Monday, January 28, 2013

Dear Staff Writer

I get it, your job kind of sucks, what with constant budget cuts and more and more work being heaped on you by the day; but could we come to some sort of agreement about furthering the negative stereotype that surrounds the North End?

In the rush to be perceived as top media dog in this city I do understand the race to post a headline before anyone else, and good for you - yours was the first story on this stabbing to come up in my newsfeed. However, was it really necessary in your 41 word, 3 sentence "article" (this includes the word count from the headline), to scream North End in both the headline and the body of the "story"? I agree, the stabbing did technically happen in the North End, that's true, but while we waited for more details did you have to further perpetuate the myth that the North End is a scary place?

Those of us that live in the North End, when we hear of a story like that make the almost always logical conclusion that the victim and attacker probably knew each other, some sort of argument gone wrong. However, when someone from outside the neighbourhood hears that there was a stabbing here, it's a case of "remember to lock the doors when we drive down Main St."

Now, the Winnipeg Sun (Staff Writer, please note that the Sun, which usually gets labeled as a tabloid, did a better job on this one) seemingly had about the same amount of information when they wrote their article, yet this is what it looked like:
A man is recovering in hospital after being stabbed early Saturday.
He has been upgraded to stable but critical condition, police spokesperson Const. Jason Michalyshen said.
Police were called to the house, in the 300-block of Alfred Avenue, at 5:50 a.m.
Michalyshen said the investigation is in its early stages.
"I'm not aware of the circumstances or the motivation," Michalyshen said.
No suspects have been identified.
It's not clear whether the victim lived in the home.
Michalyshen said the man's condition is improving.
Notice that they managed to avoid saying "North End" anywhere in their story.

Did you notice how many comments your original story got? 54 - more than one comment for every word that you wrote. Although, I suppose 14 of those comments did have to deleted because of the classy commenters that flock to a negative story like this to spew their racism and incorrect views of the neighbourhood as a whole, especially when they are left to their own imaginations to fill in the details that are missing. When a story is incomplete like this, there should be no comments allowed until there is actually something to comment on. Or better yet, no comments at all - after all, eventually the people involved will be "in a case before the courts" - if the comments will be closed during stories about the trial, why allow them right after it happens?

Now, dear Staff Writer, I noticed you wrote a follow up article and managed to leave "North End" out of the headline, however, you just couldn't resist sneaking it in a little later, but fine, it did happen in the North End and you're finally giving a few more details, so it's a start. However, you did manage to leave out one little nugget that the Sun seemed to have time to add in, that the victim and suspect knew each other. I would argue that that is one of the most important details when reporting any crime: context.

Do Winnipeggers need to worry about being stabbed in the North End if they don't know people who are likely to stab them? Probably not. Do people need to worry about being murdered and stuffed in the trunk of a car when they visit St. Vital? No, of course not. Given a little bit of context and information we can make informed choices about things.

Although, I will happily wait for the headline of "100% of murders in Winnipeg in 2013 have been committed in Ft. Rouge/St. Vital" - imagine if that ran? While technically it is currently a true statement, it certainly doesn't speak to the values of the rest of the neighbourhood; neither does crime in the North End. So please dear Staff Writer, please think before you use your brush to paint a picture of everyone in my community, individuals create crime, not entire neighbourhoods.

Winnipeg Girl

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Holding a grudge

Someone I follow on twitter commented today that a neighbour who wouldn't help with a boost the other day found themselves needing one today and that it was karma. Stories of neighbours who are un-neighbourly always remind me of my days growing up in the burbs. In particular they remind me of Jeff Stoughton.

See, way back when, when babysitters didn't demand to be paid the same as other minimum wage jobs I, in addition to being the papergirl for my block, would also occasionally babysit. One of the parents I babysat for was Jeff Stoughton. He had the biggest TV I had ever seen.

Now, I only babysat for them a few times, but imagine my surprise when one cold winter day - when I managed to get my car started and backed out of the driveway (avoiding falling in a notorious Charleswood ditch) and onto the snowy street only to have it promptly die - that Mr. Stoughton refused to give me a boost because he "didn't want to ruin his battery". WTF? Is that even a thing? And who would leave a 16/17ish year old girl to fend for herself in the middle of the road (he had to ease around me to NOT help)? I acutely remember being confused and hurt that he valued a battery over me as a person.

I have secretly decided that although he has had many successes as a curler over the years, that the reason that an Olympic medal still escapes him is because of the resulting bad karma from this incident.

