CHOMP!, Food, media, school, Toronto

Chomp! Magazine: My IPAO award-winning magazine

AWARD-WINNING MAGAZINE: Left to right, front row are journalism students Tevy Pilc (with what’s left of his home-brought kosher meal… while everyone else had steak), Katrina Rozal and Maxx Smith. Back row, left to right are journalism professor Ellin Bessner and Barry Finn of the IPAO.

It’s not everyday you win an award, and even though that day was quite a while ago, you can’t blame me for wanting to publicize my happiness, which came as a result of the hard work put in to make it happen (or something like that…) Continue reading “Chomp! Magazine: My IPAO award-winning magazine”

Current Events, media, News, Opinion, school

Ontario College faculties hold strike vote today… (I’ve dodged a bullet)

Although I’ve deliberately stopped posting for an extended period of time due a long list of personal issues, I couldn’t avoiding commenting on this ongoing news item affecting thousands of fellow students.

At around 5:00 pm today, faculty members from twenty-four Ontario colleges will have concluded a vote to decide if they will go on strike.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents the faculty, has claimed that the strike is not a contract vote. However many reports have indicated, including OPSEU’s website, that the strike is primarily about their collective bargaining agreement, which to me translates as dealing with money issues and salary (of course in addition to not accepting unilaterally imposed terms and conditions of employment and all that other union talk/demand.)

The Canadian Press has reported that “the union is seeking a 2.5 per cent pay increase in each year of a three-year contract while the colleges are offering 1.75 per cent in each of the first two years and two per cent in the last two years of a four-year deal.”

As of this month, I was a full-time student at Centennial College, enrolled in the joint journalism program with the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). Even though the strike won’t affect me since I’m back at UTSC and not taking any Centennial courses this semester (We’ll see if I have to take more next Fall…), I can’t help but have sympathy for the some 200,000 students who could be in limbo as early as February of the strike vote passes.

Greg Hamara, media liason for the union, and told Maclean’’s On Campus “he expects the results of the vote to be in  before 8:00pm.”

We’ll be waiting…

Judaism, life, school, Thoughts about Life

Life and What Life Should Be: Free Vegan Lunch + $1 Pizza Slices on Subway = One irritated kosher dude

Today was a reminder that keeping kosher is worth it.
It was one of those days today where food was everywhere and I can’t have any of it. Those days are fun aren’t they?
Continue reading “Life and What Life Should Be: Free Vegan Lunch + $1 Pizza Slices on Subway = One irritated kosher dude”

Random, school, Sports

The Awesomeness of Golfing + Technology

Check out my backswing. (Photo Credit: Yonah Stumwind)
Check out my backswing. (Photo Credit: Yonah Stumwind)

Not long ago I went golfing for our annual synagogue golf tournament. Without question it’s one of the best days of the summer for several obvious reasons.

1) Golf is a male bonding sport. If you’re a male between the ages of 10-120, grew up in the western world and probably knowledgeable about the game (which means you probably have the money to play often), add a few of your friends or business associates and you’ve got a fantastic day ahead of you.

2) Being outside is nice too…

3) Hoookups rule: Arguably one of the best word combos out there, which makes sense because it’s definition is pretty much a combination of one person pulling strings for another,  resulting in fun for both people. That was the case on tournament day as yours truly was given a $200+ discount for the tournament. Following the tournament head’s example, I brought along a friend for the day who also received a free day of fun. Put it this way: 1 round of golf + golf carts + barbecue lunch + steak dinner (and wow were those steaks something) + giveaway bags (with a ton of useful stuff) + raffle prizes (I won a rug of all things) + rides there and back = One freakin awesome day.

4) Even if you’re not that good, there’s always apinch of fun going around. Such as riding around in the golf cart chasing geese, having the occasional shot of scotch before a few holes, photpgraphy – my friend who came along is also a camera nut so we took advantage of the scenery and geeky golf poses with my DSLR…

All in all, a fantastic day… but that wasn’t all…

Of all the days possible, the University of Toronto decided to set up my start time to enroll in courses on the very same day, one hour before tee-off. Normally, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about course selection competition since I’m in a very specialized program where I need to take specific courses. But, since I’m finishing up my minors I still had to select arbitrary courses like the rest. However, thanks to a little invention called Wi-Fi via the super awesome iPhone (which belonged to friend since the connection on my iPod touch wasn’t working too well, and I needed a password), I was still able to enroll in all the courses I was going after. And this was hours after the start time since the UofT server was down between my start time of noon until around 1:30 according to my friend who called me before teeing off about not being able to enroll as well.

Now that’s what I call productivity.

Current Events, Israel, media, Opinion, Politics, rants, school

Justification for my CUPE article and response to criticism

Last week’s edition of the Jewish Tribune featured a story of mine entitled: “Anti-Israel rhetoric flies at CUPE meeting, but no time left for voting.” A day after the paper’s distribution, I was forwarded emails from Hasbara members, who were upset about the content of the story.

