MONTREAL, NOVEMBER 3, 2009- The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) marked Media Literacy Week with a high profile panel discussion at Rosemount High School on November 3.
Media Awareness Network (MNet) and the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) joined together to host Canada's fourth annual Media Literacy Week, November 2-6. This year's theme – Media Literacy in the Digital Age – emphasized the multiple literacy skills needed by today's youth for accessing, evaluating, repurposing, creating and distributing media content.
Steve Kowch, a graduate of Rosemount High and the news and program director at CJAD Radio, moderated the discussion. Among those sitting on the panel were Chantal Desjardins of Virgin Radio 96 FM, CTV Montreal News executive producer Barry Wilson, Mitch Melnick from THE TEAM 990 and Mathieu Potvin, a collaborator in the Université du Québec à Montréal(UQAM) YouTube sensation lipdub of the Black Eyed Peas “I gotta a feeling” video.
Mr. Kowch has been a part of the Canadian news media since he graduated from Rosemount High School at the age of 17 in 1968. First working the police beat for The Montreal Star, where he was the lead reporter for the 1970 FLQ October Crises, he was hired by The Montreal Gazette in 1971 and lured away from print journalism in 1980 to work in radio. He just returned to Montreal after spending the past 10 years at CFRB Radio in Toronto.
Ms. Desjardins is co-host of the The Rush, Virgin Radio 96’s popular drive home show. Mr. Melnick hosts Melnick in the Afternoon, THE TEAM 990’s drive show. More recently, he launched his own website –www.mitchmelnick.com – and a new weekly web show called Melnick Underground. Mr. Wilson is the executive producer of the noon, supper hour and late news on CTV Montreal and a former television and radio reporter. Mr. Potvin was one of 172 students who worked on the sensational UQAM video which, as of this writing had more than 2.2 million views. It was done for student orientation week in September and has obtained worldwide media exposure, including CNN.
Besides students from host Rosemount, students and teachers from East Hill, Edward Murphy, Nesbitt and John F. Kennedy were on hand as well. EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini, Commissioner Bernard Praw, Regional Director Roma Medwid and David Birnbaum and Kim Hamilton from the Quebec English School Boards Association were also in attendance.
Rosemount High Principal Demetra Droutsas surprised Mr. Kowch with a copy of his 1968 Yearbook in which he wrote about his ambition to have a career in broadcasting. “To become a journalist,” Mr. Kowch told the students, “is part of your DNA. You are born with this ability. If you want a career in the media, a door can be opened but you have to work for that chance.”
After the video was shown to the auditorium audience, Mr. Potvin, 24, described the process that was followed to create the UQAM YouTube video. “I was in charge of costumes and props,” he remarked. “We chose orientation week because a lot of people were coming in costume already. About six of us worked on developing the concept and the reaction was a big surprise for us. We will soon release a follow up, which shows the making of the video.”
Ms. Desjardins explained how prevalent the use of social media is on her show. “We use Facebook and Twitter a lot,” she said. “It is instant communications. And with our website people can see what we look like. We even video ourselves. That helps brings listeners into our world.”
Mr. Melnick told students to follow their dreams. “Some of you already think you already know where you are going,” he said. “It is very important you stay focused and hang on to that passion.”
Mr. Wilson acknowledged that so much has changed in the television industry. While he encouraged students to watch the CTV newscast he noted that it is now so much easier because it can be viewed on the internet. “We used to only have appointment viewing,” he said. “If you wanted to watch the news you had to tune in at noon, 6 p.m. or 11:30 p.m.,” he said.