Thursday, June 30, 2011

OWL survives in a challenged magazine world

Interesting Globe and Mail feature on the survival of OWL and other kids' magazines.
Edited excerpt:

After more than three decades in business, Owlkids – which publishes the iconic Canadian children’s magazine OWL, as well as ChickaDEE and Chirp for younger readers – is staying alive at a time when the magazine industry is as challenged as ever. Circulation and advertising revenues for Canadian consumer magazines fell more than 15 per cent between 2007 and 2010. Compared to its peers in the magazine business, Owlkids is also operating with one hand tied behind its back. While consumer magazines in Canada lean on advertising sales for the majority of their revenues, Owlkids depends almost entirely on money from its readers.
The magazines went to the brink in 1997, when the parent company went into receivership. A white knight came in the form of a group of monks. Bayard Canada, an affiliate of the Bayard Presse publisher in France, is owned by a Catholic religious community in Quebec City called les Pères Augustins de l’Assomption. They assured the publishers that the magazines’ content would remain non-religious – a condition of sale that was written into the contract.
These days, prayer books pay the bills. Bayard also owns a profitable publisher of religious books, with offices down the hall from Owlkids.

Click on the title to read the full story.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shaw cancels plans to launch sports network; reports increased profit of 28 per cent .

Shaw is no longer going to launch its own sports channel, citing the expense of competing with existing networks which have tied up rights to the major leagues.
“The costs, as we know, have dramatically gone up,” CEO Brad Shaw said in a call with analysts Wednesday, discussing strong third quarter results for the cable giant. “We will not be pursuing a sports strategy going forward.”
In January, the company applied to start its own network..But the cost of fighting for a spot in that sports arena, and the fact that Shaw’s specialty channels offer good leverage in reaching deals with competing cable companies, led to Wednesday morning’s board decision, president Peter Bissonnette said.
Bissonnette added that their specialty channels provide “a degree of reciprocity, it doesn’t have to be sports. It’s one of the benefits of vertical integration.”
Those specialty channels were part of Shaw’s strong results Wednesday, with the Calgary-based company reporting overall profits over the past three months climbed 28 per cent over the same period last year. Shaw reported net income of $203 million, or 45 cents a share, for the quarter ending May 31, compared to $158 million, or 37 cents a share, a year ago.

Confidence In TV News and Newspapers (Slightly) Up

From the Columbia Journalism Review:

Some heartening news for those in the newspaper and TV News industries. Gallup’s annual poll of the public’s confidence in institutions has found that Americans’ confidence in newspapers and TV News is up on last year. Twenty-eight percent of those interviewed for the poll said they had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers, compared to 25 percent last year; the jump for TV news was from 22 percent to 27 percent.
While heartening, those figures aren’t much to sing about. They’re still well down on nineties levels and, according to Gallup’s findings, newspapers ranked tenth in terms of confidence among sixteen institutions, while TV News ranked behind at eleventh. (The military was number one, small business number two, and Congress last, naturally.) But good news is hard to come by in this racket and the poll at least hints at progress.

Click on the title to read the whole story.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The perils of reality TV: Is an election candidate out of line by accepting a freebie "makeover?"

Amy England, (pictured) who was elected to Oshawa City Council a few months after her episode of Rags to Red Carpet aired, has come under fire for failing to report thousands of dollars worth of products, services and publicity. Council watchdog Bill Steele is demanding a compliance audit of her election finances, saying the image enhancement and exposure gave England a “huge unfair advantage.” During the half-hour episode, England is transformed from sloppy student to polished professional with a new wardrobe, and hair, teeth and eye treatments.

Click on the title to read the Toronto Star story.

Sun News interview with dancer drew record complaints, says watchdog

A Canadian broadcast watchdog says it has received a record-setting number of complaints from viewers about a recent Sun News TV interview with dancer Margie Gillis. Canadian Broadcast Standards Council national chairman Ron Cohen says his organization has received more than 4,100 complaints about a June 1 interview between host Krista Erickson and Quebec-born Gillis. The council typically receives about 2,000 complaints in an entire year.
“It’s the most individual complaints we’ve received about a single incident,” said Cohen in a telephone interview from Ottawa on Tuesday, noting that the number is only surpassed if petitions are included.
In fact, the council issued a release Tuesday asking Canadians to stop sending in complaints because the volume of letters already exceeds the council’s resources.
During the interview in question, Erickson quizzed Gillis about whether it was appropriate that she receive government grants to support her dance work.
The incident prompted waves of response from the blogosphere and national publications alike, while the resultant YouTube clip — which includes a link to contact the broadcast council — has been viewed nearly 10,000 times.
Cohen estimated that it would likely take between six and eight months for the council to reach a decision. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is an independent watchdog organization with more than 700 member radio and TV stations.
A spokesman for Sun Media said he did not wish to comment “since the complaints ... were filed with the CBSC following an organized and widely publicized campaign.”

