Friday, December 30, 2011

Canadian communists mourn Kim Jong Il

The website of what is known as the Korean Central News Agency has published a list of "condolatory" messages to Kim Jong Un.  One of them comes from Sandra Smith, national leader of the  Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).  It must be a final and absolute admission of defeat for any hope at the polls that Ms. Smith has expressed her "heartfelt condolences on the untimely passing of Comrade Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army."  While the rest of Canada thinks of Kim Jung Il as a tyrant and a notorious fraud, Ms Smith tells the North Korean gang leaders that Jong is  greatly admired by all revolutionary forces for working tirelessly for the peaceful independent reunification of Korea, upholding the dignity and honor of the Korean nation, and securing peace on the Korean Peninsula on the basis of the Songun military first policy, thus contributing greatly to world peace" This incredible boiler plate goes on:  "We are confident that the Korean communists and people led by the WPK and united around you as supreme leader, will turn their grief into strength and face all the challenges which lie ahead by marching together to ever greater victories on the road of independence, national reunification, socialism and peace".  Given the challenges to her composition,  Ms Smith wisely left out all that stuff about kidnapping Japanese women, floating his non-economy with billions of dollars of counterfeit U.S. dollars, stocking up on Marlboroughs and French wine while Koreans starved and his many other claims to fame.    

Star exclusive about 911 Christmas Day call

The Toronto Star has published a a story slugged exclusive about a 911 call made from the home of Mayor Ford on Christmas morning. The call was made by the mayor's mother-in law. The Star report  suggests the essence of his mother-in-law's complaint was that the mayor was drinking and arguing with his wife. He is said to have decided to take his children to Florida and his wife objected. It is a long story with many sources but there is no material conclusive of anything except an undetermined  number of calls to 911,  including the call made by the mayor when he was ambushed in his driveway by a CBC comedy program.  There is no further mention of drinking. The police are quoted as saying there have been no accusations of physical abuse. The nine-column banner headline says the calls "raise questions".

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tyler Anderson named news photog of the year

National Post phoptographer Tyler Anderson has been named news photographer of the year by the News Photographers Association of Canada. Here he is interviewed by the CBC.

Not everything funny in Canadian comedy: Joe Bodolai

The death on Boxing Day of Canadian TV producer Joe Bodolai in a Los Angeles hotel room illustrates how everything isn’t all ha-ha in Canadian comedy. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office is treating Bodolai’s death as an apparent suicide before a final investigation is concluded. But in a departing blog, the former Saturday Night Live writer listed among his many regrets leaving Canada for Hollywood after being passed over in 1996 by then CTV topper Ivan Fecan to run the broadcaster’s Comedy Network, a cable channel he helped launch.
“My handshake disappeared. I got offered a deal my lawyer described as 'they want you to walk away. This is an insult.' I objected. The next day they hired Ed Robinson. I like Ed, but…,” Bodolai wrote in the final blog post entitled “If this were your last day alive, what would you do?”
The veteran writer, who died at 63 years of age after apparently drinking a concoction of Gatorade and antifreeze, came up against the harsh reality of Canadian comedy: you get to be creative north of the border, but you need to go to Los Angeles to get down to real business.

Read the whole article in the Hollywood Reporter:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

N.Y. Times selling U.S. regional newspapers

The New York Times Co. is selling its 16 regional newspapers to Halifax Media Holdings LLC that paid $143 million in cash for the newspapers, which are spread across the Southeastern U.S. and California. The Times Co. said it was looking to cut costs and focus on its most important papers and their websites. Regional newspapers have struggled in recent years because of weak local retail and national advertising, partly reflecting the economy's broader travails. The newspapers being sold have a combined weekday circulation of about 430,000.

N.Y. Times sent e-mail to eight million people by mistake

Some 8 million people received emails from the New York Times on Thursday offering a special discount if they would reconsider their decision to cancel their subscriptions. The trouble is, the offer was supposed to go to only about 300 people who had decided to stop taking home delivery of the newspaper -- it was erroneously sent by a New York Times employee to more than 8 million people on an email marketing list. The debacle lit up social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, sparking concerns that hackers might have broken into the newspaper's computer network to send out spam. A spokeswoman for the newspaper blamed human error, saying hackers were not involved and security was not at fault. The email offered a 50 percent discount for 16 weeks on home delivery.

Google, Facebook top Internet destinations in 2011

Search was still more important than being social on the Web in 2011--but not by much. Google edged out Facebook as the top Internet destination this year, according to data released today by market researcher Nielsen. The Web giant logged 153.4 million average unique visitors per month, compared with the social-networking giant's 137.6 million. Yahoo came in at No. 3 with 130.1 million unique monthly visitors, while Microsoft's MSN/WindowsLive/Bing and Google's YouTube filled out the top 5. (CNet)

BCE to buy back up to 2.1 million shares

BCE Inc. says it will buy and cancel up to 2.1 million of its common shares under private deals with an arm's-length third-party seller. The share buyback will be part of the company's plan to repurchase 6.5 million common shares over the next year, BCE said Wednesday. The company did not say how much it paid for the shares, which are worth about $87-million at current TSX prices.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CP Editors pick Tory majority as story of the year; poll for Postmedia picks death of Jack Layton

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's win of a Conservative majority government has been named Canada's News Story of the Year by editors and news directors who participated in the annual survey of newsrooms across the country by The Canadian Press. The Conservative majority captured 25 per cent of the votes in the annual CP survey – narrowly beating out the NDP's surge to official Opposition status, which earned a nod from 24 per cent of those newsrooms that voted. Together, those two sides of the Election 2011 coin dominated the other nominees. The post-Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver earned 12 per cent of the vote, the wildfires in Slave Lake 11 per cent and the Occupy protest movement 8 per cent.
Postmedia News and Global TV commissioned an Ipsos Reid poll in which the death of Jack Layton was the top Canadian news story in 2011. Thirty-seven per cent of survey respondents across the country cited Layton's death as the top national story, followed by the royal visit of Prince William and Kate (13 per cent), the Vancouver hockey riots (nine per cent), the federal election (eight per cent) and the Occupy protests rounding out the top five Canadian news stories at seven per cent.

Newspaper to pay damages after readers burned attempting recipe

Chile’s Supreme Court has ordered a newspaper to pay out more than $120,000 to 13 people who suffered burns when they attempted a recipe the paper had published for churros, a snack of deep-fried dough dusted in sugar that’s popular in Latin America. Days after the recipe was published in 2004, hospitals around the country began treating people for burns after the dough had shot out of their pots, showering them with hot oil. The high court found that the newspaper failed to properly test the recipe before publication: If readers followed the instructions, their churros had a good chance of exploding once the oil reached the suggested temperature, which was too high. “The explosions were so violent that in some cases the splashes hit the ceiling and covered the person who was cooking,” the ruling said. “Faithfully following the recipe published in the newspaper, this damage could not have been avoided.” The publisher of the newspaper, La Tercera, will pay damages ranging from $279 to $48,000, the latter to one woman whose burns were especially severe.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Warren Buffet completes hometown newspaper purchase

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has completed the purchase of company Chairman Warren Buffett's hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald. The $200 million deal, announced Nov. 30, included $50 million in debt. Under the agreement, Berkshire acquires the World-Herald and daily newspapers in Kearney, Grand Island, York, North Platte and Scottsbluff in Nebraska; the Council Bluffs Nonpareil in Iowa; a number of weekly newspapers; and World Marketing, a direct-mail company with operations in Omaha, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles. World-Herald spokesman Joel Long said Monday that the deal closed Friday. He says World-Herald shareholders—about 275 employees and retirees and the Peter Kiewit Foundation—approved the sale by an overwhelming vote. Mr. Buffett has said the World-Herald "delivers solid profits and is one of the best-run newspapers in America."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

