Saturday, December 20, 2008

Covering the Memorial Service

My previous post discussed the sad story of the Hawkins family of Woodstock, Ontario, who were tragically killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their home thanks to a blocked fireplace vent.

Because I don't get the same dose of local news outside of my work days as I do when I am there, I managed to miss the announcement of Laurie's passing until the following day, thus the reason why my previous message didn't include information of her passing.

This past Tuesday I got an e-mail from my supervisor asking me to cover an evening event on Wednesday that no one else was able to cover. The event, a memorial service for Provincial Constable Laurie Hawkins and her family. Without hesitation, I accepted the chance to be there.

To those of you who have never worked in the media industry, let me suggest that anyone journalist struggles with one of these, no matter how seasoned they are. Sure, some may have a better ability to hide their feelings, or are able to detach themselves from it, but it is still a difficult story to write and report. There is a sensitivity that must be observed, interviews are hard to come by, emotions throughout are running high. And yet, in spite of all of this, the story must be told.

Having said that, I struggle worse than most. Perhaps because of my upsetting coverage of the events of 9/11, or the engraved memories of the elder abuse scandal, but sometimes, it just isn't that easy for me not to feel the emotion of a story. The tragic circumstances that percipitate the need to assign a reporter to coverage of a memorial service could also explain the reason why. Or perhaps, I just haven't experienced it enough.

For 45 minutes I stood at the back along reporter's row, furiously listening to capture the quotes that could truly express the night's deepest emotions. Several former co-workers shared their experiences with Constable Hawkins, whose work as the OPP's Community Relations officer in Ingersoll made her the true focus of the service. After all, people had lost a dear friend and a strong advocate for the youth of the small town. If the words weren't enough, the faces that accompanied them told what was left to be said.

At the end of the night, as I sat at my laptop trying to make sense of it all, I found myself looking around to figure out if I had actually captured a true sense of it all. I started to realize that it wasn't my abilities, or lack there of, as a journalist that were making the stories so slowly to craft. What I was beginning to realize that I had no reference point. I have seen loved ones come and go, some very close, and some very distant. But I was feeling the need to reference a time or a place for the moment that could parallel this time. And it wasn't there. Not because I couldn't think of it. Because it didn't exist.

I'm glad my supervisor and my boss were happy with my reports. I'm still not sure if they truly were quality reports. But how can you truly express an emotion, a sense, a loss, a tragedy, if you have never felt it yourself???

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A truly upsetting story to write...

For one of the few times in my journalistic career, I found myself faced with a story that I did not want to cover, did not want to write.

I can remember my first like it was yesterday. So many in my generation wrote their first truly upsetting story on the exact same day, September 11th, 2001. I remember spending 3 or 4 hours battling with my boss that day over his desire for a story that day, and me fighting the good fight. I was a university student, and friends of mine were crying on my shoulder looking for answers from a student journalist. I obviously didn't have the answers, and I didn't want to ask the questions either.

This past weekend I had a similar reaction as a press release crossed my desk while in the newsroom on Sunday afternoon.

If you aren't familiar with the story of the Hawkins family of Woodstock, Ontario, let me first provide some context.

On Monday, December 1st, Provincial Constable Laurie Hawkins failed to show up for work. Officers went to her house to check on her, and found Laurie's husband and two children dead, and Laurie unconscious. The cause of the deaths were carbon monoxide poisoning thanks to a blocked fireplace. Constable Hawkins was transferred to Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto in critical condition. An outpouring of grief and support came from throughout Woodstock, the surrounding community, and police officers from throughout Ontario.

On Saturday, news came that Hawkins had been transferred to North Bay Hospital, where her family could care for her and be with her around the clock. When the news came, it didn't surprise to hear, as to me it only makes sense to want to care for a loved one.

Enter Sunday afternoon when the headline about Hawkins' transfer still stayed as one of the dominant headlines in a community that has been glued to news of the hopeful recovery. I had just finished the 5:00 news when I noticed there was a new e-mail in my Inbox. Here is the first two paragraphs of text from the release, sent by the Ontario Provincial Police.

