A Little Bit of Journalism

by 38 Concordia graduate diploma students

Waiting for the Miracle

Brother Andre, the founder of Montreal’s iconic St. Joseph’s Oratory, will be canonized in October, 2010. The announcement comes at a time that Montrealers are redefining their cultural and spiritual identity. So what does the city’s first saint mean? This documentary looks at the phenomenon of Brother Andre through the eyes of a contemporary atheist.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | People, TV | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moonshine: under the radar

A radio documentary about modern moonshining in Canada.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | People, Politics, Radio | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sailing Free

Now playing: jmvdono

A radio documentary about Paula Stone and the AQVA – L’Association quebecoise de voile adaptee – recorded on location at the Point Claire Yacht Club in Montreal

November 24, 2009 Posted by | People, Radio | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Soldier’s Perspective

This is my radio documentary on the experiences of three Canadian soldiers who went to Afghanistan at least once. There are some edits I’d like to fix, maybe on a rainy day when I have time!

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

November 7, 2009 Posted by | People, Radio | , , , | Leave a comment

Season’s End…

This is a short documentary/report that Steven and I made about the Concordia Stingers baseball team. Produced by CUTV (Concordia University Television)

Part 1

Part 2

October 15, 2009 Posted by | People, TV | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jordan Poppenk – Firing on all Synapses

Somewhere between the heart and the brain lies the world of Jordan Poppenk, the multitalented host of The Green Majority (TGM), Canada’s only environmental news hour.

When not involved in radio, the 26 year-old kills time as a neurology PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, a passionate film critic, a cyclist and a swing dancer.  Poppenk’s near-crazed energy for life is enough to make the most self-assured person feel like a disappointment.

The list of his achievements would be maddening if not for his disarming character and his calming radio presence.  To know him is to be sucked into a whirlwind of eclectic activities.  “I’m interested in others’ knowledge and perspectives and so ask a lot of questions. I think people engaging on familiar terrain can put people at ease,” Poppenk said confidently, his charismatic personality complimented by a handsome, sincere look.

The contagion of Poppenk’s enthusiasm is what has made TGM such a success.  Now carried by 13 different Canadian radio stations and on the Internet, the show takes a refreshing look at the environment without becoming overbearing and preachy.  “Our programming is not activist,” he said.  “The Green Majority is a source of news and ideas, but not a campaign.”

While he enjoys cycling and maintains a soft spot for the Lindy Hop, Poppenk’s serious pursuits are decidedly cerebral.  As if taking cues from his neurological research, he uses radio in much the same way that the brain uses neurons: as a vector for information, a way to convey abstract ideas tangibly.

“Radio is personal, and ideal for engaging the imagination,” he said musingly.  “People tune in while they’re on their own doing laundry, commuting to work, times when they have the mind space to really listen and think things through.  Where else in the media landscape can you spend twenty minutes really getting to the bottom of an issue?”

As environmental issues gain steam, and heads become hotter, TGM is unique in the media, an industry innovator.  “Quite organically, we’ve attracted a theologian, scientists, a social justice advocate… all our correspondents are “expert” in their topic area,” Poppenk said.  “That’s surprisingly uncommon in mainstream journalism.”

And TGM runs with a minimalist, volunteer-based budget.  “People are there because they love radio and they’re passionate about the issues,” according to Poppenk.  “We have more fun.”

TGM is refreshing in its scientific, Quirks and Quarks-esque presentation, avoiding the sensationalism and polarized politics that sometimes creep into environmental programming.  “The findings tend to be pretty dramatic on their own,” said Poppenk.  “All we do on our program is give scientists a place to tell their stories and help listeners understand the impact of their findings.”

Even with a research background, though, dealing with the depressing reality of environmental news can be trying.  The usually steadfast scientist has had trouble dealing with the volume of bad news that can arrive at once.  “On those weeks it can be a struggle to put a positive face forwards, but I do my best,” he said

A career as a journalist has crossed his mind, but he said he feels happier volunteering on the radio while pursuing other studies.  “I think there’s a big opportunity for citizen-driven media to make strides in the coming years.”

Despite the incredible amount of effort it takes to produce TGM, Poppenk and company are fueled by a hope that their efforts go some distance to improve democracy in Canada.  He said, “it helps to have a program dedicated to education about green issues and current events – that’s our contribution”

His vision for the community-based stations from which he broadcasts is long term; “I hope to see growth towards community-media models, with listeners providing the substantial funding needed to keep an active news organization humming, and eventually, to fund full-time citizen reporters.”

“For the time being, I’ve found a way to contribute to the best of my ability,” said Poppenk, remaining humble about his own future.  “Regardless of how things turn out, that’s important to me.”

August 5, 2009 Posted by | People, Print | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Circus of Hope

Inspired by Guy Laliberté‘s Cirque du Monde, Cirque d’Ruelle is a self-directed circus school for and by homeless people in Montreal.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | People, Radio | , , , | Leave a comment

‘A different breed of people’

