CAJ AwardsCBC Edmonton’s Mark Connolly will be the MC at the Canadian Association of Journalists’ conference banquet and 2015 CAJ Awards gala to be held in Edmonton on from May 28 to 29, 2016. The banquet and gala are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on May 28, the wrap-up to #CAJ16 being held at the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel. The gala caps off two days of workshops and panel discussions focused on navigating the shifting landscape of journalism in Canada and around the world. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Opening plenary – What the heck is happening to journalism?

08:15 – 10:00
Valley Room
  • Charles Lewis
  • Jacqui Banaszynski
  • Margo Goodhand
  • Mary Agnes Welch
  • Nick Taylor-Vaisey

This year has been (another?) dire year for media in Canada. Alongside the continual trickle of layoffs, downsizings and closures, the Canadian media landscape was hit by a succession of gut-punching announcements to kick off the new year. In January, TorStar Corp. announced the closure of its Vaughan, Ont., printing plant and the layoff of  Star Touch contract journalists from its newsroom. The week after, Postmedia Network pulled the rug out from journalists working in Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver as what were two competing newsrooms were shotgun-married into a single newsroom — a decision that carried 90 layoffs and buyouts. Neither decision alone comes to meet the pending need to pay down debt. The week after that, Rogers Media announced that 200 positions would be eliminated from its print and broadcast operations, touching magazines, television and radio operations across Canada. This matched an almost-identical decision by Bell Media in 2015. In the space of a January week, daily newspapers ceased publishing in Nanaimo, B.C., and Guelph, Ont.

The panel, moderated by CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey, will start from the depressing state of the industry and move into a discussion on what could be done to allow journalists to keep doing what they want to do: Keep Canadians informed about the things they need to know happening in their country, province and local community.

All we want is to make a living

10:20 – 11:20
Drayton Valley

People drawn to journalism live it and love it for the lifestyle and the rewards of keeping their communities informed, engaged and affecting change. It’s not really about the money, right? But it is — investigative journalism takes time and time is money. Having a journalist as watchdog on every council, board, commission and public agency is near-impossible to do for free. As layoffs at major media of every stripe and platform seen unending, will we reach the age where no one in Canada is willing to pay for journalists to do the work that fulfills our critical roles in a participatory, democratic society? Looking beyond Canadian media owners, the sources of revenue that can be tapped to allow for the sustainable, independent journalism to continue and grow are few. We don’t have foundations in Canada providing no-strings-attached funds. Are we limited to the online crowdfunder?

The panel, moderated by Charles Lewis, will speak about how they worked to find the money to fund the journalism they wanted to do, on both sides of the border.

What’s a FOIP?

10:20 – 11:20
Acadia Room

Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell are reporters with CBC Investigates, CBC Edmonton’s full-time investigative unit. They use freedom of information extensively, filing dozens of requests every year, to sustain the unit’s focus on political accountability journalism. Their successful, strategic use of FOIP has been widely credited with forcing transparency and democratic change in Alberta. Rusnell and Russell have won numerous regional and national awards, including the CAJ’s Don McGillivray Award for best overall investigative story of 2014 for Aura of Power, their series of stories that exposed the abuse of public resources by former Alberta premier Alison Redford.

Together this duo will show delegates the basics of filing access to information / freedom of information requests, sharing tips and some of the frustrations you’re likely to encounter along the way.

The tough interview

11:25 – 12:25
Acadia Room

You have your goal, your target has theirs. How do you plow through this battleground to get what you need for your story?

Kathy Tomlinson, an investigative journalist with the Globe and Mail, shares her tips and techniques — for both print and broadcast reporters.

Tablets: Profit or plunder?

11:25 – 12:25
Turner Valley

There has been much ado about tablets in the publishing world these past few years, particularly among Canadian newspaper and magazine publishers. Witness the launch of La Presse+ and its success in capturing and retaining audiences and the advertisers that help fund the work produced daily. Plans for this app led to the cessation of a print edition on weekdays early in 2016. Building on the foundation of that was the Toronto Star’s Touch tablet app, launched with great fanfare in the fall of 2015. Success hasn’t been as easy to find for TorStar though, as it laid off some contract employees associated with Touch and hasn’t seen the relative advertising success its Quebec-based cousin is enjoying. On the magazine side, Rogers Media had gone all-in with Texture, making its bevvy of publications available through that tablet app in addition to selected smartphone apps.

