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article imageTopFinds: From Investigative Citizen Journalism in Africa to Smoking Stronger Pot

By David Silverberg     Jun 13, 2008 in Internet
The AIDS/HIV crisis hurting South Africa. John McCain stealing Clinton supporters from Obama. The unveiling of Apple's 3G iPhone. These are the top stories making headlines around the world.

Technology & Internet

The major news in the tech world this week focused on Apple's 3G iPhone announcement, and Chris V. was on top of the unveiling: he wrote about the innovative MobileMe software, while also posting the Wall Street Journal's first impressions. Don't you feel sorry for the iPhone's early adopters?
Several other tech and Net stories piqued our interest: Switching from Windows XP to Windows 7 could leave you open to security holes, Kesavan Unnikrishnan reported; a new military supercomputer can conduct more than 1 quadrillion calculations per second, Paul Wallis wrote; Google introduced a "Skip Intro" button for its search results, Chris V. wrote; and Nathalie C told us about casual games being embraced by disabled players, writing: "Casual games were said to provide relief to disabled participants, as 94 per cent said these games brought them physical or mental benefits."


Bill Clinton is facing new rumours of hanky-panky. As Mr. Garibaldi reported, Clinton is being accused of having an alleged affair with actress Gina Gershon. Some Citizen Journalists weren't surprised: On the other hand, do we get mad at a spider for spinning a web? Nope, it's part of what a spider does. Bubba is the same way.
Several other political stories should be on your radar: Ralph Nader is slowly gaining momentum in the presidential race, Can Tran wrote; Barack Obama said he'll partner with John Edwards' wife on health care projects, Sue D. posted (so is an Obama-Edwards ticket on the horizon?); hackers may have targeted Dennis Kucinich recently, Can Tran found out; a controversial digital copyright bill was presented to the Canadian feds, Bob Ewing wrote; and Mark L. Harvey tore the United Nations a new one, asking "Why do we fund this useless organization when all it does is promote raping and pillaging and all other manners of human rights violations?" If you want join Mark in the UN bashfest or want to defend the international body, contribute to the article's comments section.
And the Blog Post of the Week goes to Michael Johns for his lengthy review of William Buckley's life and impact on Conservatism. There was poetry in this well-crafted ode to a political juggernaut, and it's worth reading if you're curious about Buckley's role in modern politics.


"What used to be caused by smoking can now be caused by water bottles." It was a chilling way to begin an important article on how drinking from water bottles can cause wrinkles to form around the side of the mouth, as Samantha A. Torrence reported. It looks like workplaces may need to start banning water bottles from the office.
Several health stories raised our collective eyebrow: military treatment for depression is pathetic, Paul Wallis exclaims; normal nature scenes are more relaxing than those same scenes displayed on a monitor, Bob Ewing said; and the White House announced today's marijuana is more potent than it used to be, KJ reported, although several commenters were wary of the claim and wonder if the U.S. government has its best interests in mind when it released the information.

