Generation Why: CBC News’ digital digest of must-read news for young Canadians

This week's cover

If you’re a Canadian under the age of 30, odds are you’re not reading a physical newspaper every morning or sitting down each night to watch the six o’clock news — but that doesn’t mean you’re not paying attention to the world around you.

Perhaps the ways you encounter information are a little less predictable, a little more serendipitous, than the ways your parents did when they were your age.

But a lot has changed since then.

Young people today have an unprecedented amount of access to information from around the world. It comes at us constantly from a multitude of sources. In this fast-paced and ever-changing digital landscape, it’s easy to miss stories that are interesting, informative or useful.

Let’s find the best stories, together

Your peers at CBC News (self included!) are news junkies by profession, which means that we’re in a good position to keep watch for what’s new and notable. Like staff at a bookstore, we know our collection well and can help you find the best of it.

But we also know that you bring fresh perspectives to our news coverage, and may have different ideas about what should be at the top of our agenda. We really want to know which stories interest, enrage, excite or engage you.

That’s why we’ve launched Generation Why, a weekly interactive magazine curated by young Canadians for young Canadians.

Each week, readers under the age of 30 and young staffers collaborate to highlight the best content that CBC news and current affairs programming has to offer. 

Here are some example spreads:

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Our goal is not to talk at you, but with you.

The CBC audience is filled with sharp minds and great taste. It would be a shame not to collaborate and learn about which issues and ideas matter most to you.

How to become a contributor

To contribute follow these three steps.

Step 1: Choose one news or current affairs item from the preceding week that you think would appeal to, affect, or engage students and young adults in Canada.

Your item can be a story, a standout radio or TV interview, a documentary, a photo gallery, an interactive map, etc. As long as it’s CBC content we can link to online, it’s an option! (If it’s not online but should be, you can flag it for us, too. We’ll see what we can do.)

Step 2: Write a couple paragraphs (150 words max) about why this news item caught your attention and why you think other young Canadians might be interested, too.

Please feel free to write in your own voice and be conversational – the way you are when recommending links to your friends on Facebook, for example.

Step 3: Send us your write up and a link to your item, as well as your name, location and a photo of you. You can email your entry to community@cbc.ca with the subject line “Generation Why” or upload your submission to our member pages.

Would you like to design a cover? 

We are also interested in hearing from talented young artists and photographers who would like to have their work featured on the cover of the magazine. Please email community@cbc.ca for more information.

The deadline for written submissions is Friday at 12:00 p.m. ET every week. 

The magazine goes live Friday night, and is featured on the CBCNews.ca landing page every Saturday.

The format isn’t set in stone, either. We’ll be taking your feedback and suggestions on how to make it a reliable digest of the best CBCNews.ca has to offer from a youth perspective. This Monday, in fact, we’re having our very first open editorial meeting!

We thank you in advance for helping us build this resource.

– Fabiola Carletti and Lauren O’Neil
Members of the CBC Community team and ever-curious twenty-somethings

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UBC J-school students win prestigious US award

Lewis Kelly, 1st year UBC j-school student, shoots footage for a story about UBC farm

It’s that other j-school in the west—at least, that’s how I used to refer to the UBC School of Journalism.

Call me a self-centered Torontonian, but when considering graduates programs in journalism last year, I had my sights set on reputable Ryerson.

Nevertheless, I applied to the Vancouver program as a kind of flight of fancy, mostly wanting to contemplate the thought of skipping back three time zones and settling into that rainy city on the Pacific coast. (Okay, and maybe I thought it’d be pretty cool to report during the Olympics. Slight influence.)

Long story short: I ended up nixing my acceptance (and paid deposit) to Ryerson and making the last-minute switch.

After a wonderful first year at the school, I should really give the program some much-deserved kudos—especially given their students’ most recent accomplishment.

Ten students from the school’s International Reporting class, which is taught by former 60 Minutes producer and UBC Associate Professor Peter Klein, have won the Society for Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award, a top U.S. award in journalism.

The international reporting team put together an impressive news documentary called “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground” on the global crumb trail of electronic waste. It aired on the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE/World last year.

The documentary is also nominated for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in the International Category.

