Category Archives: Philanthropy

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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

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….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

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

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

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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