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Media Club of Ottawa      quil-pen  
Formerly the Canadian Women's Press Club                             

the Media Club of Ottawa presents monthly programs of significance
to professionals in all branches of the communications field. 
Our program offers a stimulating variety of speakers.

Qais-Ghanem                  Dani-Elle                     Katelin Belliveau Bruce-MacGregor
Alexandra-Pope - speaker            Qais-Ghanem - speaker                                  Amira Eghawaby - speaker                                  Dani-Elle Dube - award winner                           Katelin Belliveau - award winner                                                                          Bruce-MacGregor - speaker

History-------------------- ------------- Events------------- -----------The Galley---------- -------Year in review ----------Subscribe------- -----------Members---------

April-May 2021

COVID-19 restrictions

Our program has been switched  to
publication of articles by our scheduled speakers on their topic

Publication date:
Tuesday April 20, 2021


News capsule

Ainalem Tebeje
The Zoom Virtual Readers Theater group of the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) church, in Los Angeles presented
a reading of Ainalem Tebeje’s book, A Love Story In Broken English, on July 9, 2020. If you missed it you can watch the presentation on the church’s link -
Ainalem spoke to the Media Club about her book in October 2018 shortly after it was published. You can read a report about her talk on the Media Club website

Susan Korah
In addition to her regular freelance writing assignments Susan Korah participated in a project aimed at helping spread the word about important health information to some of the world’s most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. In conjunction with her friend, Swedish journalist Nuri Kino who initiated the project, Susan helped produce a u-tube video designed for the benefit of refugees, migrant workers and other marginalized people who haven’t mastered the language of their country of residence and therefore have limited or no access to important health information during the COVID-19 crisis. The video has also been shared with associations, government departments and individuals working with new Canadians.

June Coxon
An article about Susan Korah's project appeared in the June issue of Sandy Hill’s community paper,  A similar one, highlighting opera singer Maria Knapik, featured in the video, was printed in the September issue of
, Vistas, the Alta Vistas’ community paper. Both articles were by June Coxon

Kate Allen
Our out-of-town club member Dawn Monroe.
sent us the sad news that Katherine Allen has died. Kate was a club member for many years while living in Ottawa and after moving to Toronto. Dawn says she learned the news from Kate’s daughter, Heather, who said her mother had been ill for a couple of years with PSP, a rare brain disorder that can rob a person of speech. A recent Ottawa Citizen obituary said there will be a celebration of life for Kate once everyone can meet together again. Kate was an artist, columnist and the author of four books. She illustrated a number of notecards featuring some of the women on Dawn Monroe’s Famous Canadian Women website.

Dawn Monroe

Dawn now has well over 3,000  mini biographies on her Famous Canadian website. She was scheduled to speak to club members in June 2020 about creating that website,  but was unable to do so because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, she wrote about it for us. You wil  be able  read her report in the near future.

Qais Ghanem

Qais, who was to speak to our group in April,  was featured in a column in the June 2020 issue of community newspaper Vistas. The two-page column Our People by Courtney Tower appeared on pages 11 and 12. If you missed it you may find it online at 

Don Monet
Although this news is old now CUBE Gallery, owned and operated by Don Monet and Becky Rynor,  closed May 12, 2019, after nearly 15 years of operation. It first opened on Hamilton Avenue in 2005 before moving to the Wellington Street location. Numerous events and exhibits featuring local artists, including a retrospective featuring club member Shirley Van Dusen’s art in 2017, were held there. Don and Becky were both Media Club members for a number of years and Becky was club president in the 1990s.

Jagjeet Sharma
Local freelance writer, radio host, and poet. Jagjeet Sharma, published her third book of poetry this year, called Raindrops. As with her other books, proceeds from sales of this book go to the University of Ottawa’s Heart Institute.

The Media Club of Ottawa has co-produced an anthology about the pandemic with the Ottawa Ethnic Media Forum. The book contains articles, stories and poems written primarily by local authors. It was  published at the end of November 2020.

While COVID restrictions are in force

Bobbi Graham                  speaks to us, virtually, in writing
Barbara Florio Graham

                  Close to the Truth
by Barbara Florio Graham

There was a Monty Pytho
n documentary called Almost the Truth. Comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term truethiness to describe beliefs that have little foundation in evidence or fact.

 One wonders, sometimes, if these satirical definitions apply to books labeled Creative Non-Fiction.

 When I was teaching high school, the difference between fiction and non-fiction was clear. That's not the case any longer. Writers are now adopting the philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright, who said, The truth is more important than the facts.

 The late Don Hewitt, who developed 60 Minutes, the first “magazine”ype TV show, has been quoted many times as saying that what was important was to tell a good story.

 But how important is it for the story to be true?

 I recently heard two award-winning Canadian authors describe how they research and write. Columnists for two different newspapers, each has to find a timely subject, gather the facts, and then write a coherent narrative that will appeal to readers.

 One told us how he fabricated an embarrassing story about himself to get the subject of his interview to confirm a rumor the writer couldn't reveal without verification. One wonders how  ethical that technique is.

