John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


A rare double billing on bylines

There are days on the People’s Wire – that’s The Canadian Press to you – that are really quiet, where we focus on Canadianizing stories from the Associated Press and crafting small, quick stories of our own.

But then there are days like yesterday when we live on the phone, recording conference calls, working from news releases and hunting down stories.

Over the weekend Milos Raonic was named the ATP Tour’s Newcomer of the Year. I put together a story on it and contacted Tennis Canada to ask if they’d have any media availability with the Thornhill, Ont., native.

Raonic wasn’t immediately available, but the PR person assured me he’d have a conference call on yesterday.

Sure enough, when I came in to work my boss Neil Davidson had printed off Tennis Canada’s notice about Raonic’s availability. I hopped on the call, rolling tape for radio stations on our broadcast wire and to refer to for colour on this story.

It took a few drafts, but we got the Raonic story to a good place and it started spreading across the Internet.

It was soon overshadowed though. The American League’s Most Valuable Player was named yesterday afternoon, with starting pitcher Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers – already the AL’s Cy Young winner for the season – getting the nod from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Verlander beat out Boston Red Sox fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Toronto Blue Jays right-fielder Jose Bautista.

Oddly, Bautista decided to hold a news conference from his home in the Dominican Republic.

It was a strange move because, usually, pro athletes quietly nod and say “so-and-so had a great season” when they miss out on major awards. They may be pissed, but they hide that disappointment from the media for fear of looking like a sore loser.

Not Bautista, however.

He angrily made a case for why he or Ellsbury should’ve won the MVP award instead of Verlander. Bautista’s two major points were that Verlander didn’t play every day – an implicit qualification for the award – and that he was passed over for the honour because he played for the Blue Jays, a team far out of playoff contention in the fall.

Again, I had to write a full-length feature story (almost 800 words exactly) in just over an hour’s time.

Cranking out two features in a day would be stressful at the best of times, but I was also writing regular broadcast sports bulletins and doing other stories as well. It was a hectic day on the desk.

Naturally, an all-star player like Bautista complaining about an MVP snub made big waves, with several outlets putting the story online. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan even cited the story in one of his stories.

This morning, on a hunch, I bought the print edition of the Globe and Mail, assuming that my Bautista story would make the Toronto edition.

It didn’t – but my Raonic piece did. Here's a photo of the only story that has ever made it onto my fridge door at home.



A funny thing happened on the way to the video feature…

EDIT: The Globe and Mail has now uploaded my video on lacrosse goaltender pads. You can view it here.

A few weeks ago Neil Davidson, my editor at the Canadian Press, suggested I do a video feature story on the padding an indoor lacrosse goaltender wears. We agreed that having a professional lax goalie put on all his gear and demonstrate how it protects him would be perfect for a short, two-minute piece.

As a result, I spent last Saturday morning in the bowels of the Air Canada Centre interviewing Pat Campbell, the back-up goaltender of the National Lacrosse League's Toronto Rock. Pat was incredibly nice and a great interview. We shot some really good footage of him putting on his gear and explaining each piece - including some funny asides about his personal superstitions - as well as a general dicussion in the stands about being a goaltender.

Neil then suggested I turn my extra quotes from Pat into a written feature story. After all, most of the Canadian Press' clients are smaller dailies across Canada that don't carry video on their websites.

Both the video and the article were released late yesterday, with the story popping up in several places online, including and the Winnipeg Free Press. I'm still searching for the video online, but I'm sure it'll pop up at some point.

"There’s a simple reason why an indoor lacrosse goalie looks like, in the words of the Toronto Rock’s Pat Campbell, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

A lacrosse shot can go faster than the average hockey slapshot — and usually is fired from closer range.

“You just can’t be afraid of the ball,” says Campbell, an 11-year veteran of the National Lacrosse League. “I often have to convince myself that it’s a rubber ball, not a bullet." - Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Feb. 2nd 2011.


Review: Civilization V

Otto von Bismark is just one of the 18 world leaders you can play as or against in Sid Meier's Civilization V.

Last week I finished writing a review of Sid Meier's Civilization V for the Canadian Press. It was picked up by a lot of news outlets including,, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, the Guelph Mercury, the Winnipeg Free Press, 570 News, Sympatico's Sync, the Medicine Hat News, 680 News and Yahoo! Canada.

I was pretty pleased with the finished product, although props have to go to editor Neil Davidson for adding some spit and polish to the finished product.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I love writing my own reviews, but hopefully I'll be able to do more video game review in the near future.

Please follow the links above or below to read the whole piece.

Minutes become hours that bleed into days with "Sid Meier's Civilization V."

The latest instalment of the classic PC game casts the player as the leader of a Stone Age society tasked with guiding a nation to the heights of civilization.

"Just one more turn" is an unofficial motto of "Civilization V" players, as they plot their nation's progress city-by-city and develop social policies, trade routes and technologies. Waiting for the responses of enemies and allies creates a compulsive need to play more and more.