Why are marine mammals washing up dead?

Why are marine mammals washing up dead?

Answer 1: Life’s tough, and more to the point, finite. So, animals die, even the charismatic ones that humans like. That’s Nature. Answer 2: Some thing, or things, are happening in the ocean, and these are signs of that. I don’t know what the answer is, but there have been a lot of stories lately about marine mammals washing up dead on B.C. beaches. I’ve certainly reported on a few for CBC News. For example: The Department of Fisheries and Oceans told me yesterday they’re “concerned, but not panicking” about at least eight harbour porpoises that have washed up dead in recent days on southern Vancouver Island. Maybe they were hunted to exhaustion by transient killer whales, or the weaker ones died during breeding season, or something else. The provincial government’s Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford is conducting necropsies starting today. [Update: now, at least nine porpoises have washed up in five days.] A brand new killer whale calf just washed up near Victoria. Again, the cause of death is not known, and the Animal Health Centre is investigating. Here’s my story interviewing the veterinary pathologist on the case. Survival is low among newborn killer whales, so the death itself isn’t surprising, but some populations of them are so endangered this death was treated (a) as an urgent case and (b) as an opportunity to learn more about what’s going on. There have also been at least five grey whales washing up north and south of the border (CBC) (The Province). This is apparently not unusual; it happened at the time when grey whales pass here on the way...
How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media

How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media

This weekend at the Northern Voice conference, Kirk LaPointe from The Vancouver Sun and I spoke on a panel called “How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media.” The visuals I used, created using a new-to-me online tool called Prezi, are posted online here. I won’t recount the whole thing, but here’s a couple of key ideas I talked about. Social media makes my city smaller Smaller, more interesting, perhaps even more friendly. In my talk, I told a story about my first job at CBC: a short-term stint as CBC Radio’s Nelson bureau reporter. There, it was a lot easier for the public to reach me, if they wanted to. No security desk, no switchboard in Toronto, just a one-room office and the phone number was in the book. In a big city newsroom like CBC Vancouver, it’s very different. It would be easy (though not smart) to avoid “the audience” almost completely. In my opinion, good journalists don’t — with or without social media. I use tools like Twitter to reach out beyond the people I would otherwise know, to get to know my city better. My networks are bigger, and that makes my city smaller. Social media as “social scanner” So, if you see something on Twitter, do you go report it on air? No, of course not. It’s like a police scanner to me. People who work in news sometimes listen to chatter on the police scanner to find out what’s happening. A fire in Coquitlam. A fatal MVA in Abbotsford. Just because you hear it, doesn’t mean you immediately go on air with it. You need...
New and improved! Feed has arrived.

New and improved! Feed has arrived.

Well, mostly just improved. I had been getting pretty frustrated with some pieces of this site that weren’t working. There had never been an RSS feed, the comment form was broken, and so on. So, I hit up the very friendly people at the WordPress help desk at Northern Voice this weekend. Not only was the help free, but it was nice. No judging when I introduced the problem to each subsequent person as: Sorry, I built the site myself, so it’s probably not done right, and I probably can’t tell you how I did it…. Miss604 gave the first crack at it, with some tips on plugins that might work better for me. Then Digital Entomologist Lloyd Budd took it on for hours, looking for where I hid a wee bit of code that he figured was messing things up. He eventually did, with a little help from Scott Leslie, and now the feed works. Thanks all! I also learned a lesson: plopping code somewhere to make the site look prettier just might be breaking...
Shrinking my city with social media

Shrinking my city with social media

I’m going to be speaking at the Northern Voice conference this weekend, joining Kirk LaPointe from the Vancouver Sun on a panel called “How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media”. One of the tricky things in trying to prepare my presentation is that the subject matter is my job, but this is supposed a “Personal Blogging and Social Media Conference” — something the conference organizers reminded speakers about, oh, five or six times. So, what to do? Well, quite a few people are talking about their jobs, actually. Take uber-science communicator David Ng for example. Science is his work, but it looks like his Northern Voice talk will be a human take on the world he works in, and a project he’s passionate about. And that’s what I’ll be aiming for. Using social media as a journalist is guided for me by personal interest and my own judgement of where lines are that shouldn’t be crossed, not just by CBC corporate policy. [See below for more discussion of this point] If you’re at Northern Voice, maybe you’ll check it out. Or, just say hi in the atrium. Update: We discussed this a bit in my talk, and I’d like to add in text here what I said there. I am mindful of CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, and know I could be called on by my bosses to defend anything I write online. But the official rules haven’t kept up with the changing technology and ways of working, so I have to use my own judgement to decide how to apply them to new situations. And, I use social media...