 The other author, whose books document local and regional history, revealed that he often has to make up stories about real people when he's unable to find any written documentation. In one case, meticulous research of many volumes of letters gave him only a hint of a key relationship, so he filled in the blanks.

 This popular writer is also a poet and song-writer, and claims that his works are poetic documentaries. He claims there are two key themes of non-fiction - love and bereavement - that drive his books.

 History, he claims, is a bad filing system, as it's been written primarily by victors rather than the vanquished, men rather than women.

 He feels his ability to tell what happened to the others, those who were forgotten by the historians, makes his books valuable. Readers definitely agree.

 We hunger for the truth, making biographies of celebrities and politicians best-sellers. Memoirs are extremely popular, often landing the author on talk shows.

 But we know that most celebrity biographies are ghost-written, with heavy direction and editing by publicists and editors. And we recall the memoirs that turned out to have no basis in fact, including one that embarrassed Oprah when she discovered the author had made up most key details in his book.

The NY Times endured several scandals a few years ago when staff reported on incidents that never occurred, quoting fictitious  participants or witnesses.


As a publishing consultant, I've heard from authors who feel their lives deserve to be documented. Sometimes they're looking for help with organizing and editing. A few want to know if their book will still sell if it's written as fiction, and if they take that route, how heavily do they have to disguise the real people and situations. 

 I'm not sure I have the answer to these questions. I often equivocate, saying It depends.

 What does it depend on? Is the Good Story an honest portrayal of what happened, even if the details had to be extrapolated?

There's a new term being used for autobiographies that include scenes, dialogue, and even actual facts that may not be accurate. They're calling it "Auto-Fiction."

 Although I'm troubled by that term, I've actually subtitled my most recent book "Not Really a Memoir," describing the book as follows: "This book is truthful fiction, because the truth is not fixed. It depends on who is remembering, who is reporting, who is listening, who is reacting."

 Some of the chapters are first-person accounts which are as truthful as my memory provided, corroborated by others who were there, as well as verified by facts I was able to check. Others are written in third-person, using a fictional character I establish in chapter one. These chapters include incidents that I recall but can't verify, dialogue I've had to imagine might have taken place, and substitute real locations with imaginary places.

 I ended up writing two chapters in the voices of people I knew very well, doing my best to represent their speech patterns and how I think they felt, but changing all names and carefully disguising  other key details. I included actual dialogue I remembered, but only those who know me very well, and knew these two people (both now deceased) will recognize them.

 As a journalist, I felt strongly that I didn't have the right to repeat conversations I didn't actually hear or participate in, or to make assumptions about someone else's thoughts and motives.

23 I don't plan to publish this book, but if that happens, I hope it will be read as "truthful fiction."

24 The public is fascinated by people they think they know. Biographies, autobiographies, movies and documentaries are extremely popular. So the next time you pick up the book on your nightstand, or watch a documentary on your TV, ask yourself how much of it is true?

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of three books, and offers publishing advice on her website:  She also offers a database of Canadian libraries, and many free resources.

Barbara Florio Graham

Barbara Florio Graham is a writer, teacher and communications consultant whose clients have included 14 Canadian federal government departments, 12 national and international organizations, 14 regional organizations, as well as many corporate and business clients in the U.S. and Canada.  Barbara has contributed to more than 30 magazines and newspapers around the world, websites in 44 countries in 11 time zones, and 37 print anthologies in six countries.

She is the author of three books, Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, whose 20th anniversary edition was published in 2005, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, which won an award from IABC in 1990, and Mewsings/Musings, which won an award from the Cat Writers' Association in 2001.

Her award-winning Christmas Story, first published by Nelson Bros. Canada for grade seven students, has been reprinted in high school textbooks for students learning English in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

She is a Book Shepherd for Dan Poynter.  With Dan and two other members of the executive of the Small Publishers and Writers Network, she created a comprehensive description of "pay to publish" companies.

As a publishing consultant Barbara advises authors in one-on-one mentoring. She is also the Managing Editor and a contributor to Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List, which will be published by Bridgeross (a mid-size trade publisher in southern Ontario) on May 15

A graduate of Barnard College (Columbia University), Barbara majored in English with specializations in theatre and writing along with a minor in music. She received her broadcast training at NBC in New York, and taught at two prestigious private schools in the United States, the Calhoun School in New York City and The Latin School of Chicago. While in Chicago she took post-graduate courses in psychology at the University of Chicago.

After moving to Canada in 1967, Barbara continued a freelance career that she had begun, part-time, much earlier. First published at the age of nine, she won a Regional Award in the National Scholastics Writing Awards for a short story she wrote while a freshman in high school. She freelanced part time for various organizations during her career as a teacher and public relations director



Media Club of Ottawa
 Executive  2020-21
President,  June Coxon
Secretary-Treasurer. Iris ten Holder


Board of Directors:
June Coxon, 
Iris ten Holder,
Helen Bednarek Van Eyk

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