Thursday, May 17, 2012
On World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2012, CJFE launched its third annual Review of Free Expression in Canada, a unique, magazine-like resource that takes a free expression lens to Canadian issues from the past 12 months. To mark the release of this publication, generate discussion on the state of free expression in Canada, and honour our commitment to the defence of an open and accountable press around the world, CJFE called out for volunteers to help create a unique outreach event on this special day. The mission this year was to engage with media staffers – journalists, technical support, hosts, administrators – and the general public on the critical aspects of the Review’s content, and help cultivate CJFE’s visibility as an essential resource for media workers and concerned Canadian citizens alike. The volunteer turnout was an enormous success, and the event would not have been attainable without these dedicated individuals. CJFE was lucky to have the support of a diverse crowd of volunteers ranging from journalism students to bloggers to activists, and the variety of backgrounds and opinions helped CJFE convey our message and promote the Review in a number of helpful and creative ways. Volunteer teams targeted major press offices around downtown Toronto, promoting the Review to staff around the building. Covering a hefty stretch of downtown Toronto, the commitment of the volunteers helped CJFE to distribute over 1000 postcards, and help educate citizens about the importance of World Press Freedom Day. Staffers at the Toronto Star and CTV/BellMedia met the group outside and took pictures, while volunteers had no trouble distributing dozens of postcards to curious passersby at busy locations such as Queen St. West and Dundas Square. Because the three groups of volunteers were set to travel between nine different media outlets spread across Toronto’s downtown core, outreach and engagement with the general public was both feasible and encouraged. People passing by were often amused by the clever CJFE t-shirts donned by all volunteers, and some were drawn into longer, more focused conversations about free expression issues with our reps. Reaching media staff, as well as passersby, the buzz on the street was amazing. Thanks to the overall success of this experimental approach to promoting the Review, visibility of free press and expression issues, and the organization at large, CJFE is excited to develop new plans for events like this in the future. Awesome work, everyone!