Becoming an Educator: Teaching the next generation of journalists and media Professionals (Published on CABJ.ca)


Image result for Cartoon character of a black female teacher

It took me five years to teach in Toronto. My first teaching experience was at Carleton University in Ottawa as a Television Teaching Assistant. I later went on to teach in Kampala, Uganda at Makerere University (the oldest African university) and while I was a graduate student at Concordia University.

I had grown up in Toronto, however, once I reached the age of 18, due to work and school, I spent time outside of the city. I returned to Toronto for my longest stay in any one city since the age of 18 in 2001. I returned to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as worked with Canoe.ca, Young People’s Press, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, freelance talent work, Media Research Institute, Share Newspaper, Pride Newsmagazine and New Dreamhomes and Condominiums Magazine to name a few. I really wanted to make the transition to teaching, and 40-year veteran of journalism Robert Payne helped me to make that transition.

I went to him for career coaching and he let me know in 2005 that there was a job opening in teaching at Centennial College. I applied for the full-time job and although I did not get it, it opened the door for me to teach my first course in Toronto at Centennial in Magazine Journalism that started January 2006.

This experience springboarded into working at Seneca College, University of Guelph-Humber, Humber College, Trebas Institute, George Brown College and Ryerson University. If I did not have my master’s degree from Concordia University in Montréal, I would not be able to do this work.

The landscape for what a lot of post-secondary institutions are asking of journalism educators is changing. Mike Karapita at Humber College calls it “credentializing.” There is a movement for educators to become more educated, and this is a big reason why I am currently doing my Ph.D. in Education at OISE/University of Toronto. I started May 2010.

The next generation of journalism educators has many challenges ahead of them. It is still a competitive market that grows even more competitive because those that are untrained in the field continue to make strides. Journalism education needs more of an emphasis on how young journalists can be entrepreneurs and successfully run their own freelancing business. This is effective from a tax perspective, as well as a job security perspective. Job security is an elusive thing these days; however young journalists can stay on top of this by working for a variety of employers.

If you would like more information on this topic, you can email Donna Kakonge at dkakonge@gmail.ccom.

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Beyond Hair = Food


I went through a year of my life as a vegetarian. I ate an Indian dish called saag paneer just about every single day at least twice a day. The best thing about the meal did not only do it taste good, it has a lot of spinach, as well as cheese curds.

I also went through a period of my life where I ate a lot of fast food. Name the fast food company and yes, I have probably eaten there. The problem is that when I was encouraged by a dear family member to get a health checkup, my blood pressure was so high, everyone at the hospital said that I could have a heart attack at any given time. This was seven years ago.

I went to see a dietician at Loblaws. For this, I must give them credit. Melanie Byland there helped me to eat better…again. I had been doing this in the past, but I was re-reminded. More recently, Susan Miller from Astrologyzone.com did a personal astrology report for me in the year of 2017 for this year of 2018 up until my birthday and although I did not agree with everything said, the most important thing that she reminded me of was to watch what I eat. Many times when Susan Miller (whose online portal I have been following since 2001), would tell me that in a given year I would lose weight…yes, she was right. Some could say that this is the power of suggestion and perhaps you too would be absolutely right. However, Susan Miller’s reports tend to be positive for the most part, so I would strongly contend that the positive power of suggestion is a positive thing. Look at Oprah Winfrey as a prime example based on her more recent work on television. Another book that inspired me from a very young age that I truly believe that every single child should read is medical Dr. Ben Carlson’s Think Big and his other books.

And, I would not even still be writing if it were not for my Grade 2 teacher Mrs. Chen (I pray you are still alive).

OK…so, there is a wonderful man at Seneca College named Dr. James Cullingham and Michael Moore when you did that documentary Stupid White Men, you were not talking about Dr. James Cullingham, or Ted Fairhurst, or any of the people that Ted Fairhurst is shown within that picture. Dr. James Cullingham would keep asking me two questions when I was working at Seneca College… what do you eat?…and how do you make money from the Internet? Thank you, James, I have answers for you now. Check out my site to figure out the money question. This site right here, yes, this site right here. The answer I will focus on for this page is the what do you eat?

