Someone at ScribbleLive likes puns. There’s a new one most days.
ScribbleLive has had a hand in reporting on the tumultous Arab Spring. A tool that removes traditional barriers to publishing can empower reporters and photographers, and in countries that have a tight grip on information, real-time reporting allows journalists to spread news quickly before governments can clamp down. ScribbleLive is used by news orgs such as Al Jazeera and Reuters to push information from the heart of violent protests to the rest of the world.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still huge challenges facing people working from the field. These brave men and women were honoured last night at the annual awards gala hosted by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), which focussed on courgeaous reporting and whistleblowing.
ScribbleLive donated its liveblog software to the CJFE. The organization uses it to cover their forums and galas: this is Scribble’s second year attending the ceremony (I’ve liveblogged both times, and have written for their International Press Freedom review for the past three years). It’s a humbling night packed with videos and speeches from talented journalists risking their lives, facing threats, jail, beatings and even murder, all in the pursuit of important stories. The most harrowing part of the evening was a slideshow listing the names and countries of journalists killed in 2011 — 89 so far. The audience gasped as Mexico flitted across the screen, where the names of the dead filled the entire page.
My favourite quote of the evening, from Egyptian journalist Mohamed Abdelfattah, talking about how his president equated journalism to spying. “Journalists are like spies: both seek information. But the spy hands it to authorities, and the journalist hands it to the public interest.”
A posthumous award was given to Ron Haggart, and his daughter shared a video of a speech where he derided the state of Canadian journalism, with it’s ever-shrinking pool of voices. A trio of scientists won an award for their whistleblowing role in exposing a dangerous bovine hormone. Abdelfattah and Yemeni journalist Khaled al-Hammadi were awarded the prestiguous International Press Freedom award for their contributions to Arab Spring reporting (I profiled al-Hammadi for the Press Freedom Review.
Check out CJFE’s liveblog for videos and transcripts of speeches, a photojournalism slideshow, tweets from the audience and photos of the powerful editorial cartoons exhibit.
Earlier this week I liveblogged the screening of a documentary called Prosecutor, which followed the first trial of the International Criminal Court and its chief prosecutor, an Argentinian lawyer named Luis Moreno-Ocampo. The ICC was launched in 2002 to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity, following the footsteps of the Nuremberg Nazi trials, but not beholden to a specific country or travesty. Instead, Moreno-Ocampo is tasked with bringing an end to impunity enjoyed by leaders who engage in rape, murder, genocide and other acts of aggression. As such, plenty of controversy follows the court. The documentary is directed by Torontonian Barry Stevens, who followed Moreno-Ocampo to The Hague, the Democratic Republic of Congo and into the prosecutor’s own home to create a compelling glimpse into one of the world’s toughest gigs. Moreno-Ocampo is charming and affable, but takes a no-bullshit approach to his role. Stevens captures powerful scenes from across war-ridden territories, and doesn’t shy away from pushing the Prosecutor to answer tough questions about the role of the ICC. I loved that he managed to mix plenty of humour and humanity in with devastating testimony from victims and cold hard facts about the terror-mongers who lead child soldiers into unspeakable acts. Following the screening, Stevens joined Moreno-Ocampo and Canadian diplomat Stephen Lewis onstage to answer questions from the audience: and there were plenty of tough questions there as well. ScribbleLive donated the software and I donated my time to liveblog the conversation, giving me the opportunity to meet Moreno-Ocampo in person — which should come in handy should I ever be accused of genocide.
I was in College Park, Maryland to liveblog a journalism conference this weekend and couldn’t resist trekking to nearby Washington to check out #occupyDC. Demonstrators have occupied two parks close to the White House, where food stations, first aid tents and heated debates fill dual tent cities. Handmade signs demanded an end to the US-led wars and country-wide access to health care. The folks in both camps were a mix of students and homeless Washingtonians. One particularly jovial duo even served me up a grilled cheese sandwich from a hotplate atop a shopping cart. Here are photos from both camps:
Earlier this week I volunteered to liveblog a panel discussion called Thrown under the Omnibus, where a passionate collection of experts from the fields of law, harm reduction, prison, women, youth and victims’ rights gathered to discuss the implications of Bill C-10, the new crime bill currently being rushed through Parliament. This “tough on crime” legislation is a big reason why the Conservatives were elected — it was a major part of their platform. The average Canadian is for it — who wouldn’t want to keep their communities safe? Problem is, the actual meat of the bill will do anything but. Continue reading
“Life is going to kill you, whether you advance or you retreat.” That’s my favourite line from a poem my cousin performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word last week. I was there to cheer on his team – The Burlington Slam Project – while they competed for a spot in the semi-finals, but I needn’t of worried: the team quickly earned their own cheering section.
Biking home through the financial district during rush hour is normally the most stressful part of my day. But thanks to a gaggle of Occupy Toronto protesters, the road was shut down to vehiclar traffic yesterday. That left streetcars, pedestrians and cyclists to reign over a long, smooth, obstacle-less stretch of asphalt along King Street. Made it home in record time, even though I stopped to take some flicks with my phone. Bike cops stood around, looking bored and herding people away from the streetcar tracks. The Guy Fawkes character up top had about a dozen photographers around him. Me included.