As I am writing this week’s column, I’m sitting in my home office looking out the window at the frozen landscape left during the recent and very lengthy ice storm.
It has been an interesting week for me. For those who have had trouble reaching me last week, I was off for most of the week with the flu.
What has made this an interesting challenge for me is, because I am a reporter, I am so used to moving around all the time, going out to get the information and the photos I need, I am not used to having to rest for days and recover. Despite knowing it is necessary to rest and recuperate when you are sick, I constantly felt like I should have been up and doing something. I know my colleague Christopher Green wrote about a similar experience dealing with recuperating from illness in a previous edition of his column.
Fast forward to now, and I am sitting at home carefully trying to conserve power on this laptop as I write. Again, despite knowing that safety is my main concern, I cannot stop this nagging feeling that I should be in the office or out in the community working, rather than being forced to be housebound because of the weather.
In my mind, people should not have these worries. In reality, when they are sick, they should allow themselves to get better before they come into the office again. When the weather gives people no choice but to stay back, and either take the day off or do their best to work from home, we shouldn’t feel guilty for making our safety the top priority. However, no matter what reassurances employers, family members, or I give myself, these guilty feelings remain.
So, why is this the case? That is something I have wondered for a while. I have two ideas on this subject.
Personally, I think people see going to work and earning a paycheque as accomplishing something with your day; while they feel the opposite when they stay back and recover, feeling they were lazy.
I also think there is an expectation people put on themselves to go to work every day no matter what state they are in so they feel like a dedicated employee.
However, the main message I want people to take from this week’s column is, it is okay to need one, two or even three days to get over an illness. You would not be the same productive person if you came in sick. It is also okay if you can’t make it somewhere because the roads are unsafe or the weather is horrible, of course as long as you communicate that concern in a timely manner.
So, for those who are feeling guilty about being off work for these reasons, I give you permission to put yourself first and to take care of yourself.
As people who have avidly read my column over the years know, one of my favourite parts about this job is meeting the many different people in our coverage area.
Since I started working here at The Standard, I have always felt engagement is very important to the journalism industry While I have spent time the past few years getting to know numerous people, I wanted to use this edition of my column to answer questions people might have about myself, the job, or the journalism industry.
In my last column, I put out an ask for people to send me questions through my Twitter account, my email or by calling me for a question and answer style column. I have received some questions I will answer in this column. So let’s begin.
Q: When did you first decide you wanted to be a journalist?
A: When I was in my last year of high school, I decided to apply to the journalism program at Durham College because I was hoping to become a sports reporter. This was mainly because I was, and still am, a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan and I was aspiring to cover the NHL either on television, radio or by working at a newspaper.
However, it was not until partway through my first year in the Durham College program that I, through working on assignments and a couple stories, realized I have a passion for telling other people’s stories and writing hard news stories. I was happy the course allowed me the opportunity to write all sorts of stories, from hard news, to feature stories and of course covering a couple campus sports teams.
I still love covering sports as well, and I was happy I got the opportunity to cover the Port Perry MoJacks this season.
Q: What are your aspirations and have you ever felt crushed by expectations?
A: To answer the first part of this question, currently I aspire to be the best reporter I can be. I try to do the best I can with every story I write and photo I take, and I’m constantly looking for opportunities to write about new topics. I enjoy working in this community.
On the second part of that question, I can tell you I have pretty high expectations of myself, and, personally, I think I am my own worst critic. I hold myself to a high standard with everything I send in to be published, so I think the highest expectations of me are the ones I put on myself. There may have been times I felt I might not have met those personal benchmarks, but I am constantly looking to learn and improve.
Q: With people claiming "print is dead" what are your thoughts on the future of journalism?
A: First off, I’ve heard this claim that print is dead for several years now, yet The Standard is still here and the print version is still being read by thousands of people in our coverage area.
