Here is a link to the written feature:
And this is a link to the multimedia elements. All multimedia elements have corresponding folders, and you should be able to follow along with the portions that are in block quotes in the piece:
Here is a link to the written feature:
And this is a link to the multimedia elements. All multimedia elements have corresponding folders, and you should be able to follow along with the portions that are in block quotes in the piece:
This week I received a draft of my opening scene and theme graf back from April. We decided that’s where we’d start the work on the full script of the larger piece. It starts off with an image we already had in mind for a bit: two recent grads from high school dancing together at the Pride afterparty this year to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.
The image ties perfectly into my own history: Born This Way was a song that served as a kind of “detached” anthem for my best friend Lucas and I in high school – we had both come out recently but felt that we didn’t need to be a part of only “gay culture” – we felt we didn’t need that community. The imagery of dancing to the song will start off the journey of realizing that that community is very much needed and very strong.
I also created the theme graf – talking about the small-c conservatism of PEI, with its slow acceptance of abortion access and same-sex marriage. It was great to get these things out on the page and have something really down to start with.
I’ve also started detailing out where all my multimedia will slot into my structure chart – what videos will go where, what photos, what audio clips. Now that I have April’s feedback on these things, I think I have a good launching point to move into the next step: I’ll be filing a full first “script” of my feature for April on Oct 28 – mostly detailing out the narrative of the piece as a whole.
As we launch into the next segment of the MRP course, I’ll look forward to the weekly writing circles. Hopefully it will give us all a good chance to bounce ideas off each other and broaden our ideas as we go along.
It was also great to connect to Eternity on my MRP idea. I feel like my big question to her is the thing I’ve been struggling with most – the idea of putting myself into the narrative is always something I enjoy doing, but I want to avoid centring myself as the fulcrum. Eternity’s wealth of knowledge in queer journalism and first-person writing is really invaluable to me as I continue on with the piece.
This week was about a little more research. As I start to work on my primary project for the RRJ, I’m also realizing some of my work is informing each other.
Also they’re not crossing topics, my primary project is all about the changing marketing of Xtra and, by extension, the notion of the “changing” definition of the community. Who is part of this community? The definition has finally drifted from looking to white gay men to serve as the only figureheads of the community into a more diverse cultural landscape for LGBT2SQIA+ folks.
In the same way, Xtra’s publication and the queer community of PEI has changed as well. Fab ceased publication in favour of a staff and publication that looks toward intersectionality to inform and more closely match its readership. And despite PEI’s small size and relative lack of “diversity”, the queer community itself has developed into something far more inclusive than even when I was in high school.
Apart from that, I’m looking forward to the MRP class this week to speak with Eternity again. I’m hoping to speak to her for the purposes of my primary project, but also to help discuss queer journalism in general. I’m wondering how this is going to roll out in general – hopefully with few conflicts as I write about Xtra, but I’m excited to get Eternity’s advice on a topic that she’s well-versed with.
Sonya and Adrian’s talk also made me question more whether I do want to include more immersive elements in my own piece. I had been toying with the the idea of theatre elements (it just makes sense), but now am genuinely wondering if they could have a place in my piece – perhaps I can narrate with video? Maybe some sort of smaller live presentation can be made out of my narrative piece eventually? Of course I don’t want to be taking on too much, but I definitely want to toss around the possibilities!
I can imagine the piece eventually taking on some kind of presentational style – PEI is so much about live storytelling traditions, and I feel like it would match the medium to the content well if I were to take something like that on.
This week I spent a significant portion of time organizing my files. After my discussion with April, I realized I still had a lot to do in order to actually start even sorting through them.
I tried to create a better organizational system and followed what Emily said Janice had recommended to her: start with the files you KNOW are quality, and try to leave behind the stuff right now that you know isn’t worth it.
I also started typing up a new structural chart for April based on our conversation last week. I’ll send it off to her on October 1 so we can review the layout of the project and its narrative.
I’m also writing out a first draft of my opening scene, which April and I decided will take place at the PEI Pride afterparty as well as the nut graf of the piece. These will be due on Tuesday, Oct. 1 as well.
I’m next going to start chasing some more of my expert sources. I think this may have a bit of difficulty – but I hope to get them locked down soon enough. I’m not planning on doing video interviews with them – just audio so I can write feature sections on them.
Other than that, the rest of my process for the week is just planning out my attack for October. I’ve mostly just been doing a little bit of writing and a lot of planning and organizing.
I’m feeling really good about my MRP right now – I’m trying to really parse through my audio and find good clips and figure out exactly what the visuals should be. This week in Podcasting I also transcribed one of my interviews. We’ll be mixing it next week for the class, and whether I use the mixed version or not, hopefully it will give me an idea of how I can mix the audio pieces in the final piece.
