Data privacy: Why should we care?

News that the U.S government has been quietly collecting data from telephone and internet services has upset many of our neighbours to the south.

But the story’s been raising privacy concerns up here, too.

Many Canadians want to know about this country’s surveillance techniques and what kind of information Ottawa might be collecting as we make calls, answer emails, or sign into websites.

This week on CBC Live Online, we explored privacy and data surveillance — and I made my on-camera debut to fill in for regular host Lauren O’Neil.

Our panel included:

  • Daphne Guerrero, the manager of public outreach and education for the Officer of the Privacy Commissioner.
  • Tamir Israel, staff lawyer with the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa.
  • Alfred Hermida, an online news pioneer and associate professor at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE CHAT

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Vintage interviews with youthful Gen X sound awfully familiar

Faces of Gen X

The faces of Gen X (CBC Archives)

While perusing the CBC archives recently, I came across some nifty items about my generation’s older siblings: the supposedly cynical members of Gen X.

Here’s how the archive keepers describe them:

Young people born from the early 1960s to late 1970s believed that the future was theirs. As baby boomers aged, employment and prosperity would be passed along.

Instead, “Generation Xers” complained that they were propelled into a changing, recession-driven workplace that offered little but “McJobs.”

They became the first post-war generation to be worse off than their parents, left with reduced expectations and downsized hope for the future.

Like today’s young adults, Gen Xers were variously described as overeducated, underemployed, and struggling to compete with the generation that came of age during the glory days of flower power.

Archival footage of anxious Gen Xers is oddly relatable, as young people growing up today face many of the same challenges and uncertainties.

Check out some of the great archival material we have on this like-us-but-not-quite generation.

Funky hairstyles aside, we seem to have a lot in common with those that grew up watching Beverly Hills 90210, making mix tapes and driving their parents insane with a well-timed ‘whatever.’

NOTE: A version of this write up was published in Generation Why, a weekly multimedia magazine that I co-edit with Lauren O’Neil.

Gen Why: issue 1

Gen Why: issue 1

The project is a collaboration between Canadians under the age of 30 and young CBC staffers.

The point is to surface the best of CBC News and current affairs programming in a conversational way, and from a youth perspective.

Please check out the first two issues, released on March 1 and March 8, and send feedback and ideas our way.

We publish every Friday, and if you’re a young Canadian interested in contributing or illustrating the next cover, let us know!

The magic of Mars on social media

Hello friends, sorry I’ve been rather silent lately. The summer is a busy time for young writers at CBCNews.ca. It seems all the folks with families make sure they get their summer vacations, and we newbies get to chill our coffee and warm their seats.

To tell you the truth, I was a bit bleary-eyed at work today. You see, I stayed up late last night doing this.

Luckily, my fascination with all things martian ended up helping me at work, where I rounded up some stellar social media content about the highly anticipated Mars landing — which I’d like to share here, as well.

These two aren’t my most popular Storify curations of all time (this one about the Higgs boson particle, in Comic Sans font, probably is) but I’m so enamored with my latest geeky topic that I want to post about it as many times as I can get away with in one day.

Hope you enjoy, fellow space cadets! Click on either preview to read the full story:

Tiny school, big ideas

Welcome to High Park Day School, where grades are nixed, ages are mixed, and classroom sizes are capped at a dozen.

By Fabiola Carletti
Previously published by The Grid TO

Quinn arrived at High Park Day School (HPDS) with a strategy. The energetic eight-year-old, who had received many time-outs for failing to focus, had learned that sitting under a table and cradling a book would keep him out of trouble.

“He wasn’t really looking at the words,” said Aaron Downey, teacher and curriculum coordinator at HPDS, adding that the boy initially refused to read out loud—especially in front of his peers.

But last Thursday Quinn kneeled on his chair and, for the first time, sounded words out in front of a classroom full of older students.

“Your clo-th-ing i-dea,” he began, as Downey walked him through each syllable during a lesson on innovation in fashion design.

The class applauded its youngest member who, only months earlier, had insisted he couldn’t read.

The staff at Toronto’s High Park Day School, a small alternative school that does not divide its 8- to 13-year-old students by age, rejects the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” students, tailors homework to each child, and sends parents progress reports—partly written by the kids—instead of grades.

“[Students] understand that it’s not about being perfect—it’s about progress,” said Downey, who has taught in conventional school systems in Canada, Italy and Switzerland.

“It’s my job to figure out how a child learns best,” he added, admitting that the task has been easier with only eight students, who are so far all boys.

In designing their curriculum, Downey wove math and literacy skills throughout themed units. He teaches his students to ask open-ended questions, see the connections between lessons, and explore the topics that really switch them on.

“Traditional curriculum is so disjointed,” said Downey, adding that he felt a lot of pressure to compartmentalize and tick off boxes when teaching at other schools. “In a nutshell, we teach them how to learn, not what to learn.”

… continue reading

Has airplane noise increased in central Toronto?