"The families of Laure Hawkins (nee Gignac) and Richard Hawkins are issuing the following information to members of the media, public and police agencies whose support has been so overwhelming during this time.

Provincial Constable Laurie Hawkins remains in critical condition and the family has advised that her recovery is not anticipated. She is surrounded by loving family and friends around the clock providing support to her and each other."

How do you break that news? I stared at the release for a good 10 minutes before realizing that I had to get on with my 6:00 news. So I left the release and moved on for a few hours to get the first run of casts done for the night.

I took another look at the release, knowing that I was sitting in one of the few active newsrooms in all of southern Ontario, and I was obligated to write this story. But I froze. I couldn't come to terms with how to write a story to inform the public that she was not expected to survive. How do you convey that message to a public waiting, hoping, praying......

As a few more hours passed, my mind started telling me that I should have checked my emotions at the front door, and it was time to proceed with the writing of the story. From my view, good reporters check their emotions at the front door, but never lose the emotional perspective in their reporting. So I stepped outside for some fresh air, took a deep breath, and sat down at the computer and wrote the story.

If you heard my 11:00 newscast that night, yes, that's how long it took me to come to terms with the story, you would have heard my unflinching read of the news. It took me far too long to get to that point, but I got there. It may seem ridiculous to the hardcore news reporters that it took more than a few seconds to start writing the story, but sometimes you have to weigh the true impact of your comments.

At least that's my perspective...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Is it really a 'coalition'???

It was an interesting start to a Saturday afternoon in the newsroom...

I picked up the phone just a few minutes after I arrived to listen to a listener tell me that we had an inaccurate newscast. He told me that we LIED in one of our stories.

As you can imagine, I stood bewildered as I tried to figure out how on earth my colleague had managed to make such a glaring mistake as to lie about something in one of our news stories.

The gentleman continued his conversation by telling me that the joint government of the Liberals and the NDP was not truly a coalition. I pondered the thought, and drudged back into the faint memories of university history courses to figure out what on earth the man was talking about. And then it finally registered.

While I couldn't remember the professor, nor could I remember the class, I remembered the subject matter because of the debate it once caused. The professor had told me that while the general definition of the word coalition was basically two or more groups working together for a common cause, the political definition was slightly different. It was taught to me that the political definition of the word meant two or more groups working together in the government AND thus representing at least 50.1% of the vote.

This was the very definition the disgruntled listener was referring to. He himself had been taught, and still believed, in that very definition of a political coalition, and that any such beast that did not represent that percentage of votes was not actually classifiable as a coalition.

I continued to discuss the issue with the man for a few minutes, even so much as quoting him the articles that were written on the wire that I was to pick from. I told him that I would do my best to avoid any direct reference to the Liberals and NDP in fact having a coalition, and he obliged my efforts and went on his way.

Three newscasts later, I have not heard another word from the man. I think that perhaps I have appeased his small desire to have someone reference the term accurately.

It may be a foolish thing, but it feels like a small victory to me. Even if some of you think I have formed a coalition against the coalition...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

IABC Gift of Communication - The Student Experience

I had the pleasure of attending the Gift of Communication event that was hosted by the Golden Horseshoe chapter of the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators). The event was an opportunity for members of the IABC to speak to representatives from a handful of local charities, all of which are financially supported by the United Way in part, and help advise them on potential solutions to communications problems within their organization.

As a student in the Mohawk College Public Relations program, a group of our students were given the opportunity to take part in the event to learn from these communicators, and find out some of the issues facing area not-for-profit groups. I signed up to see what the event would be like, but that was before I knew the actual content of the event.

For the record, had I known the format of the event, I likely would have traded off my spot. No disrespect to the IABC or any of the organizations involved of course. The reason I say this is because I pictured myself 18 months ago, when I ran The Lung Association's Brant office, and I thought about whether or not I would have wanted to be that guy sitting and listening to other people try to understand how to fix my problems. It turned my stomach a little, it really did...

