Jennifer Pagliaro: One of Our Own

     When we were given an assignment to shadow a reporter, I jumped at the chance. Although studying journalism is very interesting, there is nothing more exciting than the idea that I will one day be a real journalist. The kind of journalist that will stop at nothing to get the story and win awards, the kind that is able to inspire emotion through their writing. 

    I chose Jennifer Pagliaro because she is what I aspire to be. A Carleton JSchool graduate, former Editor of The Charlatan, and recipient of the coveted Marjorie Nichols Memorial Award, Pagliaro made a name for herself early on. From Carleton she moved on to working in some of the best newsrooms in Canada including The Ottawa Citizen, The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star; all of this done within 2 years of graduation.

    Her dramatic writing style paired with her love of expository news stories makes Pagliaro a name to remember. Using powerful tone words to set her stage and demonstrating a knack for plot development, she engages the audience from the very beginning.  

    Pagliaro’s writing style, despite her age, is mature and intelligent, proving that hard work and talent are a winning combination. 

    For me, it is incredibly empowering to see a woman not much older than myself grasping the journalism world so tightly. Strong female journalists are not the most common occurrence, and like Pagliaro, I hope to become just that.


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And Darkness Falls Again

There are few evils in this world today that are comparable to the robbing of a child’s innocence. Children are meant to be happy and hopeful and honest, they are meant to represent everything that is beautiful about life. They are constant reminders of the importance of optimism and the necessity of following one’s heart. When a child is robbed if this right, not only does their light darken, but the hearts of all those who are touched by this child darken too.

Today, a man (or two, it is unclear how many at this point) in Newtown, Connecticut marched in and darkened the world around us. There was probably laughter heard through the hallways and drawings of snowmen on the walls and the smell of cookies in the air. The final death toll was 27, including a shooter. Of this number, 20 were children no older than 10. When you think about what kind of human being is able to extinguish that much good from the world in one single murderous rampage, what comes to mind? A monster? The Devil? The truth is, somebody who is very mentally unstable and was not of sound mind is the cause. But was it really the cause? News reports all day have been talking of what possibly could have prevented this. Stricter gun policies so far has been the front runner. As a Canadian, I don’t quite understand the need for everyone to have guns. To me, isn’t that just giving more people the chance to do something this horrible? If you look at the year in review, there have been more public shootings than I can remember. So are guns keeping you safer or are they putting innocent people at risk. Apparently, the shooter was only 20 years old. That’s as old as I am right now.

When I was in elementary school, an event kind of like this brought everyone together. Worldwide, we huddled around televisions listening to journalists tell us that a plane had crashed into a big building in New York City. I was 8 at the time, so I didn’t quite understand what was going on. What I did understand was the look on my parents’ faces. It was the same look that I got when I couldn’t find my mom at the grocery store, it was fear. At a very young age I learned a powerful lesson, there were things in life that even my parents were scared of.

Now, children worldwide are learning a similar lesson today, nowhere is safe. Is that the kind of message we want to be sending to our children?

My heart is absolutely breaking for everyone affected by this tragedy, the thought that something this disgusting has happened so close to Christmas completely floors me. Has humanity lost all sense of right and wrong?

All I have left right now is a heavy heart full of impossible questions.

My thoughts and prayers are directed to Newtown, Connecticut. May you all some day experience peace and happiness again.


**UPDATE: the death toll rises to 28

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Journalist, Interrupted

 With the darkening of days and the threat of the first snowfall on the horizon, it is clear that it is no longer summer. Almost an entire term has passed in a whirlwind of stress, elation, breakdowns and new discoveries. These couple months have been a learning experience in more ways than one. In my classes I learned about colonialism and how it has shaped modern Canada, I studied some of the greatest political thinkers and philosophers in Political Science, I learned how to speak German (quite poorly) and I analyzed modern and historical poetry to reveal hidden meanings. However, none of these experiences have been as difficult, as interesting or as humbling as the things I have learned in Journalism. 

     Coming into Carleton University to study Journalism, I thought I knew exactly what to expect. I prepared myself mentally for long nights of hard work and long days spent in a sleep deprived stupor. I tried to accustom myself to the harsh taste of black coffee instead of my usual hot chocolate. I saved my money to make sure I had enough for groceries when I knew I wouldn’t be leaving my room. I also prepared myself for the idea that I would probably not like journalism, but that it was worth it in the end. While some of these methods I used to get ready were useful, some were completely unnecessary. I get more sleep than I thought I would, I have learned to love a hot cup of black caffeine and I absolutely adore journalism. 

     This term taught me that a journalist’s integrity is more important than the actual story, especially to the reader. Although it is important to deliver the story, it is more important to deliver an accurate and factual story instead of a perhaps more interesting story. Jonah Lehrer learned this lesson the hard way after plagiarizing and fabricating Bob Dylan quotes. Also, if the means to getting the truth are immoral such as The News International phone hacking scandal, you will lose your audience as well. As journalists we are ambassadors of the people to keep them informed as well as to keep the powerful honest. If we are no longer honest, how can the people trust our information?

    Also, I learned how important it is to be curious. The need to know is what fuels our desire and passion for journalism, if one lacks that drive there is no longer a reason for either. So many people are content with their ignorance nowadays, it is up to us, the curious and the inquisitive, to reignite their thirst of knowledge through our own. Had Woodward and Bernstein not been curious, the corruption in the White House would probably have remained concealed. A true journalists curiosity is there most important gift, if we lose that, then we are all lost.

