Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Does this qualify as "newspaper experience?"

This photo from my hometown paper makes me laugh extra hard now that I'm actually working for a newspaper in an area largely populated by cows. Who knew the camera lens doubles as a crystal ball?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's that time again

This morning I had to clear about a foot of snow off my car. I preferred vegetables. On the upside I have an excuse to wear ridiculous hats again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

And along came a hero

When Craig Kielburger was 12 years old, he read an article in a newspaper that inspired him to learn more about the issues surrounding child slave labour.

When I was about the same age, my mom started updating me fairly regularly about the activities of two young brothers named Marc and Craig. They were from Toronto and were traveling the world and making a real difference in the lives of children wherever they went. And they were my age!

Eventually I started paying attention to what was going on with Craig and Marc Kielburger and their organization, Free the Children, on my own.

Recently, someone was asking me about what direction I saw my journalism work taking me in the future and whether I would consider doing something insane like covering news in war-torn areas. I explained that although it wouldn't be my first choice to head off into a war zone, I do think that is one of the most important jobs a journalist can have. Telling the rest of the world about what is happening so they might be inspired to work towards peace.

I was oh so lovingly assured by my pessimistic conversation buddy that there is no way I'm ever going to change anything anyway, so why bother?

Instead of letting my idealism and optimism dissolve into some serious pouting and "accidental" shin-kicking, I was able to calmly hold up my shining example: the Kielburgers. Two young men who are no different than the rest of us, but who have made the decision to look beyond themselves and make a real effort to change things for the better.

My pessimistic friend couldn't argue with that.

The past 8 or so months have taught me many things about working for a newspaper. Of late, I've been feeling especially overworked and underpaid. And from what I understand, it isn't likely to get dramatically better. It can be discouraging to say the least. Not to mention the fact that the general population has no concept of what goes into putting together a newspaper and are, as a rule, remarkably unforgiving of the malicious "mistakes" we evil reporters like to throw into our work. You know, for funsies.

However just when I was beginning to wonder if I had maybe started down an entirely futile path with this writing thing, enter Marc Kielburger.

He was in town to speak at one of the local high schools, and as I was still pulling double duty as both reporter and editor, I thought it only fair to assign myself to cover the event.

Despite the fact that he has probably made the same speech to zillions of students before, Kielburger's passion for human rights and the work that he does just radiated off him. There are few people who can inspire an auditorium sardine-packed with teenagers into silence. He is one of them.

Before the assembly I caught up with him briefly and he graciously answered my questions for the paper with a smile and gave me his card in case I came up with any more later and I believe I held myself together at the seams sufficiently to pass myself off as something other than the bubbling, gushing fangirl I was suppressing. Of course after my job was over I figured it was totally appropriate to get a picture taken with him and let my fangirl out.

Aside from providing me with an excellent Christmas card for my mom, Kielbuger reminded me of what it is that keeps me going when I wonder if I might be better suited to some kind of career involving money, where my mistakes aren't splashed permanently across newspaper pages. It is the hope that someday, something I write might grab ahold of someone like Craig Kielburger, and set in motion some much-needed change.

A lofty aspiration, I know, but why have any other kind?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Breakfast of champions?

Yesterday I almost ate one of those fake ladybugs for breakfast. A bunch of them have taken up residence in my bathroom since the weather got cooler, and I actually put my toothbrush in my mouth before noticing the bug hanging out on the underside of it in the mirror.

Let me tell you, if coffee doesn't snap you out of that morning haze quickly enough, a near miss with a ladybug might be just the wake-up call you need.

Plus, it might be good luck. Today I got to meet one of my biggest heroes. More on that later.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dirty Dancing

Last week an article about a young man who has blogged some helpful hints for women who might be considering something crazy like going out dancing in mixed company, to avoid getting raped in the process, was featured on Jezebel.com.

The helpful hinter likens women getting up close and personal with men on the dance floor and later refusing to have sex to a store advertising a sale, but then hiking the prices up instead, saying, "It would almost make you want to say "screw this" and rob the store to get your promised discount, wouldn't it?"
Um, no?

After recovering from the anger stroke caused by reading this and other choice quotes, I was reminded of an issue that has been on my mind for some time.

I LOVE to put on something pretty and go out dancing with my friends. I do NOT love being groped by strangers. And despite my best efforts to discourage this kind of behaviour, it seems the two are mutually exclusive.

There is inevitably some guy who thinks it's perfectly ok to approach me by sidling his groin up to me from behind. It's as if, by walking in off the street, we are agreeing to throw away all rules of acceptable conduct. Most people would agree that a stranger approaching them on the sidewalk, genitals first, should result in some kind of legal repercussions, or at least a swift kick.

And yet, once inside a bar or club, many young women I know claim they "don't want to be rude" by firmly telling a guy to please back the hell off, immediately. And, if a guy is deemed attractive enough, (provided she actually gets a look at him), a lot of women actually seem happy to oblige in dry humping to the music.

I guess this is part of the reason why many guys seem genuinely confused when I'm not willing to treat them like a human striptease pole. However, just because some women respond positively to this sleazy approach, is no reason to assume that all women will.

My boyfriend points out that most of these situations go hand in hand with alcohol consumption, and that most guys wouldn't make a move like that while sober. But I feel like, if it were firmly imprinted on their brains that this is not a respectful or acceptable way to treat a woman, it shouldn't matter.

Maybe I just don't watch enough music videos.

Or maybe I just need to accept this behaviour as one of those things I just don't get and stick to swing dancing with the elderly.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Well congratulations, America. I couldn't be happier for you.