Slate magazine quarrels with author's analysis of why newspapers "have gone to hell"

In a review of ex-newspaper exec James O'Shea's book The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers Slate says "he appears to make the reportorial mistake of coming to conclusions first and not letting the evidence, no matter how strong, shake him loose from them."
"In O'Shea's view, the cause of the undoing of the newspapers owned by the Tribune Co. and Times Mirror, as well as other newspapers in the country, has not been the Internet, or declining circulation, or long stories and 'skimpy attention spans, or arrogant journalists.' It's been the reaction of newspaper executives to those forces. He writes: 'The lack of investment, the greed, the incompetence, corruption, hypocrisy, and downright arrogance of people who put their interests ahead of the public's are responsible for the state of the newspaper industry today.'
"The problem with O'Shea's analysis is that important newspapers whose executives and owners weren't stingy, greedy, incompetent, corrupt, hypocritical, or arrogant have also been forced to reduce news pages, cut whole sections, close bureaus and decimate newsrooms.
"Both the Washington Post and the New York Times, long controlled by families that have taken immense pride in providing the public service of great journalism, have bent before recent market forces and made the cuts that O'Shea deplores," Slate writes before concluding:

"O'Shea, an experienced reporter and editor, misses the story and writes poorly. If only we could send his terrific assignment back to the rewrite desk for fixing."

Click on the title to read the whole review.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Israel rescinds threat to reporters on flotilla

Israel on Monday set aside a warning it issued the previous day that foreign journalists aboard a flotilla planning to challenge its naval blockade of Gaza risked being barred from the country for up to a decade and having their equipment impounded.
Also, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Monday that he had instructed the relevant authorities to devise a special procedure for journalists covering the flotilla bound for Gaza, on the assumption that they would end up in Israel. In contrast to the activists on board, it said that the journalists would not be subject to the “regular policy against infiltrators and those who enter Israel illegally.”
Officials said the earlier decision had been made by staff members without Mr. Netanyahu’s knowledge. The Foreign Press Association in Israel issued a statement welcoming the turnabout, saying it was pleased to see that Israel “understands that journalists should be treated differently from political activists.”

CNN Sportscaster Nick Charles Dies

Nick Charles, CNN's first sports anchor, died Sunday of bladder cancer. He was 64. Charles, who was once a taxi driver, started working at the cable news network on its first day, back in 1980. Recalling those early years, he said when I came back to work each Monday, I wasn't sure if the station would still be there or if it would be a dry cleaning store. Nick Charles co-anchored the CNN show "Sports Night" for 17 years, then created his own sports show. Boxing was his specialty, but he also covered the Winter Olympics, Super Bowls, the Kentucky Derby and the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
In an odd footnote to Charles' career, he was knocked off CNN by Osama bin-Laden. After 9/11, CNN had no time for sports and cancelled his show, Sports Tonight. They've been 100% news ever since.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

CTV Toronto, CP 24 among RTNDA award winners

CTV Toronto won the spot news award for its coverage of the G20 summit last year and CP24 won a special events award for its coverage of the Toronto municipal election at the Radio and Television News Directors Association annual awards function in Halifax.

A media release with all the winners is here:

Is the N.Y. Times taking itself too seriously in the digital age?

The New York Times public editor -- a sort of ombudsman -- often shares interesting insights in his column that runs every Sunday. He chases down editors and reporters to answer readers' complaints. But this week's column seems to be in a bit of a time warp in the humble view of this Platenguys correspondent.

The column deals with the challenges its first female editor, Jill Abramson, will face in dealing with the digital edition when she takes over this fall.

"Unlike print, digital news is often updated throughout the day and night, sometimes many times. Versions evolve and sometimes morph into something quite different. Mistakes happen and are fixed. How The Times tracks and manages this can be very confusing," he writes (breathlessly no doubt).

Really? What he describes has been a way of life for generations at the wire services such as AP, Reuters and UPI and at broadcast news enterprises. Anyone who has toiled for any of these will get a chuckle out of the column. It seems nothing happens until it happens at The Times. But it is definitely happening because, as he notes, the new editor spent several months with a committee examining the question of how to update the news.

The Times is an excellent newspaper. We just wish they would not take themselves so seriously. The world HAS changed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Star's public editor on unpaid "internships"

Kathy English writes:
"With more journalism programs graduating more students, and the recession-battered media industry continuing to cut costs, unpaid internships have become the new normal, raising valid concerns that only those who can afford to work for free will become journalists."