On a very random note, I either owe Jeff Stoughton an apology after this blog post because although I have been 100% sure of this story for many years, when wanting to confirm his lack of Olympic wins I went to Wikipedia to research. According to Wikipedia, he only has one daughter, born in 2004 - but that is, oh, about a decade past my babysitting days. So, if somehow I actually babysat for someone else, who also happened to be a curler and wouldn't help me boost my car, I'm really really sorry for always cheering for the other guys whenever Jeff Stoughton's team is playing.

Of course, I'm pretty sure it was him, so someone needs to get on updating that Wikipedia article. And maybe, just maybe, if he gives someone a boost this winter his luck will turn around and he will eventually get to the Olympics.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I'm so good at coming up with amazing blog post names that I almost used one of my awesome ones from last year again. Yes, that is how I am framing my brain's lack of creativity, sue me, it's Monday.

Just a really quick time sensitive post:

My Sister's Closet is an event  with a donation drive ending Friday (the picture at right says until Tuesday January 18th so I called to confirm and they said Friday the 18th) that could use your help (sorry for the short notice!) They are looking for clothing and accessories for women of all shapes and sizes who are about to transition from a school setting to the workplace. I'm not sure exactly the gender make-up of my readership, but guys, let me tell ya, wearing clothing that you feel good in makes a huge difference to a woman. Not to say that it doesn't to a man, since I'm not man I don't know your take on it as such, but you don't have to be a genius to know that the social pressures for women to look a certain way are pretty overwhelming. So for all my local readers, tell a woman you know about this event - this is the time of year when everyone starts off fresh anyway, the perfect time to evaluate the closet.

Drop at 455 McDermot Ave. If you won't be able to make it down there during office hours but are able to gather some things send me an email or a DM on twitter and maybe I can pick it up from you and drop it off on your behalf.

That's it. Just about the shortest post ever - who knew I could do it?!

Here is a link to the poster for last year, I couldn't seem to find it on their website this year and I have no idea how to turn a pdf into a picture format so apologies that the picture in this post is kind of hard to read. Same general info on last year's poster, but again, note that this year they need the donations by this Friday, January 18th, 2013.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cats! Cats! Cats!

CJOB seems to have broken a story this morning about a proposed Responsible Pet Ownership By-law that among other things, will require cat owners to license their cats, at a cost of $15/cat. This proposed by-law would also only allow pet stores to sell cats and dogs that have come from a shelter rather than breeders (or worse, places like puppy mills).

 Of course, the new "tax" (not a tax, but that's what the crazy people started calling it) on cats got all sorts of people calling in and complaining. Are you kidding me? Heck, it could almost be considered unfair that currently dog owners are forced to pay $64 for an unfixed dog and $29 for a pooch that has gone under the knife. A responsible pet owner should be happy to pay the fee, and yes, it should be higher for pets that aren't fixed (the proposed fee for cats that aren't fixed is $50). I find it interesting that they are going to want to charge a fee of $300 for people to be allowed to sell animals, that seems like it will be a little difficult to regulate. I foresee a lot of people who are trying to get rid of their one pet (vs. obvious breeders) selling cat supplies that come with a free cat on kijiji.

I think some important questions to be asked are how exactly this $15/cat is going to be spent; currently they are saying it will go towards subsidizing spay and neuter programs, however there should be clarification as to how much, if any will be going towards programs that trap and spay/neuter feral cats and then release them. The sound bites I heard this morning seemed to imply that simply forcing people to license their cats was going to get rid of the feral cat population, which is currently estimated at 80,000-150,000!! Clearly, that is not remotely realistic.

Having a pet is not a right, but a luxury. As pet owners we always need to be aware that a hefty medical bill can pop up, if people claim that they can't afford the $15 (I presume per year) for cat ownership then what does that say about their ability to care for their pet if it becomes sick? Now, I'm a mere mortal, I of course don't have some sort of secret stockpile of funds to pay vet bills but in the back of my mind I know that I might have to. The beautiful Emma pictured above decided to test her will to live to the tune of $600 in 2011 (I am very thankful she only felt the need to spend that much before she got the spring back in her step!)

That said, I am a believer that pets are an important part of a persons overall mental well-being and I don't begrudge lower-income people or even transient people for wanting to be pet owners, so long as they are responsible pet owners as well. Even if people just want to think of the $15 as added insurance that their pet will be returned to them if it goes missing it's well worth it.

If you're on facebook, a couple of groups well worth liking are the Winnipeg Lost Cat Alert and the Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert. Currently the dogs have 6,149 likes and the cats only have 1,582 - lets boost those cat numbers! For all the crap you have filling up your facebook feed wouldn't it be great if along with all the funny/fake-motivational/spiritual/borderline-porn pictures you could help reunite a pet with its owner?

And lastly, I know I've posted it before, but it's such a good one: