Archive for March 2012

Journey for Justice (CreComm Assignment)

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It seems like every day you can open up the newspaper and see violence, tragedy, and injustice in Manitoba. The stories are about 400 words, and depending on their significance to readers they can be found anywhere from page one to the very back.  

But how much of a story can 400 words tell? How can so few words illustrate the heartache of family and friends, the dilemmas facing the police, or any of the other intricate details that go into cases of tragedy? Well, I think often times they can’t. And in the case of Candace Derksen, Mike McIntyre thought the same thing.

In Journey for Justice: How ‘Project Angel’ Cracked the Candace Derksen Case, McIntyre tells the story of Candace Derksen from her disappearance to her death, all the way up to the trial and conviction many years later. However, his attention to detail both helps and hurts the story.

The first part of Journey for Justice tells the story of the disappearance up until Candace was found dead. This is the most successful and engaging part of the book. I thought the way McIntyre told the story like a novel allowed the reader to catch a glimpse of the personality of the people involved – specifically Cliff and Wilma Derksen. Through dialogue and detail, the reader becomes invested in the story, and you wonder what will happen next.

However, this very same detail causes the book to be dreary at times, especially when analyzing the life of the convicted murderer, Mark Grant. McIntyre provides in- depth psychological analysis from doctors who worked with Grant, The information was a unique look into such a highly publicized case, however I felt the technical jargon caused me to lose interest, and it might have been worked better if it were just summarized.

Despite the pros and cons, McIntyre’s in-depth analysis on the case is something Wilma Derksen appreciated the most about his work. At school we were given the privilege of talking to Wilma Derksen in a seminar, and her opinion of the book was quite remarkable. Not only was she in support of the book, but she even said the book was “something I can show my friends to say: this is what happened.”

What an unbelievable affirmation that must be for McIntyre. To have one of the main focuses of your book confirm its accuracy with a statement like that is really amazing.

The support McIntyre had from Wilma in the process of making the book is really interesting to see. I often feel people generally don’t like talking to journalists, but the relationship between Wilma and McIntyre, and the type of insight that ensued just shows that journalists don’t need to feel like a pain in people’s sides. Some people want their stories out, and meeting these people can be pretty inspiring.

One of the most frequent themes of the story was the Christian faith of the Derksen family. As a Christian, I found their faith in God to be inspiring. Times of tragedy are often the most difficult times to stay faithful as a Christian, and specifically Wilma’s unwavering faith in the midst of seemingly unbearable tragedy is inspirational to me. I can see how some people would grow tired of the constant references to the Derksen’s Christian faith, but on a personal level it really hit home for me. And since it is such a significant part of the Derksen’s lives, I don’t believe it could have been omitted from the story.

Overall, I loved the way this story was written. It was interesting how McIntyre used the information he got from research and interviews to tell the story almost as a narrator. In a journalistic sense this is new to me, and after reading a couple books of journalistic non-fiction this year, I think this approach has been my favorite.

For example, I recently read ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun, which told the story of ESPN’s creation up until it’s current product. In this book, authors James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales took a very different approach to storytelling. They tell the story of ESPN as an oral history, by interviewing hundreds of people involved with the company directly or indirectly, and organizing their responses to the interviews to tell the story. There is no narrator in this book, only the words of those interviewed recorded verbatim.

 As interesting as this method was, I felt it read a lot choppier than McIntyre’s book, and was harder to read. There were usually excerpts from about two or three interviews each page, which means you have to read the heading to see who’s talking each time, breaking up the flow of the story. McIntyre’s use of a narrator makes it very easy to get caught up in the story, which engages the reader and enhances the flow of the book.

Journey for Justice not only tells an accurate and inspiring story, but it does it in a way that is engaging. This combination of good writing and research is where the book is the most successful. 

Creative Communications Magazine Fair

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Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stones, Vanity Fair, Esquire - they all started somewhere.

And on Friday, March 30, at the Red River College Exchange campus, approximately 15-20 original magazines will be presented to the world in the Creative Communications Magazine Fair.

