Newsana Community Member Profile – Damiano Raveenthiran

Meet Damiano Raveenthiran



Damiano is a New Media Journalist from Montreal, Canada. Over the years, Damiano has focused his attention on human rights news working with the Concordia University chapter of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR). Damiano quickly climbed the ranks within the organization and in 2012 became the president of JHR Concordia.

During his time at JHR Concordia, Damiano co-hosted a weekly radio show known as the JHR Rights Report, which was featured as the number one show on the Rabble Podcast Network for 6 weeks in a row. With the help of his team of journalists, Damiano created an international network of news corespondents, the first of its kind for a university chapter of any organization.

In 2012, Damiano teamed up with Amnesty International and the UK based film production company CODOC to plan the Canadian premiere of the award-winning documentary ‘The Truth That Wasn’t There‘ successfully beginning a conversation about press freedom and civil conflict on the Island of Sri Lanka. In 2013, Damiano created the first Human Rights Documentary Scholarship at Concordia University by raising funds through film screenings and Human Rights events.

The popularity of Damiano’s passion for Human Rights caught the attention of several experts in the field of international relations. Consequently, in 2013, Damiano was invited to speak at a United Nations conference on Multimedia and Multiculturalism.

After leaving JHR Concordia, Damiano started focusing his attention on the new field of psychedelic journalism and is currently working on de-conditioning the general public thinking regarding the stigma on psychedelic medicine. His goal is to make people aware that psychedelic medicine and native remedies are viable options to treat common mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders.


Damiano is currently finishing a BA degree in Political Science and Human Rights at Concordia University in Montreal.


1. What makes a great social media site? 

Personally, I am a junkie for anything that changes my already established frame of mind. To me, a great Social Media website needs to be able to engage its audience with dangerous ideas that shake the status quo and challenge their views by constantly presenting new facts and by investing in the users that do just that.


2. Where do you go for great content online? Why there?

I get my news from several mainstream and alternative news sources but Social Media websites are my number one place to get great content. I like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit because they allow me to start a conversation on topics that aren’t often seen or explored by mainstream news. Because I am a news junkie I also check the mainstream news cycle but I believe that social media allows me to interact with new ideas and new ways of looking at the world that I would not have if I only stuck to mainstream news outlets.


3. What’s your favourite type of content (infographics, interviews, thought pieces, studies, etc) and why?

I really like podcasts. Podcasts offer news that can be consumed anywhere and at any time. In the ever-changing world we live in today, most of us are constantly moving from one place to another. I believe that consumers of podcasts are able to get their news from multiple sources while doing simple everyday things such as taking the bus or cleaning the house. This allows the everyday person, one that does not necessarily work in the news industry, to stay up to date with what is going on around the world in an fast and effective manner.


4. Which of your Newsana pitches are you most proud of?

I am really proud of the first pitch I made for Newsana which was a story by the LA Times called “Exploring therapeutic effects of MDMA on post-traumatic stress“. I like this story because it gets people to reconsider their idea regarding this substance, which is largely seen as a recreational drug and something that is ultimately not that great for society. I believe that nothing is black or white and that everything is a different shade of grey. One needs to be able to critically think about any information he/she is presented with and stories that shake the common conceptions that society has are my favourite.


5. What’s the best part of Newsana?

I joined Newsana as soon as I heard of Ben Peterson’s idea to make a social media network for people that are addicted to news like myself. To me, the best part of Newsana is that it offers a seamless way of sharing news through the in-browser share button and a community based interaction that votes on stories that are deemed important by people that value news. I believe that as Newsana develops, the community and the upcoming features on the site are going to revolutionize how we share news and I am honoured to be part of the first people to be in this community of great storytellers.

Newsana Community Member Profile – Alexander Voevodin

Meet our Featured Community Member of the week Alexander Voevodin


Dr. Alexander Voevodin is a world-renowned biomedical researcher and educator with the highest academic and professional degrees/qualifications (MD, PhD, DSc, FRCPath) and decades of teaching experience. Dr. Voevodin is perhaps best known as the former head of the HIV/AIDS Control Center of the Russian Federation, and as a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. He has authored 80+ research papers in peer-reviewed journals in different fields of virology and immunology and several monographs, the most important of which is “Simian Virology”.


