On Journalism 34 results

Thoughts on the nature, ethics, practice and present state of journalism.

The Sick Days: Part 10

A serving of self-loathing, with a dollop of death wish An autoimmune diagnosis suggests something self-inflicted, and the fact that the 80 per cent of the 50 million American sufferers are women fuels the idea that there is a substantial psychological component. Forty-five percent of women suffering autoimmune disease were first labeled hypochondriacs. By Shelley Page Before I knew I was the proud owner of an immune system that couldn’t tell self from invader, doctors pushed sedatives on me. They hypothesized that my buffet of bodily dysfunctions — stabbing pain around my lungs, clawed hands, ruddy and hot joints — were provoked by overwork and exams, stress or anxiety. Something of my doing, or my response to something of my doing. Then I found out I had an autoimmune disease. And if we’re going to get all psychological about it, it’s like having the mutant spawn of Hannibal Lecter, the self-cannibal of all illnesses. We sufferers allegedly have an acute ...

Obscure illness gets star treatment

Thanks to Selena Gomez's recent revelation that she suffers from Lupus, the world knows a lot more about an illness that once stood like a wallflower at the high school dance of diseases By Shelley Page The world’s teenage girls just got a crash course on lupus. Selena Gomez has 34 million Twitter followers, 47 million Instagram followers and 58 million Facebook followers. And she has lupus. Suddenly, the obscure has become front-page tabloid fodder. I feel horrible for her, but oddly happy for those of us who suffer from the fatigue-inducing, organ-destroying autoimmune disease. October is one of those months when there are walks and talks for many major diseases. October is Autism Awareness Month. Ditto for Brain Tumor Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness, Eye Health, Learning Disabilities, Psoriasis Awareness, SIDS Awareness. And Lupus Awareness Month, at least in Canada. It’s an obscure illness that doesn’t attract big banks as sponsors or celebrities ...

The Sick Days: Part 9

The press was powerful and intoxicating Printing secret crushes fills a last-minute news hole, and opens a young reporter's eyes to the power of shared community a newspaper can cultivate By Shelley Page After the latest issue of Monty’s Mouth was distributed, our junior high school’s collective of burnouts, jocks and nerds would spend five minutes smelling the paper it was printed on, hoping for a high off the pungent smelling mix of isopropanol and methanol — the duplicating fluid used in the ditto machine. This was the era when cooking sprays like Pam were huffed out of plastic bags and kids hung out near the pump while their dad filled the gas tank. Working for Monty’s Mouth was like school-sanctioned substance abuse. But I was drawn to the paper because of the intimacy it created. I liked when kids gathered to read about wrestling wins, near perfect foul shot percentages, out-of-town band trips, and overwrought student poetry that sometimes had to be ...

The Skirt for a win

The Sick Days: Part 8 Life as a young reporter was an environment of extremes, both exhilarating and noxious. There were parties, drinking, intrigue and byline counts. It was fun, but often felt icky. By Shelley Page After jumping out of the Poison Dwarf’s car to escape his lust-dressed-up-as-apology — which I paraphrase here as “I behaved badly, it’s your fault, and I will make you pay” — I realized I better apply for jobs at other newspapers. I sent out applications to a dozen newspapers across the country, including in the North. I’d always imagined I’d have to go somewhere remote for my first full-time job, and I was fine with that. I also kept research and writing stories in my off hours, while evading the gaze and grip of the PD, my mentor, who I never spoke to for the rest of the summer. I contemplated going to his bosses to complain about his behaviour, but who? It was the ’80s and I was supposed to shrug it off. Around me, my real or imagined ...

The Sick Days: Part 7

Dressing like a lady and other lessons for a cub reporter Looking back, an essential lesson for female journalism students should have been how to deal with sexist notions that our almost entirely male professors held, and that existed in the newsrooms we would soon walk into By Shelley Page In journalism school, we learned how to shape a story into an inverted pyramid, ask open-ended questions and be fair-minded. What if we wanted to get a big important man to talk and we were female? Well, I learned that lesson in my fourth-year investigative reporting class after I was told to interview Liberal Senator Colin Kenny for a book being written by one of my instructors, John Sawatsky. I was nervous and Kenny was impatient and gave short, unhelpful answers. Although it was bitterly cold outside, he opened his window and seemed to lean into the howling winter wind. My tape recorder barely picked up his answers. Back on campus, I told Sawatsky and Professor Joe Scanlon, ...

