Category Archives: Human Rights

THE LITTLE TORONTO NEWS SITE THAT COULD – MEET PUBLISHER KJ MULLINS OF NEWZ4U.NET

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to one of Toronto’s unsung heroes, a woman who launched a news site that champions the underdog stories and gives a voice to those causes and issues that don’t get much exposure in mainstream media due to their lack of media “sexiness” or mass appeal. These are the stories that confront day-to-day life and issues in the naked city.  KJ Mullins is passionate about Toronto and her neighbours, and publishes her daily NEWZ4U.NET e-newspaper with the help of talented reporters and photographers dedicated to bringing the real news to you without corporate or advertiser “filters” and without fluff or filler content.

I recently sat down with KJ and asked her to tell us all about NEWZ4U.net and what prompted her to create the site.

newz1

Tell us a little about KJ Mullins – what is your personal journalism/business background?
KJ: I started out in college on the journalism track but went to drama/psy instead. Ten years ago after other jobs and being a stay at home mom, I got the writing bug again and this time went full steam.  One of the first articles I wrote back in college helped to bring forth positive changes for disabled students rather quickly, and seeing that I could make a difference was really powerful.

KJ MullinsWhen was your website first launched?
KJ: I launched NEWZ4U.NET on May 12, 2010.

What first inspired you to create Newz4U & what news niche wasn’t being fulfilled by the national newspapers?
KJ: I wanted to get my voice out there and the voices of others who may not fit into the mainstream model. Social issues like homelessness, poverty, LGBT issues and the arts are often overlooked in the mainstream because if it’s not a ‘front and centre’ story it isn’t sexy. The same is true with stories on the city’s front line responders – in mainstream media the motto of if it bleeds it leads also means that stories about good works aren’t covered. It’s rare to find articles about the various Kops and Kids programs that do curb youth violence.

homeless porter_002 DSCF8097How did you source your first news items?
KJ: We have always sourced our news items in the same way; with on the scene and through interviewing with fact checking. We also use reliable newswires for additional coverage. 

What sort of feedback did you receive from readers once the first few editions were e-published?
KJ: Knock on wood, from the beginning we’ve had positive feedback. For the readers who had personal issues in the city like a pot hole appearing and reappearing at their Toronto Community Housing building which we helped to bring positive results, the feedback was extremely positive.

DSCF4820DSCF4961

DSCF0879Who are your readers and how do you reach them?
KJ: Our readers are mostly from Toronto and are generally 25+, evenly mixed between genders. Most have university educations and many are movers and shakers. They are interested in social change and the arts.

DSCF3761As a web-based news source, what sort of reach does Newz4U enjoy?
KJ: In 2014 we had over 449K readers who read over 2.4 million articles. We average 31K monthly readers going through 146K articles.

What stories do you look for?
KJ: We are always looking for new stories about social issues. Fresh produce in the city, and childhood hunger is a current issue we are tackling hard. In Canada’s largest business city it is mind-blowing how many go to bed hungry every night or haven’t got a bed to sleep in. We’ve covered Pride and the Caribbean Festival for several years, looking into the areas that aren’t touched by mainstream.

DSCF2517The arts are also a strong interest for us. We cover as many events, big and small, as possible. Right now we are working on the RBC Taylor Prize and the Lionel Gelber Prize, both covering Canadian non-fiction literature. Each shortlisted book is read and reviewed prior to the prize announcements. It’s a lot of work but promoting our Canadian authors is very important. These men and women are putting forth some amazing work. Photography, fine arts and music are also a prime focus. We hope to be at the Junos this year with one of our newest writers whose focus is music.

DSCF8833 DSCF6408We will also be covering sports at the Pan Am Games. Our sports photographer, Hugh McClean, has been covering soccer and rugby in the past year, two sports that get very little coverage in the city.

?????????????????????Do you offer sponsored pages or ad space and if so, what is the range of $s?
KJ: This is a hard one for us but yes we do have ad space. Ads run from $25 to $150 a month depending on placement. We have plans to change up our layout in mid-March/early-April that will allow for pages to be sponsored as well. Prices for this are still in the works.