Looking to the past, there are tablet editions produced by Postmedia-owned papers in Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary as part of the redesign and launch of a multi-platform approach. In 2015 the country’s largest publisher of newspapers pulled the plug on its tablet editions, which haven’t been part of its redesigns in Edmonton, Windsor, Saskatoon, Regina or Vancouver.

Naming Sexual Assault Complainants in the Media: What to think about

11:25 – 12:25
Drayton Valley

The Jian Ghomeshi trial triggered fierce debate about sexual assault complainants and the role of media; two of the complainants had shared their stories in the media before criminal charges were laid. One of the women initially opted for anonymity, the other, Lucy De Coutere, insisted on public identification. And so will future complainants. Publicly revealing their identity requires both the journalist and the complainant to walk a careful line. On one hand, it is important to ensure a complainant understands all that can flow from deciding to be interviewed and identified-they no longer control their story, the social media response can be toxic and, even years later, a search engine will almost certainly connect their name with that story. If the case proceeds to trial, statements to the media can be used by the defence against the complainant during cross-examination. And complainants must understand that while the journalist may believe their story, they still have a professional obligation to try and verify it.

These issues will be discussed from a variety of perspectives: media law and ethics, and as well as the experiences of sexual assault complainants dealing with the media. This workshop will offer discussion and guidance on best practices.

Friday keynote – Shadi Rahimi

13:15 – 14:15
Valley Room

Shadi Rahimi leads a team of journalists at AJ+, Al Jazeera’s online channel. She’ll speak about her current reality, the digital tools she and her team use to feed AJ+’s platforms and her thoughts on the state of the industry.

At what cost do we sell our souls?

14:30 – 15:30
Turner Valley

What’s the cost to journalism of sponsored content? Sponsored content or advertising that is “seamlessly integrated” with journalism content is ubiquitous. You may have heard it labelled as native advertising and custom content. It has been embraced and accepted by media as a potentially viable economic model in an increasingly grim media landscape.

This panel will discuss the ethical considerations at stake and ask the question: In these times, is it worth the costs?

Everything gives you cancer — or does it?

14:30 – 15:30
Acadia Room

The challenges of reporting on health studies can be intimidating. One week, a study is published indicating something is bad — really bad — for people. Not too long afterwards, inevitably it seems, a new study will denounce what the earlier study was advocating. Or at least that’s often how coverage of these studies tends to characterize their findings.

A veteran health journalist reflects on how to journalists can cut through the hype in health studies, with a particular emphasis on how to read and write about medical journals.

Mapping in the cloud

14:30 – 15:30
Wood Buffalo

In this introductory show-and-tell, Esri Canada location analytics specialist Paul Voegtle will demonstrate ArcGIS Online, Esri’s cloud-based mapping site. ArcGIS is recognized as a leader in GIS, used by industries and public-sector organizations around the world to display data in visual, interactive ways. In this demo, delegates will get a taste of some of the journalism that was published using ArcGIS Online as well as some of its features.

If this session whets your appetite for more, Voegtle will be part of the data-journalism track on Saturday afternoon, showing even more in-depth use of not just ArcGIS Online by ArcGIS Desktop.

There is a future in local journalism

14:30 – 15:30
Turner Valley

As media owners continue to lose money, national and provincial media newsrooms shrink and we ask ourselves about the future of this industry in Canada, how do all these questions fare for local journalism? From ‘local’ stories done by our largest newsrooms down to the smallest newsrooms’ ever-local work, what’s the prognosis for the industry at this level? Are journalists, and journalism, still surviving and thriving in these markets, in those newsrooms?

The panel discusses the future of local journalism and why it remains a foundation for the industry as a whole.

Why you should be shooting more mobile video

15:35 – 16:35
Acadia Room

Many journalists today — like the people they cover — have devices in their pockets that can shoot and/or stream usable video. So why isn’t every journalist taking advantage of having this technology and ability at the touch of a finger?

