Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Military and the Media.

When the temperatures dropped below -40 at the Forward Operating Base (basically a makeshift camp with dozens of tents and a ton of snowmobiles), soldiers were quite willing to step inside my heated tent and chat with me.

I’
ve had some mixed reactions while travelling with the troops. Most have been willing to talk to me but many have their reservations about the media.

“I dealt with a number of journalists in Afghanistan,” one Corporal told me after I introduced myself.

“Really?” I replied.

“Yeah. I F***
ing babysat them the entire time," he said.

One Warrant told me firmly he’d never talk to the media after the Somalia Affair. When I asked why, he jokingly said he’d tell me later in life when I become a “big time” reporter and, now that I think about it, probably means never.

I asked a Master Corporal what she thought of journalists and she told me the last time she did a lengthy interview with a reporter about being a female in the Forces, the paper only published one off-hand remark about her not having to shower with the boys.
Honestly, I didn’t know how to respond to their distrust of the media. They have valid points.

I’
ve learnt first-hand that the Canadian military is wary of journalists. I don't know why or when the disconnect happened, but I do know that I’ve had to earn a lot of people’s trust on this trip and I think it’s been a positive experience for both the soldiers and myself.

One of the Warrant Officers I spent a lot of time with sat down with me and talked about him renaming the Forward Operating Base to "FOB
Braun" after soldier, David Braun, who was killed while on tour in Afghanistan. When the other media came out for the day and wanted to talk to him, he refused.

It’s a great story and we’re both glad it’s being told.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Aloha from the Arctic



So I was dropped off in the middle of the tundra the other day with 200 men that I didn't know. It was slightly frightening.

But since travelling up to Churchill with hundreds of troops over a week ago, I've discovered that the army has its own peculiar way of making you feel right at home.

Within an hour of being dropped off at the army's Forward Operating Base in Nunalla, Man. I found myself being thrust onto the shooting range with a heavy gun in my hand.

I didn’t ask for a chance to shoot, in fact, I told the boys I was afraid of weapons and even the sight of guns in police holsters makes me feel uneasy.

Every part of me wanted to stand back and watch, get some quotes from the troops and then head back to my tent to write a story.

I've also learned that standing behind the scenes doesn’t fly, so before I could think of an excuse a C-7 Rifle was in my skittish, civilian hands.

It was awesome. More to come!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's cold in Churchill.

Just a quick update from my arctic adventure!

Today I took my very first helicopter ride. It was a blast. No polar bear sightings yet, though.


We flew out to capture photos of the 2 PPCLI (that's right, I'm learning army acronyms) as they trek up to Nunalla, Manitoba. I'm going to be joining them in a few days for the final trip up to Arviat, Nunavut.

More to come!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Earl Cook Update

A few posts down you'll see a post called Earl Cook's Story. Melyssa and I created a five-minute profile on Earl, who is an amazingly determined young man fighting cancer.

Earl's story is pretty extraordinary. He was born with FASD, grew up in foster care and at the age of 19 was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma. Since his original diagnosis in 2007, he's had the cancer return seven times. But with some help from his close friends on the Detroit Red Wings, he's battling the disease with the most positive of outlooks. Watch the video and you'll see!

Anyways, it's only been about a month since we handed in the story but so much has happened with the story since we posted it online.

My instructor Steve Vogelsang sent TSN's Darren Dreger--who first introduced Earl to Red Wing's head coach Mike Babcock--the link to our video. On Thursday he tweeted the link saying "Earl's story is a good one and Jennifer and Melyssa did an excellent job telling it."

Yes, he called me Jennifer, but, really, Darren Dreger can call me whatever he wants considering the video went from 100 to nearly 800 views.

The most exciting part of this whole thing is that CBC National is now doing a documentary on Earl's story. I told a producer--who happens to be a family friend--about the project a couple of months ago. Earl and Mike Babcock did an interview for CBC's Information Radio and from there it has expanded into a TV documentary that will air across Canada. And when it does... Jennifer Cable, is taking full credit for shining a light on Earl's amazing story.