We also have a sponsorship program which gives ‘free’ ad space for Toronto small businesses. Our Angel sponsors keep us going and growing.

NEWZ4U.NET gives back to the community by offering local grassroots and small charities space for promoting themselves and their events for FREE.

How do people reach you for editorial coverage and/or advertising?
KJ: We are always available via email at editor@newz4u.net. We respond within 24 hours Monday-Friday. You can always get in touch with me personally on Twitter @kjjournalist.

20141018_143931Above photo: G.J. Fordham

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

KICKING OFF TIFF SEASON, BASK-IT-STYLE !

Thanks to an invitation from Jessica Glover of GLO Communications, I enjoyed a great kick-off to this year’s Toronto Int’l Film Festival with a visit to their Royal Suite in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel today in order to check out the cool goodies being delivered to incoming celebs and VIPs by Bask-It-Style (this is their 6th year presenting gift bags to the stars).

I was greeted by one of Jessica’s charming assistants, Sierra (below) then off we went, dropping into various rooms, sampling goodies, meeting vendors and learning about nifty new tech stuff, too.

20140903_141637

I met the talented author Adrienne Kress (below) who was showcasing a number of her kids and young adult fiction – can’t wait to read the complimentary Kobo copy of her “Outcast” book. She’s also into steam punk so her book “The Friday Society” looks super cool. check out her work at http://www.adriennekress.com  Adrienne also mentioned that she was involved with the hysterical “Ryan Gosling Must be Stopped” YouTube hit series so let’s go check that out.

20140903_135047

I then met jewellery designer Tamara Kronis (www.studio1098.com) and the rep from DK Publishing (a UK-based publisher who specialized in fabulous coffee table books) http://www.cn.dk.com , and then Sierra introduced me to renowned best-selling author Linwood Barclay (below) who was gifting visitors with his new thriller “No Safe House”…I got excited ’cause I thought he said “No Safe Horse” (I write for a horsey newspaper and offered to do a review for him…LOL). He kindly autographed a copy for me and it’s inscribed To Glenda: next book – horses! Brilliant…www.linwoodbarclay.com

20140903_140140

I then noticed a fellow dropping an eReading device into a big jug of water…waaaaaa?!  Turns out it’s the new KOBO which is being launched in a few weeks’ time. OMG, how cool was that? Thanks for the demo, Rene. http://www.kobo.com

20140903_140332

Woohoo! My Mary Kay girls were in the house! How nice to find such lovely ladies who always make me look pretty. Marijana and Natalie are happy to show you some beautiful eye shadows, lip gloss and skin products – http://www.marykay.ca

20140903_140609

Yummmmmmm…that’s all I can say about these awesome and very healthy fruit & veggie smoothies from Nature’s Touch (www.naturestouch.ca). Now I’m not usually keen on smoothies, I’ve always found them a bit sludgy or “gritty” but these are bloody great! Bravo, Nature’s Touch…you may have a convert on your hands!

20140903_140817 20140903_140821 20140903_141010 20140903_141019

20140903_141139

After my shot of healthy smoothie, I decided to pass on the deelish frosty pops offered at the very crowded beer bar…

20140903_141250

 

….and then I found two lovely ladies who were informing guests about philanthropic opportunities with Hope4Help and FreeThem/5th Annual Freedom Walk (below) I strongly recommend you visit their websites to see how you can make a difference.  www.Hope4Help.ca  and  www.freethemwalk.ca

20140903_141449 20140903_141506 20140903_141532

Big THANK YOU to Jessica (below) for her hospitality – congratulations on another successful and fun event!

20140903_141725

Now back to that book….Linwood, you got me hooked!!

20140903_191726

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

VOCAB’s CHRISSY NEWTON INVITES US TO “MEET ME IN AFRICA” AUGUST 20TH

flyer

I’d like to introduce you to a new passion project for my PR colleague, Chrissy Newton, who needs your support and your dollars for the upcoming fundraiser, Meet Me in Africa, starring some of our brightest, most talented entertainers. The event takes place on the evening of Wednesday August 20th at Speakeasy 21 on Adelaide W, downtown Toronto.  I hope to see you there…for complete information, check out  http://www.meetmeinafrica.ca.