Click on the title to read her full column.

She quotes from an essay by J-school grad Btehany Horne, "Why I Will Not Work for Free."


The Star pays its interns but most work for free like the chain gang, pictured.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Former Sportsnet host files human rights complaint after firing over tweets

Former Sportsnet host Damian Goddard is filing a human rights complaint against Rogers Communications Inc., claiming he was fired for expressing his religious beliefs in a controversial series of tweets. A statement issued Thursday by Goddard’s lawyer described the broadcaster as “a lifelong Catholic” and said his termination was a violation of his freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
“Critics on Twitter were calling for his head because he expressed a commonly held opinion that they didn’t like,” lawyer William Gale said in the statement. “Rogers answered that call swiftly and publicly. By doing so, they cemented the impression that his Catholic beliefs are inappropriate and grounds for dismissal.”
Goddard was let go from a hosting job with Sportsnet in May after tweeting in support of hockey agent Todd Reynolds. Reynolds made waves after he called out New York Rangers player Sean Avery for filming a TV ad in support of gay marriage, describing the player’s position as “very sad” and “wrong.”
“I completely and wholeheartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage,” Goddard tweeted the next day.

Conrad Black sentenced to 13 more months

Conrad Black was resentenced to 42 months in prison on fraud and obstruction of justice charges, which means he could serve up to 13 more months in prison. In a Chicago court Friday, Judge Amy St. Eve also ordered him to pay a $125,000 fine.
Black has already served 29 months in the Coleman federal prison in Florida before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down some of his initial convictions. His original sentence was 78 months in prison. The court agreed to accept his time already served as part of his new sentence. Under U.S. law, prisoners must serve at least 85 per cent of their sentence, with time only being reduced for good behaviour. That means in Black's case he could spend as little as six months in prison. When the ruling was read out, Black's wife, Barbara Amiel, collapsed. She had to be escorted from the courtroom by paramedics. Black has two weeks to appeal the decision. His lawyer, Miguel Estrada, asked for six weeks before Black must report to prison.

‘Dragons’ Den’ star Kevin O’Leary accused of ‘encouraging terrorism’ on TV

The language of business commentary, which Kevin O'Leary delivers daily on CBC News Network, was questioned in the most recent complaint to the corporation.
O'Leary said:
"The incumbent CEO has not delivered anything for shareholders," O'Leary commented on the financial performance of General Electric during an April 21 broadcast. "And at some point, the institutional shareholders are going to put a bullet in his head."
Such a metaphor, asserted viewer Dick Harling, was "encouraging terrorism."
While the vocabulary would be uncommon for a traditional news program, executive producer Robert Lack defended the co-star of "The Lang & O'Leary Exchange," even if he contradicted CBC practices that demand an avoidance of violent wording "except where its omission would alter the nature and meaning of the information reported."
So, the complainant still wasn't satisfied.
CBC ombudsman Kirk LaPointe stepped in to determine whether or not O'Leary was out of line. Previously, he admonished the host for the use of the term "Indian giver."
When it came to statements like "greed is good" and "I love money" or calling unions a "parasite" on business, however, they were regarded in line with the arch role for which he was hired.
Similarly, the terms associated with the brutality of big business weren't inappropriate, according to LaPointe.
"Beyond the 'bullet in the head' to describe a leader who must be ousted," wrote the ombudsman, "there is the stock's 'dead cat bounce,' the takeover-resistant 'poison pill,' the board with its 'knives out' and the company 'bloodletting.' Similar imagery can be found in sports, politics and entertainment."

Apple planning "Apple branded" TV next year: Analyst

An Apple branded television set could be arriving in 2012 according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. He has been talking about the possibility of this new Apple TV product since 2009, and he thinks that it is finally happening now. The introduction of iCloud will make it easier to share content among several iOS devices: "At first the only media iCloud will store is music and pictures" explained Munster, "but we believe that Apple may add movies and TV shows purchased or rented in iTunes to the iCloud service, which could be viewed on a TV." Apple has recently applied for patents that involve recording and browsing television, broadcast menus, a TV version of the dock overlay we see on Macs, and other DVRs

Thursday, June 23, 2011

CHCH morning show to begin at 4 am

Gannett cuts 700 jobs across Midwest

A black day in Cincinnati and other Gannett cities as the newspaper giant let 700 people go in its community publishing division. That is said to amount to three percent of its employees across newspapers like The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., The Cincinnati Enquirer in Ohio and The Indianapolis Star. The company’s flagship paper, USA Today, cut 9 percent of its workforce last summer and was not affected by the layoffs