1. What makes a great social media site? 

My experience with social media is “platonic”. Ideally, I think, social media sites should do whatever possible to protect their user’s privacy, break language barriers, encourage cross cultural interactions and suppress trolling.


2. Where do you go for great content online? Why there?

My interests lay mainly in biomedical sciences. I screen major scientific and medical journals (Nature, Science, The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine), science sections of major information agencies, and some sites devoted to science (my favourite is The Scientist).


3. What’s your favorite type of content (infographics, interviews, thought pieces, studies, etc) and why?

I am a professional scientist. If possible, I prefer to deal with original scientific publications in reputable journals or commentaries written by specialists.


4. Which of your Newsana pitches are you most proud of?

I enjoy contributing pitches to Newsana, but the word “proud” is an “overkill” for describing what I feel regarding any of my pitches. I am trying to do my best in providing a very short, easy-to-understand summary of the news and putting it in a context (“reality check”).


5. What’s the best part of Newsana?

The best part of Newsana is a built-in and reasonably unbiased mechanism for selecting news and prioritizing them.

Top 5 Pitches of the Week

Extending a big welcome to all new community members and thank you to all members who continue to contribute. The team appreciates all sharing, commenting and voting. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Newsana is a community based online website where members not only engage with the content, but create it. On a weekly basis, the team features the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to find out who is generating the most buzz. Top pitches are determined by number of votes and comments. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing breaking news, finance and economics, future of journalism, and creative technology.


1. Douglas Robb shared change in Britain policies on cigarettes “Britain says ready to ban all branding on cigarette packs




2. Michael Welyki discussed budget cut on public health service in Canada, “How Ottawa is giving up its active role in health spending




3. Adam Hutton pitched self-promotion versus productivity, “Special Series: Journalists as Brands




4. Jascha Jabes posted “Katsuyama vs. O’Brien – who won the fight?




5. Michael Kaufman shared “What If Web Browsing Were Like A Virtual Reality Videogame?”


Kokulan Mahendiran discusses the Montreal voter controversy with Newsana

Kokulan Mahendiran


Kokulan Mahendiran is an active and a popular Newsana community member. He is often featured in the Newsana’s “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” blog for is unique take on standard issues.

He was recently caught  up in the middle of the Montreal voter registration controversy. He was (along with many other Montreal residents) denied the right to vote because the electoral officer at the advance poll concluded he wasn’t ‘Québécois enough’.

His voting difficulties were featured in this National Post article “McGill student rejected as voter in Quebec election despite living in province since 2009”.

The Newsana team reached out to him to ask him how he felt about this issue and future plans to fight these policies.


1. What was your initial reaction when the officer questioned your ‘domicile’ in Montreal and your Canadian citizenship?

Although I was aware of the fact that countless people born outside of Quebec were having a hard time registering to vote, I was still very much surprised when my domicile was questioned, given the overwhelming evidence I had taken with me.

When the officer went on to question my Canadian citizenship, I was completely shocked and taken aback. I was under the impression that a Canadian birth certificate would be sufficient proof, but the fact that I was born in Ontario did not did seem to help my case.


2. After all the drama and media attention on this issue, do you plan to go back to the voter registration station to demand for your right to vote? (why?)

I’ve already gone twice, and the second time (which was after my blog on the Huffington Post was published) did not yield any better results. I am now hearing that they’ve even prevented a registered candidate from registering to vote. My experience and that of others, that both preceded and followed me, seems to indicate that the revision officers are not at all worried about negative media coverage. It almost seems like they crave it!

Nevertheless, I’m still in contact with my MPs office and trying to see whether this blatant voter suppression can be stopped.


3. In your opinion, what is the reasoning behind the policies that led to your voting difficulties?

I think its quite clear that this is not an issue of rogue officials. I believe there is a prima facie case against the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec, and/or his office, for instructing his officials to effectively make it impossible for students and people born outside of quebec to vote.

Whether the current PQ government had any role, direct or indirect, in causing such instructions to be given out is certainly something which merits a serious inquiry.


4. Do you think that this kind of discrimination is restricted to Quebec, or can be found across Canada?

I’m not entirely sure what the situation is across the country, but as far as I’m aware, this kind of voter discrimination is certainly hard to come by outside of Quebec. In this province, I have found it to be blatant and widespread.


