policías del mes de febrero- son una forma de edición, de agrupamiento de episodios diversos bajo un mismo encabezamiento que los enlaza. Por un tiempo – en promedio, dos semanas- un tipo de delito acapara la atención de las secciones de policiales. Los otros, aunque persistan, desaparecen de la agenda pública, y cualquier delito del tipo al que corresponde la ola -asesinato de un policía- tiene más chance de salir a la luz y obtener abundante cobertura.

Así, por ejemplo, durante la mencionada ola de febrero hubo sólo tres hechos delictivos distintos (la muerte de Áldo Garrido, el 17 de febrero, de Leornardo Melliza, el 20, y Claudio Santillán, el 25) y de un tipo frecuente en otros momentos, en razón del oficio policial. La ola, sin embargo, bastó para cambiar la tendencia, a la que estamos más acostumbrados por las noticias, de ver a la policía en función de autora o cómplice del delito. Sin ir más lejos, muy poco antes, se sucedieron detenciones de policías por el secuestro del empresario Leonardo Bergara.

¿Entonces? Los delitos existen, la forma de agruparlos de los medios puede hacer que se tenga la impresión de que un tipo específico de delito ha crecido exponencialmente. Es probable que ahí haya más “violencia” en los medios que en la calle. La reproducción en la prensa de un clima de opinión facilita las declaraciones desmesuradas, los pedidos de soluciones drásticas, aunque la búsqueda de la eficacia y el castigo se lleve por delante las garantías de los ciudadanos y la racionalidad de las instituciones. La pena de muerte, la imputabilidad de los menores, el uso privado de armas, fueron tópicos que se dieron cita en esta ola, sobre todo a partir de las declaraciones de Susana Giménez, que operaron como autorización para expresar las opiniones más recalcitrantes en los comentarios de los diarios digitales y en los llamados a los medios (¡ya lo dijo la ídola!).

El gobierno podría serenar un poco el debate si mostrara estadísticas (¿por qué no las muestra?). De otros años sabemos que el delito tiene unos picos en los medios que no tiene en la estadística criminal. En año electoral, no es improbable el uso político de la noticia policial: el pueblo -ahora incluyendo en ese colectivo a la policía- desguarnecido ante la despreocupación gubernamental. Ahora bien, el gobierno también debería tomar en serio la percepción de la gente, ese nuevo campo de investigación que se llama “inseguridad subjetiva”, porque en comunicación política Si los individuos definen las situaciones como reales, son reales en sus consecuencias (William Isaac Thomas). Debe explicar su política. De lo contrario habrá que darle a la razón a la gente cuando dice que el tema de la inseguridad le tiene sin cuidado.

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Archivado bajo Notas de Invitados, Periodismo

Periodistas y Social Media

Lo siguiente es especial para periodistas y para los que trabajan en medios o tienen alguno  (diario, radio, tv, web, blog, intranet, diario personal con llave y candado o lo que se les ocurra).  

February 16, 2008
Social Networking Built Around Content, So Why Aren’t Journalists All Over It?

This is the second in a series of practical tips to change your newsroom. The first was CopyCamp, an Unconference for Journalists, which the San Jose Mercury News will put to the test in April. This is also part of the ongoing Carnival of Journalism: More info here.

Over at WiredJournalist I started a group “social bookmarking for journalists,” because I’ve noticed that social news sites (a growing corner of social media) have an alarming absence of journalists despite the utility they provide. Similar to blogging, I think ignoring it is like shooting ourselves in the foot.

The good news is: Unlike CopyCamp, my first practical tip on changing your newsroom, this takes only a few minutes of a journalist’s time and no money. If you are all goo-goo-ga-ga over Twitter, then there is no reason not to love social news sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and others.
As Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 put it to me via email: “Every media brand, to remain relevant, needs to get into the business of helping their audience find the best content on the topics they cover, and not just publish their own content. So it’s bigger than ‘bookmarking/rating content.’ It’s being relevant on the web.”
The final goal of this post is to get news organizations to see the editorial value in providing links to other relevant stories. The higher quality your links are – the higher your level of editorial service and the more readers will come back for tasty hyperlinks.