I eat Cream of Wheat

I eat chocolate granola cereal

I eat raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries

I eat granola bars with almonds, peanuts, and blueberries, and yogurt

I eat rotisserie chicken wings and sometimes crispy chicken wings I make myself

I eat my Dad’s homemade chicken legs because even my Mom says they’re the best

I eat my Dad’s homemade pork steaks once in a while

I eat all of my Mom’s food because it is simply the best as Tina Turner says

I eat my sibling’s food and my nieces’ food when I am so lucky to do so

I eat lamb, steak, and salmon that I make myself

I munch on snacks like chia seeds, pistachio nuts, cashews, walnuts, etc.

I have black or green olives. I like them when they have garlic stuffed in them.

I have mushroom soup I make myself

I eat black beans, red lentils, chickpeas, couscous I make myself (mainly not from cans)

I eat this frozen dinner that I really like called chicken korma (an Indian dish), sometimes General Tao’s chicken, and chicken with lemongrass that I heat up myself in the microwave

I plan to eliminate coffee if I can and I have the Caf-Lib (chicory coffee -substitute) that I got from Fiesta Farms to help me

I plan to start buying dark chocolate bars at Stubbe for just six dollars a bar, plus the family that owns that business is great from what I can tell so far, particularly the wife – she’s a hoot!

I do not drink. I have not had any alcohol since February of 2004. Please read this to understand how one can become extremely resourceful and remain alcohol-free.

And…February of this year marks my fifteenth year anniversary of sanity going to the rest of my life.

The neverending journey…

10 Most Popular Design Programs


Design is such a fascinating field of study and it can be hard to find the best school to study at. Here is a list of the 10 most popular design programs in Canada. There are actually a few more than 10 because it was so difficult to narrow the list down to just 10.

Continue reading “10 Most Popular Design Programs”

10 Most Popular Media & Recording Arts Programs


You Cannot Go Wrong Studying Journalism
You Cannot Go Wrong Studying Journalism

There are so many terrific media and recording arts programs in Canada and the United States that are popular – it is hard to know where to start. There is a list below though.

Continue reading “10 Most Popular Media & Recording Arts Programs”

Is TTC an Essential Service?


Is the TTC an Essential Service? – Photo Taken by Christina Cheng

Image result for TTC workers striking

By Christina Cheng

It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning. The hustle and bustle of the morning rush have begun. Newspaper stands are half empty. There is not a seat on the subway or even room to stand. Hundreds of people are packed in every subway car, shoulder to shoulder, back to back trying to get to work or school in time.

The TTC is the country’s largest public transit system providing service to over 1.3 million people a day in Toronto.

Is it safe to say that the TTC should be considered an essential service?

Ontario’s Liberal government announced last Tuesday a prohibition on strikes by Toronto Transit Commission workers, declaring the transit system an essential service.

The government and the city are looking to have this declaration officially passed before the first labour contracts expire at the end of March.

A TTC driver for the Malvern Division in Scarborough who only identified himself as Paul W., says he’s not happy about the decision.

“As a union, it’s your own way to get people to listen when everything else fails. It’s either you strike or for years to come your job is in smoke!” he said.

With their right to strike taken away, Paul worries about his and his co-workers’ safety on the job.

“Have you ever been spat on? Abused at your job for no apparent reason?” he asked. “One woman in the union is now half deaf because of a rider who was having a bad day and decided to punch her in the ear continuously. So are you saying we have no right to strike for our safety? For our benefits?”

The government argues that a city as large as Toronto cannot afford to grind to a halt when buses, subways, and streetcars aren’t running.

Vikas Gupta, a student at Centennial College HP campus in Scarborough, relies solely on the TTC.

The TTC is Needed Throughout Toronto – Photo Taken by Christina Cheng

Image result for TTC workers striking

“I totally depend on TTC for my convenience to school, to my job, and even for my weekend groceries,” Gupta said sitting on the 38 Highland Creek bus heading to school.

Paul doesn’t agree with making public transportation an essential service when he believes people have other means of getting around.

“If there’s no bus there’s taxis, bikes, and people can walk. So when you can walk and you are not stranded then it’s not essential,” he said. “Everything in North America is essential because we’re spoiled,” he expressed loudly, gesturing animatedly with his arms.

Due to a recent experience from the 2008 TTC strike, it has shown that TTC workers have had the right to strike for only two days before they were legislated back to work by Queen’s Park. The strike was expensive and disruptive to many. It can cost the local economy an estimated $50 million a day.

However, in the case of Ontario, the legislation says they are not about saving money and by declaring TTC an essential service, it is expected to cost the city more, but for all the right reasons.