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Olbermann beats Spitzer for young demo

None of these guys may be your cup of tea, but in the battle for 25 to 54 year olds, it appears that the newly launched Keith Olbermann is beating Eliot Spitzer on CNN. (from left Olbermann, Spitzer, O'Reilly and O'Donnell). Olbermann is now on Current TV after his stormy departure from MSNBC. In fact, Olbermann is far behind Fox News and his old employer in this demo. According to Nielsen Co. ratings, Olbermann's new "Countdown" drew 179,000 viewers age 25 to 54, the young adult demographic favored by advertisers. Figures for total viewers in the 8 p.m. EDT Monday hour were not immediately available. In comparison, "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News Channel had 735,000 young adult viewers. On MSNBC, Olbermann's replacement, Lawrence O'Donnell, drew 237,000 such viewers, while CNN's Eliot Spitzer had 89,000. In a statement, Current TV said it was happy with the show. Olbermannsaid he was pleased.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BCE says any ban on exclusivity ‘preposterous’

Barnes & Noble Loss in Digital Books

Barnes and Noble is struggling to adapt to the killing world of digital books and its balance sheet shows it. B&N bled $59.4 million in the first quarter, more than a dollar a share. Bloomberg

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rogers upset by "Wild West" of new media

Rogers Communications invoked the lawlessness of Dodge City today when it asked the CRTC to -put on its badge and end the “wild west” of new media. How can you get a fair shot at the business of stage coach drivers if there are no rules. Rogers is exercised by the prospect of Bell Media making CTV content exclusive to its own devices.. Smart phones and tablets are an unregulated sector of the television industry.

Billboard to tell drivers what music is playing

A twist on real-time read-outs. Time will tell if it catches on.
RELEASE -- CBS Outdoor Louisville and Cox Media have partnered together to show highway drivers in Louisville what songs are being played on their favorite radio station -- New Country Q103.1 -- in real time. the digital billboard on Interstate 65 will instantly show songs being played on the radio station. The Louisville billboard, which hangs over the freeway from its perch inside the grounds of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, will also feature promotional messages from the station, encouraging drivers to tune in.

Vertical vertigo in Hull

It's sort of like the CRTC interviewing itself. Our national guard against outsiders says vertical integration is a "growing trend" in the Canadian media landscape. What a clap of thunder. So what if Bell, Rogers and Quebecor own everything. At least they're Canadian.

Student's prom dress made of old newspapers

Wonderful story from Fredricton which admittedly doesn't have much to do with your job. But it does dispute the old lament that yesterday's paper was only good for wrapping garbage. This year Nikki Fitzsimmons will wear a prom dress made from cast off copies of the Gleaner. Writer observes dryly that Nikki has "never been easy to read." Linked at the headline

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The America’s Cup, Translated for Television

Entertaining New York Times piece on how to translate the America's Cup into something Mr. and Mrs. America can understand.

Kissing couple tell story to the CBC

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lovers kiss off New York media offers

They're being called the Riot Lovers, but a better name might be Pavement Lovers. That's where they decided to take a break for some smooching. In any case, their alfresco amore has brought profitable offers from the U.S. morning shows to share their intimacies (more than they have already). But after sharing their story with the CBC, according to this story, they've said no to the New York media.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Painful re-telilng of a painful prediction

You don't need to read to the end of the Globe and Mail story linked here to learn how Frank Graves got his election call wrong. The lead is: He polled a lot of kids who told him (maybe) what they wanted him to hear. Or maybe what they thought they should say. And that would be: "Voting Liberal." As it turned out, the old truth that kids don't often vote for anybody -- sadly -- wrecked his prediction. Now you know.

Only in Argentina -- media heirs forced give DNA

This story can't be recommended too highly, in the opinion of TPG. Fascinating tale in which it appears that two adopted kids of a powerful media family, opponents of the government, are being forced to give DNA samples which may show they are, in fact, the children of left-wing victims of the "Dirty War".

Media on the hunt for Vancouver riots hero

The hunt is on for the brave man in a cap (inset) who tried to prevent at least some of the unbridled violence that took place in Vancouver. All across the TV spectrum, news people are calling on the man to make himself known so that he can be thanked -- and they can get the story. The Toronto Star called him "one good man in the middle of the madness," as he tried to defend his city and stop the looting. In video showing his unsuccessful attempt to stop the rampage, the man shouted out to the crowd, "this is my city," with an expletive added in the middle. The mob responded by turning on the man, beating him. It is among the most chilling scenes recently seen in Canada.

