|EMSB MARKS MEDIA AWARENESS WEEK WITH PANEL DISCUSSION AT EAST HILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN RDP|
MONTREAL, NOVEMBER 8, 2007- Media Awareness Network (MNet) and the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) partnered for the second consecutive year to present National Media Education Week, November 5-9, 2007. The purpose of the week was to promote media literacy as a key component in the education of young people, and to encourage the integration of media education into Canadian schools, homes, and communities.
East Hill Elementary School in Rivière des Prairies played a leading role, by hosting a media panel session. The guest speakers were Cindy Sherwin of CTV Montreal, Mike Le Couteur of Global TV, Margoe Edwards of 940 Montreal Radio, Audrey Gagnon of the RDP weekly newspaper L'informateur and Suburban Newspaper editor Beryl Wajsman. EMSB Communications and Marketing Specialist Michael J. Cohen served as the moderator. A number of students and staff from three other East End schools – Leonardo Da Vinci in RDP, Honoré-Mercier in St. Léonard, and Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North - were also on hand. For the past year East Hill has been publishing its own school newspaper.
Gagnon described the role she plays with her newspaper, noting that while she primarily covers events in RDP her stories often appear in other East End editions. Wajsman, who also hosts a weekly radio show on 940 Montreal and published his own magazine called Baricades, told students "In real life you are going to wonder how do I make a difference? The media is one of the last places where you can touch people. Even as you become involved in the school newspaper, you become leaders for the other students."
Edwards explained how she first got involved with radio when she was 15 years old. "I wanted to have fun so I went down to a radio station and agreed to work for free," she said. "One day I got hired. This is an exciting job. I still can't believe someone pays me to do this."
Sherwin noted that she decided to study English in university. Like Edwards she to got her start in radio as volunteer for Mix 96. She eventually got hired full-time and ultimately moved on to television. "What I discovered," she said, "is that I was passionate about storytelling. I wanted to let people know what I was seeing. Working at CTV has been a great education."
Le Couteur said he knew he wanted to be in the media when he was only three years old. His parents frequently remind him how he would sit on the kitchen floor and stare at the sports section, asking questions. By the end of the day he was broadcasting the scores to the entire family. He told the students what an exciting job he has as a television reporter, but one not without pressure. "Imagine if you came into school at 9 a.m. and you were told to do a full book report by 3 p.m.," he said. "That is what my job is like."
There was an animated question and answer period that lasted 45 minutes in which students showed their ethuasiastic curiousity about the media. Have you ever been in the line of fire on assignment? What is the hardest part of your job? How do you keep a new story to 50 seconds or less? What was your most memorable interview? What do you think about how advertisements are structured in the media?
Le Couteur, speaking quite bluntly, told the students how stories which centre around violence regrettably do get a lot of attention. "If it bleeds it leads," he said. "In this world we are more fixated on sensationalism."
Both Le Couteur and Sherwin spoke about how they covered the Dawson College shooting last year. Le Couteur referred to another event, an Anti-Brutality March, in which he was caught in the line of fire and suffered the effect of police pushing away protesters with pepper spray.
Wajsman said that he has done many memorable interviews. However, what stands out the most are the stories which involve those individual who would not normally attract media attention.
Each of the guests was presented with EMSB portfolios by Deputy Director General Mario Tirelli and Regional Director Marzia Michielli.
Media Awareness Network is a Canadian not-for-profit centre of expertise and excellence in media education. Its vision is to ensure children and youth possess the necessary critical thinking skills and tools to understand and actively engage with media. East Hill Principal Maria Di Perna, in her capacity as president of the Canadian Association of Principals, initiated this activity at her school in conjunction with the EMSB Communications and Marketing Division. It is hoped that another EMSB school will plan an event next year.
For more information visit www.mediaeducationweek.ca.
Michael J. Cohen