Recently stumbled upon a report that lists the top 25 underreported news stories in Canadian media between September 2010 and August 2011.

Thirteen Simon Fraser University student researchers analyzed both mainstream and independent news sources to first compile a list of 100 important national or international stories that lacked media coverage during the past year – important being defined as having a significant impact on a large number of Canadians.

They eventually narrowed it down to the top quarter, which includes topics ranging from the state of native reserves (now being addressed in the recent coverage of Attawapiskat), to the militarization of Canada’s foreign policy, to the extent of corporate lobbying on policy-making.

I haven’t read the complete report, but the 63-page summary was an interesting read, with one-to-two page synopses on each story. It also looks at the system, and suggests how it leads to these gaps in coverage.

Here’s the Top 25, in order of their importance, according to the study.

1. Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

2. Canadian Mining Companies Lack Accountability

3. Corporate Lobbying Shaping Laws

4. Crisis in Long Term Care

5. Violence Against Aboriginal Women in Canada

6. State of Native Reserves in Canada

7. Health Effects of Canada’s Tar Sands

8. Long Term Effects of Fukushima

9. Abandoned Oil Wells Cause Environmental Hazard

10. Global Disposable Workforce

11. Militarizing Canada’s Foreign Policy

12. Negative Impacts of Fracking

13. Devastation of the Oceans

14. Big Pharma Testing for Profit

15. Soldier Suicides and the Mental Health Cost of War

16. Threat of Public Relations to Newsrooms and the Public Sphere

17. Canadian Interference in Haiti

18. Disaster Capitalism in Afghanistan

19. Impact of Climate Change on Canada’s Boreal Forest

20. Asbestos Exports

21. Effects of Industrial Farming

22. BPA on Sales Recepts

23. Pharmaceutical Comapnies “Ghost Writing” for Medical Journals

24. FBI’s War on Islam

25. Failure of the War on Drugs

The summarized report is available here, with more details on the topics and the study’s methodology.

And Happy New Year: Here’s hoping that 2012 brings more coverage to underreported issues.

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Armed with five textbooks, two jackets, three heavy sweaters and more wiry wool socks than anyone should ever have, I am 10 minutes away from boarding my Edmonton-bound plane on my way to Wainwright, Alberta to spend another three weeks living on a military base.

Last April I paid to take a course in foreign correspondence, which included several weeks practical experience covering troops as they rehearsed manoeuvres, practice for how Canada plans to transition out of Afghanistan.

Who knew I would have loved it as much as I did, but here I am: I signed myself up for round two, and went after getting the opportunity with everything I had.

Sure, I’m missing a midterm, a research project, two guest speakers, an in-class essay, a quiz, multiple assignments and many readings. But what kind of student sleeps anyway?

This experience was simply too much to pass up: Sponsored school fees, free accommodation, free meals, reimbursed travel and the experience of a lifetime. (Well, a second experience of a lifetime.)

On top of it all, I am getting paid to do what I love. Do you know how cool it is to put on my resume that I have done contract work with the Department of National Defense? Very. Cool.

Boarding time, wish me luck.

@HayleyWoodin

(It took me 10 minutes to write this. I need to work on that.)

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Late last week and early this week, I had the opportunity to interview two “famous people.”

One of my second year courses, News Production, is designed to teach the class the practical side of working in a newsroom. Each week, we pitch our own story ideas pertaining to Kwantlen academic and student life, and submit pieces of journalism, be it in the form of articles, photo stories or videos.

Through a Kwantlen press release, I found out that a Kwantlen student had danced her way to the top 22 on CTV’s So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

With the help of social media, namely Facebook, and being able to contact the right people at the times, I was able to secure an interview with Nathalie Heath, a 23-year-old dancer from Surrey, B.C.

As a semi-regular viewer of the show, it was a great and extremely surreal experience to be able to have a conversation with someone I had seen on TV a couple of days before.

While emailing back and forth with the show’s publicist, I’d asked if there was anyone else affiliated with the show who was willing to comment on Nathalie’s success. Not sure about the show’s policies, I had been hoping for an interview with one of the judges, but wasn’t expecting one.

But I was fortunate enough to snag an interview with Jean Marc Généreux, arguably the show’s most outspoken, heartfelt and enthusiastic judge. Outside of the show, he is an accomplished ballroom dancer: he won all of the major ballroom championships in North America, and danced with his partner as Canada’s first ballroom representatives in 10 world championships.

So while he may not be a common household name, he is a well-respected and well-known individual in certain circles. And I got to interview him.

Both Jean Marc and Nathalie were personable and funny individuals, and I am thankful for the chance to have interviewed them.

To read Nathalie’s story (with quotes from the one and only Jean Marc), check out the Kwantlen Chronicle online.

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Conservatives’ irrational crime laws make no sense, cost billions of dollars by Neil Boyd:

The Conservatives have decided to allot billions of dollars towards the construction of new federal and provincial prisons.

This is yet another step in the Tories’ crackdown-on-crime movement, like their crime bill proposals and mandatory minimum sentencing for people who grow more than six marijuana plants.

According to Boyd, a professor and associated director of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, studies have shown that rates of imprisonment are relative to the confidence of the people in the legislative and justice systems of the county.

In other words, a lack of confidence in our systems of governance is a significant factor of high rates of imprisonment.

Globally, Canada has the highest rates of incarceration and comparatively has high crime rates.

Where is our confidence?

More importantly, why don’t we have confidence in our democratic legislative and justice systems?

Iran’s leaders launch a new crackdown on ‘immodest dress’ by Rasa Sowlat:

Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed to “deal harshly with corruption in society” to ensure that the faces of chastity and Iranian virtues, religion and society remained unblemished within the country.

Consequently, women can be fined over $1,000 if deemed too fashionable, and suntans, nail polish, cosmetics and improper hijabs all result in financial penalties.

Approximately 27 government agencies are promoting Khamenei’s vision of how citizens should dress and how men and women should interact. The state has also proposed to take over 14,000 private kindergartens to ensure that the “bad hijab” campaign’s values reach youth at an early age.

Iran’s interior minister stated that children can only play games that uphold Islamic culture and are religiously correct.

This is where the problem lies.

Khamenei is the ultimate leader of said campaign. After his recent announcement to “deal harshly with corruption in society,” prayer leaders across the country began preaching his values.

It is not a god who deems it sinful to wear lipstick or sport a tan; these are the corrupt values of one man, hidden behind the mask of religion.

CP news service to privatize by Mark Iype:

After 93 years as a non-profit cooperative, The Canadian Press will be placed under private ownership, according to a tentative deal.

CTV-globemedia, Torstar Corp. and Gesca, CP’s biggest members, will become equal partners in what will be called Canadian Press Enterprises, a for-profit entity.

Should the deal be finalized, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and La Presse, owned by the three companies respectively, would become papers written, edited, manufactured and sold with the aim to achieve a profit.

Freedom of the press doesn’t mean that the press, what should be a reliable and independent source of information, is free from conflicts of interest…

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Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

How the Supreme Court keeps information from us by Peter McKnight:

The right to information is not acknowledged in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, meaning that it doesn’t exist.

Having access to public or government records falls under “freedom of expression:” in other words, the only way to gain access to information is “where the access is necessary to permit meaningful discussion on a matter of public importance,” according to the Supreme Court.

Another thing that doesn’t exist is a clear and concise definition of the words “meaningful” and “importance.”

What all of this means, is that access to information will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

It also means that what is considered “meaningful” and of  “public importance” can be interpreted to include a wide and varied number of cases, or to exclude almost any case.

At the heart of Facebook is an old-fashioned kaffeeklatsch by Shelley Fralic:

An interesting observation: the fastest-growing demographics on Facebook are women aged 35 to 50 and people over the age of 55, according to David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect.

As older generations begin using newer technologies and social networking sites, will new media apps, sites and technologies be created to cater to the baby-boomer population?

Fortress Toronto: Loss of civil liberties part of an absurd price by Craig McInnes:

The G8 and G20 summits are underway in Toronto, with the help of $1-billion in security measures.

The six-kilometre long, three-metre high security wall complete with metal sheeting and concrete blocks, and over 10,000 police officers to guard it, is just a little menacing. However, the most menacing measure to protect the world leaders was not a part of the $1-billion budget.

From June 21 to June 28, police can arrest anyone who comes within five metres of the wall and refuses to provide identification or submit to a search.

The person “trespassing” on public property does not have to have been doing anything suspicious either.

But isn’t this a violation of our civil liberties?

Of course it is, but that doesn’t matter: the Ontario government passed the regulation June 2.

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Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Loose lips sink generals, too by Sheldon Alberts, accompanied by Barbara Yaffe’s General’s self-destruction adds to doubts about Afghan mission:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commanded over U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, was dismissed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday over remarks made in Rolling Stone magazine criticizing Obama and White House senior civilian leaders.

McChrystal has been replaced by Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command and former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

In Canada, senators are recommending Parliament hold a debate on Canada’s future in Afghanistan, with the goal in mind of prolonging Canadian soldiers’ stay overseas.

This contrasts with Canadians’ views on the war: 59 per cent are opposed to the mission, according to a June 17 Angus Reid poll.

Costs are legitimate, watchdog says by Janice Tibbetts:

Canada’s budget for hosting the G8 and G20 summits has reached almost $1-billion.

But do the ends justify the means?

The issue usually focused on is whether or not a country’s spending is in line with what other host countries have spent on similar events.

A recently released 12-page expense report focused on said issue, but did not provide a value-for-money analysis.

Errant robot stalls containment effort by Kristen Hays and Ayesha Rascoe:

When is enough, enough?

Since April 20, the BP oil spill has spewed 15 times the amount of oil into the ocean than the amount spilt back in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.

Between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels are being leaked into the ocean each day, forcing the closure of rich fishing grounds, killing hundreds of turtles and seabirds and dozens of dophins, and ruining the coastlines of four states.

However, the Obama administration’s deep sea drilling ban, imposed until investigations are over and regulations are revised, may be refined in the weeks to come.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suggested that some drilling in proven oilfields might move forward.

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