Rogers names Whyte to head publishing unit

Ken Whyte has been chosen to succeed Brian Segal as president of Rogers’Publishing Ltd., the company's print media division, this fall. Whyte will take on his new role on Sept. 1, when Segal retires after 17 years with the company. He will be responsible for overseeing magazines and websites such as Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Hello! Canada and L’Actualité. And he will spearhead the launch of Rogers’ newest title, Sportsnet magazine, which will aim to lure advertisers seeking to target men and to build the brand of the existing Rogers-owned Sportsnet television and radio stations.

Lloyd Robertson to release memoir in fall 2012

Lloyd Robertson will reflect on his storied career in a memoir due for release in fall 2012. HarperCollinsCanada says the book will chronicle the CTV newsman's life and the historic events that he has covered in more than 50 years in the business. The 77-year-old Robertson joined CTV in 1976 and became chief anchor in 1983. He will host his last CTV newscast on Sept. 1 and hand over the anchor chair to Lisa LaFlamme on Sept. 5. He plans stay on as a correspondent for "W5."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

CBC prepares to defend its finances

From the National Post story:

The CBC on Wednesday released a study on the economic impacts of the CBC (and its French-language counterpart, Radio-Canada). In what will not come as a shock to anyone, the study the CBC commissioned found that the CBC has a significant positive impact on the Canadian economy.
Deloitte & Touche, the study's authors, estimate that the CBC contributed $3.7-billion in "gross value added" to the Canadian economy in 2010, based on expenses of $1.7-billion, of which $1.1-billion was direct government funding. The good news goes even further: the study estimates that the CBC contributes an additional "net value added" of $1.3-billion, a figure at which it arrives by estimating the economic benefits of spending the CBC's $1.1-billion on alternative government measures. Ten per cent on health, 30% on social services, 0.2% on gazebos in Muskoka, that kind of thing.
The general conclusions are fairly obvious -not only does every dollar invested in the CBC generate significant positive dollars worth of economic activity, but spending it elsewhere would have less of an impact.

But the author, Scott Stinson, notes:

These takeaways, though, come with a couple of boulders of salt. First is the very nature of a study like this. The economic impacts are essentially an elaborate piece of guesswork that measures both the direct impact of investment and the indirect impact "across CBC's supply chain and more widely as money continues to flow through the economy."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Damascus hoax shows how easy it is to manipulate new media: Star columnist

The Toronto Star's Thomas Walkom writes:

The Gay Girl in Damascus fiasco should serve as a warning to those enamoured by social media. Anything can be faked. The fact that something is posted on YouTube doesn’t make it true.
This has particular relevance for those who rely on Internet sites like Facebook to find out what is going on in countries such as Syria or Iran, where the mainstream media are suppressed.
In the Gay Girl case, the hoaxer appears to be just a mischief maker. Others trying to manipulate news on the net may have more complex motives.
Gay Girl fooled almost everyone. The BBC bought the hoax as did British papers like the Guardian and Telegraph. Time magazine called Amina Arraf, the blog’s supposed, Syrian-American author, “an honest and reflective voice of the (Syrian) revolution.”
Last week, both CNN and the Associated Press reported that Araf had been abducted by Syrian security forces.
In Canada, the Postmedia News service interviewed someone in Montreal claiming to be Araf’s worried girlfriend.
So when it was revealed on Monday that the author of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog was neither gay, nor a girl, nor living in Damascus, a lot of people looked stupid.
In fact, blogger Tom McMaster is a 40-year-old, married, male, American graduate student residing in Scotland.

Click on the title to read the whole column.

Australia's largest newspaper publisher refuses to sign accreditation agreement for World Cup

Australia's largest newspaper publisher is threatening to boycott Rugby World Cup match venues, saying it cannot agree to accreditation terms which restrict online coverage of the Sept. 9-Oct. 23 tournament in New Zealand. News Ltd. group editorial director Campbell Reid told the company's national newspaper, The Australian, that media accreditation terms were too restrictive.
"Our ability to cover the event is better if we don't sign the accreditation," Reid said. "It is about freedom of speech and our ability to make decisions on what is news."
Reid said News Ltd., owned by global media giant News Corporation, objects to restrictions on the duration of video highlights it is permitted to use in online formats and what markets have access to the content in the digital media.
But the International Rugby Board said negotiations were ongoing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fifth Estate wins Michener award for Ashley Smith docs

The CBC program The Fifth Estate has won the 2010 Michener Award, an annual honour recognizing meritorious public service journalism in Canada. Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented the award for the program's two documentaries on the case of Ashley Smith, a 19-year-old woman who had initially been sentenced to a month in juvenile detention when she was 14, but ended up serving more than four years, mostly in solitary confinement. Smith, originally from Moncton, N.B., ended up strangling herself to death in her cell in an Ontario institution after many previous suicide attempts. Guards had been given orders not to enter the cell as long as she was still breathing. A coroner's inquest on the circumstances surrounding her death is currently underway.
The Fifth Estate won the Michener for documentaries titled “Out of Control” and “Behind the Wall,” which probed the issue of how people with mental illness are treated in Canada's penal system.