Social Bookmarking 101 will include:

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Archivado bajo Periodismo

Bloggers, los ¿nuevos? referentes de opinión

La charla de café para hoy es sobre la importancia que han tomado los bloggers como referentes de opinión, pero visto en un caso concreto. Creo que su lectura bien podría servir para sacar conclusiones tanto quienes necesitan “spread” su marca mediante campañas virales de mkt, como quienes laburan en periodismo de investigación, consultoría, política…
Se trata de un artículo y una entrevista a un periodista iraní que fue encarcelado y luego puesto en libertad gracias a la presión de la “blogosfera”… Lo interesante es cómo una misma causa, la libertad de expresión (su privación o su respeto) te encarcela al mismo tiempo que te libera.
Lo mejor es la entrevista que le hacen al periodista de la nota. Muy bueno! Habla sobre cómo influyen las nuevas tecnologías en el tema de la libertad de expresión en IRAN y también sobre la presión psicológica en la cárcel.
Y por último, para rescatar, la nota es de 2004… y ya por entonces, el vicepresidente de Iran escribía un weblog… sí, Irán… sí, 2004.
 

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Archivado bajo Estrategia, Innovación y Tecnología, Periodismo, PR

Periodismo social, un recordatorio del contexto y de la historia

La lectura de la nota a continuación puede servir no sólo a periodistas-bloggers-“comentólogos”-escritores, sino también a ejecutivos de cuentas-publicistas-analistas de marketing-consultores… y por qué no a fulanos como uno, como yo… que muchas veces me he limitado a “be the observer” en distintas situaciones de la vida, y bien podría aplicárseme el significado de la frase de uno de los chicos de la nota: “I don’t like them (los periodistas). Both them and cops. They come down here for one day and they think they know us. They think everyone’s a fucking gangster”.
 
“History and context are often overlooked by journalists” expresa el autor de la nota. Cambiemos la profesión de la persona que viene después del “by”… Y no es necesario detallar el costo que lo que se expresa puede tener para un periodista, para un RRPP, para un marketinero que lanzó un nuevo producto al mercado, para una persona en la sociedad de la vida diaria.
 

 It’s a Crime

Toronto streets aren’t “nighttime killing fields”– but it’s easy to say they are

by Chris Richardson
 
Chuckie smashes the metal pipe into the side of Freshy’s face. Freshy hits the cement with a thud. Before the 16-year-old knows what’s happening, he’s pummelled by half a dozen guys wearing heavy winter jackets and thick-soled basketball shoes. Curses fly through the night air near the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue in northwest Toronto. Mark Simms keeps his eye to the viewfinder, shooting the scene with a PD150 camcorder on loan from CBC’s the fifth estate.
 
When the beating is over, Freshy gets up, wiping the blood from his eyes. His features are mashed and beginning to swell. He looks around the apartment complex and stumbles toward Simms.
“You all right?” Simms asks.
“Yeah,” he replies, spitting blood onto the asphalt.
Simms, 25, hadn’t planned on bringing more bad press to his neighbourhood. Quite the opposite. In 2004, the aspiring filmmaker helped his friend Paul Nguyen, 26, build a website called Jane-Finch.com. It was around the time Nguyen’s new girlfriend refused to visit their neighbourhood because of its violent reputation. Nguyen and Simms wanted to send out a positive message. They began shooting videos and writing stories for the website about topics such as local celebrations, new businesses and talented artists.
 
In 2005 their work caught the attention of producers Tamar Weinstein and Jennifer Fowler at the fifth estate. But not for the positive spin. The CBC producers were planning a documentary about young men leaving school and turning to crime, and wondered if Nguyen and Simms, through their intimate local access to Jane-Finch residents, might help. It has been difficult for journalists to gain an entree into Toronto’s low-income communities ever since the so-called “Year of the Gun” in 2005. Residents saw stories of gangs and violence dominate headlines.
 
