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AJAs 2020 Finalists


Garrett Barry


 

Slug/Label
Date Aired or Published 2020
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC NL
Name of Program: Here & Now
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Twillingate, St. Alban's, Happy Valley-Goose Bay
List awards, grants: N/A
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

My submission contains three items that were made for broadcast on CBC N.L.’s Here & Now in 2020. A bird watcher’s tale - CBC N.L. Here & Now - Broadcast July 8, 2020. Focus: Randy Jenkins of Twillingate has a deep and special connection with nature — one that he developed after a violent armed robbery turned his life upside down. After moving far away from the scene of the crime, he’s gotten to know the birds that hang around his new backyard, and has even learned to feed them from the palm of his hand. This relationship has helped him through the PTSD that he still grapples with today. This reporterless piece ties together an in-depth interview with Jenkins, some archival footage about the armed robbery, and several of the online videos that have made Jenkins a local social media star. During the COVID-19 pandemic, as Newfoundland and Labrador was plunged into a lockdown, Randy’s online videos became more and more popular. Throughout these videos he openly and honestly discussed his struggles with trauma. When I first arrived at his home in Twillingate Jenkins already had a bird eating out of his hand, and the rest of our shoot was just as lucky. My eventual report was broadcast a few weeks later: I took the intervening time to find archival CBC footage and newspaper coverage of the armed robbery in 1994 which helped fill in the details of Randy’s story. It also helps the viewer understand the gravity of his trauma, and the extended legal process that kept the incident in the headlines and in Randy’s life. Although the filming took place in one afternoon, the editing process was considerably longer. The final piece ran almost 5 minutes, which is long by our standards. I also produced a version for the CBC local news website, and this piece was also shared to our own social media channels. The main challenges of this piece were navigating how to appropriately and respectfully interview a speaker about a serious violent incident and also how to respectfully present that interview to a broad audience and the subject himself. There is a delicate balance that must be reached: You don’t want to retraumatize anyone in the course of your reporting, but it’s also key that the true depths of emotion and fear be shown so that we can understand how dark the world around us can be. I was thrilled when Randy said the broadcasted piece felt like he was re-telling his story from a whole new perspective — this time, he was outside of a courtroom, and wasn’t testifying under oath. Further, like most stories filmed during 2020, we also had to respect social distancing rules during the filming process, which made our shoot a bit stiffer and a bit more formal than it otherwise would have been. Nonetheless, this is one of my favourite stories of 2020. The main resources used during the production of this piece were travel expenses and time. Increased online learning puts rural N.L. schoolchildren at 'a huge disadvantage’- CBC N.L. Here & Now - Broadcast July 30, 2020. Focus: Just about everybody switched to video-conferencing during the pandemic — but in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, it wasn’t so simple. Families across the province say their home internet services just aren’t sturdy enough to keep up with endless video streaming, and they fear serious repercussions if their children are only catching every second word that their teachers are saying. This broadcast piece combines interviews with parents, town officials, and children about their experiences and fears for online learning. It also features my own research and explanations for why continued government investment in internet infrastructure has not paid off. This enterprise piece was built over the course of several weeks, and it combines voices and scenes from across the province. For the report, I interviewed speakers in the south coast communities of St. Alban’s and Milltown, and in the tiny central communities of Winter Brook and Southern Bay. I also showed scenes I created in Elliston, near Bonavista, and in St. John’s. The piece aimed to tackle fairly novel and ongoing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic: The stress placed on internet infrastructure and the reality of uneven access to internet across Newfoundland and Labrador. One of the biggest challenges for me in researching and scripting this piece was trying to find a way to quantify, in specific terms, exactly what the families were struggling with. The issue is twofold: the internet service is poor, and the new video-conferencing world is resource intensive. Most people are familiar with poor internet, but don’t usually see the technical bottlenecks behind it. To tackle that challenge, the piece contains several explanatory sections: I first give a history of internet infrastructure in the area and how it has aged over the past several years in comparison with Canadian averages. I then take viewers through a hands-on demonstration, where I call a colleague of mine, that shows how the demands on that infrastructure have changed and how new applications are much more demanding than old ones. This piece required a large amount of research and required that I sift through old government press releases and tendering documents to find the exact spending amounts and contract standards I was looking for. Ironically, throughout the course of my reporting I also had to deal with the very same problem I was documenting. Several of my interviews took place over video-conferencing software, and I experienced first hand how difficult it was to keep a clear video and audio feed. I decided to leave some of those moments in the finished piece to show in visible terms the issues that we were discussing. The main resources used for this story were travel expenses, as the story included shooting in multiple communities. Versions were also made for radio and for CBC’s local news websites. This report turned out to be pretty prescient, as a new COVID-19 lockdown in 2021 shut down schools once again, and families are again dealing with these unaddressed problems. Labrador homeless left out in the cold - CBC N.L. Here & Now - Broadcast Nov. 23, 2019. Focus: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, drop-in supports that functioned as warm places for homeless people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay have shut down. It’s left people with nowhere to go during long and cold winter days; Some advocates fear it will lead to hypothermia and other serious illness. This piece combines interviews with shelter operators, advocates and homeless people about the situation they are facing and their fears for a long and cold winter. This piece was born out of other stories that sent shockwaves across Newfoundland and Labrador in the fall of 2020. First, a video of a violent arrest of a homeless Indigenous man in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was published online. Then, a sitting MHA was widely criticized for calling the homelessness in his own district a ‘choice’. As a result, there was a desire to create a deeper piece of reporting about the issues surrounding homelessness in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. I went straight to the people who knew the problem the best: homeless people themselves, and the people who work the closest with them in the shelter and in the community. What I heard in those conversations and interviews was shocking — because of COVID-19 restrictions, men and women were forced out of the safety of the shelter and onto the street every day, despite frigid cold temperatures that regularly plunged below -20 celsius. That information became the core of an enterprise piece that also took weeks to report. My first interview took place October 20th, and the final interview happened a full month later. The final piece ran over 5 minutes and included 5 different speakers. It crucially included interviews with individuals who are experiencing homelessness themselves. The main challenges of this story were to respectfully find and show the experiences of homeless people. These people do not normally have a big platform, and they are usually rarely seen in the community. As discussed in the piece, most homeless people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay spend their days hidden in the town’s trail system. I was able to make contact with some men through the housing shelter. Some agreed to tell their stories on camera, and others were more comfortable speaking to me off air. All of them helped shape my report and gave me perspective. It was important to me that this perspective was the anchor of my reporting, and it became both the leading and closing interview clips in the final product. The main resource used for this piece was time: It took time to track down each of the speakers that were required to tell a complete story. That time was spent listening to long interviews, accessing government documents and correspondence, and getting explanations from the various non-profit groups and housing groups present in Happy-Valley Goose Bay. A version of the piece was also published on the CBC news website. This piece was reported while I was on an extended assignment in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, so travel expenses were also necessary. Following our broadcast of this story, some policies were changed, and the housing hub shelter is now open during the daytime for homeless individuals to stay inside.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

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