5. What’s next for you? Are you going to keep publicly fighting for voting rights?

The fact that I, and others like myself, have been restricted from voting in the forthcoming elections is not my main concern, although it is certainly a major concern. It having an effect on the election is virtually impossible, and thus something I’m not worried about either.

The real issue here is that there are people in Quebec, people with quasi-judicial powers, who are effectively taking away constitutionally engrained democratic rights from a whole swath of Canadian citizens on a whim. This voter discrimination and suppression is not something that should be taken lightly.

We as Canadian citizens have certain inalienable rights and it is our duty to make sure that they are never taken away. If the law in this case is unclear enough to cause such blatant discrimination on account of such things as place of birth and language, then the law needs to be rewritten.

There is evidently need for immediate change here and that is something I will certainly continue to demand.

Newsana’s Top New Member – Lyndsay Kirkham




Newsana’s top new member, Lyndsay Kirkham

Lynda K - Newsana

Lyndsay is a passionate feminist advocate, writer, and change agent. With a focus on shifting cultural norms, Lyndsay uses her blog, her writings on feminism, and parenting and social media to expose injustice and link resources to those who are making positive noise in their communities. Based in Toronto, but with a passion for wandering, Lyndsay blogs at ourfeministplayschool, and her work can be found in a variety of online and hard copy publications, including The F-word, The Mother, Natural Parents Network and ParentDish.

Lyndsay’s new book Feminist Parenting: From Theory to Life Lived will be out in 2015 and is published by Demeter Press. Lyndsay is a reader of literature and poetry, she spends a lot of time building LEGO and getting tattoos.

Follow Lyndsay on Twitter @HisFeministMama

Don’t worry if you didn’t win this week’s Top New Member Contest, you have plenty of time to win next week’s contest.

In case you need a reminder on writing a winning pitch, read here!

Happy Pitching!

Facebook Acquires Newsana for $1B

Newsana Incorporated is mildly-pleased to announce today that it has been acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. Newsana will continue to operate independently from Facebook for the foreseeable future.

This purchase—a landmark for Toronto’s burgeoning start-up scene—follows in the wake of Facebook’s other recent buzz-worthy purchases of WhatsApp and Oculus Rift.

Newsana, launched less than one year ago, is a community-based news curation platform. This purchase makes the company, which has been called a “high-brow version of Reddit,” one of the most valuable digital media companies on the planet—on paper at least.

The $1 billion purchase price will be paid entirely in WhatsApp stock.

“We ramped up the price of WhatsApp so ridiculously high when we bought it for $19 billion dollars (laughs), we might as well put some of that equity to good use,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

Some industry experts have questioned the seemingly large price tag of the Newsana acquisition. But Facebook has been quick to counter.

“We just heard about Newsana the other day and we thought it looked cool. And, OK, we don’t know exactly how many users or how much revenue they have, nor do we really care about that stuff. What we do look at is the fact we have lots artificially expensive WhatsApp equity lying around and, to be honest, we really don’t know what to do with it. If we can find a sucker to take it in return for their company, great.”

Ben Peterson, Newsana’s CEO, said “Are we happy? Kind of. Listen, we’re in the $1 billion dollar club. Yes, a few weeks ago that $1 billion in WhatsApp stock might have been worth less than a pack of smokes, but at least on paper I look like a huge success. Oh, and what the hell does Oculus Rift mean anyways?”

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Ben Peterson, well, you’re out of luck. He’s at a 2-star all-inclusive in Haiti. And he wishes you a happy April Fool’s Day.

Ben and Mark (1)

Top 5 Pitches of the Week


On a weekly basis we feature the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to showcase the stories that are generating the most buzz and to celebrate the brainy members who shared them. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!


This week the community was discussing human rights, breaking news, travel, health, and Canadian politics.


1. Kokulan Mahendiran discussed how he was discriminated in Quebec in his pitched blog “The Shocking Way That I Was Denied a Vote in the Quebec Elections



2. Jascha Jabes updated the community on Quebec 2014 elections “Quebec Liberal Party races ahead in the polls



3. Jessica Wynne Lockhart pitched “The New and the Old in Antigua



4. Jennifer Dawson posted “New Research Shows Poorly Understood “Leaky Gut Syndrome” Is Real, May Be the Cause of Several Diseases



5. Douglas Robb discussed “‘War without weapons’: Russia singles out Canada over tough line”




Newsana Community Member Profile – David Peck


David Peck 2012

Meet our Featured Community Member of the week David Peck.