AJ+’s Shadi Rahimi leads this hands-on session on mobile video, with a specific focus on using Periscope. This session is a Bring Your Own Device session and you may wish to make sure you have the Periscope app installed on your device beforehand.

I’m a journalist– no, really.

15:35 – 16:35
Turner Valley

It’s a conversation that’s always simmering away among journalists and those who study media. It used to be easier to tell who was a journalist and who wasn’t, often based on a strong link between the individuals who created journalism and the outlets that had the means to publish and/or broadcast it. Today, anyone with an Internet connection can publish and broadcast to their heart’s content. There’s enough content out there to satisfy any interest. Who you work for or who publishes or broadcasts your work isn’t as defining as it used to be, particularly when some outlets chase clicks and conversions over investing in public interest journalism. How do we tell the journalists and their journalism from everything else that’s out there? Is it by defining and declaring some of them as members of a profession, like doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.? Is it in the development and teaching of better critical media literacy skills?

In their discussion, the panelists will touch on the latest research and thinking into the question of the professionalization of journalism.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Coffee with Twitter

08:30 – 09:30
Drayton Valley

Twitter Canada’s Steve Ladurantaye returns to the CAJ stage – but this year he’s taking on a different mission. This session on Twitter invites delegates to start their day with a cuppa in one hand and, perhaps, a mobile device in the other. This will be more than that old chestnut, “every journalist should be on Twitter,” because that’s old hat and so 2009. Or was it 2010?

Steve’s going to start there, but quickly move to showing delegates the potential Twitter has for journalists who’ve moved beyond Twitter 1.0, where all they do is broadcast links to their own work, to Twitter 2.0 — using the medium to get meaningful engagement with your audience. How to sift through the clutter, find and create your moments in the sun and tell some fascinating stories along the way.

Communicating responsibly

09:35 – 10:35
Drayton Valley

Thanks to Grant v. Torstar Corp. and Quan v. Cusson, responsible communication was brought into Canadian jurisprudence. It’s become case law that reinforced journalistic best practices when dealing with subjects facing potentially libelous allegations — so that the publication or broadcast of material in the public interest is not held up by that same subject’s refusal to address the allegations.

Kathy Tomlinson has first-hand experience with this defence against prosecution for libel, based on work she completed when part of the CBC Go Public team. Together with potential guests, she’ll lead a discussion based on her experiences that will give any journalist the information needed to use responsible communication to support their work.

Cutting through the clutter

10:50 – 11:50
Turner Valley

Your cellphone’s buzzing. Someone’s mentioned you in a tweet. Your Facebook, Twitter, Periscope and Vine time lines are scrolling faster than you can keep up with them. PR flacks are deluging your inboxes with things they want you to write about. Your editor wanted a story pitch five minutes ago. How do you cut through the noise that increasingly fights for everyone’s attention — including yours as a journalist — and find the diamonds in the rough? The tip, the tidbit, the morsel of goodness that leads you to create journalism that endures?

Jacqui Banaszyski will lead this session full of examples and practical tips you can use to help cut through the clutter and find the great stories.

From carryables to wearables to implantables

10:50 – 11:50
Drayton Valley

Over the past 20 years, global cultures have embraced the idea of mobile communication by adopting smartphone technology. This swift transformation has made the concept of wearable computers and, ultimately, the idea of implantable future devices all the more believable. Simultaneously, popular culture, including film (Minority Report), television (Star Trek), gaming (Deus Ex), comic books (Iron Man) and literature (William Gibson novels) socialize society to embrace ideas that previously seemed impossible. Isabel Pedersen’s book, Ready to Wear: A Rhetoric of Wearable Computers and Reality-Shifting Media, argues that our technological futures are framed according to this “continuum of embodiment.”

Drawing on case studies surrounding Google Glass, digital tattoos, exoskeletons, bionic contacts, and emergent concepts surrounding implantables, this talk invites the audience to consider wearables now but also in the future. It discusses how fictional scenarios, social media, circulating news stories in mainstream media, and digital culture all impact the adoption of technology by society.

Going corporate

10:50 – 11:50
Acadia Room

Your editor has just assigned you a business story and you’ve never covered more than a ribbon-cutting at the local mall. Where do you begin?