I learned a lot from our session with Kalli, and feel like I would love to learn more from her about how to craft my podcast elements. I love how she told us really what to look for when interviewing and how her pieces fully come together.
April and I met today at a cafe to go over my structure and next steps for the MRP. It was a great session! We came up with almost an entire structure chart, the beginnings of a theme statement, and who I should interview next.
It really made me feel ready – once I was slotting my interview subjects into the slots of narrative, it all was making more sense in my head. April was in favour of having the project take on more of a traditional narrative, and helped me bring out the actual themes in each of my interviews, as well as helped me figure out the narrative I personally will bring into the story.
I also intend to write up some new history based on April questioning me about recent homophobic events on PEI: especially a fish and chips shop that closed after revealing its anti-queer stance on social media.
I now have an idea of who the precise experts (such as a scholar to talk about how the definition of the “queer community” has changed over the decades in Canada) I should be seeking out are and the subjects I distinctly want to talk to them about.
A cool thing we thought of during the session was a podcast about my time as a “Father of Confederation” – contrasting the largely colonial, white, conservative leanings of the interpretation program with the largely queer staff and queer growth I and many of my colleagues had during our work with the program. I’ll do a sitdown with some of my former coworkers and have it as a “cut-out” part of the history section.
I’m going to type up a new structure chart based on what April and I discussed today, as well as write a first draft of my opening scene and nut graf for April for October 1.
In my discussion with Emily on Wednesday, we decided that I might also pursue an illustrator to help me create a cool artwork of a lighthouse (following the beacon idea) with a pride rainbow flowing out of it like a wave. It may be the visual motif that follows throughout the piece.
I’ve sent off my extended treatment to April. Although she hasn’t gotten a chance to review it yet, we spoke briefly at the MJ mixer and made a tentative plan to meet next week and discuss the project as it stands now.
April had given me good feedback on a feature draft she had sent me to complete for her before the extended treatment was due. As I wrote out exactly how the stories would roll out, she brought up the framing narrative of my own growth (literally) since my first year in 1994. It was the same year as the first Pride March in Charlottetown, and I want to roll off that and have started searching for baby pictures and younger photos to use to consolidate with my history section. I need to make a note (here works) to talk to my mom about sitting down over a FaceTime call and looking through some.
I’ve started reviewing some of my footage, pulling choice quotes and mapping out how I see the editing coming together before I actually start putting it together physically.
When I discussed with Asmaa, I took the advice to keep the narrative simple to heart. I think I’ve been overthinking how the feature should really look – I’ve been thinking a bit too experimental, but as Asmaa said, the content itself is going to be new to most readers, so the form should be a bit more recognizable. I totally agree and hadn’t thought of it that way.
Emily and I had a good conversation on Wednesday and I brought up some of the symbols I really want to pull into the piece that I heard from my sources: the idea of being a “beacon,” the notion of being a superhero (also goes along with CBC’s superQUEERoes series from this summer) and the notion of what “home” really is. “Home” seems to be a theme I’m always exploring in my work and I’m excited to do it here.
My next step is to get in contact with the ArQuives in the city to see what documents they may have from PEI’s queer history in their collections.
Unprecedented changes have begun to sweep through Prince Edward Island. The Green Party is the official opposition. Housing is depleted in its capital city, with vacancy rates lower than Toronto, rents comparable to Montreal and the second highest rate of short-term rentals in the country. Immigration rates are expanding, the economy is “on a tear” and for the first time in a long time, more people were being born than dying.
A piece from CBC freelancer Justin Ling said PEI, right now, could be looked at as “a microcosm for the rest of Canada.” I want to explore the island from that perspective – what does it mean for so many changes to be happening to a place so many people think of as small-c conservative? What is the actual truth of this place? Who are the people who live there? And what made people in the rest of Canada so surprised when all eyes turned to the province for a time during the latest election? I want to talk with the changemakers on PEI right now – the politicians, the new Islanders, the young people who are looking for housing and just trying to make a home. It may seem like a sweeping topic, but the ideas are connected – and it’s the exact kind of journalism I’m drawn to. It’s a piece of work that I see painting a full, vibrant portrait of a place and of its people, while still bringing the most current issues to the fore.
My approach to the MRP is going to cover related ground to an investigative piece I completed in first semester this year, but will not cross into its reporting. Rapid changes have happened on the little island, and this will be a completely original piece exploring the province as it stands now.
Story Form and Justification
The story will be presented using a multimedia webpage. The goal is to have podcast elements, video elements, interactives and photos all interwoven into the work.
After a discussion with my supervisor April, we came to the conclusion that the piece should take on a “road trip” aspect – something a little bit corny, but revealing in its execution.