The format for the event turned out to make the experience. We were each allowed to sit at whichever table we wanted, and were sooned joined by the organization's representative(s), along with 1 or 2 communications professionals. We spent the next 90 minutes or so working through the operations 2 prime communications weaknesses, brainstorming all kinds of solutions.

My discussion involved The Eva Rothwell Centre at Robert Land. Ted Hodkinson represented the Centre, and the two of us were joined by Amy Wright from UPS and CritiCall Ontario's Christine Moon. The four of us discussed the communications difficulties the Centre was facing: how to communicate a message to an impoverished community of 8 500 people, and how to communicate the user expectations in a positive light.

A challenge was certainly in our midst. Social media would have direct effect on the users or potential users. Language barriers impede any written materials. Safety concerns create issues with a door-to-door campaign. And volunteers may have issues standing up to peers, especially ones who could potentially lash out.

Yet after an hour and a half of discussion, and very little out of my own mouth, we were able to come up with some ideas that I truly thought could help the cause.

And that was the story throughout the room. My group was just one of nine featuring similar issues, and yet, all of the discussions produced real solutions to real problems.

It was a rewarding feeling, all 'warm and fuzzy' like we were told before the session began. That truly was as billed.

The final component of the day was also an incredible thing for all of us students to witness as well. The final speech came from the head of the United Way for Hamilton Region. The man's name escapes me at this time. He gave a very strong and commanding speech that demonstrated simultaneously the passion for the organization and the heavy-handed leadership needed to help build a cohesive operation. He gave an overpowering message of demand and respect, a sort of higher eschlon of expectation for those who want the support during these difficult financial times.

There was a line that I took away from his speech that I think truly put a perspective on the value of the exercise for us students. He said: "A community is not truly great until it is great for everyone". For me, that tells us why we must take any opportunity we can to help those who need us, whether it is with our hands or with our minds.

I'm glad my mind could contribute that day...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some Stories are just too funny...

Today's shift in the newsroom started like any other Sunday afternoon shift. Very little local news, and only a select few national and international stories that had strong enough content to add to the day's report.

As always, I began my scan of around 30 sites that I look to for content, hoping to find enough for 8 stories for each of at least 3 different newscasts. I checked all of the usual suspects, the newspaper, radio, and television sites of any media outlet in the expansive region covered by the station.

My first glance only produced one major regional story, that being the vote by workers at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll. I knew that would be the big story of the day on a regional level, so I added the story and moved on with my first set of casts.

I took a second look around 5:00, scanning the same 30 sites in the hopes that some eager reporter would try to make headlines by being the first to post about a major story. What I would soon find would have me almost in tears with laughter.

As I mentioned, my circuit of scanning includes all media throughout the region, spanning west to Chatham, south to Cleveland, east to Stoney Creek, and north to Mount Forest. One of those sites was the Guelph Mercury. It was there where I would find the story. All I had to do was read the headline and I knew it was GOLD.

"Car hits deer, deer hits jogger"

I thought it was some kind of cruel joke, or at least what it literally sounded like. But no, it was exactly that.

"In a bizarre accident Sunday morning, the body of a deer that was struck by a vehicle flew through the air and collided with a jogger."

Now maybe it is just my sense of humour, but I can honestly say that in almost a decade as a member of the media I have never laughed that hard. Quite literally, a driver had hit a deer, which is sad don't get me wrong, but the deer then flew through the air and hit a jogger.

Seriously folks, play out the odds of that happening for a second. I think lightning striking the same person five times has better odds than that does. What an incredible fluke...

I spent a good 5 minutes laughing, told everyone within shouting distance, the one person in the building, and then posted about it on my twitter. For me, it was the exact boost of inspiration I needed to get back to work.