Now, the journalism industry is a constantly changing field, and for media outlets to survive we must continue to evolve. Of course, saying that, being in the digital age where people have access to news on all sorts of platforms at their fingertips, and with some politicians talking about the rise of “fake news”, I believe more than ever in the importance of the old journalism school adage of getting it right being more important than getting it first. The public looks to reporters for the facts and we must always do our due diligence to make sure our stories are 100 per cent accurate. As a last statement, I think the journalism industry is very important in small communities, and big cities in democratic nations, and for now I plan on being optimistic about the industry’s future.
Q: What’s a “cearnsader”?
A: Ok, here’s the origin story of the column name. Cearnsader is a mix of my last name and DC Comics’ Batman’s nickname the Caped Crusader. In fact it was a friend from college I helped solve an issue for who gave me that nickname, and later when I joined The Standard team and was asked for a column name I thought it would be a good name for this column.
Q: Best advice to aspiring reporters?
A: To start, let me say one of the things that makes this job so exciting is, it is different every day, so if you like that kind of thing then journalism might be for you.
One of the things I find is so important as a reporter is time management. To be able to put out multiple stories per week, you must create for yourself a system to organize your assignments. Once you have that system, I recommend getting started on the assignments/stories as soon as you can.
Also, talk to people in your community and try to learn about them and what makes their story unique. You might be surprised what you learn.
Lastly, just read all the news articles you can and be constantly looking for other angles to those stories that might not have been covered yet.
To sum up, I hope people have learned a lot from this question and answer edition of my column, and if anyone has any questions for me in the future feel free to ask me on my Twitter account or if you see me in person. You can also email me, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this month, an Ontario Liberal MPP, Arthur Potts, tabled a private members bill that proposed changing the minimum legal voting age from 18 years old to 16. I think this is a great idea.
First off, 16 year olds already are allowed to drive, usually have a job, and some participate in some capacity in their communities.
As a person who was 16 a little over seven years ago, I remember I was quite aware of the issues facing the country and facing the province, and, while I know not everyone my age at that time might have been as informed, I know there were others who were.
Presently, we live in a day and age where news and information is more accessible through smartphones, laptops, tablets, television, radio and other technological devices. Every day people of all ages are bombarded with news regarding what Kathleen Wynne, Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump have done or said. Because of this, I think youth are more informed about politics now than they were 10 years ago.
Let me also mention, lowering the voting age gives a possible opportunity to increase voter turnout in Ontario provincial elections. In the 2011 election, about 48 per cent of eligible Ontario voters cast their ballot, and in 2014 about 51 per cent voted. If you add 16 and 17 year olds as potential voters, you increase your odds of a higher voter turnout as you add a base of, hopefully excited, youth who haven’t yet had the opportunity to participate in the electoral process before. As well, starting people voting at a younger age could get them thinking about how else they could impact their communities in the future or in the present, either through politics, charity work or other means.
For those who have read my previous Caped Cearnsader columns, you may remember my 2017 column titled ‘Youth voice’ where I said that I encourage youth to be involved in the issues that affect them and their communities. I think these 16 and 17 year-olds deserve a stake in helping decide who will get to make the decisions that affect them and everyone else in this province.
As well, I encourage and appreciate the different perspective and different ideas that youth can bring to a problem or issue, and by lowering the legal voting age, you might encourage more youth to attend election debates and ask questions that older voters might not have thought about asking.
I think lowering the voting age to 16 makes sense and is a great idea.
Now, before I wrap up this column, I would also like to mention that I am considering doing a question and answer style column in the near future. If you, dear reader, have a question about myself, my job or the journalism industry you would like me to answer, email me, at email@example.com, reply to my tweet on my twitter page @DanCearnsy, or call me at The Standard office at 905-985-6985.
I have been watching the Toronto Maple Leafs for many years, but this year there is a different feeling. For the first time since I have been watching, at least that I can recollect, the Leafs have a cushion of over 10 points on a playoff spot.
As a fan who has watched this franchise for a long time, I’m used to seasons like 2007, when their playoff hopes came down to the last game of the season, or even last season, when the Leafs finally clinched a playoff spot in the second last game of the season. Now, in writing this, with weeks left on the NHL regular season schedule, I realize no team has yet clinched a playoff spot and a disaster could still take the Leafs out of playoff contention, but it is remarkable to see how far the team has come in almost two seasons.