With a passion for helping others locally and globally, public relations agency VOCAB Communications Founder Chrissy Newton recently launched her company’s philanthropic program called Meet Me in Africa which showcases how one person can make a social impact in the world.

Two years ago, Chrissy was on a charitable media trip with MTV Canada and Life Momentum looking to support a local Tanzanian youth based program and during her visit, she met a group of children at the Mama Jane Orphanage and decided to help upon her return home.  “I fell in love with the kids and fell in love with Mama Jane,” said Newton. “You can’t just go to Africa and go into some really underdeveloped areas and not come out changed.”

Africa 1

Newton returned to Arush in 2013 and got a greater sense of what’s needed at the orphanage. Her goal is to nurture the Arush orphanage and help develop youth-based programming, sustainable agricultural and housing development so Chrissy and a team of volunteers will visit the orphanage annually and work directly with the local youth and families.

collage-copy-1024x543

For 2014, the goal is to build an outdoor kitchen and wooden fence. Chrissy confirms that all funds raised from VOCAB’s “Meet Me in Africa” August 20th fundraising event will go directly to these projects, including hiring local tradespeople to complete all the work. “[The project] may seem small, but it’s big for the orphanage,” says Newton.

Chrissy-151x151

This generous philanthropist truly believes in the people behind the brands she works with on a corporate level. Chrissy inspires her clients to go the extra mile to do good for the city while expanding their own brands. http://vocabcommunications.com/chrissy

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

URBAN SOURCE CREATIVE CATERING features delicious menu at Inside Out LGBT film Fest launch party

As a straight-but-not-narrow supporter of my friends & neighbours in Toronto’s LGBT community and the proud aunt of a wonderful, loving gay nephew, I was honoured to attend last night’s VIP reception for this year’s INSIDE OUT LGBT Film Fest here in Toronto. http://www.InsideOut.ca

???????????????????????????????Hosted at the beautifully presented ABBOZZO GALLERY @ 401 Richmond West [www.abbozzogallery.com] URBAN SOURCE CREATIVE CATERING was again responsible for the most dee-lish nibblies of any film fest this year with a catering menu that included Urban Lobster Rolls, Pear & Arugula Hand rolls, Southern Fried Chicken Sliders, Chipotle Pork Tostadas, Caramelized Fennel, Jerk Chicken Rouelles and Cranberry Orange Brie Mostarda. Are your mouths watering yet! LOL

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

USCC partner Wayne Abell was ably assisted by Cybele (pictured below) and an awesome staff of servers who kept all the guests well-fed….

???????????????????????????????

… and I was pleased to be introduced to InsideOut organizer Winnie Luk and Fabio Audi, star of InsideOut’s Opening Night Gala Film, The Way He Looks (below) by Wayne.

???????????????????????????????

My fabulous and energetic photographer, Gabriella, captured some great shots of the guests enjoying the reception and she schmoozed with all the servers to make sure she captured some great food shots for Urban Source Creative Catering.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Urban Source Creative Catering offers great menus for all sorts of events: galas, fundraisers, weddings, birthdays, corporate events – so do check out their website for ideas and inspiration, then give them a call to find out how they can make your own next event a success.

http://www.UrbanCatering.com

???????????

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

URBAN SOURCE CREATIVE CATERING SUPPORTS HEART & VISION AWARDS in TORONTO

What a privilege it was to attend last night’s Toronto United Church Council’s 6th annual HEART & VISION AWARDS CONCERT held at the Metro United Church in downtown Toronto. My client, Urban Source Creative Catering, kindly invited my photographer Gabriella and me to attend this extraordinary event that celebrated the social activist work and lives of two great Canadian women: SHIRLEY DOUGLAS and JACKIE RICHARDSON.