Inspiration, I know how ridiculous that sounds. But in a society filled with the reporting of depressing news, and with the non-stop barrage of stories about the crumbling economy, this produced a laugh unlike no other before it. Yes, it was sad that the deer did not survive the accident and that there is a ver yserious lesson to be learned about the need for drivers to be cautious, but through all of that, a glimmer of light to liven up a rather mundane, negative newscast on another gloomy winter Sunday.

Call it not funny, call it rather sad. For me, it was just the kind of comical story with a side of a valuable lesson, that was needed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Passchendaele - Too much love, not enough war...

I was very exicted the other night when I was able to get my girlfriend to come and see the movie Passchendaele with me. I have wanted to see the movie ever since the first time I heard it was being made, as the historic World War I battle is one that I have read about several times over the past decade.

This was the first time I had watched something with Paul Gross outside of his stage acting. No, I was never a fan of, nor did I ever watch an episode of, North of 60. I grew up while that show was on the air, but I was as inclined to watch Canadian content then as I am now as a member of the media.

Let me start by saying, this film was not what I expected. Let me continue by saying, that's not a good thing.

For starters, there was more done with the background love story of the film than their was of anything relating directly to the title battle. I was expecting there would be some build to the climactic struggle over Passchendaele, but nor did I expect so much of the film to be caught up in sub-plot. And if it wasn't sub-plot, then why deceive us by calling the movie by the name of the battle and not something more important to look at the undertakings at hand in Work War II Calgary.

In the first 5 minutes of the film, the exciting beginning that explains the battle origin of our main character played by Paul Gross. The scene shows the incident that is the core event starting the sequence of the film, a very tragic meeting between German and Canadian soldiers in the ruins of a town that lead to a gruesome stabbing of a young German soldier.

When that started the film, I got excited. I was finally going to see a true Canadian war movie. My expectation was to see the tragic journey of Gross' character from hospital to recovery to battleground and back again. Then the scene switched to Calgary and I knew that something just wasn't right.

For the next hour, at least, of the movie, the viewer is subjected to a sappy love story with family and friends sub-plots that had me cringing in my seat. Think Pearl Harbour with better actors but 10 times the cheese.That is, at least, the reaction I had as the movie began to unfold. In all honesty, the only thing that kept me in my seat during this torturous sequence was the knowledge that eventually, the war scenes must ultimately return in order to due justice to the very name of the film.

But I digress...

Once the love story plays out, as do the other sub-plots, they all culminate on the outskirts of Passchendaele, just a day, or perhaps even two, before the historic battle takes place. From here on out, this movie was worth the price of admission. I was impressed with the portrayal of the battlegrounds and trenches. The images leapt out at me as if to pour out of the pages of history. I felt them to be a very acurate portrayal based on the many World War I texts I have read, and was impressed with the many details placed throughout.

The battle itself, to me at least, left nothing to be desired. It was a very strong representation of what I believe it must have been like. The explosions, the gunfire, the look of the soldiers, all seemed perfectly placed on the riddled French battlegrounds.

The climax to the movie, when Paul Gross' character finds the strength to take his lover's brother across No Man's Land on the crucifix on which he hung, was an incredibly emotional moment. I looked around the theatre to see people who were of the age to have known relatives who fought in the Great War, and they all struggled to watch. It was an unbelievable representation on so many levels. I was, as amazing as this is, speechless.

I have to say to anyone who reads this that is very much a Pearl Harbour-esque war movie, and not Platoon. The hardcore war-movie enthusiasts I expect would have a similar reaction to that of my own, struggling through the 'Calgary' part of the movie just knowing that the battle is yet to come. After all, had they not presented this movie in the sequence that they did, I certainly wouldn't be able to tell you how it ended...

Great Big Sea at The Aud in Kitchener

This was easily one of the most enjoyable concert experiences of my entire life. There is no doubt about it, these guys are as entertaining as they come.