The panel, moderated by Gary Lamphier business writer for the Edmonton Journal, will take delegates through a must-have set of practices and tips on pulling together a successful business story.

Keeping the multiplatform beast at bay

13:45 – 14:45
Acadia Room

Welcome to reality as a journalist working in a multiplatform newsroom. Go cover an event for us, please. Don’t forget — when you get there, tweet that you’ve arrived and take a photo. Actually, take plenty of photos. Send periodic updates to your social media followers with all the right hashtags. Grab some more stills while you’re at it, though the photodesk would really prefer you take those on your point-and-shoot or SLR camera. While you’re juggling that with your left hand, don’t forget to grab some video for the web — heck, we might even use it for broadcast. You need to be pushing all this to your liveblog too, remember? Did we mention we wanted a 250-word hit for the website on that five minutes ago? Oh, and your deadline for the news hole we’ve left for you in the next print edition is in 30 minutes. Sound familiar? Ominous? Something you want to run as far away from as possible?

Our panelists, Elise Stolte, Jason Markusoff and Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal, are experienced with taming the multiplatform beast on a daily basis as part of what they do in their own newsrooms. They’ll provide some tips on how to manage the demands of a media universe that’s always hungry for content, without sacrificing on the context, quality and skill expected by an always-discerning audience.

Striking out on your own

13:45 – 14:45
Turner Valley

Looking forward as a journalist, you’re yearning for independence. You’re looking to life the life of a freelancer! Things look pretty awesome over there. Oh, but wait– what about those all-rights-grabbing contracts? Those piddly pennies paid by publishers who plead poor? Chasing down the client whose work you finished six months ago and still hasn’t paid you, while pitching the next client you hope pays you sooner than six months from now? Fear not– success can be found in freelancing without relying on the need for others to help pay the rent!

The panelists, Caitlin Crawshaw, Omar Mouallem and Taylor Lambert, will share how they’ve built successful careers as independent journalists and how, with the right amount of preparation and care, the grass on their side of the fence really can be that green.

Following the money in Indian Country

14:50 – 15:50
Acadia Room

Regrettably, with few exceptions, Canadian media don’t dig into questions of public spending by First Nations with the same enthusiasm as they would with the closest municipality, school board, health authority, province, etc. Why not? Money can be followed on and off reserve if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

In this watchdog workshop, investigative reporters Melissa Ridgen and Jorge Barrera show you how they uncovered and exposed corruption surrounding First Nations communities, from the first hunch to the last legal vet. They’ll examine three stories as case studies walking reporters through the steps.

Conference banquet and 2015 CAJ Awards gala

19:00 – 22:00
Valley Room

Celebrate the recipients of the 2015 CAJ Awards chosen from amongst the list of finalists announced on April 7, 2016 and bring the annual conference to an end at the CAJ Gala MC’d by Mark Connolly.

We’re thrilled Mark will be joining us to help celebrate and recognize the finalists and recipients of the 2015 CAJ Awards program,” CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey said. “The gala provides a great opportunity to tie off our two-day conference and show off the great journalism being produced in Canada.

Mark-ConnellyMark Connolly is the host of Edmonton AM, CBC radio’s morning show. In 2014, he was a moderator for part of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission meeting held in Edmonton. He spent 22 years as a sportscaster with CBC Radio and CBC Television before taking the job as news anchor at CBC News Edmonton from 2010 to 2013. Connolly grew up in Edmonton and in his teens actually worked at CBC Edmonton as a janitor. His first full-time job was in radio in Fort McMurray, Alberta, where he was the play-by-play voice of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He then worked in radio in both Red Deer and Edmonton before starting a weekend job at CBC Edmonton in December 1988, which has evolved through the years to his position today as Host of Edmonton AM. In his decades with CBC, Connolly has covered eight Olympic Games including the recent Sochi Olympics, numerous world championships, and the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Mark and his wife have two boys.

Standalone tickets for the gala can also be purchased at a cost of $55, all taxes and fees included.

See more information on panelists at:

The two-day conference is scheduled to run from Friday, May 27, to Saturday, May 28, at the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel in Edmonton. Registration questions can be sent to:

About the Canadian Association of Journalists

The CAJ is Canada’s largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing over 600 members across the country. The CAJ’s primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

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