N.Y Times to re-start negotiations with union after CEO retires

New York Times Co. contacted union leaders about restarting contract negotiations a day after the publisher announced last week the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson, according to the local Newspaper Guild. Negotiating groups plan to meet in January on a date to be determined, Newspaper Guild of New York President Bill O’Meara said in a telephone interview yesterday. The guild, representing almost 1,100 workers at the company’s flagship New York Times newspaper, said the two sides last met June 1. “We have been asking for full meeting since,” O’Meara said. “A lot of the big issues have yet to be dealt with.” The negotiations come at a “strange time” as Times Co. pushes a pension freeze for some employees that is intended to save $9 million a year, about the same amount as Robinson’s reported retirement payout, O’Meara said. The company said Dec. 15 that Robinson, who will retire Dec. 31 after seven years as CEO, will be paid $4.5 million as a consultant for one year. Reuters, citing unidentified sources, reported this week that Robinson also stands to make $10.9 million in pension benefits. “That would have paid pensions for over 1,000 employees,” O’Meara said. “Our employees are very upset.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Volkswagen unplugs after-hours BlackBerry use

Volkswagen employees in Germany will no longer receive company emails 30 minutes after their shift ends and they won't start up again until 30 minutes before work under a union agreement.The decision comes after complaints that the work and home lives of employees are blurred, causing stress and negatively affecting decision making. The move follows criticism of internal emails by Thierry Breton, chief executive of the French information technology services giant, Atos. He said workers at his firm were wasting hours of their lives on internal messages both at home and at work. He has taken the more radical step of banning internal email altogether from 2014.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Torstar to acquire Blue Ant Media

Torstar Corp. is to acquire a 25 percent stake in domestic broadcaster Blue Ant Media for $22.7 million. The deal marks a return to broadcasting for Torstar after it sold a minority stake in CTV, Canada’s top-rated broadcaster, to phone giant BCE.Blue Ant Media is led by Michael MacMillan, a former CEO of Alliance Atlantis Communications until he cashed out in 2007.MacMillan has since returned to broadcaster with his Blue Ant Media earlier this year acquiring a controlling interest in GlassBOX Television, and a minority interest in Quarto Communications. Also Wednesday, Blue Ant Media unveiled a deal to acquire Canadian broadcaster High Fidelity HDTV Inc. and its four premium high definition channels - Oasis HD, eqhd, radX and HIFI.Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Blue Ant Media will pick up an initial 29.9 per cent stake in High Fidelity HDTV, with the 70.1 percent stake to be acquired after the deal received regulatory approval from the CRTC.  U.S. private equity firm Providence Equity Capital Markets will help Blue Ant Media finance its High Fidelity HDTV acquisition."We view the investment in Blue Ant Media as strategic, providing Torstar with the opportunity to further diversify our Canadian media asset base" David Holland, president and CEO of Torstar, said Wednesday.  Hollywood Reporter. 

What will Star do with high-brow properties

The HDTV channels, which will now be 25 percent owned by the Torstar empire, sell a fine blend of niche entertainment. Much of it appeals to the intellect. All the channels are available only by subscription. The most broadly based of the quartet of HDTV signals is Oasis HD. It appears to be a family quality nature-oriented channel. The charming video from YouTube above, which is embedded on Oasis HD's website, tells the story of a friendship between an elephant and a sheep. The channel eqed is proudly brainy. Eqed boasts the motto "Ït's smart in here."  HIFI is a highbrow music and arts service. Finally, radX features risk, adventure and danger. Some may wonder what a relentlessly populist media giant like Torstar would like to do with these rather narrowly-defined properties. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Piers Morgan squirming under questioning

Lord Justice Leveson threatens to call Heather Mills to give evidence as former News of the World and Daily Mirror Editor Piers Morgan struggles with questions on whether he listened to illegally obtained voicemails.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guardian pans Piers Morgan at media inquiry

Highly-coloured blog post from the Guardian expressing all its dislike of Piers Morgan. Most authoritative reporting: "But as a witness at the Leveson inquiry, when asked to explain his guide to hacking into telephone voicemail from a 2001 entry in his own published memoirs, Morgan said: "I'm sorry – it was 10 years ago, I can't remember." Questioned further, Morgan couldn't offer even the vaguest recollection where the "little trick" might have come from."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Killing of bin Laden AP's top news story of 2011

Suitable choice even given the many profound events of this year.

CTV News Channel unveils new set, format

CTV News Channel unveiled a new look and format Monday.  Story linked off the headline

No free press in DPRK

BBC pot boiler recounting the lack of freedom in North Korea. No, really? But in fairness, it's a complete picture of the worst predictions of Orwell come true in Korea..  The  official name of this benighted national jail reminds us of the old newsroom  rule-of -thumb that if a country has the word Democratic in its name, it definitely isn't.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

CBS to revive Murrow epic Person to Person

The New York Times is calling it "back to the future" programming and in this case CBS is going a long way back. The network will revive the seminal live-remote epic TV interview show Person to Person.  Person to Person appeared during the 1950s and was hosted by Edward R. Murrow (left). Somewhat interestingly, it is said that Murrow rather disliked the program. It featured him in a New York studio talking live (or visiting) a celebrity or well known person in his/her home. The program involved tons of equipment and an army of cable pullers as the distant past required. (there was no satellite). The revival will feature Charlie Rose and Lara Logan, who are scheduled to take over the CBS Early Show in the new year. 

Metroland closes 6 weeklies in Ottawa area

Ottawa Citizen on how the EMC group of weekly papers is being shut down to let Metroland titles expand and thrive. Staff at the discontinued papers are to be absorbed by Metroland papers. More consolidation is expected.  Link above.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, militant pundit, essayist and author dies

Christopher Hitchens, the author, essayist and polemicist who waged verbal and occasional physical battle on behalf of causes on the left and right and wrote the provocative bestseller "God is Not Great," died Thursday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.

AP obit here:;postID=504394959203775312

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Britain's top judge relaxes rules on court tweets

British journalists are now free to report directly from trials by using mobiles and laptops in court, England and Wales' most senior judge has decided. The ruling for courts in England and Wales means media organisations no longer have to seek permission to report live using emails, texts or websites such as Twitter. The new guidance only extends to reporters and legal commentators. Members of the public will still have to seek approval if they want to use their devices in court because of fears witnesses or jurors could be influenced or distracted.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crown applies to have Stanley Cup riot cases televised

Eight accused Stanley Cup rioters appeared in Vancouver Provincial Court Wednesday with Crown prosecutors making an application to televise the proceedings.
In her throne speech in October, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she wanted the riot proceedings broadcast. Crown spokesperson Neil MacKenzie said an application to televise proceedings would be made on a case-by-case basis.
“The crown will be making the applications for broadcast of trials for sentencing proceedings, so substantive appearances,” he said. “Those applications will be made when the court schedules them at the appropriate time.”
MacKenzie said the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch initially opposed the idea. However, Crown prosecutors are now acting on directions from the Attorney General, who supports it.
MacKenzie would not speculate how long the application process would take, but said additional staff would manage the process, allowing the dedicated five-member Crown prosecution team to focus on the trials.