HuffPost review: Page One -- Inside the New York Times

The Huffington Post reviews a new documentary about The New York Times:

"Director Alex Rossi actually uses the Times' media desk as his point of entry. He spends time with reporters Brian Stelter, Tim Arango, Richard Perez-Pena and David Carr, as they cover stories and confer with their editor, Bruce Headlam. Though we see the Times in snow, rain and sunshine, there's not exactly a linear feel to the story telling.
"Instead, Rossi does some fairly standard fly-on-the-wall filming in the Times, watching Carr, Stelter and others as they pursue various stories -- from early Wikileaks releases to Carr's huge takeout on the collapse of Tribune Corp."

It will no doubt eventually come to TV or to Canada,
Click on the title to link to the whole review.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Conservatives 'lay track' to attack media, real opposition party in new Parliament

The recent Conservative offensive against news media and columnists suggests the government is "laying the track" to take on members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa as the real opposition in the new Parliament, says pollster Nik Nanos. But NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay, Ont.) said the tactics—former Conservative Cabinet minister Stockwell Day's unexpected and lengthy criticism of the media during a speech to the Conservative convention on June 9 coupled with a pre-convention fundraising pitch focusing on "left-leaning" opinion makers—are the hallmarks of a government that does not respect the role of independent media in a democratic society.
While Conservative commentator Tim Powers argued it is normal for a Prime Minister to try to "frame the agenda" in a new government and condition party supporters for attacks it expects.
Mr. Day visibly pleased Conservative Party members on Thursday, at the convention's opening night, when he launched into a pointed criticism of "personal attacks" by the media against Conservative politicians during his years in Parliament, including members of the Canadian Alliance party Mr. Day briefly led. Mr. Day compared news coverage of Parliament to what he said appears to be a "new era" of civility in the House of Commons compared to the bitter confrontations that characterized the past three minority governments since 2004.

Click on the title to read the whole story in the Hill Times

Facebook use drops in Canada, U.S.

The number of Canadians logging on to their Facebook accounts fell in May, a website that covers the social network said Monday. A report on Inside Facebook said that the number of Canadian Facebook users fell by 1.52 million to 16.6 million during the month. The site defines a user as a "monthly active user" — someone who logs on to their account at least once a month. Inside Facebook caters to the advertising and marketing industries by tracking Facebook's growth data, demographics and usage statistics. The drop in Canada is in keeping with a global trend at Facebook where its growth is starting to slow in developed economies where it is entrenched.

CRTC chief talks legislation for services such as Netflix

Konrad von Finckenstein, the chairman of the federal broadcasting regulator, has raised the possibility of legislation to deal with the onslaught of so-called over-the-top services such as Netflix, Google TV and Apple TV. Pointing to research that shows Netflix – which became available in Canada last September – was by March responsible for 13.5 per cent of downstream Internet traffic during peak hours, von Finckenstein said it’s “obviously a huge issue” that needs to be explored. The OTT services are available at low cost and are not required to program Canadian content or contribute to its creation. Last week, a Netflix spokesman told The Globe and Mail that it expects to reach one million subscribers in Canada by this summer, exceeding the company’s earlier estimates. He spoke at the Banff World Media Festival.

Billionaire Russian immigrant buys 20 per cent stake in Israeli newspaper

Former Russian oil tycoon Leonid Nevzlin, convicted in absentia of murder in Russia in what he termed a show trial, has bought a 20 per cent stake in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, the left-wing daily reported. Publisher and majority owner Amos Schocken said in a statement that the new investment follows year-long talks, and added: “All the funds will go into the company, and Nevzlin will join the firm’s board of directors. After the investment, the Schocken family will hold a 60% stake and the publishing company DuMont Schauberg of Cologne, Germany, will hold 20 per cent,”

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Montreal-based Reuters photog, Shaun Best, dead at 43

Montreal-based Reuters photographer Shaun Best, 43, died Saturday night, apparently of a heart attack, the Montreal Gazette reports. Best had just finished dinner with other photographers covering the Canadian Grand Prix and was driving home with his longtime partner, Gazette copy editor Denise Duguay, when he had the attack.

