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Why 'media' doesn't have to be a bad word – St. Albert TODAY



A former television journalist spoke to the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce Wednesday about how building partnerships with media can protect reputations and open up opportunities. 

Shawna Randolph has nearly 30 years of combined experience in journalism, most recently as the co-host of CTV-2’s Alberta Primetime show, and media relations. Her communications firm has advised clients including the City of Edmonton, the Royal Alberta Museum, and the Town of Morinville.  

To begin her presentation, Randolph asked the room of business owners, elected municipal officials and non-profit leaders a question: “Who just loves the idea of interacting with members in the news media? Show of hands.”

Only a few hands stood out in the crowd.  

“It’s very common that there’s only a handful of you who are crazy like myself – I mean, I live for it,” she said. “I think a big reason is because so many people are just scared out of their minds if you’re dealing with the media. 

“But what you really need to understand is that they aren’t all that scary, honestly.”

When working with the media, there needs to first be an understanding of what is going on in their world, Randolph said. 

Reporters are there to educate the public of what’s going on in everyone’s day-to-day lives, while also making money for their media outlet, in the most compelling, engaging way possible. 

Juggling multiple stories at once, journalists must convince people directly affected to an interview, compile information and statistics, gather visual elements like video and photography, and write the story in a clear, concise way – all before looming, often daily, deadlines.

Not to mention responsibilities to manage social media and online traffic. 

As a former broadcast reporter, Randolph said she knows these pressures well. 

“The people you’re dealing with, they’re doing a job, right? And they have to get it done. But you need to have this knowledge so that you know what you need to do on your end to be advantageous and get what you want,” she said. 

“Many times people say, ‘Well, I have to deal with the media.’ It’s more like interact with, or work together, in a sense.”

So what can people do to get their message on a reporter’s radar? 

“Here’s the biggest tip, and this is the number one thing – spoonfeed them. Do the work for them,” she said. 

Randolph gave an example of the work she did recently on behalf of the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert. 

To get the word out about a film screening about the history of Ukrainian internments during World War I, she contacted St. Albert Gazette reporter Scott Hayes with information about the event. 

To bring in a human perspective, Randolph connected Hayes with Jerry Bayrak, whose ancestors were at the Spirit Lake internment camp in Quebec. 

“The result was this great story that was published to promote our film. What happened? We filled the museum viewing area that day,” she said.  

Building trust with media partners is also essential to keep up good reputations. Even if a story doesn’t reflect in a positive light, people need to “face the music” and look at interviews with reporters as an opportunity to get ahead of the conversation, she said. 

“If it doesn’t come from you and it comes from somebody else, you’re going to look just horrible. It’s not going to bode well, not just with media trust, but the general public’s trust.”

If the person being interviewed is asked a question they aren’t immediately knowledgeable on, ask the reporter for time to gather materials together, and then get back to them when ready.

“(Reporters) always have five or ten minutes, no matter what,” Randolph said. “The number one thing is there always is a comment.”

Becoming your own storyteller, either through social media, online, or through visual elements like video, can also help to gain positive attention for businesses, she said. 

Jennifer McCurdy, Chamber president and CEO, said she recognizes the importance of building partnerships with media outlets, looking at interviews as doors to opportunity instead of obstacles. Learning about how businesses can tell their own stories in a clear, concise way is also key.

“It’s important for all of our business members, especially the not-for-profits who have limited resources, are aware of opportunities to be able to get their story out,” McCurdy said. 

“I think the Chamber has learned that it is a relationship, and it’s making sure the information that we are providing is factual, honest and transparent. That was also a very strong message (Randolph) gave today, which is really positive for everybody.”

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Four-year-old Jets fan takes the social media spotlight – CTV News Winnipeg



A four-year-old Winnipeg Jets fan making the most of self-isolation with his parents has garnered the attention of the National Hockey League and the Winnipeg Jets along with hundreds of other people across social media.

Ryan Palsson convinced his mom to record a video of him singing both the Canadian National Anthem and the Star Spangled Banner. Ryan’s mom says he is a huge Jets fan and normally likes watching Stacey Nattrass, the NHL national anthem-singer for the Jets, belt out the anthems.

But with home-isolation and the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the NHL to postpone the remainder of the season, the boy from Riverton, Man., decided to bring some of the game to his home.

Decked out in his Winnipeg Jets jersey and equipped with a toy microphone, and after receiving an introduction from his mom behind the camera, Ryan belted out the national anthems.

“They were all pretty bored, so he wanted to be introduced just like they do at the Jets game,” said Ryan’s mom Angie.

“He loves to sing. He’s always been very keen on music. When he listens, he seems to very intently listen to what’s being played.”

Since posting the videos, Angie said both the NHL and the Winnipeg Jets have asked to share the videos, and Stacey Nattrass even commented on the videos.

Angie said Ryan got his musical talents from his great grandmother, Dorothy Johnson, who played with Johnny and his Musical Mates, a folk band that gained popularity in the 1950s across Manitoba.

“I think she always saw something special in this one,” Angie said.

