Freelance Writer & Journalist


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Envisioning the Future of International Journalism

Posted by stephaniehughes95 on April 12, 2016 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (2)

International journalism is going through various transitions, one of the main ones being the change from traditional media to digital media. I think the future of international journalism will be less boots-on-the-ground as an approach as will rely increasingly on citizen journalism and social media from locals. With the lack of funding that news sources put into international embassies, a continuously connected world is important. However, these new methods won’t lose sight of in-person reportage.

Trends like citizen journalism is playing a greater part in foreign reporting which lends to traditional news outlets in the West like The Guardian and The New York Times. Social media, as many others in the industry have noticed, provides leads and information as soon as the event happens. Both traditional and digital native news outlets benefit from this form of citizen journalism, keeping international reportage alive while funding for the orthodox method (experts, embassies, translators, fixers, transport, etc.) is in decline.

“The implosion of the old-media business model has not yet been matched by an explosion in new media investment in foreign reporting -- and that's a serious problem,” explained Mitch Potter, the Washington Bureau reporter for the Toronto Star. He also went on to explain while citizen journalism is picking up some of the slack, it can easily be manipulated and it’s not enough to sustain in-depth news delivery that comes with being there in person: “Bottom line: there is no perfect substitute for actual reporting boots on the ground and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Olivia Ward, a Toronto Star foreign affairs reporter, has an equally neutral outlook on the future of international journalism and the gap presented by the older in-depth methods fading away and the emergence of digital foreign reporting. She described the instant info-gratification nature of the readership and how this factors into how much time and money news companies are willing to put into a story if it really only amounts to a five minute curiosity amongst the audience. “Infotainment has taken over much of the room, too, leaving less time or space for serious foreign reporting.”

While Ward also advocates the “boots on the ground” approach, she agrees that it’s becoming a less attainable tactic because of a lack of resources and a refusal to be held accountable for a reporter’s safety. “Journalists are no longer ‘guests’ to be aided or protected in their mission to publish what is happening on the ground, but kidnap targets to be used for propaganda, political bargaining or injections of cash,” she bleakly describes, “And the line between criminal gangs, militias and terrorists is ever more blurred.”

The future of international journalism leaves an ambiguous foresight, largely because people either lean towards the traditional methods or the social media citizen journalism method. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that the future will likely have elements of both in reporter’s methods. In this odd transitory phase, I doubt that tradition will die because there are idealistic reporters that refuse to take social media or public relations reports at face value. While citizen journalism provides a great step-up and lead, it won’t completely take over the idea of a young reporter trekking through foreign lands to cover the next conflict.

Controversy is the Best Policy

Posted by stephaniehughes95 on February 6, 2015 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Controversy. Con-tro-ver-sy. It’s such an overused word because it is so prevalent in our society. It’s supposed to describe something that has two or more distinct polarizing views, is tongue-in-cheek, or a gray area. It’s a word that’s slapped on a public figure when they say a few naughty words, it’s a word that the liberal media likes to use when crying foul, and it’s a word that a weepy hack writer like myself can only hope to aspire to. Controversy gets us talking and a lot of it is intentional. A T.V. show or comedy act will often push the envelope either to see how far they can get or just to garner some attention and we fall for it every time. This doesn’t mean that controversy is necessarily a bad thing – it challenges our perceptions, addresses a few societal issues, and can make a person’s career as quickly as it can break it. I love controversy twice as much as it loves me. However, I think the use of the word is overrated and in a lot of the times it’s used, the topic is by no means a controversial one (Justin Bieber’s onslaught of antics aren’t “controversial”, most people can agree that they’re absurd). The real kind of controversy is Vladmir Nabokov’s “Lolita” controversy. On one hand, it’s a sadist novel that sexualizes our youth (I stand to say I don’t believe this, but others would). On the other hand, it addresses the issues of sexual victimization, particularly in young women. There’s no lack for debates and people trying to push their opinions on you – or tell you why they would be right and everyone else is wrong. Which side of the next argument will you be on? You decide! Or you now, let someone else decide for you.

A Case of Brain and Brawn

Posted by stephaniehughes95 on February 6, 2015 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

On the ride over to Toronto by GO train, looking up from a book for just a second – I saw it: a pale, armless Romanesque statue with a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey stretched over it. People are putting their team logos on their car windows in decal form, writing with team logo pens and pencils, unlocking their phone to reveal a team logo wallpaper, and Tim Hortons is selling a flashy Toronto Maple Leafs doughnut. It looks like it would taste just like any other doughnut with its white pastry splotched with white icing covered in blue and white sprinkles centred with a food colouring stamped logo. Of course, it costs more than a regular doughnut. At Union Station, the area is flooded with blue and white dressed fans, shouting scalpers, and annoyed commuters. I watch this passing sea of people with painted faces, jerseys of their favourite player, hats, fake hair, excessive team makeup, and comically large #1 hand mitts and I know that these are the same people who mock the comic nerds or gamers for dressing up at their conventions. Sure, why would someone be stupid enough to pay an absurd amount of money for a ticket, get suckered in by countless merchandise, and dress up as their favourite characters? Now, I know each side is much more accepting of one another in recent years (mostly because comic book movies rule the media and are enjoyed by jocks, and sports has a foundation with an interesting business side and subset of politics that nerds can find fascinating), but there are still intolerant twats out there. Can’t the Gretzky jersey and the guy in the Batman costume just hug it out?

A Lonely Sea of Faces

Posted by stephaniehughes95 on February 6, 2015 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Toronto is such a socially desolate city – in a place so abundant with life and with people, how can we be so alone? In smaller communities, everyone knows one another – not just the name and face of them, but really knows what they do for a living, where they went to school, what kind of dog they have, the colour of their drapes, yada yada. Alright, granted: there’s a lot more to keep track of in big city Toronto than in Middle-of-Buttfuck-Nowhere, ON. I don’t know what kind of dog that taxi driver has (or if he even likes dogs) and I don’t know where that business suit-donning man went to school (but I can assume it was prestigious), but I’m probably better off for it. But these moments where you flash a smile only to be returned with a stranger’s quick glance away like you flashed them something else leaves a cold emptiness in people. Maybe just me, except that it probably isn’t because the suicide rate in Canada is pretty high (every year in Canada has between 3,500 – 4,000 suicidal fatalies according to Stat Can). So return a smile, hold that door open for someone, and give your mother a call, you ungrateful bastard.

Thank you, BTE-Dan

Posted by stephaniehughes95 on July 22, 2012 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I would once again like to thank BTE-Dan for pitching in a word on my U.S.S Starship Enterprise article. It really means a lot to a rookie like me.