'Monochromatic, nervous and no charisma': Critics slam Chelsea Clinton as she makes NBC debut

Chelsea Clinton’s much-hyped debut as an NBC reporter last night was today slammed as 'monochromatic', 'nervous' and showing 'no charisma'. The 31-year-old former first daughter chatted with Rock Center host Brian Williams on the NBC sofa and did a segment on a non-profit organisation. Some reviewers gave her the benefit of the doubt for first-night nerves but one suggested she could be ‘one of the most boring people of her era’. Dressed in a plain claret dress for the studio part, she was decidedly low key as she talked about the non-profit story and how she came to NBC.

The critics:

'What was surprising to see on Monday night’s show is how someone can be on TV in such a prominent way and, in her big moment, display so very little charisma - none at all. Either we’re spoiled by TV’s unlimited population of giant personalities or this woman is one of the most boring people of her era' (Hank Stuever, Washington Post)

'Clinton... seems like a very nice young woman. She is obviously bright, although we already suspected she was that as well. Otherwise, there was nothing else that necessarily dismissed charges (mostly by TV critics, although they were not alone) that she got this job because of that name' (Verne Gay, Newsday)

Los Angeles Times editor to step down this month; layoffs may be the cause

Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton will step down this month and be replaced by the managing editor for news, the newspaper has announced. Stanton has been editor since 2007, guiding the paper during a tumultuous period in which its parent, Tribune Co, has been mired in bankruptcy proceedings and the newsroom has weathered multiple rounds of layoffs. Once among the most influential news organizations in the world, the Times has suffered severely from the financial problems that have afflicted most big-city newspapers in the age of the Internet. One person familiar with the situation told anews agency that further layoffs were expected and that may have been a factor in Stanton's departure. During Stanton's tenure as editor, the newsroom staff has fallen from more than 900 people to about 550, the paper reported on its website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Former hockey star calls for firing of Montreal Gazette columnist Pat Hickey

Forner hockey star Theoren Fleury is calling for the firing of a Montreal Gazette sportswriter who called the him “hypocritical” in a column over recent remarks Fleury made about the justice system’s handling of Graham James, the former junior hockey coach who sexually abused Fleury and other players.
In an article that appeared in the Gazette and other newspapers Tuesday, Pat Hickey called out Fleury for saying Canada’s justice system didn’t do enough to keep James behind bars. Fleury cited James’ pardon after being convicted of sexual assault in 1997 against three players, including another former National Hockey League player, Sheldon Kennedy. James was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and given a pardon in 2007.
But Hickey wrote in his column that Fleury only went public with his allegations against James more than a decade later in his autobiography, Playing With Fire.
Hickey said it was “hypocritical that Fleury can blast the justice system for giving James two months of freedom when he provided his former coach with years.”
A website for Fleury posted a statement — under the headline “This is why no one comes forward” — that called on the public to “demand” from the Gazette that “Pat Hickey be fired immediately.”
“We find it very distressing to hear anyone, much less a columnist for a major newspaper, take the side of a known convicted rapist by calling Theo Fleury an enabler,” said the statement.
Hickey used the term “enabler” when recounting how Fleury was a business partner of James — Fleury was a co-owner of the junior hockey team the Calgary Hitmen while James was coach — when Kennedy’s allegations became public.
“Here was someone who had suffered abuse at the hands of Graham James,” Hickey wrote. “Here was someone who knew that James had abused other players. Here was someone who was exposing other children to the same sexual predator.
“Fleury has been through enough counselling to know there’s a word for someone who acts in this fashion — enabler.”
Kennedy himself was a minor investor in the Hitmen hockey team.
In comparing the two abused former NHLers, Hickey stated that “Fleury didn’t show the same courage as Kennedy,” based on how much longer it took for Fleury to come forward.
Fleury’s rebuttal said: “Pat Hickey is more interested in attempting to pit the abused against one another than in demanding justice. This column makes all other pedophiles rub their hands in glee; they have found a new hero in Pat Hickey.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Calgary columnist says E-mails no substitute for real interview

Calgary Herald columnist Jeremy Klaszus writes:

"In the age of smartphones and social media, the e-mail interview has become the bane of Canadian journalism.
"Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an e-mail interview. An interview is a conversation. A reporter asks questions, listens, and asks further questions based on the answers he or she hears. It's a fluid process that requires real, human, audible voices.
"But under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the federal government regards the spoken word method (it's called 'reporting') as antiquated. Federal communications staff, once called spokespeople, shy away from speaking to journalists. They prefer, or are forced, to do everything by e-mail.
"It's a common experience for Canadian journalists. You phone a federal department with a few simple questions. A so-called spokesperson won't give answers, but asks for your e-mail address, or worse, asks you to e-mail your questions. You do so, and wait. Your e-mail is sent through who knows how many offices in Ottawa. You keep waiting. Finally, right before deadline, you get an e-mail with a few carefully crafted lines in response to your query.
"The reporter is encouraged to attribute the scripted lines to a spokes-person. This is presented as an acceptable substitute for an interview.
"Here's where journalists should simply say "no" and refuse to play ball. In fact, they should refuse to even give their e-mail addresses in the first place, demanding that everything happen by phone or in person. The e-mail procedure is a joke, de-basing journalists and readers alike. There's usually no time for followup questions; dodged questions remain dodged, weak explanations go unchallenged. Everyone loses, except for the control freak overseeing this bizarre operation. . . ."

Shaw paid $25.5-million to retired CEO Jim Shaw

Shaw Communications Inc. made a $25.5-million payment to former CEO Jim Shaw when he retired in the past fiscal year, regulatory filings show. The company offered no explanation for the payment in an annual shareholder proxy circular filed late Friday, which also shows Shaw’s pension entitlement ballooned in the past year. However, the company’s first-quarter earnings released in January showed  Shaw received a $25-million “package” upon his retirement, which equalled three years of compensation at $8.5-million a year. The new document shows  Shaw earned $26.7-million in the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, and a footnote to the compensation chart briefly says the total includes “a payment totalling $25.5-million for Jim Shaw in 2011.” Mr. Shaw retired as CEO in November, 2010, at age 53. . Shaw, the son of cable company founder JR Shaw, retired two months earlier than his previously announced retirement day of Jan. 13, 2011, shortly after he was criticized for displaying unusual behaviour at an investor luncheon. Some people who attended the Vancouver event said he appeared to be inebriated. He is still on the board of Shaw and is the company’s vice-chairman.

Bell must share mobile NHL with other telcos

Release from the CRTC in Ottawa -- Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) found that Bell Mobility gave itself a significant competitive advantage by entering into exclusive agreements for the mobile rights to popular National Hockey League (NHL) and National Football League (NFL) content. "Canadians shouldn't be forced to subscribe to a wireless service from a specific company to access their favourite content," said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. "Healthy and fair competition between service providers will promote greater choice for Canadians." Today's decision was triggered by a complaint filed by Telus Communications after it had unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate for the rights owned exclusively by Bell Mobility. The NHL content in question includes games and video highlights, while the NFL content includes prime-time games, all playoff games (including the Super Bowl) and access to NFL Network programming. Bell Mobility must file a report within 30 days explaining how it will ensure that Telus has access to its NHL and NFL content at reasonable terms.

