Mailing list established for tsunami survivors

L-Soft International which hosts a lot of e-mail lists on a variety of topics said it has established a list where the discussion is intended to be for survivors and those looking for survivors. Here's the blurb from L-Soft:

In response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami tragedy, L-Soft has created a list forum for survivors to connect with others for support and to seek out those who are missing.
To join the list and to search messages posted to the list, go to:
The Tsunami-2004 list is hosted at RELIEF.LSOFT.COM, a LISTSERV® site created to assist organizations involved with the relief efforts
associated with the tragedies of September 11, 2001, the Florida Hurricanes of 2004, and other similar disasters.
If your organization, or other organizations that you know, could benefit from a donation of L-Soft's email list hosting services to aid the relief
efforts, please contact Connie Rice at or call +1 (301) 731-0440 to make arrangements.
L-Soft wishes to thank all organizations providing assistance to the victims of these tragedies.

More on Corporate Canada and the Asia disaster — giving without seeming like you're trying to benefit

My colleague Paul Waldie takes a look in today's Globe and Mail at one of the challenges for businesses that wish to donate: How to give without seeming like you're trying to make a buck on the giving yourself.

When executives at Best Buy Canada Ltd. considered how to help victims of the devastating tsunamis in Asia, they wanted to do something that involved their customers but did not make the company look opportunistic.
“It's a very fine line,” said Lori DeCou, a spokeswoman for the 144-store chain, which includes Future Shop outlets.

The Burnaby, B.C.-based company decided to make a $50,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross.
It is also encouraging customers to come into one of its stores and make a donation, which the company will match up to an additional $50,000. Ms. DeCou acknowledged that some people might view the campaign as a crass way of attracting customers, but she said the firms is genuinely trying to help.

One company, Showcase, which sells gifts and gadgets at its 31 stores across the country, is donating seven per cent of all sales made at its stores this weekend — perhaps a better example than Best Buy's of an initiative which seems to say, “Help boost our bottom line and then we'll donate.”
The Showcase press release also has an extra pitch: “As an added encouragement, customers will also save the GST on all of their purchases during this donation period.”

[What they said] The blogging two-step

Henry Farrell, writing on the Crooked Timber blog, puts forth a position on the relationship between mainstream media and bloggers which is very close to mine, namely, that both are important and both are an important source of information. Farrell, though, has a message for those bloggers who think that blogs (in the forms that we know them now) will one day replace mainstream media:

” If you think that blogs should replace the mainstream media, then you should be prepared yourself to live up to some minimal standards of scrupulosity, intellectual honesty, and willingness to deal fairly with facts that are uncomfortable for your own ideological position. You should be prepared to live up yourself to the standards that you demand of others. Exercising the “shucks, I’m just a little old blogger” get-out clause is rank hypocrisy when you want the blogosphere to devour the New York Times whole.”

Update on corporate Canada disaster relief donations

I'm still trying to track down how and where corporate Canada is pitching in to help the situation in South Asia. Lots of companies — big and small — are doing something.
Lots are not — or rather, are not yet doing something.
Four of the 10 largest Canadian companies and 12 of the 20 largest, measuring by assets, have yet to announce any plans to donate cash or help those on the other side of the world.
I won't start naming names until I'm able to do a little more homework.

Corporate Canada steps up

Corporate Canada started stepping up in earnest today to help out with the South Asia disaster, mostly by donating cash but also through donations of services or goods. Others are facilitating either donation collections or relief. Could corporate Canada be doing more? Probably. But let's save that debate for another day and focus instead on what companies are doing rather than what Canada's largest company's are failing to do.
Here's some info culled from various press releases. (Let me know what I'm missing.) I've listed some companies, such as General Motors, whose corporate headquarters is not here but which has a significant employee or revenue base in Canada.
Of some note, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, a bank that's been the focus of the wrong kind of news for a little while, was, so far as I could tell, the first major Canadian company to volunteer some cash, offering $100,000 for disaster relief within two days of the disaster (and on a bank holiday, no less!) and announcing that donations for disaster relief would be accepted at any branch.
These releases, then, are presented in roughly the chronological order that they were announced (All dollar figures Canadian and all times Toronto time unless noted). The first press releases soliciting donations on behalf of various charitable organizations began hitting the wires on Sunday, Dec. 26 after 4 pm Toronto time:

Looking for John and Jackie Knill

John and Jackie Knill (pictured left)of North Vancouver, B.C., Canada were last seen in in Khao Lak, Thailand. Have you seen them?
If you have any info at all about the Knills, get in touch with a Canadian government official or let Chris Cummer know. He's trying to help out a friend by asking any bloggers who will help to spread the word about the search..
This morning on Canada AM, Terri Knill, John's brother and Jackie's sister-in-law, spoke to Bev Thomson about the search. You can watch that interview and see another news piece my CTV colleague Genevieve Beauchemin did on searches underway for the Knills and other Canadians missing in Southeast Asia. [The video links are on the right hand side of this page]
My Globe and Mail colleague Jane Armstrong had a piece today on the search for the Knills.
The CTV Web team has a page up with some instructions for Canadians looking for people in South Asia.