Mike Foderick from Ward 17 is Coun. Cesar Palacio’s executive assistant. He mentions that a TTC strike is unnecessary and causes chaos in and around the city.

“I don’t want to generalize but the polls show that those who take the transit are workers and so people can’t go to work, can’t make it to their shifts, and they’ll have to take their vacation days. This causes Toronto a ton of chaos,” he said.

Paul argues that TTC union workers aren’t as important as police drivers or ambulance drivers but according to legislation, that is all about to change.

The legislation has mentioned that they would agree to put the TTC workers within the same category as EMS, firefighters, and police for the sake of labour contracts including a review after five years of the essential service designation.

According to Foderick, he explains that he can only speak on behalf of a Torontonian’s perspective and believes, “making the TTC an essential service is the most pro-worker thing you can do because when transit shuts down, it literally grinds the city to a halt.”

If the motion to make the TTC an essential service fails and the public falls into another strike, Gupta said there would be thousands of students like him who depend on the TTC, left with no alternatives.

Gupta explained that without the TTC, he couldn’t even imagine himself attending school. He sees the TTC as his “lifeline.”

In the beginning of February, the Toronto Transit Commission mentioned they were going forward with the move to cut services to 10 bus routes in Scarborough (41 cuts altogether). Direct money is to go towards overcrowded routes instead.

The transit commission says they are looking to use $4 million to increase services on busier bus lines. As a result, affected bus routes will have no more weekend, late night or holiday services effective as of May 8.

Although cuts are being made, there are negotiations in no longer cutting routes that cater to 10 and 15 bus riders an hour.

Due to labour contracts expiring at the end of March, it has been recommended that part-time students be cut from post-secondary student metro passes. The rationale appears to be strictly financial.

Part-time students may have the remaining year to benefit from the new fare structure before it is retracted.

Reports on whether the TTC will be considered an essential service and updates on changes to cuts in bus routes are expected in May.

Is drinking wine apart of your daily lifestyle? Find out how wine could be the new health diet drink!


Red Wine is Good for Your Health – Photo Courtesy of Google Images

By Christina Cheng

Wine expertise says drinking wine may help prevent weight gain and help live a healthier lifestyle. Time to sit back, relax and pour yourself a glass of pinot noir!

Wine is not considered just a pleasure drink anymore, it also offers health benefits and I’m a firm believer in that! Although I’m just shy of 22-years of age, I enjoy a glass or two of (either) red, white, and/or Zinfandel at least once (sometimes twice, maybe more) a week. I also exercise from home and from the gym 4 times a week and I can honestly say, I have never felt this healthy and fit until now. A glass of wine after a good workout is ideal because it acts as a relaxant- it is a non-chemical means of relaxing because of the alcohol affect- it tends to soothe my muscles and clarify my blood cells after an intense class of Pilates. When it’s wine time, it’s my time!

If you’re a wine lover who enjoys drinking in moderation (like me), it’s a safe bet that you’re enjoying good health as well! Why do I say that you ask? Well, through new research, it has been found that drinking a glass or two (no more than 8 ounces) of wine a day, has some perks in keeping your health and weight in check by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. I asked wine expertise, Tony Aspler who is an accomplished wine educator and lecturer, and Christopher Waters who is the editor of VINES magazine and author of a weekly wine column, Waters & Wine to explain. I must say, the evidence is quite impressive.

One of the reasons why a wine may contribute to a healthier life is because wine is considered to be one of the safest, pleasantest, and most wholesome of beverages for us. Containing vitamins A, B, and C and the other thirteen trace minerals necessary to support human life, these vitamins in a balance will not upset the body’s metabolism. In fact, wine is safer than water and milk because you can’t get diseases from it.

“You cannot get typhoid or TB from any wine, be it old or young, cheap and nasty, or rare and costly. No microbes live in wine. It is pleasanter than other safe drinks because it is more gentle as well as varied,” confirms Aspler.

Not only is wine considered a health drink, it is now also considered the new diet drink. Studies show that those who drank wine moderately were likely to eat less and less likely to gain weight. Yes, believe it or not, drinking wine could lead to taking in fewer calories.

“Wine can be used to replace 500 calories of fat or sugar intake in the daily diet. These calories will be completely consumed and not add an ounce of weight,” says Aspler.