Our director and Associate Professor Mary Lynn Young has called the recognition “a tremendous honour for a new, innovative Canadian journalism program.”

And Peter Klein is proud of his students as well:

“People work their entire careers to get either of these awards,” he said, “so it’s pretty special that our students achieved this recognition for the great work they’ve done.”

But before this all seems way too self-congratulating, I really have to encourage you all to see for yourselves:

Not only did the international reporting team make me rethink all the e-waste I’ve created in my time, they’ve also challenged me to see the word “student” as a mere modifier–and not a blight–on the word “journalist.”

The Secret Lives of UBC Students

Photo by Flickr user stevendepolo //CC license: BY

A blog about inconspicuously fascinating young people on campus

While reporting at the University of British Columbia, I’ve met many ridiculously accomplished and interesting people—and, no, they aren’t all professors.

Many of my unassuming peers harbour stories that would jump-start your pulse. Take Jake Wall for instance: he has trekked through the Kenyan desert, dodging snakes and herding stubborn camels, all to get an elephant’s eye view. Or consider Sarah Klain, who spent two years on the island nation of Palau, tracking sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles, and dugongs.

Over the next few weeks you can read these stories at thethunderbird.ca but I’ll post excerpts and links to the stories as they go up.

By the way, do you know a fascinating undergrad at UBC? If so, I could sure use the referral! Let me know in the comments below.

Schooling Ignatieff on talking to University Students

Image from Michael Ignatieff's Flickr photostream

Before I say anything about Michael Ignatieff, I should mention that I’m not a Liberal. Neither do I shroud myself in Conservative blue, NDP orange, or Green–uh–green.

(This doesn’t mean that I don’t have political opinions, but more on that later.)

Still, when Mr. Ignatieff comes to UBC campus on January 15, I’m willing to head to the Norm Theatre to hear the man out.

Young people don’t exactly vote in droves, and some say it’s a risk to focus on us, since “a tour such as this one might not be as prominent or as interesting to the media” (see Rebooting Michael Ignatieff). And, I admit: I find it interesting that Iggy is about to tour the country to talk to students, specifically, and that he’s targeting campuses at this crucial time.)

Those born after 1979 are probably used to being called cynical, apathetic, disaffected or simply too self-absorbed to follow federal politics and periodically make our way to a ballot box. But I think we deserve a bit more credit than that. If we had a Facebook relationship status with Canadian politics, I’m sure it’d be set to “it’s complicated.”

Anecdotally, I feel that the vast majority of my peers do care about several, though often specific, issues…but I do wonder why relatively few of us take active interest in the feds and their antics,… err, actions.

In an attempt to make sense of this disconnect, I’ve read through a report by the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN).

Are today’s youth indifferent or just different?

Some friends get playful with protest signs. I believe I took this picture in 2007.

The report addresses the question: are today’s youth indifferent or just different? They make a strong case for the latter.

According to CPRN, we are largely indifferent to formal (or big “P”) political institutions and practices because they do not speak to our interests as young people.

Instead, we get involved with various small “p” political initiatives that seem to better reflect our concerns for different local, national and global issues. Compared to previous generation, we’re less likely to be card-carrying partisans and more likely to get civically and politically involved through NGOs or specific causes. Many of our actions are individually based, as opposed to institutionally based.

Unfortunately, our avenues of involvement are barely recognized by traditional research methods and academic discourses, which mostly use traditional definitions of political participation, like voting in Federal elections. The result: we are broadly labelled apathetic, and even we ourselves don’t always identify our choices–like buying fair trade coffee or partying at a gay bar–as political decisions. The CPRN report features this bold statement in their conclusion:

“Youth are not disconnected from politics; it is political institutions, practice and culture that are disconnected from youth.”

But wait, before we congratulate ourselves for doing our own thang, we can’t forget that the big P-people make immense decisions that affect our lives, our nation and our planet. Maybe we don’t engage them because  we’re more accustomed to what Journalist Michael Valpy called a Catch 22 situation:

“… the political parties don’t pay much attention to young people and their concerns because so few of them vote, and possibly one of the reasons why so few young people vote is because the political parties don’t pay much attention to them.”