Looking back on my very first column in The Standard, I was reminded of the feeling of despair I felt when the Leafs lost the opportunity to draft Connor McDavid in 2015. But, just a season later, the Leafs won the right to choose Auston Matthews first overall, and the first round pick has since taken Toronto by storm. Matthews scored 40 goals in his first year with the club, and he currently has 28 goals and 50 points this season.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention former first round picks Mitch Marner and William Nylander are currently part of the top three Leaf scorers this season.
For a team who years ago didn’t have any of their own drafted and developed talent on the roster, the Leafs have drafted and developed a list of mainstays on their NHL roster, including Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Nazem Kadri, Morgan Rielly, Travis Dermott and Connor Brown.
Looking at the Toronto Marlies stats, there is 'reason to be optimistic' about the future of the Leafs as well. As of press time, Andreas Johnsson leads the Marlies in scoring with 52 points, which includes 24 goals in 52 games. To give you an idea of how he has grown from one season to the next, last year he banked 47 points in 75 games.
I am also excited about the future of Justin Holl, having had a glimpse of his potential in the two NHL games he skated in. He scored a goal in each of those games.
Timothy Liljegren, the Leafs first round pick from the 2017 draft, is another player to watch, as he currently has 12 points in 30 games, in his first season in the AHL. I think he could potentially make the Leafs next season.
Having watched some bad Leafs teams in the past, pessimistic about the team’s future during that time, it is somewhat new to see my favourite team winning, drafting well, and sitting in the top 10 in the league standings.
I’m excited about the rest of this season and the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On Family Day, I did something I hadn’t done in years. I went skating.
It was something that, for a couple years, I had on my list of things I wanted to do but I hadn’t found time in my busy schedule to do it until then. Heading to the arena, I remembered how much I enjoyed skating as a kid, gliding around the arena in a circle on skates and feeling the cold air on my face. I thought it would not take long for me to be gliding again on the ice at full power, but, like any skill learned, you can get rusty at it, if you haven’t practiced it in a while.
Prior to Family Day 2018, I think the last time I went skating was during my elementary school days. Since then, the closest I got to public skating was taking some photos at some of the free public skating events in Scugog.
So, when I got on the Manvers Arena ice, for this year’s Family Day skate, the first couple of laps was mostly me slowly trying to move while keeping myself upright, and keeping myself from falling. It was humbling to see young kids of many ages gliding effortlessly by me, as I slowly moved up the ice. But, as I continued to skate, it got a little bit easier. On a positive note, I can report, I only stumbled to my knees twice during the experience.
Looking back on it, I am reminded of what my colleague Chris Green wrote in his last column, about how once in a while we need to laugh at ourselves. My mother and I both laughed during the early laps when we stumbled.
Despite it being somewhat of a challenge, getting re-adjusted to how to skate again, I enjoyed the experience and it is something I hope I can find some time to do again in the near future. I look forward to the opportunity to practice skating and improve at it. I also encourage others who may not have done something in a while, that they had enjoyed when they were younger, to try it again. You might just enjoy the experience.
As has been reported in this week’s edition of The Standard, the PJHL Orr division playoffs are set to begin this week. The Lakefield Chiefs and the Uxbridge Bruins will both take byes in the first round. The round 1 Orr division matchups include Port Perry MoJacks vs. Georgina Ice and Clarington Eagles vs. North Kawartha Knights.
Those who have been reading The Standard’s sports section over the past six months have probably noticed that I have been covering the MoJacks this season, and with the playoffs soon to start, I will try my hand at predicting the outcome of the two first round series.
Let’s start with Port Perry vs. Georgina. I’m picking the Port Perry MoJacks to win this series. Yes, the reporter who covers the MoJacks, picking them to win a playoff series probably doesn’t sound like a huge surprise to some people, but I have plenty of information to back up why I think they will win this series.