William (Bill) MacDougal, CP veteran, dies at 76

Bill MacDougal, a 35-year veteran of The Canadian Press, has died at age 76. Following his retirement, he worked with the Election Consortium, a group that co-ordinates election coverage. Bill was the son of the late Fraser MacDougall, who was also a long-serving CP staffer, specializing in election coverage. The Globe and Mail death notice is here:

BBC admits faking footage of polar bears

The BBC's popular "Frozen Planet" series promises to show viewers Arctic animals in their snowy, frozen habitats, but the broadcaster conceded Monday that recent scenes of a polar bear with her cubs were actually shot in a European zoo, not the wild, as had been implied in the program.
The BBC insisted that it had not misled audiences or tricked them into thinking that the scenes showing a female polar bear tenderly nursing her newborn cubs in an icy den in the dead of winter were filmed in the wild.
Its response came after The Daily Mirror accused it of "faking" the footage. The paper quoted lawmaker John Whittingdale, who heads the House of Commons culture committee, as saying the BBC should have been clearer about the origin of the shots.The BBC statement said most of the footage for the Frozen Planet series was filmed in the wild but that some sequences, including those of the polar bear giving birth, had to be filmed in controlled conditions.
It said: "We felt that the birthing process was a pivotal part of the story, which had to be told. It would be quite impossible for our cameras to film inside a den in the wild without disturbing the female. For this reason the polar bear den sequence was filmed in controlled conditions."
The BBC said presenter David Attenborough's narration was carefully worded so that it did not mislead audiences.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Martyn Burke doc about journalists in combat screens Dec. 19 to 21 at Revue

The psychological cost of covering war
Shortlisted for Academy Award Nomination
REVUE CINEMA – 400 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Sneak Preview - December 19 thru 21, 2011, 7:00 pm
Q and A with filmmakers, December 19

Only two journalists were killed in World War I. Sixty-three journalists were killed in World War II. In the last two decades almost a journalist a week has been killed, with the dead numbering in the thousands. The conclusions are obvious. Journalism in times of war has become an increasingly lethal endeavor - and extremely traumatic – as journalists are now viewed as natural targets by combatants; subject to kidnapping, torture and even beheadings. With journalists facing these new realities, UNDER FIRE weaves together combat footage and first-hand accounts by the journalists who were there to reveal what they see, think and feel as they confront the physical danger and savagery of war. (Running time – 1:30)
Directed and Produced by Martyn Burke.
Produced by Anthony Feinstein
martynburke.comWATCH THE TRAILER:

Interesting feature interview with Jill Abramson of the N.Y. Times

The Globe's Susan Krashinsky did a nice interview of Jill Abramson, the first woman to run the New York Times. Link:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Man publishes fake obit of mother to get time off from work

Authorities in Brookville, Pennsylvania, say a man published a fake obituary for his living mother in a ploy to get paid bereavement time off from work. Relatives called The Jeffersonian Democrat newspaper in Pennsylvania after the obit appeared to say the woman was actually alive and well. The woman herself then visited the paper. Police charged 45-year-old Scott Bennett on Tuesday with disorderly conduct. Newspaper editor Randy Bartley says he accepted the obituary in good faith after being unable to confirm the funeral arrangements at press time. He told The Derrick newspaper on Friday that the woman was very understanding. Police Chief Ken Dworek says Bennett wrote up the memorial notice because he didn't want to get fired for taking time off.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Newspaper's union slams Mayor Ford's shutout of The Star

The union representing journalists and other Toronto Star employees is adding its voice to those complaining about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's boycott of the newspaper's reporters. Ford's decision to exclude Star reporters in emails about city events and press releases threatens the ability of all reporters to do their job, said Paul Morse, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. John Honderich, chairman of Torstar Corp., wrote last week that the newspaper would file a complaint with Toronto's integrity commissioner. Ford has stated he won't lift the ban until the Star makes a front-page apology for an article that appeared more than a year ago that he says was false.

Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors sold to Rogers and BCE; competition bureau to vet takeover

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan announced on Friday that will sell its 79.5 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, to Rogers Communications and BCE for $1.32 billion. The companies made the announcement in a morning news conference at the Air Canada Centre to confirm the blockbuster deal. MLSE also owns the Raptors of the NBA, Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, the Marlies of the American Hockey League, the Air Canada Centre, two specialty television channels and Maple Leaf Square, a condominium development adjacent to the arena. Under the agreement, Rogers and Bell Canada will divide their 75 per cent share of MLSE evenly. And Larry Tanenbaum whose firm, Kilmer Sports, owned 21.47 per cent of MLSE increases its ownership to 25 per cent. The federal competition watchdog has announced that it will vet the takeover. “The Competition Bureau will be investigating the transaction to see if it results in a lessening or prevention of competition,” said a spokesperson for Melanie Aitken, the head of the federal bureau charged with rooting out anti-competitive corporate behaviour. Noting that news of the deal only broke early Friday, the spokesperson couldn’t say how long the investigation would take.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paul Godfrey on Postmedia shakeup

Chris Powell in Marketing takes a few digs at Postmedia digital strategy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NDP winner must face Tout le monde en parle

Nice insight from Chantal Hebert into the perilous command performance awaiting the new leader of the NDP.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Terrance Wills dead at age 73

Terrance Wills, 73, has died of cancer in Ottawa at the age of 73. He was an Ottawa- and Washington-based reporter (The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, Southam News, Newhouse News). His obit, published today in the Citizen, said he was from "the faded era of hard-living journalism (and) through the strength and loyalty (49 years) of a loving wife (Bee), saw three great kids mature into thoughtful adults and form strong bonds with fine partners (Marc and Nanda, Julie and Gordon, Jennifer and Colin), that Terry and Bee might enjoy four spirited grandchildren, Xue, Mattias, Markus and Mei."

British put 300 years of newspaper articles online

It is an epic achievement but as Ed King, head of the British Library’s newspaper collection said: "What’s really striking is how these pages take us straight back to scenes of murders, social deprivation and church meetings from hundreds of years ago, which we no longer think about as we haven’t been able to easily access articles about them.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

British MP criticized for Auschwitz remark

The UK media panel has come face to face with the central question at the heart of tabloid immorality. It happened during a free-wheeling exchange between Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith and Lord Brentwood. (inset left to right). In a set-to regarding the publication of stories about private lives, Lord Brentwood said the government has to take into concern the "commercial viability" of the media. He said the press needs to be commercially successful. Goldsmith in effect said bunk. He declared: "Nobody said...that Auschwitz should have been kept open because it created jobs. This is just a non-argument." After this, Goldsmith was criticized to using the name of the WWII death camp. He is accused of having said media is somehow like Auschwitz. This would seem a stretch. It may be rather florid usage but it does address the moral issue of whether newspapers need intrusive gossip about citizens for the purpose of keeping their reporters employed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

City News on Cable 15, Sun News gets lost

Now that Rogers Cable has plopped its new baby, CityNews Channel, on Cable 15, it's only a question we suppose of how Ezra Levant and the folks at Sun News like their new home in nosebleed country. That would be Cable 142. It's right between the unwatched repeaters of City tv (Cable (140) and TVO (Cable 144). Talk about being out in the cold. Those familiar with the arcane practices of channel bundling may know why both these channels cannot be fitted into the news package including everything from Fox News to Deutsche Welle. But don't mind us, we're only here to pay our subscription.

Buffett muses on future, and value, of newspapers

Warren Buffett talked to shareholders of his new acquisition, the Omaha World-Herald. His remarks are somewhat disparate but of interest. It does sound a bit like he's trying to persuade himself he did the right thing.

"A few of you may have heard me talk about the economics of the newspaper business, which have changed dramatically in recent years. It was an extraordinary business for a long time. ... But of course it's a different game now. ...