A philosopher and international development professional with a background in magic and comedy, David Peck brings global issues into focus in a way that few others can.

David is a respected speaker on various topics including international development, CSR and ‘the power of little things.’ He has a BA in Philosophy from York University as well as an MA in Philosophy from the University of Guelph. David has also successfully obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in International Development from Humber College, where he is now a lecturer.

David started the growing social justice conference series called yChange, which has brought well-known speakers on issues of justice, international and community development to Toronto, Vancouver and Hong Kong.

In 2008 he founded SoChange, a groundbreaking organization that works alongside members of the corporate, not-for-profit and non-governmental community in areas such as fundraising, advocacy, and capacity building.

In his free time David enjoys reading, wine collecting and watching documentary films.


What makes a great social media site?

A great social media site needs up to date and interesting information that is challenging the status quo. It’s easy to find the regular fare on “other” sites. Finding the stories that really matter are not always as easy to come by.


Where do you go for great content online? Why there?

I visit 3 or 4 sites on a regular basis, but use these as my main sources for online news and up to date info.  The Economist, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Adbusters, Mother Jones, New Internationalist, UTNE, Rabble, BBC, and Al Jazeera.

All these sites give me a broad understanding of what’s going on in the world. I’m looking for fresh perspectives that take my thinking to the next level and challenge me in some specific way.


What’s your favorite type of content (info graphics, interviews, thought pieces, studies, etc) and why?

Underreported news is a favorite of mine. I also really enjoy a good interview that covers a lot of ground and am just starting to listen to the odd podcast here and there.


Which of your Newsana pitches are you most proud of?

Be Employable. Study Philosophy

The Sloths Busy Inner Life

11 Ingenious Solar Projects Impacting The Developing World

Big Ideas and Entrepreneurs

Cambodians Risk Their :Lives for 160$ A Month

How To Put Canada Back Together Again



What’s the best part of Newsana?

I love the layout of the site and the community that Newsana is starting to develop. I think it bodes well for the future.

Newsana’s Top New Member – Manoj Arora

Top New Member

Please give a warm welcome to our top new Newsana community member Manoj Arora!!!



Manoj is an engineering Gold medalist and an IT project executive at IBM by profession, but he ventured out into writing a few years back. He already has one bestseller book in his bag (From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom) and 6 more in pipeline (Happiness Unlimited being the earliest to be published in May 2014). 

Manoj firmly believes that most of us want to contribute meaningfully to our society, if only we could establish financially security for ourselves and our families first. His writing tries to instil that belief in his readers, helping them to plan their lives better so they may live the life of their dreams.

In his email to Newsana he wrote:

I have a small and beautiful family – with 3 angels – my wife and 2 daughters. I am blessed to be staying with my parents in Delhi. Nothing can be more rewarding than this. I spend a lot of time with my angels and my parents – something that only fortunate few in this world do. I have taken a detour in my working career, to establish relationships with myself and my family, and to elevate this society.” 

Don’t worry if you didn’t win this week’s Top New Member Contest, you have plenty of time to win next week’s contest!

Top 5 Pitches of the Week

On a weekly basis we feature the “Top 5 Pitches of the Week” to showcase the stories that are generating the most buzz and to celebrate the brainy members who shared them. We want to know who is elevating the conversation!

This week the community was discussing conflict & war, health, and climate change.

1. Caroline Kalaydjian started a discussion on “Putin’s long game? Meet the Eurasian Union

Story 1


2. Jennifer Dawson shared “Large-scale study will determine whether chocolate pills can prevent heart attacks, strokes

Story 2


3. Kokulan Mahendiran pitched “How Europe is turning to North America to wean itself off Russian energy exports

Story 3


4. Derek Markham posted “Global warming to global famine: Scientists warn of lower crop yields due to climate change

Story 4


5. Michael Welyki found “‘Anyone with sense of fairness should accept the choice of the Crimeans’

Story 5