By Fabiola Carletti
Previously published by Open File Toronto and t.o.night

By Paul’s Best Shots on Flickr (CC)

Many residents of neighbouring communities say they’re used to the rumble of airplane engines, and few look skyward when planes travel overhead. Realtors even list proximity to Pearson as a perk.

But the same aircraft noise has been turning heads in more central parts of Toronto.

Alice Kent, who lives near Bloor Street West and Christie Street, was in her backyard in late March when she noticed the roar from above. At first she dismissed it as an anomaly, but thought twice when she spotted a noise complaint poster in her area.

“Are you bothered by the recent increase in jet plane noise?” probed the flyer near Dupont Street and Ossington Avenue.

“Since Feb 9 planes going to Pearson airport now fly at a low altitude over the central city. If enough citizens complain, this policy can be changed.”

She took a picture of the call to action and posted it on Facebook.

“A few people reacted to my posting saying ‘Oh God, yeah, I feel like these things are flying into my house’,” says Kent. “Now the question is, are they actually flying lower, and if so, why? And if we all complain will it actually change anything?”

…continue reading

What would you like to ask CBC News?

I wrote this post for CBCNews.ca, and will be coordinating this project. You can view the original post here.


Have you ever wondered how journalists prepare for difficult interviews?
Or how reporters train for the dangers of conflict reporting?
Perhaps you’re curious about how a key investigation came together.

We want to make it easier for you to ask questions and get answers from the CBC News team across Canada and around the world.

As part of our ongoing effort to increase transparency and engage with our readers, we are launching a new online feature: Ask CBC News.

Here’s how it works.

You submit your question.

1) Think of a question. It can be about an editorial choice we’ve made, the story behind a story, or the important issues of the day. The best questions are open-ended and have a good shelf life.

Examples:

  • Do you think Vladimir Putin will win Russia’s presidential election tomorrow?
    (Weak — This yes/no question may be outdated by the time it gets to the reporter.)
  • How mainstream is the movement to oust Vladimir Putin? What are you hearing from average Russians and local media?
    (Strong — Open-ended question that draws on the reporter’s unique insight.)

2) Clearly indicate if your question is for a specific journalist. If it’s a general question, we’ll track down the best person to field it for you.

3) There are several ways in which you can submit a question:

  • Email your question to yournews@cbc.ca with the subject line “Ask CBC News”
  • Record yourself asking the question in a short video (upload here, or send us a link)
  • Write your question in the comment thread below
  • Tweet your question using the hashtag #AskCBCNews

The more thought and effort you put into your question, the more likely it will be answered.

Video questions stand the best chance of standing out and grabbing our attention. Your video will be included with the answer.

Don’t forget to introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from!

Our commitment to you

1) We will present your questions to CBC News reporters across Canada and overseas, who will record their answers in a video.

2) We will post the reporters’ responses on CBCNews.ca and share them on social media.

3) We will email you to let you know your question has been answered.

Please note that our goal is to have a video response to a couple of questions each week, but we may begin with bi-monthly posts in the early stages of the project.

Although we cannot guarantee every question will be answered, we will try our best to field as many as we can.

Ask CBC News is part of our broad mission to be even more accountable to Canadians. We view it as a great opportunity for reporters to connect directly to readers.

Here is an example of what a video reply might look like.

Thank you for reading us here at CBCNews.ca and tuning in on TV and radio. We hope to hear from you soon!

From the breaking news desk: Aug 22 & 29

Photo by Alice Swanson

This is it. This is the final list of stories that I worked on in the Toronto Star radio room.

I trained some new interns on the 30th and 31st — forcing them to do real stories instead of practice stories — and it went really well. I’m especially proud of Manny and Noel who dealt with the Orangeville missing woman’s case, working well under pressure and calling neighbours and out-of-town police on the very first day. They ended up sharing a byline with Peter Edwards (Read the story here:  Missing woman may be linked to bloody crime scene) and were featured as top story on the website just hours into their first shift.

Training new interns reminds me of what it felt like to sit in the hot seat for the first time, wondering if some administrative error had led to my position. I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m so grateful to the Star for the opportunity. I’m going to do a “final thought” in a separate blog post, but for now I’ll note the biggest change in me.

I’m no longer compelled to qualify the word “reporter” by adding “student” or  “aspiring” before it.

This was the real deal.

Heat alert issued for Toronto
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has issued a heat alert as temperatures are expected to reach about 31°C on Sunday.

Officer injured while responding to false call
A police officer was injured while responding to a false 911 call in Wasaga Beach Saturday at around 2:15 a.m.

Firefighter in hospital after Burlington fire
Firefighters battled against a blaze that forced them out of a Burlington home early Sunday morning.

Mississauga cyclist clings to life after crash
A Mississauga man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries following a Sunday morning collision in Burlington.

Two women sexually assaulted hours apart
Police are investigating after two women were sexually assaulted in separate incidents on the weekend

Man shot dead by police
Fatal shooting in east end follows reports about a man with a knife (with files from me)

Dispute ends with man being shot
A young man was taken to hospital after suffering a gunshot wound to the buttocks early Sunday morning.