"I think newspapers, if they partially solve one of the three big problems they face, have a decent future. ... (The daily newspaper is) still primary on a lot of things, but it doesn't have the universality of primariness that really made the paper such an incredible bargain and a necessary purchase for everyone. It is a high-cost form of distribution, as you're doing everything from cutting down trees all the way to getting a product in my hands early in the morning, and there are a lot of steps in that and a lot of people involved. ...

"And the third problem is, papers are giving away free what they are trying to sell. That's a business model you have to think through carefully over time. Those problems have now been recognized, to some extent there is a counterattack. I think ... an attack on the third factor can make most operations economic, (although) not with the economics of 20 or even 10 years ago.

"So far, I would say the evidence is there will be many papers who can deal with those problems. It is still an enormously useful product to a great deal of people. ...

"The great majority (of newspapers) are making money. The question is whether the trends take those papers into a position of loss. I don't think it has to happen, but I don't think it's 100 percent sure it won't happen. ... From what I see, I think The World-Herald will earn a reasonable return on the money we're laying out for it. It doesn't have a comparable future economically to certain other businesses we have. So be it."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Warren Buffett buys his hometown paper

Nice to think there is one small town newspaper that just will never have to worry about outsourcing or layoffs again. Really, doesn't it seem like Warren Buffett's purchase of the Omaha World-Herald is an act of philanthropy? What happened to all that "proven record of profitability"stuff.

The Chronicle Herald publisher dies at 84

Obituary of Graham Dennis.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Todd van der Heyden Toronto-bound

News anchor Todd van der Heyden will say goodbye to his hometown, and to CTV Montreal, at the end of the year. Van der Heyden has accepted a new position at CTV News Channel in Toronto, and begins work on a new show in January. Since 2008 van der Heyden has been co-anchoring the top-rated news program in Montreal, CTV News at Six, with Mutsumi Takahashi, but he's been working here for more than a decade and his presence will be missed. CTV.

Sun TV Photoshops out former anchor, inserts new one

The National Post reports that rather than retake a group photo after the departure one of its anchors, the Sun News Network simply decided to “erase” the ex-employee and paste in anew one.In a Tuesday Web post announcing the channel’s return to Bell TV, the network’s anchors are featured at an April 1 ribbon-cutting with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.To account for the June departure of Theo Caldwell, third from right in the second photo below, image editors pasted over the former anchor with a discoloured, mildly out-of-proportion image of his replacement, Michael Coren.
This practice has a long history in the former Soviet Union where ousted members of the Politburo were simply retouched out of group photos.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Andrew Coyne leaving Macleans to write for PostMedia

Andrew Coyne has announced in an e-mail that he will be leaving Maclean’s to write a column for the Postmedia newspaper chain, starting in the new year. He said "an opportunity to write for a combined national readership of five million, three times a week, is too good to pass up."
"It’s exceedingly hard to leave Maclean’s, which is a great magazine and an even better place to work. I wish Ken Whyte, Mark Stevenson and his team the very best," Coyne wrote. "It’s an auspicious time to be joining Postmedia, which is on a roll these days."

Toronto Star taking mayor Ford's shutout to City's integrity commissioner

The Toronto Star will file an official complaint to the city’s integrity commissioner about Rob Ford’s directive that excludes the paper from official releases and announcements, John Honderich, chair of the Star’s parent company, Torstar, announced. During Ford’s mayoral campaign last year, the paper ran a story about his conduct as a football coach that led to him leaving his position from a team in 2001. Ford alleges the story is untrue, and called it a political attack on his campaign. He imposed a freeze on issuing official releases to the Star after his election, and says the freeze will not be lifted until he gets a front-page, above-the-fold apology. Councillor Adam Vaughan's motion for "free press and democracy" was recently shot down by Ford's allies, though Vaughan says the motion that would have prohibited city officials from excluding specific jounalists or outlets was not specific to the Star. Vaughan spent over 20 years as a political reporter before running for council in 2006. “Mayor Ford has no obligation to speak to or be interviewed by the Star. That is entirely his choice. However, when it comes to public press releases and public notifications from his office as mayor of all the people, that is another matter,” Honderich said in a statement featured on the Star’s homepage. “That directly affects our ability to cover city hall and serve our readers.”

Honderich's statement is here:

U.S. TV ownership declines for first time in Nielsen history

Every year, the estimated number of U.S. households owning TV sets goes up. Until now. According to Nielsen Media Research’s annual “Television Audience” report that was released this week, the number of households with a TV set will decline for the first time in the company’s survey history (which extends back to 1970). The rising trend of TV ownership has been leveling off in recent years, and now the number has dropped from 115.9 million homes in 2011 to an estimated 114.7 million in 2012. As TV Barn pointed out, that’s a 1 percent decline despite the number of households rising. TV ownership among the key adult 18-49 demo also declined, and even steeper (down 2.7 percent — a downtrend that started to a slight degree in 2010 and then accelerated this year). Plus, the percentage of homes without a TV is at the highest level since 1975 (3 percent, up from 1 percent the previous year). Why is this happening? There’s a few factors that could be at play, including more people watching TV shows online and the distressed economy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brian Williams ignores fire alarm during ‘NBC Nightly News’ broadcast

Brian Williams, host of NBC's "Nightly News," kicked off its East Coast newscast Tuesday night with a story on American Airlines' bankruptcy--and a persistent fire alarm. Just seconds into the broadcast, a fire alarm interrupted Williams, who told the audience that it was indeed a fire alarm before throwing to reporter Tom Costello. "You'll forgive us, we have a fire alarm announcement going on here," Williams, a former volunteer firefighter in Middletown Township, New Jersey, said. The alarm continued throughout much of the broadcast. Later, Williams assured viewers that "there is no danger to us."The Pacific Coast did not get to see Williams' deft-handling of the alarm; NBC re-taped the segment for the West Coast broadcast of "Nightly News."

Werren Buffet buying hometown newspaper

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet is buying his hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald. The purchase, by Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will also include six other daily newspapers and several weeklies across Nebraska and southwest Iowa. Terms were not disclosed.Buffett apparently is putting aside doubts about the industry after telling shareholders in 2009 that many papers have “potential for unending losses” and that he wouldn’t buy most of them “at any price.” The World-Herald is 80-percent owned by its employees and 20-percent held by Peter Kiewit Foundation, the paper said today in a news story about the deal. It’s the No. 49 newspaper in the U.S. by daily distribution of the print edition, the newspaper said. Terry Kroeger, the company’s CEO, will stay with the business, Berkshire said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Secret divorce proceedings of ex-Col. Williams should be public, media argue

The secret divorce proceedings of convicted murderer Russell Williams and his wife should be open to public scrutiny, says a lawyer for the Ottawa Citizen and a coalition of news agencies.
The media groups and their lawyer, Richard Dearden, are in the Ontario Court of Appeal Tuesday arguing against a Superior Court ruling that imposed numerous publication bans on the divorce proceedings between Williams and his wife, who can only be referred to as M.E.H.
The Citizen, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Ottawa Sun are arguing that Mackinnon’s order is flawed and contravenes the principle of open courts that governs matrimonial proceedings.
Full NatPost story here:

Mayor’s press secretary resigns; joins Sun and Newstalk 1010

Mayor Rob Ford’s press secretary, Adrienne Batra, has resigned to become the Toronto Sun’s comment editor and a municipal affairs correspondent with Newstalk1010. A dogmatic fiscal conservative, Batra is the former provincial director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in Manitoba. Batra came to work for Ford during his 2010 mayoral campaign and has helped him navigate through a handful of damaging missteps by playing up his regular-guy-makes-mistakes persona. At city hall, Batra is known as one of the few people who the mayor absolutely trusts and will listen to. For the last year, she has kept the gaffe-prone Ford on a tight leash.