First off, the MoJacks swept the season series against Georgina, winning all seven games they played against them, including their most recent 9-3 victory to finish the regular season. Port Perry finished the season as the highest scoring team in the division, while Georgina finished with the least amount of goals among the six playoff teams. Two MoJacks forwards are in the top four in division for goals and points, Graham Lamers and Derek Risebrough. In goals against, the MoJacks allowed the third fewest goals against in the division, while Georgina allowed the most goals against of the six playoff teams.
Next up is Clarington vs. North Kawartha. I feel like this is going to be a tight, close series, and I’m picking the North Kawartha Knights to win it.
After losing in the seventh game of their round 1 series, against Uxbridge in last year’s playoffs, the Knights are looking to get further in this year’s playoffs. Yes, they did lose the season series against Clarington, but it was only by a one game difference.
Clarington won four of the seven meetings while North Kawartha won three. North Kawartha is a speedy team that can score, as they were third best in the division for goals for. Out of the two series, I have a feeling, this one is the most likely to have an upset, even if it is the fifth placed team defeating the fourth placed team.
As with any predictions I make, feel free to call me on any of these if they end up being wrong.
I remember as a child writing stories about robots, and imagining a future, similar in nature to what you would see, on the television show, ‘The Jetsons.’ While we may not have all of the technology dreamed up in science fiction shows, it seems to me like, we are living in an age similar to what was portrayed in those shows.
Let me start with the most recent news. Automaker, General Motors recently announced they have filed a safety petition with the US Department of Transportation to deploy a new self-driving vehicle in 2019. According to a press release from General Motors, the Cruise AV is “the first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls.” While a car that includes no steering wheel or pedals may be a scary idea to some, it is just one of the many signs that the future is now.
Already in several restaurants, there are the self-serve kiosks where people can place their food orders, forgoing the lines. Similar things have been seen in certain grocery stores, where people can scan and input what they are buying.
These days, people can control many things in their home with their smartphone, such as locking doors, setting their thermostat and turning on or off lights. As well, these days people can talk to their friends or family face to face from anywhere, with Skype or FaceTime. This is definitely like something you would see in a Jetson's cartoon.
Like what has been seen on some science fiction shows, Apple’s iPhone x includes facial recognition technology.
In a column I wrote last year, titled ‘Tech Dependent’, one of the points I made, on one of the negative aspects of the technology age, was that Email, instant messaging, as well as social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter have limited the amount of face to face interaction people have. This is likely to worsen as we move further into the technology age.
I think sometimes people tend to be constantly looking for what the next big thing is, they forget we are already basically living in the future science fiction writers imagined. Who knows what the next few years will bring us.
2018 is here, and despite being optimistic on what the year will bring, I am also concerned.
My concerns for this year can be grouped into one central theme, the safety of Ontario’s roads for drivers.
One of my concerns is that people are not getting the message about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Recently, I was shocked when I saw the statistics Durham Region police released, in early January, from their annual Festive R.I.D.E campaign. Despite stopping over 800 less cars than the previous year’s campaign, there were more people charged with drinking and driving offenses. 112 people were charged in 2017, up from 99 in 2016.
It baffles me that some people seem to think it's okay to drive after drinking, especially given how accessible information about the perils of drinking and driving is, in this day and age. It also makes me a little more afraid for all North Durham drivers.
However, drinking and driving is not the only driving trend I am concerned about.
Recently, in a video posted on his twitter account, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Sgt., Kerry Schmidt reported that there were 341 people killed in road collisions on roads patrolled by the OPP in 2017, which was an over 11 per cent increase from 2016.
He stated in the video that the highest percentage of accidents were “distracted or inattentive related collisions.” He also stressed that this is not limited to just cellphone use, but “all sorts of activities that are taking your attention away from driving.”
As a driver myself, I know that to drive safely you truly need to have “eyes in the back of your head” as the old saying goes. A driver being distracted for even a moment can lead to a fatal accident. Driving requires your 100 per cent attention and the fact that the OPP is reporting that distracted driving is still a top killer confirms this point.