As for why Ryan wanted to post the videos, he has a very simple answer.

“Because I like singing,” he said.

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Trio of Lethbridge groups launch social media campaign to support businesses affected by COVID-19 – Lethbridge News Now



Those who participate will be entered to win one of 10 $100 gift cards to support businesses in Lethbridge. From those who post on social media, 10 random names will be drawn, and they will get a $100 gift certificate to the business they tagged in their post.

There is no limit on the amount of posts residents can make.

Ted Stilson, Executive Director of the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ, said this is the second time they’ve done a campaign similar to this.

“Now more than ever, being in it together is an important thing to do for the success of our downtown businesses and businesses throughout the community,” he said.

“We know that a lot of our businesses, as Trevor said, are pivoting into different business models, which is exciting, and we just need to continue on promoting and supporting those local businesses.”

The campaign will kick off Monday, April 6 and is set to run until May 18.

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Edmonton Institution inmate punished for speaking to media about COVID-19 –



An inmate at the maximum security Edmonton Institution has been punished for speaking to the media, with his phone privileges suspended.

Jonathan Henry, 32, is serving a ten-year prison sentence for drugs and weapons-related offences. He is scheduled to apply for parole in May. 

In a story published by CBC News last Monday, Henry expressed concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I have chronic asthma,” Henry said. “I take medication for high blood pressure, so I’m more susceptible to catching whatever this thing is.” 

He also complained about the reaction from some prison staff to the pandemic. 

“They think it’s a big joke,” he said. “You’ll ask for something like a request form and he’ll pretend to sneeze on the request form. Like, it isn’t funny to me.”

Henry’s wife said that behind prison walls, there was an immediate reaction to the CBC story. 

“Apparently the guards had a meeting about him that morning,” Deanna Henry said. “I think somebody might have heard it on the radio. So they called a meeting and talked about him that morning and they decided then that they would be suspending his [phone] card for 45 days.” 

Jonathan Henry, 32, is serving a ten-year prison term for drug and weapons offences. (Deanna Henry )

All visits to the prison are forbidden due to COVID-19, so phone calls are the only way she can stay in touch with her husband. 

“I’m very upset about it,” Deanna Henry said. “I mean, this is a global pandemic that is happening right now. And for them to just cut it off for 45 days when that’s the only way for me and the kids to be able to speak to him. It’s very concerning to me.”

Henry’s lawyer calls the prison’s response “draconian”.  

“It’s appalling,” Amanda Hart-Dowhun told CBC News. “It looks like they are trying to prevent prisoners from talking and from telling the public how they are actually being treated.” 

‘Punish and muzzle’ 

As soon as she heard about the phone suspension, Hart-Dowhun sent an urgent letter to prison warden Gary Sears. 

“The suspension of Mr. Henry’s phone privileges as punishment for speaking to the media about the concerns of inmates during a pandemic creates a chilling effect,” she wrote. “That action will discourage inmates from voicing any concerns about their quality of care during this time.” 

Defence lawyer Amanda Hart-Dowhun calls the suspension of telephone privileges for 45-days ‘draconian.’ (Janice Johnston/CBC News )

On Friday, Hart-Dowhun received a response from the warden. The letter was provided to CBC News. 

In it, Sears appeared to suggest Henry had broken prison rules by speaking to a CBC journalist. 

He quoted from the inmate handbook, noting, “Third party calling is not permitted under any circumstances. Any misuse of telephone privileges, particularly third party calling, may result in an inmate’s phone privileges being restricted or suspended for a period of time.”

The response didn’t satisfy Hart-Dowhun or Henry’s wife. 

Deanna Henry said her husband was never given a copy of the inmate’s handbook when he was transferred to Edmonton Institution. 

Hart-Dowhun sent a letter Friday to the Public Safety Minister, the Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada and correctional investigator Ivan Zinger, asking for their help to resolve the situation.

“I ask that you take steps to intervene in this decision and allow Mr. Henry to have contact with the community during this health crisis,” she wrote.

“This censoring of an inmate in the wake of him publicizing his fears and the conditions inside of prison is appalling. It gives the appearance that CSC will punish and muzzle any inmate that publicly voices concerns about their treatment during this pandemic.”

The correctional investigator declined comment on the case in an email to CBC News, but said he would investigate the situation. 

Inmate rules for speaking to media 

Esther Mailhot, a CSC communications officer, responded to a request for comment from CBC News with a reminder that journalists “are required to inform CSC of their requests” to interview an inmate. 

Mailhot added that prisoners are also “responsible for informing their parole officer of their interest in being interviewed by the media.”   

She declined to comment on Henry’s case, citing privacy reasons. 

Meanwhile, Deanna Henry sits by the phone, willing it to ring. 

“It’s extremely frustrating and we’re sitting here worried about him,” she said. “We don’t know if maybe he’s going to start showing symptoms and has no way of calling us and letting us know.”

The most recent CSC statistics indicate three inmates at the Edmonton Institution have been tested for COVID-19. Two of the tests have been negative, while the third result is pending. 

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