I'm co-hosting Canada AM

If you're the early bird type, I'm the holiday fill-in for Seamus O'Regan this week on Canada AM. It means I was up at 3 a.m. and off to work at 4 a.m. today and for the next couple of days but, change is as good a rest, as they say, so I'm happy to take a break from my reporting duties.
The show airs weekdays, 7:30 am to 10 am in the Atlantic region, and 6:30 am to 9 am elsewhere in Canada on your local CTV affiliate.
This week, you won't be surprised to hear, we're spending a lot of time talking about the South Asia disaster. This morning, for example, we spoke with Sri Lanka's Commissioner to Canada, officials from the Red Cross, and the twin brother of a man who survived being swept out to sea in Thailand.
We also heard from CTV reporters in the region. My old Toronto bureau colleague Steve Chao, now our Beijing bureau chief, is in Phuket, Thailand and Matt McLure, who I trained with when we joined the network at the same time in 2001, is in Sri Lanka. Matt is the network's South Asia Correspondent and is normally based in New Delhi.
If we can, we'll likely speak with Steve and Matt Wednesday morning.

Reporting the disaster of our lifetime

John Schwartz, writing in the New York Times today, says this:

For vivid reporting from the enormous zone of tsunami disaster, it was hard to beat the blogs.”

Actually, it was pretty easy. In fact, the very edition that carried Schwartz' story had a piece by Amy Waldman that it is a model for vivid reporting and easily surpasses some of the stuff Schwartz holds up as great blog-reportage (bloggage?).
Here's Schwartz:

At, Nanda Kishore, a contributor, offered photos and commentary from Chennai, India: “Some drenched till their hips, some till their chest, some all over and some of them were so drenched that they had already stopped breathing. Men and women, old and young, all were running for lives. It was a horrible site to see. The relief workers could not attend to all the dead and all the alive. The dead were dropped and the half alive were carried to safety.

Now, I love blogs. I've got one and I read dozens a day.
But read the passage from Kishore's blog above and contrast it with the following passage from Waldman's piece, which describes an Indian man's ordeal as he discovered his dead wife and then was forced to quickly bury her:

In the huge hole in the earth, Muniamma's husband, Mani Natrajan, a 35-year-old fisherman, bent over the mound that now represented his wife and draped a bright red cloth over it. He had found her less than an hour before, in the morgue at the government hospital, where a morbid sweetness cloyed the air and khaki-clad police officers wore white masks over their mouths.

Waldman's piece is terrific writing because it shows and doesn't tell. That makes it different from a lot of blog-reportage which tries to tell the reader what to think and sense. (Or worse, blogs that are long interior monologues that describes what the blogger was thinking and sensing as a situation unfolded.)
We know, even after reading this short passage from Waldman, that “it was a horrible site to see.” But Kishore and other amateur bloggers would rather tell us then do the hard work of finding and describing the details that led them to their conclusions.
Moreover, Kishore and other bloggers tells us what was happening to a group of people — “men and women, old and young” and “relief workers” — while Waldman gives us two characters — a gravedigger and a fisherman.
What reaches into your gut more? Waldman's piece does, of course, because in reporting specific details she shows us the site — even hints at how it smelled — and it easy with the details she provides to get a powerful sense of how horrible a site it is to see.
What else is great about Waldman's reportage here? The writing is active. A lot of bloggers write in a passive voice — a “Dear Diary” past tense that reduces intimacy and immediacy.
What else? Waldman, like every great reporter, lets verbs and nouns do most of the work. Weak writers fill up their paragraphs with adjectives. Even weaker writers resort to adverbs. Want to write with a powerful intimacy? Strip out every adjective and modifier and use nothing but nouns and verbs.
That way, an adjective sparingly used has much more power and meaning: “bright red cloth”, “morbid sweetness” and “white masks”.
And finally — quotes are used sparingly. In fact, she has precisely one perfect quote in the piece, well down in the piece, and it's all of seven words. Had she done what many beginning writers might do and larded the piece up with quotes from others, the quote she uses would have lost all its power. Here's Waldman again:

“He had said goodbye to her and their three children Sunday morning after dropping off some fish at their thatched shanty near the shore of his village on India's southeast coast.
He walked a few hundred yards to his boat at the nearby backwater. Soon after he heard shouts and saw people running, and then saw a wall of water taller than the trees wash over his home, then suck it and his family out to sea. He himself held onto a tree to avoid being swept away.
“Even one child I could not save,” he said.

I'm singling out Waldman but I've seen lots of great reportage like this from the world's mainstream media outlets that is easily more intimate and powerful than much of the bloggage I've read.
So keep it up bloggers — I love reading them — but there's more — much more, in fact — to being able to provide a powerful eyewitness account to an event than simply being there.

John Tomlinson: Culture

…culture can be understood as the order of life in which human beings construct meaning through practices of symbolic representation. If this sounds a rather dry generalization, it nevertheless allows us to make some useful distinctions. Very broadly, if we are talking about the economic we are concerned with practices by which humans produce, exchange and consume material goods; if we are discussing the political we mean practices by which power is concentrated, distributed and deployed in societies; and if we are talking culture, we mean the ways in which people make their lives, individually and collectively, meaningful by communication with each other.
John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999 (p. 18)