This post will explain why I wrote what I did. Actually it’s more like explaining why I included this piece of information in the story. Continue reading “Justification for my CUPE article and response to criticism”

Current Events, media, News, school

An unlikely April Fools Day

There's yours truly in the middle of the press (Courtesy: Toronto Police)
There's yours truly in the middle of the press (Courtesy: Toronto Police)

Normally one of the most anticipated days of the year in my book, this year’s coming of April 1st didn’t exactly pan out the way I wanted it to be.

No the joke wasn’t on me, but neither was it on anyone else because of yours truly.

But I’m pretty sure 125 people thought it was just a joke when police showed up at their place around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning for their arrest. Continue reading “An unlikely April Fools Day”

Current Events, media, News, Opinion, Politics, school

Getting friendly with politicians

One of the biggest ethical issues in the world of journalism is the fear of getting too close to your sources. I call it a fear because the traditional notion of getting too close to your sources could lead to the loss of objectivity – a cornerstone of journalistic integrity. I came across this problem firsthand yesterday amidst my reporting for the Toronto Observer. It was a neat experience to say the least, but it wasn’t until after my encounter did I realize that I may have been unintentionally coerced to write my story more favour of the views of my source.

Throughout the week, I’ve been covering a story for the concerning the new Green Energy Act released by the Ontario provincial government. One of the big issues is the possibility of wind turbine systems being erected to use more wind energy, rather than the usual fuel and coal energy we all know and love. It’s particularly important where I’m based because of the famous Scarborough Bluffs, which the province has has it’s sights set for for a the potential introduction of the systems. Many residents in the area have expressed concern for this new process so that’s where my coverage comes in… (I’d love to discuss the story, but that’s not the blog topic.. for more information feel to research to issue on your own;)

One of the first people to be quoted in papers expressing “a not so positive” outlook on the act was Paul Ainslie, councilor for Ward 43 – Scarborough East (the area where the Bluffs are located). I would certainly have to get in touch with him if I wanted to get a better local perspective of the situation.

It’s a little after 5 p.m. and I’m still in the newsroom at Centennial, finally finished gathering information, ready to see if I could contact the councilor. I never intended to actually have a quote by the end of the day, but that didn’t bother me because I knew I had enough time to get his word and still come up with a story by my deadline. I come across his website, where I notice he has calendar. I click on the link, which I hope will give me an idea of his schedule outside of City Hall responsibilities. Not only did I find that, but low and behold there was a scheduled Town Meeting tonight in the area for 7 p.m. Now… normally when these super awesome things come up, I’m never fully prepared; I’m usually missing a camera or recorder, or have no questions prepped. This was not the case!

So after clearing stuff at home, which means no dinner in un-kosher Scarborough, I made my way down to the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre for this meeting. I had to walk a bit of the way (15 minutes) because the TTC buses could only take me so far. It was weird walking down one the streets because some people had stepped out of their houses and literally stared me down as I walked by them… Probably wasn’t me, but hey when was the last time they saw a Jew walk down their street at night?

Once I got there, I was clearly the youngest of the dozen or so people who showed up for the meeting. It’s too bad not enough people show up for these things because they’re actually quite informative and you get to build a relationship with the people running your neighbourhood. The meeting went for about an hour and a half. Later I approached the councilor and began talking to him. We had the interview, which went very well, then told him about our paper and how we’re always looking for stories and issues. I said that we have no problem writing stuff once it gets out, but we suck when it comes to finding it ourselves, or getting spoilers and releases like how big media outlets receive. He understood that, expressing how you put in so much work into something yet little feedback comes in return and its a little disheartening. It’s always great to maintain active network of relationships.

After exchanging contacts, I picked up my stuff and proceeded to leave… then the fun starts…

“How did you get here?” he asks me.

“I took the bus, than walked here,” I replied.

“Can I give you a ride to Lawrence?” (where the bus is)

“Sure… I’m heading back to campus by Morningside and Ellesmere…”

(Here’s where I stuck my foot in my mouth):

“Actually, where are you headed?”

Ainslie: “East around that area, want a lift?”

“Sure! That be great.”

So I got ride to along with the councilor in his big black van back to campus. We schmoozed about the community, school, yeshiva in Israel, how he failed the LSAT 3 times and then started a food business and other things. That was really nice of him. I’m naturally very appreciative when kind deeds are done for me.

But then as I began waiting for the bus, I wondered had I accepted too much from him? I’ve never shied away from accepting a ride somewhere (See future post of rant about public transit) and at that point he was just another human being, who deserves proper respect like any other person, who’d do something for me.

But when writing my stories, including this one, it doesn’t resonate in my mind how nice a source was to me beyond the matters of exchanging information for stories. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them taking the time to answer my questions. Rather, it’s the opposite. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to be cited in newspaper articles regardless of what paper it is. Yes, you have bear in mind the role source plays in stories, but I don’t know anyone who would deliberately shoot down a source (aka with malicious intent) in a story. Unless substantial reasoning exists, that’s not right…

I hope I can maintain a respectful relationship with my sources in the future.