The magazine I've been working on for the last three months along with Mitch Kruse, Mike Cuma, and Emily Bourgani, is called BenchBoss. It's a Manitoba hockey coaching magazine that even features an interview with a certain Manitoba hockey celebrity (cough, Mark Chipman, cough). So I say you should come on down to Red River College on Princess for March 30 between 12-4 and check out BenchBoss and the many other beautiful magazines that will be on display.

Hope to see you there!

Regional Restrictions


When it was announced that the best rapper alive, Jay-Z, was going to be performing a set at the SXSW festival, there was a lot of excitement from those lucky enough to attend the event.

But like most music festivals, those who don't have the time or finances to get there are left to day dream about what it would be like to see it live - a thought that is likely to end in disappointment.

American Express found a way around this.

Being the sponsors of the concert, American Express began to advertise an interactive concert where not only would you be able to tweet the songs you wanted to hear, but the people watching at home would be able to stream the concert live on Youtube. They even had it set up where you could choose the high-definition camera angle you wanted to watch the concert in.

What an amazing concept, and needless to say the hashtag for the event #JAYZsyncshow was trending world-wide.

The only problem is, it was only available in the United States.

I had a big problem with this because they did such a good job getting Jay-Z fans like myself pumped up for the online event, but nowhere in the instructions did it mention anything about a regional restriction. It wasn't until the event had started and I began to get frustrated with my lack of Jay-Z that I noticed American Express sent out a tweet saying that it was only available to people in the United States, apologizing to the many frustrated Canadian fans.

Living in Canada, we are starting to really get used to these restrictions, but when my anticipation is as high as it was for this event, disappointment is inevitable.

I am sick and tired of every video I want to watch online being restricted to viewers in the United States. Why is it so hard for our two countries who share a boarder and are in no way foreign to each other culturally or technologically, to put their heads together, lock themselves in a room, and figure out a way to just share media with each other.

I'm looking at you, Hulu, Netflix, MTV, CTV, Pandora, and apparently even American Express. Smarten up and let people watch what they want to watch.

That being said, the event was posted online the next day by a blogger, and I will admit I watched all 80 minutes of the footage.

Let it be stated on this blog that Jay-Z is the best rapper alive. And as far as live performances go, he may not have the glitz and the glamour, but find me another rapper whose delivery is as clean and on point as Hov's, and I'll call you a liar.

You can check out the footage below.

Also, apparently the stream went pretty well in the States, which lead to one newspaper thinking of my favorite headline of all time "Jay-Z's YouTube live stream at SXSW had 99 problems but a glitch ain't one"

Hit me.

My Advertising Adventures

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One of the main reasons why I enrolled in Creative Communications at Red River was to improve on my writing, and eventually get a job doing just that. 

When looking at my classes before I started school this year, I was definitely not looking forward to advertising. And even though I don't plan on being involved in advertising in the future, I definitely have enjoyed it. With that said, here are a couple advertisements I've done recently in school that I think actually turned out pretty good.

The first one is for Norm's Skate Shop for a magazine that myself and three group members are working on called BenchBoss. 

The second is a submission for a Big Rock Brewery print ad competition that I did with my CreComm pal, Owen Swinn.


Malice at the Palace

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On November 19, 2004, the Pacers and the Pistons faced off in a regular season game that everyone knew would be heated, but in reality nobody really had a clue.

The game took place at The Palace of Auburn Hills, and the game would later be known as the Malice at the Palace.

In this game, a brawl broke out between the players, and eventually it moved into the stands and it was no longer about two teams, it was simply an all out brawl.

This week, Grantland released an oral history of the events, including quotes from almost everyone involved. It's probably the most interesting piece of sports journalism I've read this year, about one of the craziest events to happen in professional sports. Along with the link, I've also posted the ESPN broadcast of the events. When I was younger, I didn't full realize how crazy this was, and if you're like me, after watching the clip and reading the history, you will definitely be intrigued.

Grantland Article