Great Big Sea played to a nearly sold out crowd at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, November 20th, and seeing that we are both fans of the band, my girlfriend and I got tickets to the show. We were up in what felt like the rafters, as we were only about 4 rows from the top aisle of the arena. Thankfully The Aud is an arena that I know quite well from covering Kitchener Rangers hockey for 3 years, so I knew our seats would still be a good location for a concert.

If you have never heard them before, and are truly musically-inclined, then you don't know what you're missing. And I don't mean musically-inclined like you enjoy music and like to listen all the time. I mean having a true infatuation with music, whether classically, instrumentally, or vocally. The show that GBS puts on, even if you aren't a 'Newfie' truly does appeal to those who truly appreciate music. The a cappella quartets, the introduction of non-traditional instruments, and the very singability of the music cane appeal to such a large spectrum.

One of the first things that fascinated me about the concert was the scope of the ages that were in attendance. Behind my girlfriend and I sat some young adults. On my girlfriends side of the row sat a couple likely in their 40's, along with a woman, who I presume to be no younger than about 70, sitting with some younger members of her family. And then directly beside me was a man with his son, who I would pin at around 9 or 10. All of these people, at one point or another, could be singing along with a handful of tunes provided by the band.

I had my expectations set pretty high going into the show. Tickets were over $50 each, and there was no signal that anyone would be opening for the band. So I wasn't sure what to expect, but I set my bar high.

The concert got going on a high note for me, as the second song of the first set, Process Man, is my favourite GBS song. I was one of hundreds, if not thousands, who found themselves singing along to every word of the classic hit, which was part of their second CD 'Up' that came out in 1995.

That wasn't the only song throughout the night that I found myself singing along to. Of course I am a favourite of some of their more classic songs from the early days, like Mari-Mac, The Old Black Rum, Goin' Up, and Rant and Roar, two of which were used in different sections of the encore they played.

I also find that for me what makes a concert good is when you hear something you've never heard before that leaving wanting to know more. And yes, I did find myself on to find out information about a song I had never heard before and suddenly made me want to run to a record store to purchase.

The song that struck me was called 'The River Driver', a track from 'The Hard and the Easy' which was released in 2005. This was not an overly complex musical number, however it did primary feature a 4-part a cappella section that showed the band's ability to harmonize with one another with instrumental backing. It was an impressive musical feat from an impressive musical band that left me wanting more.

All in all, the concert featured a 70 minute first half with a 22 minute intermission and a 65 minute second half, which included 5-track, double encore.

All in all, Iwas very impressed with the concert and would recommend going to see them if the music is in you...
Photo courtesy of the Waterloo Regional Record -

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chatting with the Deputy Premier

I have met a lot of politicians during my career as a journalist. Granted I have been in the game only about 9 years now, but between university media at Western, working at Rogers TV for almost 6 years, and now Easy 101, you get to meet and interview a lot of them.

Today was my first day where I officially had to represent the radio station(s) at an event. The event in question was the groundbreaking for the Woodstock General Hospital. The hospital is being made as part of a private/public partnership that will see the City of Woodstock pay a private developer for the construction and maintenance of the facility across a 30 year period, to the total cost of just under $600 million.

That's the background, here is the reason for my blog entry...

I arrived at the event wearing no identification that made me recognizable, and I had to park the company vehicle far enough away from the crowd that nobody noticed initially that I was the reporter who was driving the thing. I walked slowly through the crowd, hoping to find someone with a name tag or some kind of ID that would make my job a little easier to pull off. Or at least I was hoping to find my brother Jon, who was there to provide his store's sound system for the event.

Instead of finding either one of those, I saw a familiar face in Brant MPP Dave Levac, someone who have known since I was 10 or so. I stood behind him just out of view since he was in a conversation as I did not want to interrupt. Media guy or not, that's just rude when you aren't in need of a soundbyte. Suddenly from behind Dave this man popped over to say hello. Needless to say, I recognized him immediately.

"Hi, I'm George Smitherman, Deputy Premier."

"Yes Mr. Smitherman, I know its you. Its good to see you again. I'm Andrew Macklin, from Easy 101 in Tillsonburg. I have interviewed you before though."