Crime reporters sometimes covered two or three shooting deaths in a single weekend. The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell was one reporter who was swept up in the drama of it. She remembers a particularly hyperbolic sentence being added to her story during the editing process: “Elementary school grounds, shopping mall parking lots and playgrounds have become nighttime killing fields.”
“It’s not true!” she later exclaimed to editors, and says “nighttime killing fields” sounded ridiculous. Similar clichés became commonplace when referring to certain neighbourhoods, and residents largely stopped speaking to journalists. People in Toronto communities such as Jane-Finch, Regent Park and Scarborough often refused to answer their doors if they saw television cameras or notepads.
 
As a result, reporters without the trust of community members were soon forced to rely on sound bites from the few who would talk. This led to stories lacking context. Director and writer Sudz Sutherland, who grew up in Scarborough, was so struck by the hostility between the residents and the press that he added a scene to his 2006 film Doomstown in which a woman screams at a reporter to leave her neighbourhood. “We don’t need your image of us!” she shouts in the CTV drama.
 
In December 2005, then prime minister Paul Martin spoke at a press conference in Jane-Finch, promising tougher laws on handguns. Two weeks later, 15-year-old Jane Creba was shot and killed while shopping with family near the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto, making guns an even hotter topic. By this time, Weinstein and Fowler had already contacted Simms and Nguyen. After some preliminary discussion, the fifth estate gave the young men a virtually limitless supply of mini-DVDs and told them to “go out and start shooting things.” They spent nine months practically living with three subjects — young men of different ethnicities — watching them record music, look for jobs, play with guns and sell drugs. In return, their footage aired on national television, in a documentary called Lost in the Struggle.
Simms stares out the window of a Tim Hortons at the corner of Jane and Finch. He sips his double-double coffee and watches the rain hit the parking lot of a discount grocery store. “See that girl over there?” Simms turns and asks. “You recognize her? She was in the documentary.” The girl, walking with a doughnut in her hand, had bought drugs from one of the subjects in the film.
“Excellent documentary, man!” someone interrupts, slapping Simms’s back as he walks past him in the cramped coffee shop. Simms turns and shakes the man’s hand.
“Thanks,” he says, smiling.
 
Simms says most people are happy with the documentary. “A few people are not okay with it,” he adds. “It showed the area in a negative way. But it also showed reality.” He says it took time for many residents to accept the portrayal.
 
Journalists have tried for years to gain access to people in communities such as Jane-Finch, with little or no success. Toronto Sun crime reporter Rob Lamberti approached members of gangs, including Bloods and Crips, but never got further than a brief conversation. “It usually ends with a seven-letter word with a hyphen in the middle of it,” he says. “You’ve got to learn how to take that. It’s just the price of doing business.”
 
Lamberti received his first death threat about 20 years ago after covering a spree of gang violence in the city. He gave the letter to police, who treated it seriously but didn’t find the source. “I’d still love to sit down with these people, spend a day or two with them and just be the observer,” he says in a grizzled voice. But he understands that acceptance isn’t earned in a day. “People on the street think you have no time for them, that you’re going to write the story and then disappear into the woodwork — which is a fair criticism because, ultimately, that’s what happens.”
On a warm autumn afternoon in Regent Park, outside a small brick community centre, a group of young men sit around a wading pool. There are rows of small houses behind them and, in the distance, luxury downtown towers. I approach them, holding a notepad in my hand.
 
“Just keep walking,” says a boy in a black hoodie and baggy jeans. I tell him I’m writing a story and want to talk about the media. Someone in a leather jacket asks if I have any smokes. Eventually they start speaking to me.
“What do you think about journalists?” I ask.
“I don’t like them,” the boy in the hoodie says bluntly. “Both them and cops. They come down here for one day and they think they know us. They think everyone’s a fucking gangster.”
As I take notes, a heavy young man walks behind me. He reads the scribbles over my shoulder while talking to someone on a cellphone. When I ask for their names, the looks on their faces tell me the answer. “We’re done here,” says the young man in front of the pool.
 