In fact, Christopher Waters found that people who drink wine are the ones who tend to lead a healthier, active lifestyle by making healthier lifestyle choices, and he says wine stimulates that.

“Wine digests food and disperses care. It dispels flatulence and clarifies the blood. It clears the complexion and quickens the body,” stated Waters.

I personally have to agree with both Aspler and Waters because I found that since I’ve been enjoying a glass or two of wine every week, I’ve been more motivated to stay healthy and active- I went from working out 3 times a week to working out 4 times a week! I’ve also noticed that I lost some weight and I’m seeing faster results with muscle gain.

Although I’m still in my early twenties, my life isn’t like many 21-year-olds. I have a 5-year-old son, I attend university five times a week, and work three times a week on top of everything else. Skin breakouts and stress have taken over me but I’ve found that through staying active and enjoying a glass of wine here and there, has personally helped my blood pressure go down a bit and my skin complexion has been at its best!

Waters, who studied wine, found that the one particular component in red wine, called resveratrol was the most effective health wise.

“Resveratrol helps rid the body of bad fats. It acts as a scrubbing agent in your veins and arteries and washes away low-density lipoproteins which is the bad part of cholesterol, that can lead to heart disease,” says Waters.

Resveratrol also acts as an anti-age component with the benefits of caloric restriction within the human skin; resveratrol in wine has also been linked to longevity and prevention of cancer.

Susan Benitez is a mother of two who enjoys a glass of wine a day with her supper and revealed that ever since she started drinking wine and becoming more active, she found her cholesterol level had dropped. Benitez’s family physician had recommended that she try consuming a glass of wine at least once a day in order to test if it’ll help with her cholesterol.

“My total cholesterol before was at 6.2 millimoles (mmol) per liter (L) which was borderline high, but now I’m at 5.2 millimoles per liter which are considered a desirable level. I haven’t felt this good in a long time!” expressed Benitez.

Drinking wine alone isn’t considered a weight-loss strategy on its own- if you start replacing food with wine, you’ll be sure to miss out on key nutrients that food offers. Enjoying a glass of wine every day (no more than 8 ounces), along with the proper exercises and a healthy diet seems to be the perfect way to living.

A glass of wine a day keeps the doctors away so here’s to a healthier lifestyle. Cheers!

Becoming an Educator: Teaching the next generation of journalists and media Professionals (Published on CABJ.ca)


Image result for Cartoon character of a black female teacher

It took me five years to teach in Toronto. My first teaching experience was at Carleton University in Ottawa as a Television Teaching Assistant. I later went on to teach in Kampala, Uganda at Makerere University (the oldest African university) and while I was a graduate student at Concordia University.

I had grown up in Toronto, however, once I reached the age of 18, due to work and school, I spent time outside of the city. I returned to Toronto for my longest stay in any one city since the age of 18 in 2001. I returned to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as worked with Canoe.ca, Young People’s Press, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, freelance talent work, Media Research Institute, Share Newspaper, Pride Newsmagazine and New Dreamhomes and Condominiums Magazine to name a few. I really wanted to make the transition to teaching, and 40-year veteran of journalism Robert Payne helped me to make that transition.

I went to him for career coaching and he let me know in 2005 that there was a job opening in teaching at Centennial College. I applied for the full-time job and although I did not get it, it opened the door for me to teach my first course in Toronto at Centennial in Magazine Journalism that started January 2006.

This experience springboarded into working at Seneca College, University of Guelph-Humber, Humber College, Trebas Institute, George Brown College and Ryerson University. If I did not have my master’s degree from Concordia University in Montréal, I would not be able to do this work.

The landscape for what a lot of post-secondary institutions are asking of journalism educators is changing. Mike Karapita at Humber College calls it “credentializing.” There is a movement for educators to become more educated, and this is a big reason why I am currently doing my Ph.D. in Education at OISE/University of Toronto. I started May 2010.

The next generation of journalism educators has many challenges ahead of them. It is still a competitive market that grows even more competitive because those that are untrained in the field continue to make strides. Journalism education needs more of an emphasis on how young journalists can be entrepreneurs and successfully run their own freelancing business. This is effective from a tax perspective, as well as a job security perspective. Job security is an elusive thing these days; however young journalists can stay on top of this by working for a variety of employers.

If you would like more information on this topic, you can email Donna Kakonge at dkakonge@gmail.ccom.