Apart from her acting career (and being Keifer Sutherland’s mum), SHIRLEY DOUGLAS has spent most of her life supporting Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, and, being the daughter of Tommy Douglas, the founder of Canada’s healthcare system, she continues to fight for our rights for free and accessible health care. She speaks on behalf of the Toronto Health Coalition and Canadian Health Coalition.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Ms. Douglas (pictured above) has been awarded 4 honourary doctorates, has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, won numerous film & TV awards incl. the Lifetime Achievement Award from ACTRA, a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

JACKIE RICHARDSON (pictured below) has become one of Canada’s most respected musical stars – a jazz, R&B and gospel icon – whose passion for singing has inspired her daughter, KIM, who joined her mum on stage for a roof-raising duet, to pursue her own singing career. Starting in the 60’s as a member of Motown’s girl group The Tiaras, Jackie has performed on concert stages across Canada and appeared on TV, theatre, film and radio. Truly a unique and powerful voice, Jackie has shared her talent and vision with numerous charitable organizations and has a long-standing relationship with the Regent Park School of Music.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

There were several exciting musical performances that had the audience jumping to their feet in rousing applause including Thom Allison, Jacob Meinnis, Alana Bridgewater and Julie Michael & Heather Bambrick who were joined by Joe Sealy, Jason Jestadt and Diane Leah from the “orchestra pit”.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

As the concert & awards drew to a close, Julie And Thom led us out of the church and downstairs to the deelish treats prepared for us by URBAN SOURCE CREATIVE CATERING.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Flagged - 885

As everyone gathered in the cosy church basement, it felt like a real loaves & fishes moment as Rev. Doctor John Joseph Mastandrea (below R) helped share the nibblies.

???????????????????????????????

Many of the Toronto United Church Council members enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres …….

??????????????????????????????? 20140512_213108 20140512_213426

…..especially the “cheesy balls” which were particularly popular, thanks to my raving to everyone within earshot that they were the best cheesy balls in the city! Having attended so many soirees over the past month or so, I can honestly say Urban’s “cheesy balls” are THE BEST!  And see – everyone else thinks so, too…

??????????????????????????????? 20140512_214936 20140512_214939

Peter Mazzotta, publisher of Let’s Eat Out (LEO) Magazine joined in the festivities and he and his wife (below with me) thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and food.

Flagged - 886 ???????????????????????????????

And I certainly enjoyed meeting members of the Metro United Church congregation – such lovely, generous folks.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

I started feeling like a groupie when I chanced upon Jacob who had thrilled the audience earlier with his rousing renditions of Someone Saved My Life Tonight and In My Life. He truly is a very talented singer…and looks strangely like Modern Family’s “Cam” don’t you agree?

???????????????????????????????

I was also thrilled to run into old friend and fellow cast member from The Rise & Fall of Tony Trouble (Canada’s first made-for-cable TV movie) and ex-Nylon, MICAH BARNES.  I screamed out one of my fave lines from the film, “Jorge, dahlink” and it was like we were back on set and Micah was swinging me from the chandelier at the old Park Plaza (now Hyatt)!

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Lots of great photo opps with some of my favourite ladies…thanks, Gabriella, for capturing these memories for me.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

I’d like to give a big shout out to two fabulous ladies who kept everything flowing so smoothly last night. Our host and MC, TABBY JOHNSON (below L) was such a joyous presence in the pulpit, and the quietly efficient ALI HAYES (below R) who managed a fabulous volunteer team and kept us all organized.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Again, a big THANK YOU to the Urban Source Creative Catering team and the Toronto United Church Council for presenting such an awe-inspiring awards concert.  Please visit our hosts’ websites:  http://www.urbanCatering.com   http://www.tucc.ca

???????????????????????????????

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NEWZ4U.NET carries great story on photo-journalist JORDAN J. HAY

Jordan J. Hay is a photographer on the move up

ShareShare

Jordan J. Hay

KJ Mullins-Toronto: One of the pleasures of the annual CONTACT Photography Festival taking place this month is finding new talent. On Tuesday night at Hotel Ocho, 195 Spadina Ave, an emerging artist launched his first exhibition. Jordan J. Hay has the raw power in his images that can only continue to grow.