Our HuffPost post draws reader comment

"If you had paid attention to the piece, you might have noticed that the CNN people weren't 'scratching their heads' over the Canadian edition. They were puzzled about why a a progressive like Arianna Huffington would hire a Washington-based neocon expat to edit the Canadian edition," says an e-mail from a reader. Good point BUT aren't they scratching their heads over that question too? As for Arianna, how can anyone tell where she stands politically? She has been all over the map. When she sold to AOL, she was accused of having :sold out" to the right. It seems to us that Arianna stands for Arianna and she has been very successful at it. Our growing readership generates many comments. We will post the most interesting ones as stories from time to time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Huffington Post editor answers "Why Canada?" in CNN interview

Evidently some Americans were scratching their head about why the Huffington Post would start a Canadian edition as a spearhead to international expansion. Editor Daniele Crittenden explainst it all in an interview on CNN.
The HuffPost's move brings back memories of TIME Canada -- the mag's Canadian edition that featured four to eight pages of Canadian news from the 1940s until the Trudeau government scuttled it in 1976. It had Canadian status as a publication and was always a thorn in the eyes of cultural nationalists who claimed that it hogged advertising that rightfully belonged to them. Maclean's cautiously waited until TIME Canada was dead a buried before going weekly. We do not see the same outcry about the digital-only HuffPost. How the world has changed! (Disclosure: Peter Rehak was Time Canada's Toronto bureau chief in the final year and before that its correspondent in Ottawa.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maple Leaf Sports plans broadcast gamble

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is poised to take a billion-dollar gamble in broadcasting.
Now that the “for sale” sign has been taken off Canada’s highest-profile sports company, sources say Maple Leaf Sports is planning to move ahead and develop a regional sports channel that would show Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC games.
It will be a complex and risky move that will require difficult negotiations with cable operators and advertisers alike. Sports industry executives say a search committee formed by Maple Leaf Sports to find its next chief executive is considering a former Montreal Canadien for the job.
Pierre Boivin, a highly regarded veteran of the sport industry, was the Canadiens president from 1999 until earlier this year. He also worked as chief executive of Bauer Nike Hockey and now works with Claridge, a Montreal firm that manages the interests of the billionaire Bronfman family.
Maple Leaf Sports is searching for a new leader because chief executive Richard Peddie will retire by year’s end.
While the company’s teams struggled, Peddie was a business visionary, and helped to create new revenue sources with condominium developments and a sports-themed restaurant. His successor will inherit a company where the overarching concern involves a network startup.
Creating a new regional sports channel could generate billions of dollars for Maple Leaf Sports.
Full story by The Star's Rick Westhead:

Tom Wicker, N.Y. Times journalist, dies at 85

Tom Wicker, one of postwar America’s most distinguished journalists, who wrote 20 books, covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy for The New York Times and became the paper’s Washington bureau chief and an iconoclastic political columnist for 25 years, died on Friday at his home near Rochester, Vt. He was 85. The cause was apparently a heart attack, said his wife, Pamela Wicker.
Full N.Y. Times obit:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book publishers now doing what the big music labels were doing a decade ago -- suing downloaders and file-sharers.

Two weeks ago, publisher John Wiley made headlines by suing 27 internet users who were allegedly swapping editions of the popular “For Dummies” series online. The campaign appears to be working because John Wiley has now doubled-down on its effort by suing dozens more people. The prime targets this time include novice cooks and gardeners.
The litigation campaign reflects the fact that, in recent years, unauthorized file-sharing has become a problem for book publishers in the same way it has for the music and movie industry. In terms of file size, books are tiny compared to songs or videos and this makes it quick and easy for people to swap online copies. John Wiley claims that, since 2010, people have downloaded its “DOS for Dummies” title more than 74,000 times on the website
In a new lawsuit filed this week in New York federal court, John Wiley named more “John Doe” defendants and listed the titles they downloaded along with their location and IP address. Unlike a similar suit filed two weeks ago, the list of alleged offenders does not include many technology aficionados. Instead, the new list of miscreants is made up primarily of people from upstate New York towns like Rochester and Woodstock who shared “Cooking Basics For Dummies” and “Vegetable Gardening For Dummies.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mansbridge says CBC Criticism 'Part Of The Package'

CBC's Peter Mansbridge says having criticisms levelled at the beleaguered network is nothing new, and a recent barrage from federal politicians, media rivals and ordinary citizens is "part of the package." Despite attacks questioning the network's costs and accountability, Mansbridge says he's convinced most Canadians value the public broadcaster.
"Canadians own the CBC, they have every right to make those feelings known and to challenge us whenever they can and we should take some pride in the fact that they do," says Mansbridge, who on Friday was helping the CBC outline its winter programming schedule.
"This is no different than most times for the CBC -- we're under the microscope, we're being challenged on a lot of different fronts on the whole raison d'etre."

OpenFile packs it in in Hamilton

The news web page OpenFile that started abouta year ago to cover local news in cities across Canada, has announced that itis ending its operation in Hamilton, Ontario.
“With great sadness, after nearly a year of operation in the Hammer, I’m sorrysay we won’t publish new content on the Hamilton site after Sunday’s CFL game.Existing stories and blog posts will remain online indefinitely, but all newadditions will be suspended,” OpenFile’s CEO, Wilf Dinick wrote in a post..
OpenFile is still very much astartup business. In order for it to thrive, we have to focus our resourceswhere we are successful. We will continue to expand our team and our network ofsites across Canada, and we look forward to new opportunities in 2012. We’resorry Hamilton won’t be a part of that."
The post gave no reason for the move.
Open File's Toronto page can be seen here:
OpenFile started by having local people suggest strories and then sent its reporters to cover them. It has recently expanded into aggregating news from other sites. Launching such a site across Canada is an ambitious undertaking but it seems to us that it is still trying to focus on what it wants to be. Hamilton is well-served by the Hamilton Spectator and the local TV station, Channel 11, that covers local news extensively.

Ottawa wants to amend laws protecting CBC

Unimpressed with the CBC's explanations regarding its financial accountability and handling of access to information requests, Conservatives indicated Thursday they may look at amending a law that exempts the broadcaster from disclosing certain information - potentially even things like news anchor Peter Mansbridge's salary. The idea came from Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro during an often adversarial Commons committee hearing where CBC president Hubert Lacroix fielded questions about a recent court battle between the broadcaster and Canada's information commissioner that centered around a clause in the Access to Information Act. Section 68.1 exempts the CBC from releasing publicly any information that pertains to its journalistic, creative or programming activities, other than that which falls under general administration.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Newspaper launches online luxury store

Are we looking at the future as the International Herald Tribune -- the global edition of The New York Times - partners with to launch a online luxury goods store

Mona Eltahawy alleges sexual assault in Egypt

The Guardian: The US-based Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy has been released, according to her personal Twitter account, after 12 hours in detention at the hands of Cairo security forces. A later tweet from the account @monaeltahawy said that she was sexually and physically assaulted while being held inside the interior ministry in Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday morning. Link off headline

J.K. Rowling testifies about harassment

The media ethics committee in the United Kingdom has heard today from J.K Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter. She told a story of constant observation by reporters after her first work became popular. The intensity of attention grew until she had reporters and photographers stationed 24 hours a day outsider her house. At one point, her young daughter came home with a letter from a reporter stuffed into her schoolbag. Toronto Star

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

James Murdoch nailed by hacking scandal

Most favoured son forced out as head of newspapers. It's said he will remain chairman of media empire, despite speculation it's an empty title

Quebecor, Bell reach deal over TV content

The deal sees Bell adding Sun News, TVA Sports and two others while Quebecor's Videotron will carry Bell's RDS2 sports channel.