TopFinds Awards

TopFinds Awards for June 13  2008
Topfinds award winners for the week ending June 13, 2008.
Illustration by
A powerful article stood out for giving readers a first-hand account of a country ravaged by disease and poverty. The TopJournalism Award goes to Alanna Wallace for her intimate look into St. Lucia in South Africa (full disclosure: Alanna is editor-in-chief Chris Hogg's cousin, but that didn't influence our decision in honouring Alanna with the award). She not only divulged her personal reasons for going to South Africa and why she is heartbroken to see AIDS and racism still plaguing the country. She also illustrated the article with excellent poignant photos, proving how integral citizen journalism can be in shaping stories from the ground up. Well done, Alanna!
Should hate speech be defended by the U.S. Constitution? It was one of the many intriguing questions raised by Paul Wallis in his brilliant TopOpinion Award winner. Writing about free speech and the U.S. role in misinformation, Wallis dissected how different countries view the hate speech and how the Western media has fallen prey to publishing "Islamophobic materials." This article is a great summary of the role of free speech in a democratic society, so treat yourself to some provocative phraseology when you want to fire up those neurons.
BMW s GINA Concept Car
BMW's GINA Concept Car
Photo courtesy BMW
It might have been the most visually arresting images found in any tech article: Chris V's piece on BMW's concept car gave us a new meaning of "cool"...and also gave Chris a TopTechnology Award. He explained why GINA is an incredibly creative car bound to make auto afficionados have wet dreams for weeks. Chris also deserves kudos for complementing editorial with snazzy photos of the car from practically every angle, while also embedding an informative YouTube video of GINA's contours. Wait...that sounded wrong.
Botched piercings in the UK -- and their consequences -- were at the heart of Michelle D's article that took home this week's TopHealth Award. Readers learned how serious the situation is in Britain, as half of kids who got mates to pierce them received infections from the body jewellery. The article was clear, informative and supplemented with key quotes. The photo alone was reason enough to stop anyone from getting studded.
The money to support critical jobs such as nursing just isn't there, Nikki W. informed us in an insightful piece winning this week's TopEducation Award. She said, "If students can get loans in areas of need, there will be no breaks for them when it comes to repayment." Nikki is concerned about how this cutback trend will affect the future, writing, "It will be more interesting to see if the number of critical jobs will see an even greater decrease, causing more problems in the area of healthcare and education." This sad news should be worthwhile reading for anyone interested to learn how tax breaks and loan forgiveness could be a thing of the past.
Sen. John McCain in Chesterfield  Mo.
Presidential candidate John McCain shocked observers when he told a crowd of supporters, "There's going to be other wars. ... I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars."
How is John McCain warming up as a Hillary-friendly candidate? Will he steal the November election from Obama by reeling in Hillary's voters? Find out the answers by reading Johnny Simpson's article on McCain's role in taking advantage of the bad blood between Obama and Clinton. In this TopPolitics Award winning post, he also divulged his own political leanings (no big surprise) and who he will endorse in the upcoming election, suggesting several reasons why this year's election will be intense.
It's always impressive when a writer goes the extra mile by adding multimedia to articles. The interviewer extraordinnaire who accomplished this feat, while also winning the Top New Citizen Journalist Award, is Bob Andelman, aka Mr. Media. His articles aren't what readers are used to: Bob's entertainment interviews are audio posts, giving readers, um, listeners the unfiltered Q&A. There were chats with political blog editors, documentary filmmakers, sitcom creators, and Hollywood producers. Every post was Citizen Journalism at its finest -- original and under-recognized interviews, polished with a unique voice and salted with humourous introductions. Keep up the great work, Bob!

Photo Caption Contest

Hillary Clinton in Lorain  Ohio
Hillary Clinton on a campaign stop in Lorain, Ohio
Photo by ronni44052
Last week, we introduced's Photo Caption Contest and gave you a chance to add a funny caption to a photo of Hillary Clinton. We received a few great submissions but there can only be one champ: congrats to 666divine for her caption: "Monica! Is that you?" Enjoy your newfound fame as DJ's first caption queen!
Once again, we're challenging all citizen journalists and readers to come up with the funniest photo caption for the photo below. We're looking for something to tickle our collective warped sense of humour and we invite everyone to click on the image and leave their funny caption in the comment thread. Please only write one caption per person. Entries must be received by Thursday June 19, 2008 by midnight (Eastern). Anything later might still be enjoyed anyway.
The winner gets a fat cheque ("check" to Americans) for $500. We do have a processing fee of $500, however, leaving you with no real incentive. Instead, we're offering a simple congrats next week when we post our TopFinds weekly news round-up. Think about it: Your name can be up in the lights with the DJ greats. That's so much better than $500, isn't it?
Click on the pic of Barack Obama below and let your creativity shine:
Barack Obama
Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama
Photo by Center for American Progress Action Fund
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