Category Archives: World & Local Politics

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

Jordan J. Hay is a photographer on the move up

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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.

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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

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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

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First-time author MIKE VELSHI launches his memoir in Toronto

In a story familiar to many in North America, first-time author M.H. (Mike) VELSHI shares his family’s multi-generational struggles adapting to new cultures and customs, relationships and career choices across three continents. Mike spent yesterday afternoon (Sat. Mar. 22) autographing copies of his memoir, Conversations on Three Continents, for friends and book lovers at the stunning South Asian home décor boutique MONSOONS in the heart of Yorkville.

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Opening with Mike’s parents in India in the early 1930’s, the book traces his family’s journey as they escape political and cultural conflicts in India, Kenya (where Mike was born) and Uganda, with Mike finally arriving in Canada in the mid-1970’s, finding a safe haven that offered both family security and cultural challenges.

Mike was surrounded by friends and family (below)

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A big thank you to the folks at Monsoons pictured below: co-owner APARNA (centre), her assistant ANGEL (r) and her son, AVI (l)

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We were thrilled to welcome radio host, musician, poet and author NIK BEAT to the event

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And Mike was interviewed by young journalist SACHIE DA CUNHA (below)….

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and the event was shot by my killer photo journalist assistant, GABRIELLA LUCHETTA (below)

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You can learn more about Mike at : www.FrangipaniPress.com or purchase his book online at Amazon.com

Visit Monsoons at 144 Yorkville, Ave, Toronto (n.w. corner Avenue Rd) www.Monsoons.ca

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SOLIDARITY WITH OUR UKRAINIAN FRIENDS & NEIGHBOURS!

20140305_131254(0)Big shout out to those brave souls who battled chilly winds at the corner of Church & Bloor Street East in downtown Toronto today as they added their voices to the world-wide protest against Russia’s involvement in the struggles back home in the Ukraine. This past weekend, there was a huge crowd on this corner (next door to my home) drawing attention to the terror that their countrymen and women are experiencing. The local Toronto Ukrainian community is coming together to make sure we’re all aware of what is going on and I encourage everyone to watch the news on tv, read online news flashes and do your research, and support them and every society that is under threat of political, religious or gender terrorism.

Bravo to the Toronto Ukrainian community!

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