Walking around Regent Park, as in many of Toronto’s marginalized communities, it’s easy to notice the negatives. The first thing I see as I head to an interview is a mother with long hoop earrings pushing a stroller and swearing at her toddlers. Farther away, there are men in ill-fitting denim lingering outside a storefront and sucking on cigarette butts. What I don’t hip-see are the mothers who line up at 6 and 7 a.m. in front of bus stops on their way to work; the community volunteers who take kids on after-school trips and teach reading workshops; the students who make their way to school each day, returning home a few hours later to do their homework.
 
I follow a broken cement sidewalk to Nelson Mandela Park Public School, just east of downtown Toronto. Inside, teacher Elizabeth Schaeffer passes out newspapers to Grade 7 and 8 students. She asks them to cut out articles about young people. Last time Schaeffer taught this lesson, she asked students to bring their own newspapers. They brought in copies of Metro and 24 Hours, free commuter dailies that have little news copy. This time, she makes sure all the major papers are available to snip. The clippings are sorted according to sex, race and content and the results are glued to charts on the walls of the classroom, giving students the opportunity to visualize their findings. Schaeffer waits as confusion sets in on the faces of the predominantly non-white students. One quickly notices the differences among the clippings. On one side are generally positive stories about white children and on the other, stories of violence and criminality among black boys. Schaeffer doesn’t tell the students how to interpret their findings. “The kids ask questions,” she says. They come to their own conclusions about the media. The exercise is designed to make students aware of biases in news gathering and publishing. It’s one of many media literacy lessons that explore stereotypes, which are becoming popular in Ontario classrooms.
Mary Lynn Young, a journalism professor at the University of British Columbia, stresses the importance of context to her students. “How stories are told matters,” she writes in Media magazine. Young says history, cause, consequence and scope are four of the most important things journalists can bring to a story. Schaeffer agrees. If more context were provided in the stories that the students cut out, she says, readers would probably be less inclined to condemn these kids.
 
But history and context are often overlooked by journalists.
Before he began covering Jane-Finch in 2006, Globe and Mail reporter Joe Friesen knew about the area mostly through the news coverage he had read growing up in Winnipeg. “You hear rumours that it’s an American-style ghetto, but then you get there and you see it’s nothing like that.”
 
After the Second World War, Jane-Finch was still mainly farmland owned by European settlers. Then, in the late 1960s, apartment complexes and townhouses began appearing to meet the needs of the many low-income families arriving in Toronto. But schools, transportation and other social services took decades to catch up to the population boom. Today, concrete high-rises and payday loan offices dominate the neighbourhood’s landscape and the nearest subway station is two bus rides away from the corner of Jane and Finch.
 
Friesen quickly realized that there were many community stories not being told. But convincing his editors to let him work the beat was easier than getting people to open up. That would take extra time and effort. He soon found himself in front of half a dozen community leaders gathered in a committee room at 10 San Romanoway, an apartment complex at the heart of Jane-Finch. The group, composed of school board trustee Stephnie Payne and local minister Barry Rieder, among others, wanted to know why Friesen should be accepted into the neighbourhood. After explaining his intentions, Friesen earned an honourary probation period.
 
Based out of a temporary office in San Romanoway, Friesen wrote about successful school programs, community initiatives and individuals. “‘Jane-Finch’ has become a catchall phrase that suggests poverty, gangs and racial division,” the 29-year-old reporter wrote in the introduction to his series, “but less is told about ordinary life here.” One resident, who had fled violence in Sierra Leone, was teaching a community program aimed at driving black youths away from gangs and toward academic success. Another person was trying to break the cycle of poverty by giving low-income women free daycare and career planning so they could go back to school. Friesen even wrote about the clothes young people wore — how dressing like hip-hop stars didn’t mean they were robbing anyone. “A lot of people were surprised the paper would do this,” says Friesen, now reporting from Afghanistan. “A national newspaper is unlikely to go around writing positive news about any community.”
 