The Sick Days Part 5

Prednisone 101: What the doctors didn't tell me 15 prednisone-fuelled moments from journalism school By Shelley Page 1. I’d only been back in Ottawa a few days and my face was like a pregnant woman’s belly. People couldn’t keep their hands away. Walking with a purposeful bounce across the Bank Street bridge, I waved at an approaching  classmate. She looked at me oddly and didn’t wave back. By the time we were face-to-face, she leaned in, squinted, and then gently poked my face with her finger. “Shelley? What’s the matter with your face?” she squealed. “Are you sick? Did you have your wisdom teeth out?” I imagined my neo-cherubic cheeks popping, squirting prednisone juice all over her. Others simply didn’t recognize me. While sitting in a campus pub, I noticed my former roommate Jen waiting tables. I prepared to launch into my brief explanation that I was on a medication called prednisone and it caused Fat Face. But she served me hot chocolate and ...

The Sick Days – Part 4

Getting the scoop of my life The rheumatologist increases the dose of prednisone to 80 mg, enough to medicate an asthmatic elephant, but fails to mention the life-expectancy side of a lupus diagnosis By Shelley Page This is how the cover-up began. I showed up for my summer newspaper internship, signed some papers, found a desk, took an assignment, only cried in the bathroom. And after writing 1,000 words for a sidebar on a school board matter that should have been just 400—the Province is a tabloid–I slipped out to await my mother, driving up Granville Street in her Ford Pinto. That first week, and many after, my mom spent three hours each day as a chauffeur driving to and from the Province. She deserved a medal for driving; me, for acting. I didn’t tell anybody, editor or the veteran journalists sitting on either side of me, that I’d just been tentatively diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease. Operating instructions, please The truth is, I had ...

The Sick Days: Part 3

Who's afraid of the wolf? An aspiring reporter gets her first shot at daily journalism, along with a diagnosis that demands a daily dose of prednisone By Shelley Page If home is where the heart is, what about the hurt? Would it follow me there, too? Upon my return from university, I sat in my straight jacket of pain watching my parents take action. My dad pulled out the plaid sofa bed in the basement so I could sleep upright by leaning on the back of the couch. He moved the TV close, pushed the shuffleboard out of the way. My mom brought me warm towels to pack around my chest. When that didn’t ease the hurt, she wrapped her arms around me, trying to minimize the ripping pain that came with each breath. They’d booked me an appointment for the following day with our family doctor, but I was without hope. After five doctors and 18 months, I already viewed the medical profession with doubt and disappointment. But as I unspooled my story to our GP, he didn’t ...

Rod Mickleburgh is Still mourning

Tribute: Larry Still, Journalist Larry Still, the late Vancouver Sun courts reporter and the author behind the Limits of Sanity possessed old-school skills, a sharp wit and reliable shorthand that allowed him to write long about the law By Rod Mickleburgh We’ve lost another of those legendary reporters from what, in retrospect, was a golden age of journalism at the Vancouver Sun. You know, the days when newspapers told you everything you needed to know about your community, your country and the world at large, and more. For 30 years at the Sun, Larry Still was perhaps the best court reporter in the land, undoubtedly the best in B.C. by a country mile. His immaculately-worded coverage of Vancouver’s many long, gripping, often grisly, trials in the last three decades of the twentieth century stand as a tribute to the craft – clear, concise, comprehensive and oh, so readable. As dramatic testimony and give-and-take from the city’s best lawyers played out in the courtro...

Extra! Extra! There are still a few stories in the naked city

Newspapers may be fading to black, but there's still gold in those grey pages, you just have to pan with patience By Rod Mickleburgh As regular readers know by now, I remain a big fan of newspapers, despite their ever-diminishing state. Why, just this week, I found all sorts of goodies distributed among their varied pages. The treasures are still there. You just have to look a bit harder and be a bit more patient these days. So I thought I would share a few.     1. I hadn’t quite realized before that the state most affected by climate change is not media-saturated, rain-starved California, but, of course, Alaska. So far, this summer, wildfires have burned through more than 20,000 square kilometres of Alaskan forestry, a swath larger than all of Connecticut. Other bad stuff, too. An excellent story from Saturday’s Vancouver Sun, written by the Washington Post’s environment reporter, Chris Mooney. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2...