He started to give a look that resembled bewilderment, a look I assume was him trying to figure out where we had met before.

"Don't worry Minister Smitherman, it has been a few years since we last spoke. I met you with Dave here when you were in Brantford. I used to work with Rogers there."

I know it doesn't sound like much, just a courtesy conversation between a politician and a member of the media who is trying to get his job done.

The fascinating part was, the conversation continued on from there, and kept going in a very casual manner. I hadn't pulled out my digital recorder to get my interview, so he continued to chat about the event and how great it was.

We continued our conversation by talking about the Hospice in Brantford, the place hwere the two of us had met for the first time. We continued on for a few minutes, never once bringing up the issue of an interview, or him needing to move on to someone else. As the conversation began to run its course, our talk took another peculiar turn.

"Well George I will let you get on to other people. I will get a comment from you after the event is over."

"Are you ready right now? If you are ready, why don't we get this done right now and you won't have to worry about finding me later."

"Are you sure? I don't want to keep you from other people who might want to talk."

"That's okay. If you are ready, let's do the interview."

And so I did, avoiding what would have likely been a fight to the finish in any media scrum that would take place later on, especially since I noticed at least another 5 or 6 media there. So the interview went off without a hitch. I got my 1 on 1 with the Deputy Premier...

Its very rare that you would get a 1 on 1 interview with someone at the level of Deputy Premier, let alone people that are a few rungs below that. Of course its a little different if it is the representative from your home riding, but mine was standing right behind Mr. Smitherman.

Where am I going with all of this? I'm trying to make the point that sometime's everyone appreciates the personal touch. Instead of just telling me that he could give me comments later on with 'the rest' of my counterparts, he took the time to meet my specific needs by giving me comments to my questions. He didn't make my choose from the assortment of comments generated by a pool of reporters, with likely just one directed towards a question I have been able to sneak in. My needs in my job were met by, of all people a politician, going out of their way to meet those needs. It was a true gesture from someone who I have known from past interviews to be a class act.

Perhaps to most journalists something like this would have gone unnoticed or unappreciated. But as a young guy starting to feel like he's a veteran of the industry, it truly was noticed, and it truly was appreciated...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Hitler Creeped into my Ethics Class

To say that people have fumbled through another Tuesday of class could quite possibly an understatement. It has had its entertaining moments to say the least, and as I write this, that trend continues.

So far we've had the ever-irritating annoyance of some moronic child pulling the fire alarm, a professor who suggested that we had "mad it writely" as opposed to write it madly. There have also been several wisecracks from across the room, although that tends to fit the daily norm. But a conversation started thanks to the mentioning of Adolf Hitler has set aside this day from the typical Tuesday duldrums felt on this first day of class of the week.

To give it some context, the class was our first in a 7 class series on ethics. As you would imagine, this was the basic introductory lesson to give us all a little perspective, talking about the Ethics of Justice versus the Ethics of Care. One of the questions that came up for discussion was, and I am paraphrasing since I cannot remember it exactly: If your boss told you to do something and it hurt someone else, are you responsible for what happens to the people who are hurt? A legitimate question for a conversation on ethics.

Suddenly a hand was raised from the back of the classroom and the comment that set the tone for the rest of the day was made... 'Yeah, look at what happened with Hitler and the Holocaust!'
An interesting combination of stunned silence and uncontrollable quiet laughter followed the suggestion.

To be honest, it is a very legitimate issue to bring up in the context of the conversation. What threw everyone was the massive scale of the example used to kickstart the class dialogue. But I digress.

Several people followed with various comments, ranging from how way too large a comparison it was all the way to why it wasn't an appropriate subject matter. Me being a former World War II history specialist, I took the time to sit back and keep my mouth shut. Part of me really wanted to partake in the hilarious discussion that followed, but I thought that sitting back and enjoying was a better idea in this instance. One of the few where I can actually say that.