Friesen says the five months he spent as a journalist in Jane-Finch was an investment that paid off for him as well as for the neighbourhood. He captured the vibrancy of the community, but also showed things as they were. “I wanted to be clear with people that I was a journalist. I’m not on their side. I’m independent.” Once a few of his stories ran — some positive and some negative — he says residents understood where he fit in. Most felt he was fair, although one kid, says Friesen, referred to him as “the cop.”
 
The “cop” accusation might seem unfair, but a lot of the time journalists do act like police — they come only when there’s trouble. Journalists usually don’t have time to do any community building, a constraint that makes sociologist Rinaldo Walcott skeptical of all news media. The author of Black Like Who? Writing Black Canada points out that the people covering marginalized areas usually have no connection to them. “Journalists are often deployed into communities they don’t live in, that they have no relationship to,” says the University of Toronto professor, who argues that there should be more community reporters. “We get stories of the rich, white and wealthy when they’re having their parties,” Walcott says. “The same thing needs to be extended to our working-class communities. If we can find the energy and skill to write about how Conrad Black may or may not be applying for Canadian citizenship, why can’t we do the same about the life of an ‘ordinary’ Canadian?”
 
Walcott argues that blood and guts remain the focus even when the story is innocuous. “For instance,” he says, “when they do a story on the annual picnic, they say the people here need the picnic because this is a crime-ridden neighbourhood, so crime still dominates the story. I can understand why some people in the communities respond the way they do — who wants to hear only bad things about themselves all the time?”
 
Fred Kuntz, the Star‘s editor-in-chief, says he understands Walcott’s view but hesitates to condemn his newspaper for covering major crime stories. “It’s easy to blame the messenger,” he says. “That being said, I think we can always do a better job. This is not utopian, it’s not perfection.” In any case, having one community reporter in each of the hundreds of neighbourhoods in Toronto is not financially feasible. “I’m sympathetic to the underlying sentiment,” Kuntz says, “but I’d like to think that smart crime reporters get to the root causes of crime too.”
 
No one could accuse CityTV’s Dwight Drummond of being another judgmental outsider who parachutes into Jane-Finch when crimes occur. He says he’s happy to bring a local perspective to the area he grew up in. He began working at chum Ltd. as a security person while in university, coming in during Electric Circus, a Friday night dance show. “I’ve worked as a floor director, cameraman, assignment editor, videographer… I can keep going,” says the 39-year-old reporter with his characteristic grin. One of the more infamous stories he’s covered was the trial of Craig Patrick for the murder of three-year-old Brianna Davy in 1999. Drummond was scribbling in a notepad inside the courtroom when Justice Eugene Ewaschuk read out the address of the accused — 10Turf Grassway, apartment 204, in Jane-Finch. “That was my apartment!” thought Drummond, who had grown up in that very unit with his mother.
 
“It’s weird being that close to it,” says the reporter. Drummond hears things in local shops and over drinks with friends that most reporters don’t. And while he admits that crime reporting can be a pretty negative thing, he’s confident that other journalists in his newsroom balance the coverage with more positive stories. “I’m speaking at a charity organization next week,” he says. “I’m sure someone from City will cover it.”
 
A Jamaican immigrant, Drummond grew up in the Jane-Finch corridor. He remembers going to the Ontario Science Centre as a student and realizing the effect news had on people. When chaperones from other schools heard where Drummond and his classmates had come from, they started “grabbing kids and running like we had the cooties or something.” That’s when he started thinking about covering news himself.
 
As for the next generation in Jane-Finch, Nguyen and Simms look up to Drummond. They say he’s not necessarily a better reporter than the rest, but they trust that he won’t sensationalize the story. “He’s around, sometimes with a camera and sometimes just to hang out,” Nguyen says. “Others just want to do their story and get out of here.”

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