The website will be taking on the look of a PEI tourism map. These maps feature the “scenic routes” of PEI – taking you along the coast and driving you past the most prominent landmarks: Green Gables, beautiful cliffs, Charlottetown’s historic buildings.
Along those scenic routes I’ll be taking “detours” to show you what’s really going on underneath: the public meetings about the housing crisis, the Mi’kmaq youth trying to understand how their community is changing, the seasonal employment affecting the people trying to bring Anne Shirley to life each summer.
The justification for this format is that it matches PEI’s branding and aesthetic, but twists it: it takes a recognizable image of the province, the outward projection, and shows you the underbelly. These maps are instantly recognizable to me and to pretty much anyone who grew up on PEI, and that’s partially the audience I’m shooting for with this piece.
The format is also something, frankly, I want to explore: I think there are lots of opportunities to tell this story, which has many moving parts, through different media. Different aspects of the story will require different media, and the website will allow me to present in all those different formats.
Primary and Secondary Sources
I’ve been using websites like the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation to better understand the housing crisis. CBC PEI’s series “No Fixed Address” has also been a major aid in better understanding the issues.
Justin Ling’s piece “Tragedy and politics…” made a deep impression on me for the piece. It’s an outsider looking in at a horrid week in Island politics – after a death, how do you carry on? It was a moment that led to a dozen think pieces about whether the Island was setting the perfect tone for Canadian politics.
Also the Toronto Star’s piece on cliff erosion and climate change as part of their “Undeniable” series has been a great help. It’s shown me the visuals I might try to access for my piece, as well as how the overarching structure can come together.
The Abegweit First Nation’s webpage has been a great resource for access to the community as well, but I made initial contact with Schurman Peters on Facebook.
Employment Journey is a job news site on PEI that I’ve been using to get a grasp on seasonal employment numbers, and the way jobs are advertised and disseminated on PEI.
I’m speaking to Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the official opposition, as well as hoping to speak to Dennis King, the premier of the province, for short interviews about their new roles. I want to better understand their relationship to each other – an image that’s become iconic already to many Islanders are the two leaders hugging at the CBC offices the morning after the election. Will that energy stay?
Schurman Peters is a Mi’kmaq youth leader in the Abegweit First Nation on PEI. He describes himself as a gay man, and he has seen the changes the nation has gone through recently, such as electoral law changes coming from the Federal Government. I’m speaking to him in hopes of understanding the Abegweit First Nation and the ways its youth are seeing Indigenous relations on PEI change in their lifetime.
Aimee Power is with the PEI Affordable Housing Group, and has been a great resource and voice on the ground for the issue. Robert Zilke is a planner with the city of Charlottetown and has been a professional voice explaining the issue to me.
To better understand seasonal employment and how things are changing while the economy goes “on a tear”, I’m speaking to Chris Doiron, a counsellor at Charlottetown’s Career Development Services, Annie Spears, a professor of Economics at UPEI, and still needing to find my real seasonal work character who will bring that section to life.
Rocio McCallum, manager of youth services at the PEI Newcomers Association, has been helping me better understand the immigration boom that has happened on PEI as of late, and how young people are feeling being new to PEI, and to Canada in general.
Access to Principal Sources
My biggest issue right now is trying to work around some of the close contacts I have with people in PEI. It’s good to be connected – but I’ll need to be very upfront and straightforward with the connections I have to people there in order to fulfill the ethical side of the work.
On the flip side, my other big difficulty is that I’m hoping to interview a lot of prominent members of the Island community that will be hard to access from a student point of view. I’m going to try my best in these cases, but my access to people may cause me to shift my focuses at times.
Reporting and Production Schedule
My plan of attack was to start pulling in material while I’m on PEI over these summer
Months. Then, I’d start culling the pieces together once I’m back in Toronto.
This has, frankly, been more difficult than I would have hoped while working full-time at CBC, amongst other commitments. My goals have had to shift a bit and have been honed down to be more feasible than they previously were.
Right now, my goals:
Jul 24: Have a fully cemented idea of interviews and events, present to April.
Jul 29: Begin interviews and collecting videos of events.
Aug 5 – 30: Do at least 2 interviews each week to begin. Go to housing events, go to Abegweit First Nation, etc.
Sept: Begin editing disparate pieces.
Oct: Work on refining those pieces, also chase additional interviews or information I’ve missed.
Nov: Begin constructing website.
Dec: Start pulling pieces onto website into first workable draft for end of the month.
Jan-May: Work on fully refining the piece to present at end of May.