The Internet is killing local news, U.S. regulator says

Thanks to digital technologies, there are more media sources than ever from which to get news, but when it comes to covering town halls, school boards, courts, and other local news, the information is missing.
That's the takeaway message in a behemoth of a report released last week by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Cnet reports.
The 460-plus page report, titled "The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age," is two years in the making and was led by Beliefnet co-founder and former U.S. News and World Report National Editor Steve Waldman.
If forced to sum up the entire report in a single tweet,Cnet says, it would probably be "The Internet has revolutionized how we gather and consume information, but meanwhile local news has been damn near suffocated." Or, as Waldman and company put it on page 262:
There were about 13,400 fewer newspaper newsroom jobs in 2010 than there were in 2006, dropping from 55,000 positions to about 41,600. Over the years, newsmagazines, local commercial radio, and local TV have reduced their newsgathering staffs, as well. At the same time, Internet sites, cable news, and public radio have created new journalism jobs.

Click on the title to read more.

Scottish newspapers in crisis just when they are needed most

A column in The Independent bemoans the state of Scottish journalism:

Writing this week in the Caledonian Mercury, Scotland's online newspaper, editor Stewart Kirkpatrick said: "Scotland's newspapers are dying. Soon they will be gone ... Scotland is about to enter a crucial decision-making period with a maimed and crippled media, incapable of properly enabling the debate we need to have."

His comments were prompted by Trinity Mirror's decision to axe 90 jobs at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, almost half their editorial staff. In future, non-Scottish stories will come from the Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People. Some design and subbing will be outsourced to the Press Association.

This is not just a blow to journalists. Neither is it simply a consequence of the newspaper industry's failure to adapt to multimedia convergence – though circulation of both titles has been hard hit. In the early 1990s the Record came within touching distance of 800,000 daily sales. The Sunday Mail hit 900,000. Today their respective circulations are 286,000 and 336,000.

More here:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

MoneySense named Magazine of the Year (print) at National Magazine Awards

MoneySense has been named print Magazine of the Year at the 34th annual National Magazine Awards. Awards were handed out in 43 categories at a agala in Toronto on Friday night., the online hub of Maclean’s magazine, was named digital Magazine of the Year. The Walrus led all other contenders with nine awards, including six golds.
Report on Business also won nine awards, including three golds, while Swerve won six awards including four golds, and Maisonneuve took home three golds.
Matthieu Aikins won the award for Best New Creative Talent for his article “Last Stand in Kandahar” in The Walrus. The top award for Magazine Covers went to The Feathertale Review. And D.B. Scott received the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rogers to launch Sportsnet magazine

The Rogers Sportsnet brand has built its presence on TV and radio, and now it is coming to the newsstand. In October, Rogers Media will launch Sportsnet magazine. Rogers Communications Inc.announced its plans on Thursday. An issue will come out every other week, with sports features and opinion pieces. Sportsnet’s television and website writers will be brought in to help with work on the new magazine, and new hires for the magazine will be expected to appear on other Rogers Media properties, the company said..

Huffington Post trumps NY Times’ web traffic

The Huffington Post has shot past The New York Times’s audience on its website for the first time in May, taking the top spot among the leading newspaper websites south of the border, according to data released Thursday from ComScore Inc., which tracks web traffic. The New York Times introduced a “metered” pay wall for its website in March, leading to speculation that the paid model would hurt traffic to The number of unique visitors to the site has indeed dropped 11.7 per cent since March, when the payment model was introduced.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Texas body hoax -- the lofty Euro view

Here's the Guardian's assessment of the Texas hoax that sent the police and media seeking dismembered bodies at a farm. It's a smug rendering by Bob Garfield and you get the feeling that he feels sure nothing like this could ever happen east of Ireland. But, it was a huge foul up and it was doubtlessly begun by the police. The story doesn't say it, but there's no way this story could have lived for even a shorter time, without police sources reporting it that way. It's a good lesson that the police are not always reliable, but it isn't as if the hoaxer actually phoned the wire services, which then automatically sent out the unconfirmed tale. That's been known to happen as well.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Officer who bullied reporter to be docked pay

Toronto Star to buy online beauty magazine The Kit

In what seems like an out-of-the-blue decision the Star says it will buy a relatively unknown online beauty and wellness magazine called the Kit. The most notable feature of the Kit's front page today is a Blogger Search contest in which "15 of Canada's best bloggers will be contributors to the Kit's blogger network." Did anyone ask what the pay was?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

News of the World apologises to Sienna Miller

News of the World tabloid offered "sincere apologies" in court for hacking into the mobile phone messages of actress Sienna Miller and agreed to pay her £100,000 in damages and legal costs. This comes two months after the paper printed an apology in a newspaper scandal that has engulfed a string of high-profile figures and in 2007 led to the jailing of one of a journalist and a private investigator. Miller is a popular actress currently starring in a re-make of Terrance Rattigan's WWII play Flare Path in London.