So, during this tour, will Ignatieff set out to pay attention to us or just to try to get attention from us? We’ll probably know within the first ten minutes of his speech. By the time he gets here, UBC students should expect to see him at his best. (He’ll have plenty of stops along the way to make mistakes.)

Either way, this tour will be an important one for Iggy: monumental for his party if he gets it right, disastrous if he doesn’t. I’m not making any predictions yet, but I do think he needs to start by getting genuinely interested in this generation and seeing us as more than potential Liberals.

So far, I’ve seen him quoted in a Toronto Star article as saying it’s important to “preach to the unconverted” and adding that “University students are the future of Canadian politics and we have to get to them.”

We’re not just the future, Iggy. We’re the present. And if you want us kids to take you seriously, you’d better leave words like “preach” and “get to them” in the past.

—————————————————————————————————–

Related: Prorogation Provokes Online Uprising
Full story in The Tyee

I think the following except further illustrates the point I tried to make above. The person quoted is Christopher White, a 25-year-old grad student and creator of the Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.

“I am not a card-carrying member of any political party… I have never volunteered for a candidate or party,” White said in an e-mail. “The last rally I went to was five years ago during my undergraduate degree to protest tuition increases.”

He was, however, profoundly frustrated when he learned that Harper had prorogued Parliament for the second time in two years.

“To me, prorogation was indicative of a much larger issue in Canada — of how disconnected many of us are from politics, and how our elected leaders use that to their advantage,” he explained.

Students chase sustainability: Commerce committee pushes for a greener curriculum at UBC

Trevor Wheatley, external director, steps up to the podium to moderate the industry panel

Trevor Wheatley, external director, steps up the podium to moderate the industry panel

BY FABIOLA CARLETTI
CONTRIBUTOR

This article was originally published in The Ubyssey


When Jennifer Matchett says things need to change, she means business.

Matchett is the co-director of the Commerce Undergraduate Society’s committee on sustainability. She is one of several students at the Sauder School of Business who want their curriculum to include more dialogue about environmental sustainability.

“We feel that the major players in any environmental movement are corporations,” said Matchett. “If they don’t change, nothing’s really going to change.”

Business students gathered on November 6 at the Liu Institute for Global Issues for the second annual Chasing Sustainability Conference. Along with guest speakers, they discussed strategies for going beyond “green-washing” and striving toward ecologically responsible businesses practices.

Brian Grant, an attendee and fourth-year accounting student, said he started thinking about ethical business practices after watching a hard-hitting documentary called The Corporation, which compares corporations to psychopaths.

“Nowadays, people are reacting to the fact that businesses have a bad rap,” said Grant.

Despite the crisp collars, neat ties and professional footwear, the event did not look like a usual conference.

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“The Story of Stuff”–let’s have a conversation.

Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realize
we cannot eat money.
~Cree proverb

It’s funny how the littlest incidents can give you hope in the face of overwhelming worries.

This morning I listened to “The Last Call” on CBC Radio one, a special program hosted by renowned environmentalist David Suzuki. One of the people he interviewed was Annie Leonard, the woman featured in the short video above. I was struck by how concise yet articulate she was.

When the radio show ended, I decided to google Leonard’s short movie. About 7 minutes in,  my 13-year-old sister, Bebe, entered the room and peered over my shoulder. To my surprise, she asked me to start the movie again from the beginning. From the corner of my eye I noticed the look of concern on her face. For a girl who loves to shop, she laughed quite heartily at skinny heel vs. fat heel segment of the video. It seemed she took a moment to question her own love of malls and sparkly new things. When it was over, Bebe said that the video–which is being used in classrooms across the United States–should also be shown here in Canada.

You know, her warm reception of the short film gave me hope. In the past, I thought I was boring Bebe with all my talk of environmental activism. At the age of 23, I thought I may already be sounding like a lecturing grown-up to her. When I reminded her of simple things, like taking shorter showers or turning off her lights, she would occasionally grumble or make a long face. Now that I think about it, though, this may be because little sisters don’t always like being nagged by big sisters in general. The message of responsible citizenry, however, may actually be getting through to her.

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