Bibliography & Source List
Official Leader of the Opposition
Cell phone (private number)
Premier of PEI
902 368 4400
Youth Leader, Abegweit First Nation
902 393 9002
PEI Fight for Affordable Housing
Spoken through Facebook Messages
City Planner, Charlottetown
Counsellor, Career Development Services
Private cell number
Economics Professor, UPEI
Manager, Youth Services, Newcomers Association
Contacted through Twitter
“Tragedy and politics…” by Justin Ling https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/04/22/features/tragedy-and-politics-prince-edward-island
Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
What created Charlottetown’s housing crisis? – from CBC PEI
“P.E.I. is losing ground…” from the Toronto Star
Islanders in Toronto Facebook Group
Abegweit First Nation
Employment Journey – Job news on PEI https://employmentjourney.com/resources-services-for-job-seekers/
Government of PEI website
Critiquing “How Many Bones Would You Break to Get Laid?” from The Cut: https://www.thecut.com/2019/05/incel-plastic-surgery.html
Does the feature work both in terms of concept and design? Why or why not?
The feature works fantastically in terms of concept and design. Reading the feature entirely on a mobile device is easy on the eyes and mind, something one doesn’t always find with features when digested on a phone.
The simple, white, graphic design is definitely just another example of minimalism for the sake of minimalism, but it works. The few injections of photos bring attention to only the faces of men – the models these incels wish to look like, the incels themselves and photoshoot images.
By letting the few design pieces feature only the men that the piece talks about, instead of also showing pictures of Eppley’s office or even screenshots of the forum, the piece takes on an almost eerie quality. The reader is peering into the eyes of all these men – beautiful, attempting to be, wishing to be looked at. At the same time, the men peer back. The design is reminiscent of a clickbait “Dermatologists hate them” style ad campaign, the kind you may find linked through on a forum.
The simplistic design, even with (or maybe because of) its deficiency of graphics to guide the reader through the blocks of text, keeps things flowing.
What are its component parts?
Hines brings scenes to life by weaving in messages from the forum into her piece. She doesn’t reconstruct whole messages on the page, but just writes out specific quotes in her grafs. She doesn’t use much description to bring Eppley’s office to life, instead allowing the reader to manufacture exactly what his office may look like from just a bit of description about its location and his appearance.
The biggest scenes she reconstructs with the most elements are those moments of insecurity the incels feel, as they post photos from Lookism. She uses their messages in the grafs while also reprinting anonymous photos within the story as well.
The story’s event structure switches between the past tense where the life of Truth4lie, one of the incels, is retold, and the present tense while Hines (and Truth4lie) visits Eppley in his office.
The event structure is almost entirely told through text, while the photos merely add some element of atmosphere to the piece.
Hines enters the viewpoint of incels by presenting their messages from the forum, unedited. At one point we get to read what Truth4lie wrote on the forum while he waited in Eppley’s office for his appointment: “I want to live in a plastic surgeon’s office. I just want to have a bed in one of his labs. Just a bed, a small kitchen, and an internet connection.”
The way he’s written this message of desperation pulls us into his world, his viewpoint, better than anything he could have shared directly with Hines. Then we read a lot of incel language as well, such as “supreme gentleman”, “gymceling” and “steroidmaxxing”. Through the use of language, Hines brings us into the viewpoint of incels.
We also quite literally see their viewpoint through Hines’s use of their photos from the Lookism app – these selfies that they post on the forums themselves. As we see pictures of these men in their mirrors, we’re literally brought in to see their changes faces from their angle.
What are the strongest components? The weakest?
The strongest components are definitely the sections where Hines goes deeply into the incel thread. Hines does bring Eppley’s office to life with words, but her bigger accomplishment is bringing life to the Sluthate forums. Frequently people will deny the possibilities in describing scenes that take place on the internet, but there’s a lot to be done with those worlds. Even though Hines doesn’t spend any time describing the layout or design of the website, she can bring it to life with just a few screen names and excerpts from chats. As she describes other users telling Truth4lie that he took the “black pill” and then immediately jumps back in time to his stint in therapy and in a psychiatric hospital, we can slip easily into the world of these incels without much description.
I think the weakest components are perhaps the actual event structure. As Hines jumps without giving much context on where we’re placed in Truth4lie’s story, it can occasionally be tough to follow exactly what point we are at in his journey. Because we don’t have a lot of structure for timing in the piece, we can sometimes feel as if we’re not sure how long his story actually takes.
What would you change to make it more effective?
Adding more interactive elements would make this piece more effective, although the thing to avoid would be making the piece cluttered at all. Sliders showing the difference between the unedited and edited Lookism photos would add an element of shock for the reader.
Perhaps dated messages from Truth4lie and from other users may add an element of time that could place the reader better and allow them to track his journey from a psychiatric hospital into Eppley’s chair.
Headers, as simple as they are, might add another organization element. The biggest issue with the piece is the difficulty of orienting yourself in time, and headers would help to space the piece out and give the reader a chance to know exactly where on the timeline they’re placed.
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