   Another important thing I learned about journalism, but also about life, is that it is important to follow your heart. No matter where it leads you, it is vital that your sense of self remains intact. Not many people have the courage or to tenacity to do what journalists do, but unfortunately not all journalists have the strength to remain unswayed by the many pressures that they are faced with. We are autonomous, not to be bribed or intimidated. Our journalistic missions are our guiding light, our lighthouse on a foggy night, our beacon of hope. If someone can corrupt the defenders of truth, our lights are extinguished. 

This all leaves me with one question to ponder, what kind of journalist will I be? Will I be incorruptible? 


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Comparative Journalism: India Calling

The Functionalist Theory on society states that everything that is, exists because society needs it in order to function. With this theory in mind, a journalist such as myself can look at two different mediums of modern journalism equally and see both the advantages and disadvantages in their presentation. Although it is all considered journalism and both are conveying news to an audience, the news values associated aren’t necessarily the same.

A news segment about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to India by Global National aired on November 4th. This piece focuses on the business side of the trip, talking mainly of photo opportunities and how India has become an important economic giant. Presenting the story in this manner allowed the News agency to broadcast more impressive images than if they had perhaps pursued it in another way. Their images of Canadian natural resources is always bound to bring in audience and hold their attention as the environmental issues of such is always a battleground in Canadian politics. Despite the seriousness of these issues, the news cast is presented in a casual and light tone, which I’m assuming is so that the piece can relate to a wide audience without ruffling any feathers.

In the piece written by Steven Chase of The Globe and Mail titled “On Sikh separatism, Harper in India defends freedom of expression”, Chase reports on the ongoing religious tension in India and the implications of a potentially anti-Sikh Canada. Harper, he says, is against the idea of countering the apparent Sikh separatist movement in Canada. This story brings in another issue of Prime Minister Harper’s business trip that the televised news segment simply did not have the time to include. The tone of this well written piece is more serious and formal, and does not talk of wether or not Harper enjoys Indian cuisine.

Although both pieces are on Harper’s diplomatic agenda in India, both choose to focus on completely different reasons that Harper is there. I believe the differences can be attributed to the fact that audience is looking for different things out of a written article versus what they would expect to gain from a televised news broadcast. In television, the main worry is that they hope to maintain enough interest in the audience so they do not change the channel. Attention spans of the average citizen watching television as to a person sitting down and reading a paper is very different. Also, there is a time limit on the amount that one can say on air and the amount of information conveyed is a lot smaller than what a written piece has more time to develop. But the downside to a written piece, especially one that can be found online, is that although your audience is bigger, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the journalist is being paid for the volume of readers.

The manner of presenting this story in particular, as a reader I would have to say that Stephen Chase’s piece for the Globe and Mail certainly contains more important information so that I am left more knowledgeable on the topic from when I had begun to read it… And isn’t that the point of journalism?

Global: National

The Globe and Mail:

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Critical Thinking

Evaluating a fellow classmates work is probably one of the most difficult tasks set to date, especially when given a very well-written blog post to critique. 

   Beginning with an intriguing title, Toronto’s Star Shines Guiding Light engages the audience from the beginning. From there, the first paragraph compels the reader to continue with excellent diction and exciting vocabulary. With both the structure of the argument throughout the piece and insightful comments, Nick’s work rings with maturity and intelligence. 

   Nick goes on to praise the author, Paul Watson for his dedication and his ability as a storyteller. Paul Watson is a legend of sorts in Canadian journalism, and I too believe that Watson communicated his story perfectly, despite the typos. 

   However, I found at times Nick’s evaluation came off as a little bit wordy which left it lacking authenticity. Although a thorough knowledge of the english language is important, how one’s work comes across to those reading it should be considered as well. Precision is an important aspect of journalism. 

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Michelle Shephard, National Security Reporter for the Toronto Star, is excellent at finding the avenue that hasn’t been explored yet. Her piece “Meet the Canadian woman who runs a safe house for Al Qaeda suicide bombers” talks of the Canadian women that are being lured back to Somalia to aid the Shabab and the Al Qaeda. While the tone of the piece is serious, Shephard begins to build on the new role of women in these militant organizations in a more positive light than what a male reporter might have. This demonstrates an impeccable sense of news values as it ties in the ever-raging debate on patriarchal systems in the Middle East. Shephard also creates a sense that the intelligence agencies are dropping the ball when it comes to pursuing Mama Shabab and others aiding the Al Qaeda organizations in Somalia. This widens the scope of the issue to include an international audience. Then Shephard goes on to bring the scope of the community of Toronto by including two young women that were lured out of the country by the Al Qaeda. Her multi-faceted, thoroughly constructed piece appeals to a female, municipal, national and international audience. Needless to say, Michelle Shephard is an extremely talented journalist.

Opening with the photograph of the aftermath of a suicide bombing at a graduation ceremony for medical students at Mogadishu’s Shamo Hotel in 2009, automatically draws in an audience that is both curious of why an attack in 2009 is relevant, as well as an audience that is aware of the current state of Somalian affairs. Also, as morbid as it may seem, the shock value of the blood spatter would also bring attention to her article.

However, the line ‘As one Somali leader said, “The community feels victimized twice — first by the Shabab and then by the security services and journalists who come later.”’ bothers me a bit. As important as another voice is on the topic of the Shabab, I feel it’s important to name the leader, or at least the position of this leader. This can leave the reader with the sense of only getting a portion of the information. What else is the goal of a news story other than informing the audience? If her source preferred to not have their name printed I feel as though it could have been structured differently so as not to leave the audience questioning the validity of the quote.

For me, Michelle Shephard is an extremely strong female reporter that is both fearless in her pursuit of a story and strong in her storytelling. I have been a fan of Shephard’s work for a while now, and I hope to someday be the kind of reporter that can write about things of relevance, and pursue an avenue of thought that might have been forgotten.

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