Jordan J. Hay did not set out to become a photographer. His first love is journalism which lead to him putting a lens to his eye and capturing what he saw. Four years ago the young Hays was covering the devastation in Haiti when he started taking pictures while on assignment. He was so young to the craft that those first images were on another’s camera. When he submitted his article he included his photos and was surprised that the art was sought after.

In those images and his later work Hay has been able to capture the heartbreak and the hope in the eyes of the world’s poorest children. Each image comes with a tale as Hay gets to know his subjects.

At Ocho Hotel he spoke of the pain grandmothers are facing in areas of Africa that have seen a generation vanish after AIDS brought a tidal wave of death. His photos of one such family in Zambia quietly reflects the struggle where grandchildren are being raised in absolute poverty with little chance of change.

JHay008

JHay009

Some of Hay’s work comes from his work with his work with several Not-For-Profits like Compassion, Gospel for Asia, International Red Cross, Picture Change, Save the Children, World Vision. One of the pieces on display features a little girl smiling while holding her family’s new goat in Haiti. I asked Jordan if he sees a difference being made in communities where NFP funds are present. Hay was enthusiastic about how what looks like such a small change, like a goat, can turn the lives of a family completely around.

Hay’s work is impressive. He has the raw talent that makes him an artist to watch and can only grow into his craft. Unfortunately Ocho Hotel is not the best venue for his show. The space’s windows opposite his photos give a glare that takes away from his work. I am sure though that gallery owners who view his images will be lining up to host an exhibition for a young artist who could be the next photographical story teller like Gordon Parks.

Tibet by Jordan J. Hay

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HAUNTING PHOTOS OF FACES FROM FORGOTTEN CORNERS OF THE WORLD

Canadian photo journalist JORDAN J. HAY (pictured below) has photographed some of the most desolate, forgotten outposts of humanity around the world and in each portrait, he is able to capture the apprehension, heartbreak and glimmers of hope in the faces of those who pose.  As part of this year’s month-long Scotiabank CONTACT Festival of Photography, Jordan unveils his debut exhibition with a media & public reception at Hotel Ocho, 195 Spadina Ave, Toronto, tomorrow Tuesday May 6th, 6:00 to 9:00pm, featuring a selection of his stunning, evocative portraits that capture the palpable emotion saturating the expressions of his subjects. about680x320

I’ve Just Seen A Face encapsulates the humanity of the men, women and children who struggle to survive in the world’s zones of poverty, conflict and disaster. Spanning the 4-year period 2010 to 2013, his images reveal intimate moments shared within communities that few outsiders ever reach. “The most effective communication comes from the ability to capture a moment. Capture a moment; tell a story. Tell a story; connect with your audience. Connect with your audience; build a relationship. From there, endless possibilities.  I strive to effectively communicate the life I experience. In the process, I attempt to leave a positive impact with all I meet, though especially in the lives of the vulnerable and impoverished.” Jordan J. Hay. JHay003 JHay004JHay001

He continues….Photographs are unrivaled in their ability to communicate and to inform, to elicit emotion and to preserve history.  I specialize in documenting the plight of children in the remote and unforgiving conditions of poverty zones, disaster zones and conflict zones in developing nations across all continents.”

afgan woman and child girl with goat

Past assignments have taken him to extraordinary, unfrequented destinations including El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Turkey, Israel, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Nepal, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Peru and many others.  Jordan will be in attendance at the May 6th reception for a meet-n-greet, and then flies off for yet another assignment, this time in central Mexico. Email me a.s.a.p. if you would like to be added to our guest list. E:  fordhampr@rogers.com

Please visit Jordan’s website to view his portfolio & travels:http://stocktondiction.com/

His work on display is available for purchase, ranging from $250 to $300.

I’VE JUST SEEN A FACE

Photographs by Jordan J. Hay

SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVALMay 2014

Hotel Ocho, 195 Spadina Ave. Toronto

Reception Tuesday May 6th 6:00pm to 9:00pm

JHay005

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,