July 23, 2009
Ball hockey players: ‘a different breed of people’
In the warm sun on a Sunday afternoon, Leo Donovan hoisted his unnaturally small hockey bag over his shoulder as he walked into the inconspicuous Le Rinque Arena and Sports Bar on chemin de la Cote-de-Liesse. Donovan’s FW Legends, in light blue, faced off against the Leftovers, in yellow jerseys, in what promised to be a good ball hockey game between the top two teams in the NABHL – Not Another Ball Hockey League.
In the first 15 minute period, running time, the even back and forth playing ended with the Leftovers leading 3-1. The momentum changed, however, as the Legends scored six goals in the second period, four within the last two minutes. The Legends won 10-3.
The second and third periods were full of great passing plays by the Legends. Donovan’s line accounted for five goals, most from passes fed across the crease by Adrian Humphreys to the waiting Francois Courion. Donovan scored with a nifty backhand on a pass from Courion.
The differences between ball and ice hockey were immediately apparent. With no blue lines there are only two zones and no offside rule. The refs have interesting techniques to keep out of the way. One ref jumped up and grabbed the top of the glass to hoist himself up and stand on the ledge.
“Ball hockey players are a difference breed of people,” said Jordan Topor, Legends player and co-owner of the almost two-year-old NABHL. “Ice hockey refs don’t enjoy reffing ball hockey. They get less respect.
“The players’s knowledge of the game is less than ice hockey players, and they think they can convince the ref to change the call,” sair Topor.
“It’s harder to deke,” said Chris Cormier, manager of the FW Legends. “You can cut easier on the ice.”
All of the players wear gloves and most wear either soccer or hockey shin pads strapped to their legs in various ways. A few wear mouthguards and only one wore a helmet.
“I don’t want to wear a helmet, but it’s a bit sketchy,” said Donovan, the youngest player on the team at 19, and one of the only players still playing junior-level organized hockey.
“I’ve seen people get their teeth knocked out.”
Even with little equipment, players show no mercy. They run hard into the boards and it can be “a bit chippy sometimes,” said Cormier. Big Legends defenseman Jason Clement fended off three yellow players against the boards after a rush, which ended in a mini shoving match after the whistle in the second period. The game was pretty clean, however, with only four 90 second penalties, mostly in the third.
Topor and Josh Naygeboren’s NABHL is quite the success. Their website, http://www.nabhl.com shows player and team statistics, top scorers, and suspensions, which the players enjoy. The two owners/players are looking to expand to another venue, said Topor after the game.
“We saw a huge need,” said Topor. “Before us, the only time people could play in a rink was in the summer.” Topor and Naygeboren put together the NABHL comprising of three seasons in a facility built specifically for ball and roller hockey with real boards, glass, and a specially made floor and smaller sized rink.
“It’s more about finesse because there isn’t much room,” said Cormier. “You have to rely on the team more and know where everyone is because you have less room to move around.”
Both Cormier and Donovan still prefer ice hockey but devoted ball hockey players take their game seriously. It is not just another kind of hockey but a sport unto itself.

July 23, 2009

Ball hockey players: ‘a different breed of people’

by Johanna Donovan

In the warm sun on a Sunday afternoon, Leo Donovan hoisted his unnaturally small hockey bag over his shoulder as he walked into the inconspicuous Le Rinque Arena and Sports Bar on chemin de la Cote-de-Liesse. Donovan’s FW Legends, in light blue, faced off against the Leftovers, in yellow jerseys, in what promised to be a good ball hockey game between the top two teams in the NABHL – Not Another Ball Hockey League.

In the first 15 minute period, running time, the even back-and-forth playing ended with the Leftovers leading 3-1. The momentum changed, however, as the Legends scored six goals in the second period, four within the last two minutes. The Legends won 10-3.

The second and third periods were full of great passing plays by the Legends. Donovan’s line accounted for five goals, most from passes fed across the crease by Adrian Humphreys to the waiting Francois Courion. Donovan scored with a nifty backhand on a pass from Courion.

The differences between ball and ice hockey were immediately apparent. With no blue lines there are only two zones and no offside rule. The refs have interesting techniques to keep out of the way. One ref jumped up and grabbed the top of the glass to hoist himself up and stand on the ledge.

“Ball hockey players are a different breed of people,” said Jordan Topor, Legends player and co-owner of the almost two-year-old NABHL. “Ice hockey refs don’t enjoy reffing ball hockey. They get less respect.

“The players’s knowledge of the game is less than ice hockey players, and they think they can convince the ref to change the call,” sair Topor.

“It’s harder to deke,” said Chris Cormier, manager of the FW Legends. “You can cut easier on the ice.”

All of the players wear gloves and most wear either soccer or hockey shin pads strapped to their legs in various ways. A few wear mouthguards and only one wore a helmet.

“I don’t want to wear a helmet, but it’s a bit sketchy,” said Donovan, the youngest player on the team at 19, and one of the only players still playing junior-level organized hockey.

“I’ve seen people get their teeth knocked out.”

Even with little equipment, players show no mercy. They run hard into the boards and it can be “a bit chippy sometimes,” said Cormier. Big Legends defenseman Jason Clement fended off three yellow players against the boards after a rush, which ended in a mini shoving match after the whistle in the second period. The game was pretty clean, however, with only four 90 second penalties, mostly in the third.

Topor and Josh Naygeboren’s NABHL is quite the success. Their website, http://www.nabhl.com shows player and team statistics, top scorers, and suspensions, which the players enjoy. The two owners/players are looking to expand to another venue, said Topor after the game.

“We saw a huge need,” said Topor. “Before us, the only time people could play in a rink was in the summer.” Topor and Naygeboren put together the NABHL comprising of three seasons in a facility built specifically for ball and roller hockey with real boards, glass, and a specially made floor and smaller sized rink.

“It’s more about finesse because there isn’t much room,” said Cormier. “You have to rely on the team more and know where everyone is because you have less room to move around.”

Both Cormier and Donovan still prefer ice hockey but devoted ball hockey players take their game seriously. It is not just another kind of hockey but a sport unto itself.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | People, Print | , , , , , | 1 Comment