CBC loses court battle to keep documents secret

Federal court of appeal tells CBC to give over on documents that are eligible for examination by the information commissioner.

Al Jazeera seeking TO reporter, other NA staff

Information for those so inclined on the linked page.

Fox "leaves viewers ignorant" story

Toronto Star story that Fox News "leaves viewers ignorant" according to the headline. This come from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey which concluded, according tio Dan Cassino, that “Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who (say) they don’t watch any news at all.” Oh well. Better to watch no news at all then.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CBC 24 Pulse Channel?

From the CBC website: is changing. Later this week it will have a fresh new look designed to serve you better. In addition to all of the information you are currently used to, you'll have access to more local breaking news and information; more video and audio; and more opportunities to connect with others in the community and CBC. This is a very low-key promo for whatever is coming but you have to think it's related to the arrival of CityNews CHANNEL.

1940s feature explains newspapering

We discovered this incredibly campy You Tube offering in the Huffington Post. They're post is here and deals with the ghetto treatment of women working the craft. But the newsreel's treatment of everything is brutal. The narrator is titled as Arthur P Twogood. Hmm. Sounds like they were one step away from pulling a bottle out of the filing cabinet and cooking up tomorrow's front.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grieving Parents Testify on Hacking

U.K. hearing into press ethics hears from the parents of 13 year old Milly Dowler. Because reporters deleted messages from her voice mail, her mother and father thought she might still be alive, even though she was already dead.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

'Unbearable' paparazzi stalk Grant baby

Britain's high court has granted an injunction to the mother of Hugh Grant's baby. Her lawyer told of "unbearable" suffering caused by the freelancers. The mother is Chinese actress Tinglan Hong and her baby is known only as KLM.

Headscarf opinion lands media aide in jail

Only in Iran you say. Why sure. If you can't sentence a guy to a year in prison for saying he doesn't like the headscarf, what's the world coming to. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's media advisor is behind the pipes of one of those lovely Iranian prisons for overseeing news articles on women and the Islamic headscarf (left and very chic too) the news agency Mehr reported on Sunday. Javanfekr, who is to appeal the sentence, also prompted a separate two-month ban on a reformist newspaper, Etemad, after it ran an interview with him criticising Ahmadinejad's hardline opponents, according to another Mehr report. Thank you and no bomb threats please.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rex Murphy says Peter Newman is just wrong

A potential embarrassment for Peter C. Newman as Rex Murphy says Newman's new book contains incorrect information about him. Globe and Mail.

Mystique -- and temper -- of fabled Jessica Savitch

The mystique of Jessica Savitch is made up of many things. Her talent, insecurity and death at an early age in a car accident in 1983. She was also difficult, as this clip reveals. Although, many in television may sympathize with her upset as she prepares to do a network news update without a floor manager.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Live TV in Judge Brown's court please

If ever there was a case where live television and/or streaming video had a place in a legal proceeding, it would be in Judge David Brown's court tomorrow (Friday) and Monday. Judge Brown has decided that he requires a clearer legal reference before deciding whether the Occupy protesters can be evicted from St. James Park. Friday he will hear arguments. Monday he will announce his decision and presumably give his reasons. The protesters are arguing the eviction order is a violation of the Charter of Rights. We have no way of knowing what Judge Brown will find. But we do know that if he agrees with the protesters, the Canadian legal system will be thrown into absolute confusion. Interested parties (pretty much everybody) could easily argue that their rights (under the Charter) would be well served by live coverage of both. CP24? CityNews Channel?

Canada AM's Seamus O'Regan joining CTV National News

After nine years as co-host of CTV's Canada AM, Seamus O'Regan, 40, is joining the network's flagship national evening newscast, CTV News with Lisa LaFlamme. His final appearance on Canada AM will be on November 24, the network announced. His replacement will be announced the same day, CTV said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tom Kent, head of newspaper ownership inquiry, dead at 89

Tom Kent, who led a 1980 inquiry into newspaper ownership that was known as the Kent Commission, has died at the age of 89. He was a journalist, public servant and an expert on public policy who was named a companion of the Order of Canada in 2001. His son, Oliver Kent, said he died peacefully on Tuesday after a cardiac arrest following surgery. Kent was born in Stafford, England in 1922, studied at Oxford and worked as a code-breaker at the top-secret Bletchley Park facility during World War II. He worked as a journalist in Britain after the war and moved to Canada in 1954 to become editor of the Winnipeg Free Press. He later served as a policy adviser to former prime minister Lester Pearson and became a deputy minister in the Pearson government of the early 1960s.The royal commission was established in response to growing concerns over concentration of ownership in the newspaper business. It was set up following the almost simultaneous closing of papers in Ottawa and Winnipeg that left newspaper monopolies in both cities.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Media challenge order to turn over to police unpublished photos and videos

A group of six media outlets are challenging court orders requiring them to turn over unpublished photos and video from Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot, arguing the orders violate their journalistic integrity while putting their reporters at risk. Police obtained production orders in September targeting the Globe and Mail, CTV, CBC, Global Television, the Vancouver Sun and the Vancouver Province. The orders demanded copies of all photographs and video gathered during the night of the June 15 riot, when scores of jersey-clad fans burned cars, smashed windows and looted stores after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final. But the outlets have filed a petition in BC Supreme Court asking to be exempt."When journalists' work product is treated as police evidence, their ability to operate as independent and impartial reporters is compromised and potentially their very safety is at stake," media lawyer Dan Burnett wrote in the petition, filed Monday."The more often such orders are granted, the more likely that rioters in explosive situations will look upon the journalists as evidence gatherers and react accordingly."The petition said the production orders are far too broad, asking for each and every image captured on the evening of June 15, regardless of whether they depict a crime.

CRTC compromises on Internet metering

Unlimited Internet plans are alive and well after federal regulators stepped in Tuesday to block Bell from so-called Internet metering—a billing plan that might have put an end to all-you-can-use data contracts. “It’s a step in the right direction,” said Steve Anderson, executive director of, which spearheaded opposition to Bell’s proposed usage-based billing scheme. Most small, independent Internet Service Providers should be able after this decision to “provide unlimited, unmetered Internet access for Canadians,” he said. But Anderson said the intricate new rules laid down by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission might lead to higher costs for some small ISPs.Those costs could wind up being passed on to consumers. In its compromise decision, the CRTC was trying balance the interests of companies such as Bell and Rogers with those of independent ISPs, who rent network access from large telecommunications firms.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chelsea Clinton named NBC special correspondent

The daughter of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton will be a special correspondent for NBC, the network announced on Monday. Chelsea Clinton, who also works for her father's charitable foundation, will report for NBC Nightly News and the network's news magazine show "Rock Center with Brian Williams" on groups and individuals making a difference by doing good.
"People who imagine and implement solutions to challenges in their own lives, in their communities, in our country and in our world have always inspired me," Chelsea Clinton said in a statement.
Clinton, who has traditionally avoided the spotlight and was known for refusing to speak to the press during her mother's political campaigns, will also continue her public health work at New York University and studying for a doctorate at the University of Oxford.