I hope when we reach the end of this year, the statistics regarding drunk driving and distracted driving will represent a decrease from 2017. If nothing else, safer roads for all drivers, young and old, is something I hope to see in 2018.
With Christmas almost upon us, I’m feeling oddly more festive than I have in the past few years.
Yes, I realize in a previous column I wrote about how the Christmas season always seems to start too soon, and I still stand by that opinion. However, as I write this, I am actually feeling quite excited about this coming Christmas. Don’t ask me why, I’m not quite sure.
I’m going to capitalize on this feeling, by penning this column about my favourite memories of Christmases past.
Shortbread cookies, for me, have always been a reminder of Christmas. I remember, as a kid, helping my mother decorate the cookies with sprinkles and different coloured icing. The taste of shortbread cookies always reminds me, the Christmas season is here.
One of my favourite Christmas Eve memories is, after leaving church in Port Perry, looking out the car window to see the different Christmas light designs on people’s houses and lawns. I remember after going to church, I would always be excited about how Santa was coming that night, and how seeing all of the houses lit just filled me with a bit more Christmas spirit. To this day, I still enjoy seeing the creative ways people light their houses.
Like many kids, I remember, Christmas morning, rushing downstairs to see what Santa Claus had brought me. I’ve never really been much of a morning person, so my mother or sister would usually tell me to get up and go downstairs. Despite being groggy, the feeling of excitement and joy, at seeing the gifts, always beat the tired feeling.
On Christmas day, after everyone finished their Christmas dinner, for a number of years, I remember a bunch of the family members getting together at the table for a card game. I remember it being just something fun to do, before the celebrations were over. For me, I enjoyed learning the rules of the game and being with the adults for a bit. I think card games, for me, were a bonding experience, as I played them as a kid, with my great grandmother in her apartment.
Looking back on my memories of the Christmas season has reminded me of all of the good times I’ve had at Christmas time.
As I wrote in my last column, reflecting on what we have done, rather than looking at what we have not yet achieved, is a good way for people to feel accomplished. In the same sense, those who are not yet feeling the Christmas spirit should remind themselves of the positive memories they’ve had at Christmas, in order to feel a bit more cheerful and excited about the season.
Before I end this column, let me just congratulate my mother Lorie on 25 years working for Medical Associates of Port Perry.
Merry Christmas everyone!
When listening to the radio recently, I heard about an interesting idea called the ‘reverse bucket list.’
For those who don’t know, the reverse bucket list is simply a list of what you have accomplished in life, instead of what you have not yet been able to accomplish.
I found this idea intriguing because it encourages people to really think about, and appreciate, what they have done in life. It fits with something I wrote in a 2015 column, where I explained how people tend to only focus on how to get from point A to point B, and forget to enjoy the small moments. With this reverse bucket list idea, instead of looking at how to just get between those two points, and possibly getting frustrated that they haven’t got to point B yet, they instead would focus on all of the things they have done thus far.
Personally, I think we all need to spend more time reflecting on the things we’ve already done and remembering fond memories from those times. I also don’t think many people truly recognize how many things they have accomplished in their lives, because the focus is always, ‘what is next on my list to do.’
As a reporter, I understand how quickly life tends to rush by. Each week, as soon as we finish one news cycle, another begins, and the focus quickly shifts from the previous week to getting things ready for the next paper. However, at some times when I am feeling like things are moving slower than I hoped on certain stories, or I am feeling less accomplished, I simply take a moment to look at stories I felt were successes and to remind myself of the circle of people, such as friends or family, who care about me.
I think, through this kind of reflection, people can see how they’ve grown through experience in their career or in life in general, and can see just how important or accomplished they truly are.
As well, some goals can be large in nature and so seem far away. With this list, people can reflect on the small things they’ve done to eventually reach these large goals.
With the Christmas season here, and with it being the final month of 2017, I think, now is the perfect time to reflect on our accomplishments. I encourage people to write their own reverse bucket list.
Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy