Big rich dude tells young people to work for free; here’s why he’s wrong

4 Nov

As I tweeted, I find myself coming back to this question far too often:

How did we get to the point where we believe there should be positions where people shouldn’t be paid for their work?

There’s no denying that I’ve written some things for free. When I was first writing the rugby blog for The Province, I did it mostly for the experience.

But I wasn’t facing deadlines and there wasn’t any expectation of production – that was all on me, on what I felt like doing. I decided to approach it like a job because I could afford to – I was still working as a substitute teacher. That meant I could pay my bills.

It also opened doors for plenty of paid writing. I got the opportunity to do some freelancing for The Province. I wrote about hockey for Hockey Now. I also landed writing work for other places.

But the unpaid stuff was mostly just for practice – and because I liked writing about rugby.

The real issue is the premise posed in my question: you work, you get paid.

What the Governor of the Bank of Canada is suggesting is the horror show that exists in the US. Young people taking unpaid internships at major (and very profitable) firms to ‘get ahead.’ Of course, most of those people have mummy and daddy paying the bills. It’s a horrifically closed, classist shop. It’s not what Canada has prided itself on being. In so many ways, we’ve broken down the ideals of a classed society. Yes, inequality still exists. Yes there are people who are overpaid and who are underpaid – but there’s a common notion to both of those.

There’s a reason why Canadian labour law limits unpaid internships to those who are studying in post-secondary settings.

This is also one of those cases where blue collar folks really do have it right and the white collar folks have it wrong: ever heard of an apprenticeship? We pay young people while they are learning the practical aspects of a trade. Why? Because it’s pretty obvious they are working.

That must continue to apply to ever place of work in this country, despite what the rich old dudes at the top may want.

Two Toronto mayor’s race electoral maps

27 Oct

For your consideration.

Yup, lots to mull over here.

Dig through the CBC’s ward-by-ward data and it becomes clear what happened: huge turnout saw gains for non-Ford vote everywhere in Toronto while the Ford vote bled away everywhere but the north-west districts of the city. Pretty much what everyone predicted. But also, yes, 1 in 3 Toronto voters still went with Ford. This should be instructive to everyone.

A further visual breakdown from the Globe and Mail:

On Ben Bradlee

21 Oct

Bradlee and Woodward. It’s the photo everyone seems to be using. It’s a good photo.

I never met him. I’m not sure I know anyone who did (but it wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out I do).

But there’s no denying his influence in my career choice.

As most of you know, I’ve come to journalism a bit late – it was the notorious career change at age 30. Notorious because everyone changes their career, or so we’re told, not because it’s been a bad change.

It’s been the best change – but again, most of you know that.

So much of my interest in being a journalist goes back to Watergate. I wasn’t alive for it, obviously, but All the President’s Men has been one of my favourite movies since the day I first watched it. I don’t know when that was – high school? – but it’s from well before I even had an inkling that journalism might be the thing. It deals in issues that have always been important to me: about what’s right, about informing readers, about contributing to the theatre of ideas, about speaking difficult truths.

Over the years, I’ve added to my understanding of the affair. But I always find myself drawn back to Jason Robards’ masterful and well-regarded portrayal of Bradlee.

He’s the guy steering the ship. He’s the guy who believes in his young guys. He’s the guy doing the teaching, about what journalism must be and how it must work. Get it right. Be aggressive. Tell stories. Sloppy isn’t just unacceptable, it’s dangerous. Even in today’s world of ‘get-it-done-now’ journalism, these are essential. In many ways, I find myself hearing these ideals bubbling back into importance. Fast is important. First still counts. But getting it right still reigns supreme.

With that in mind – three things I’ve read about Bradlee tonight. The first is the Washington Post obituary. It paints a picture of a very driven man, who made friends with powerful people but who also pressed his reporters to do good work. He held strong principles – and he believed they were important for America.