CBC hands over disputed documents as legal experts slam request

The CBC has, “under protest,” released a series of documents to a Commons committee that’s come under fire for even asking for them.
The documents are thought to include, among other items, details of the CBC’s spending on outdoor advertising and its fleet of vehicles, and are at the heart of a legal dispute currently before the courts.
The Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics committee had been studying the legal dispute and Conservative Dean Del Mastro brought forward a motion compelling the broadcaster to produce both redacted and unredacted versions to be vetted behind closed doors.
In a response to legal questions from Canada’s official Opposition over the weekende, parliamentary law clerk and counsel Rob Walsh basically agreed that the committee was stepping into uncertain constitutional waters and “could be seen as interfering with and possibly undermining the judicial process.”
Full story:

BBC chairman against newspaper regulation

The chairman of the BBC Trust has argued against statutory regulation of newspapers.In a speech entitled Ethics and Journalism after the News of the World, Chris Patten told the (British) Society of Editors' annual conference on Sunday that proper reform can be achieved only by journalists.Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong and now a life peer, said: "Statutory regulation of the press would in my view be more than wrong-headed, it would pose a real danger to the public discourse that underpins our democracy."So the responsibility to ensure high standards of professionalism rests with journalists, their editors and their proprietors."Patten said he may have to go before the Leveson inquiry that is looking into the culture, practices and ethics of the press.He said: "If so, I hope I can make a convincing case that the sort of regulation that covers us is appropriate for broadcasters but would not work for newspapers."

Link to full story:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hackers threaten to 'remove' Toronto from Internet if it evicts Occupy protesters

The notorious hacker group Anonymous is threatening to have the City of Toronto “removed from the Internet” if they move forward on plans to evict the Occupy Toronto camp.“The brave citizens of Toronto are peaceful and well mannered occupiers, and we will not let the city . . . get involved,” said a computerized voice in a Saturday video by the group.On Thursday, residents and business owners neighbouring the sprawling encampment gathered to voice their displeasure about the clouds of marijuana and campfire smoke emanating from the park — as well as the near-constant sound of drumming.That same day, city manager Joe Pennachetti told reporters that Toronto would take “appropriate steps” to disband the camp.Anonymous’ main weapon is not technically hacking, but rather a tactic known as “distributed denial of service.” The attacks work by commanding millions of computers (usually civilian computers commandeered by a computer virus) to suddenly flood a website with traffic, overloading the server.On Saturday, Occupy Toronto protesters were quickly shooed away by Toronto police after attempting to set up a “branch camp” behind the Ontario legislature. Protesters claimed the original site had become overcrowded.Approximately 300 people are estimated to be living at the downtown site.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CBS dips back to Cronkite era with nostalgic set

A map of the world from the Walter Cronkite era was replicated for the set of the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. CBS News directors Robert Klug and Eric Shapiro talk about embarking on the future of CBS News while giving a nod to the past.

Click on the title to take a look.

Profit falls for FP newspaper

FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership (FPLP) said Thursday its third-quarter profit declined by $400,000 to $2.8 million in the wake of a $100,000 decline in revenues and an $800,000 increase in operating expenses. Revenues for the quarter totalled $26.4 million versus $26.5 million for the same period in 2010. Operating expenses were $21.9 million versus $21.1 million. The weaker showing left net earnings for the first nine months running 3.3 per cent behind last year's pace -- $10.7 million versus $11.1 million.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Media just fell asleep in Penn State story

David Newhouse, editor of the Harrisburg Patriot-News tells the history of the Penn State sex abuse scandal through the eyes of his reporters. It seems clear that the charges, which came in stages (first in 1998, and later in 2002) were covered up not just by the university but by the local police. In March of this year the Patriot-News says it carried a full account of information surrounding the investigation of coach Sandusky. Every journalist who reads the Newhouse account can decide for himself just where and why the defenders of the public welfare fell asleep on this story. The full Newhouse op-ed is linked on the headline above to one of our own pages.

Charlie Rose and Gayle King to CBS "Ëarly"

Charlie Rose and Gayle King are slated to tske over the CBS Early Show, a perennial laggard in the numbers. Some critics (linked above) say Rose and King are nice people but not proven at grabbing ratings.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Torstar plans buyouts, outsourcing

Torstar , the publisher of the Toronto Star, is offering immediate buyouts to editorial staff and plans to outsource ad-building, layout and editing duties, three Star journalists told Reuters today. The Star, Canada's biggest daily newspaper, wants to offer immediate layoff packages, reporter Richard Brennan wrote on his Twitter account. A second source, who declined to be identified, said the newspaper was planning a "major trim" of staff to be completed by the end of the year. The company has confirmed the buyout offer but said departures will be voluntary. It said it did not have a number for how many employees would take the offer.

Media Misses The Mark in Penn State story

Heartfelt complaint from sports writer Dan Vecellio about the focus on Joe Paterno rather than those actually accused of molesting kids. In many ways, however, Paterno represents the greater tragedy as an otherwise decent man who couldn't bring himself to expose his school to scandal even though it was required of him.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New AP Guidelines For Retweets: No Opinions

Seems reasonable in a world where there are no more personal opinions between friends, just public address system announcements on Twitter etc.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Esi Edugyan wins the Giller Prize

TORONTO, --CNW -- Esi Edugyan has been named the 2011 winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Half-Blood Blues, published by Thomas Allen Publishers. The announcement was made at a black-tie dinner and award ceremony hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, attended by over 500 members of the publishing, media and arts communities. The gala was broadcast live on CBC's bold, livestreamed on, and aired on CBC Television at 11:05 p.m. (11:35 p.m. NT). The largest annual literary prize in the country, the Scotiabank Giller Prize awards $50,000 to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English and $5,000 to each of the finalists. A shortlist of six authors and their books was announced on October 4, 2011. Those finalists were:

David Bezmozgis for his novel THE FREE WORLD, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Lynn Coady for her novel THE ANTAGONIST, published by House of Anansi Press
Patrick deWitt for his novel THE SISTERS BROTHERS, published by House of Anansi Press
Esi Edugyan for her novel HALF-BLOOD BLUES, published by Thomas Allen Publishers
Zsuzsi Gartner for her short story collection BETTER LIVING THROUGH PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada
Michael Ondaatje for his novel THE CAT'S TABLE, published by McClelland & Stewart
The shortlist and ultimate winner were selected by an esteemed jury panel made up of award-winning Canadian writer and 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Annabel Lyon; American author, memoirist and Guggenheim fellow Howard Norman; and acclaimed UK playwright and prize-winning novelist Andrew O'Hagan.

Indigo to sell Kobo for US$315 million

A sea change in strategy for Indigo Books and Music with word that it will sell off its Kobo ereader division. The buyer is Tokyo-based Rakuten Inc., a large world-wide e-commerce company which will continue to run Kobo as a stand-alone company with head office in Toronto. The linked top-notch story from Canadian Business contains pretty much all the information you might need to try to guess the why and whatever of this startling decision. Notably, Kobo's minority 49 percent shareholders will also sell. They are the Australian book and music chain RedGroup Retail and Cheung Kong Holdings, an investment company controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. Among the factors which may have contributed to this decision is the intense competition coming from Amazon's Kindle and others. Another will be the US$40 million quarterly loss announced by Indigo at the same time as the sale. This loss occurred notwithstanding Kobo's stellar performance increasing its sales some 219 percent during the quarter. One survey of ereaders placed Kobo behind various editions of the Kindle and Novo, as well as the Sony reader. Canadian Business.

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