So the day continues with mishap after mishap. Thanks once again to Hitler, another collection of people are having a day that seems to lead to disaster. Well, not on that level...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bidding my Rogers TV a Fond Farewell

Any of you who have known me professionally for the past few years know of my trials and tribulations with Rogers TV. What you may not know is that I have recently decided to take an extended, and perhaps permanent, leave of absense from my former employer. The decision wasn't easy, but it is certainly a long time coming.

I have been with the company since January of 2003, when I first stepped on to the scene in Brantford as the latest journalist looking to make a name for himself in the anti-climactic rise to media stardom. I can vividly remember that first interview with JoAnne Rizzo at the Brant Curling Club as she got ready with her team to compete for a chance to represent Ontario in the national championships. Who would have thought that humble beginning would have exploded into what has been a very intriguing career.

Throughout the years I have found myself with one contract after another, whether it be as a studio producer, newsmagazine producer, sports host, or any number of other roles that needed a temp fix. Something like 10 contracts across 5 1/2 years as I recall, although I certainly lost track a long time ago. And despite the numerous calls to come and help, never once did the call come when it came time to fill a position full time. To this day, I still can't figure out why.

There have been a few stumbling blocks along the way that certainly may have painted a negative picture within management. Two incidents stand out, although the fall out from the primary incident was followed immediately by the signing of my new contract. And the second was just recent, a few wayward fans of Swap Shop who seemed to take offense to not having Giovanni host their beloved show. Either way, there is not enough of a negative track record to explain the number of times my name has been overlooked.

But bitching isn't the point of this post, reflecting on an incredible time with my second family is. Five and a half years were not without their accomplishments. Over 200 news and newsmagazine stories, most of which were the leads on their program. Around 200 live productions as the producer. Hundreds of hours of work shooting and editing for news and sports. And one of my favourites, an on-air personality for a total of eight different sports in just a 3-year span. It has been one amazing run.

It seems fitting that it would come to an end with an election broadcast. Elections were a bit of a favourite of mine, and I have always taken pride in the coverage I have helped to provide. The federal election last week made the 7th straight election I have covered for Rogers TV, and I would dare say it was one of my better live TV performances. After all, you never saw my notes or a Blackberry in my hands, I didn't need them. Nor should have anyone else had they done their jobs right. But I digress...

I just want to say to all of the friends and colleagues who have been with me at some point during this amazing run, thanks so much for everything. It has been an incredible run, but it is time for me to say farewell just one last time...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting your priorities straight

I have been racking my brain over what to write about in my blog, but today I finally came up with a reason to write.

About a month ago I purchased tickets to tonight's hedley concert at Cenntennial Hall. It was my treat to Victoria and I to a busy first 6 or 7 weeks of school, both of us adjusting to new programs. It was going to be a nice night out mid-week to see a band whose music both of us find ourselves singing along to in the car.

Last night I started to realize that the current amount of school work was making for a tough balance, and that I would be cramming my time in my Tuesday to do assignments before heading to London. I was still convinced that the concert was a good idea for a good stress release for both of us, even with Victoria having two mid-terms for her Criminology program on Thursday afternoon.

Then the second shoe dropped, and the decision became harder, and not. My friend Ken, my broadcast partner for Inter-County Baseball on Rogers TV, lost his father to a rare form of cancer on Sunday. He was just 48 years old. Such a shame...

I found myself thrown into the debate of whether I could skip class in Hamilton long enough to get to the funeral home in Cambridge before picking up Vicki in Brantford and then moving on to London for the concert. I know I need to be there to support my friend, but I spent $100 on concert tickets...

A few minutes later, I realized that my priorities weren't where they should be. I suddenly realized that I wasn't thinking straight, and it all became clear...

School is important, being there for a friend is important, missing a concert is not important. There are priorities in this life that we have to realize, and sometimes things can cloud our judgement. Losing $100 on concert tickets will mean nothing in the road map of my life. But doing well in my course will. Being there for my friend will.

These things truly matter...