Second is a note from former Washington Post staffer Ezra Klein, now editor-in-chief of Vox.com. Bradlee was long retired when Klein started at the Post in 2009, but Bradlee was still about. He also seeped through the institution – a good thing, Klein suggests in his piece, called “What is was like to meet Ben Bradlee.”

Last is a fun list from Vanity Fair, written two years ago, of various barbs, zingers and other correspondence from and about the desk of Bradlee. It’s witty and instructive: I’ll leave you with the final entry, from a 1973 letter:

As long as a journalist tells the truth, in conscience and fairness, it is not his job to worry about consequences. The truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run. I truly believe the truth sets men free.

Some amazing video from the #OccupyCentral protest in Hong Kong

29 Sep

A compelling 7 minutes. It’s not continuous but there’s plenty to be pulled from it.

The Western Way of Life, as told by one of John le Carre’s spies

24 Sep

“I reserve the right to be ignorant – it’s the western way of life’ – Alec Leamas

Loved the book; loved the movie.

Capital leaves, then the people: meet the city of Detroit, ‘urban prairie’

15 Sep

There you go. Amazing to see, isn’t it.

From left to right: 1949, 2003, 2011.

Higher resolution image here.

Hunter S. Thompson on 9/11

12 Sep

You’ve probably seen this already, but my thought:

You think of Hunter S. Thompson writing a long time ago, but here he is, writing on September 12, 2001. Which doesn’t seem that long ago, but maybe it is?

Anyway, he the modern world pretty much nailed. It’s…an odd feeling reading this.

From ESPN:

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive “figurehead” — or even dead, for all we know — but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper.

The idea of walking distance

13 Aug

I really like Around the Horn. I like the banter, I like the intelligence of the arguments, even if they are presented as sound bites.

The show’s producer, Aaron Soloman, host, Tony Reali, and staff do a great job of sharing behind the scenes odds and ends on YouTube.

On Wednesday, they posted a video riffing off of ex-Clippers owner Shelly Stirling’s perks. Stirling is getting a fan’s golden parachutes as she and her estranged husband take leave of their team.

The chatter? About media perks and what is most important.

It’s all about being able to park. Only at the end does Bob Ryan make even a mention of the what should be the easiest solution to their problem – not having to park at all. But of course, when it comes to football stadiums especially, that’s often not an option.

That we’ve landed in such a spot, that makes me sad.

Norm Macdonald’s amazing story about Robin Williams

12 Aug

For those of you not on Twitter: Norm Macdonald is pretty excellent at the medium.

We all know how funny he is. His wit, his ability to set up even the simplest of lines, is among comedy’s best. He’s aware of his skill and shares ideas and concepts in a way that demands much of his audience but makes it easy on them at the same time.

You listen, you anticipate, you melt with laughter.

He also knows how to make a point. On Twitter on Monday night, the Canadian comic shared a story about the man Russell Brand described as “a geyser of comedy.” (Seriously, if you’ve missed Brand’s piece for The Guardian on Williams – go read it next. It’s remarkable.)

It’s a series of tweets, which I’ll link below:

Thanks, Norm. Hugs to you all.

Brendan Shanahan, Kyle Dubas and a fear of change

28 Jul

Fluto Shinzawa wrote a really great piece for The Boston Globe this weekend, called Toronto president Brendan Shanahan a forward thinker. I’m going to let it stand for itself (that’s why I’m posting it here) and not write much on it.

This is why teams repeat mistakes at the draft table, in trades, and on the free market. There are too many people who think about hockey the same way and don’t challenge each other to see the game differently.

There are no women. There aren’t many people of color. There are few who’ve worked in different sports, to say nothing of other industries. There are even fewer who haven’t played in the NHL. On-ice experience is just about a requirement for clubhouse entry.

This is nonsense.

Is the big key. It’s 100 per cent true. It’s something that baseball finally sorted out in the last decade. Soccer and rugby have examples of ‘trying something different’ in their recent pasts. Will hockey be next? If Shanahan and Dubas are successful – maybe.

Anyway, give it a read.

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