Robertson to anchor last CTV newscast Sept. 1

The face that launched several thousand newscasts will be gone from the set of the CTV News this fall. Lloyd Robertson will anchor his last newscast on Sept. 1.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Apple upset that AP is working on Jobs obit

It's all very understandable, but the timing may be bad. Steve Jobs' is going to give the keynote speech at the Worldwide Developers Conference today. Unhappy Apple executives find it annoying that the Associated Press has been busy compiling the Apple CEO's obituary by making phone calls to people who know him.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

iPad Daily:"Nobody Knows Anything"

A well-written and ranging survey of where we stand in the news on tablet world. This writer concludes that it's too dark to see much.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Is the war on drugs really a war on journalists?

The findings of a report sponsored by PEN Canada (an activist writers association) and the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, seems to turn on its head the conventional view that the so-called war on drugs is a battle between the Mexican Government and drug criminals. There is, of course, no surprise in the endemic nature of corruption to Mexican society. But the news release linked off the headline says the issue is really a lethal government attack on journalists -- a war in fact -- that's all about suppressing journalists so that government corruption may flourish in secret. It says, "This war (on journalists), commonly described as a struggle against drug lords, has a great deal more to do with decades of government corruption; police, military and political links to organized crime; and institutionalized limitations on freedom of expression." Or, as we take it from the preceding, much or all of what we understand as a war on drug organizers is really a war on reporters.

L.A. Times columnist comments on the task ahead to Jill Abramson

"All Abramson has to do when she takes over from Bill Keller in September is manage one of the world's most prestigious newsrooms under a tight budget, urge a tradition-bound print institution toward a digital future and make a compelling case for the enduring value of the authoritative, literate voice in an era when anyone with a high-speed connection has become a publisher," says columnist James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times.

Click on the title to read his full column.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The New York Times appoints first woman editor

For 160 years the New York Times has been setting the standards of newspaper journalism in the United States, with one significant exception – gender equality. Now the paradoxically nicknamed Gray Lady has finally redressed the balance with the appointment of its first female editor.
Jill Abramson will inherit the post of executive editor of the paper on 6 September, taking the helm of one of the most influential and widely read news organisations in the world at a time of deep turmoil in the newspaper industry.
Her appointment was greeted as a boost for women in a business that at the highest levels of management remains heavily male-dominated.
Abramson, who has worked at the paper since 1997 with stints as investigative reporter and Washington bureau chief, takes over the reins from Bill Keller, who stands down after eight tumultuous years. He began his tenure as editor in 2003 and was immediately presented with the challenge of stabilising the newsroom after the Jayson Blair scandal, in which a reporter was found to have been fabricating stories.

Photo shows Abramson and Keller

TV broadcasters return to profitability but employment numbers drop

Canada's private broadcasters enjoyed a successful year in terms of revenues and profits in 2010, after flopping during the recession.

The CRTC says revenues for private conventional television rose by nine per cent to $2.15 billion for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2010.

As a result, profits before interest and taxes improved to $11.5 million from the previous term's $116.6 million loss.

It was also a good year for the CBC, which saw its ad revenue grow by 14.1 per cent to $338.8 million. The national broadcasters also receives funding from the federal government.

The report from Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission shows revenues and profits improving across the industry.

Revenues for pay and specialty services grew by 11.1 per cent to $3.46 billion, with profits up 25.4 per cent to $877.3 million.

The CRTC says conventional broadcasters derived the lion's share of their revenues from national advertising, which brought in $1.6 billion, followed by local ads, $350 million.

Subscriptions on cable, which amounted to $1.58 billion, represented the biggest source of revenue for pay and specialty services, followed by national ads, which were worth $1.09 billion.

The federal regulator also noted that after stagnating in the 2009 fiscal year, investment in Canadian programs picked up by 12.6 per cent for private conventional TV and 8.8 per cent for pay and specialty services.

Despite the improved performance, the CRTC noted the private sector of the industry employed 11,761 people last year, a drop of about 6.3 per cent.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Christie Blatchford jumps back to National Post

Christie Blatchford, who has been writing a column for the Globe and Mail for a few years now, has bolted to the National Post. The announcement in a press release issued by Postmedia, offered the following quote from the woman known in media circles as just Blatch: “I’m glad to be back in the fold. It feels like my natural home. I never stopped reading National Post every day, I think it’s the prettiest and best written newspaper in the country. I’m really happy to be back.”
Postmedia president and CEO Paul Godfrey called the hire a “game changer” for Postmedia.

The Postmedia release is here:

Quebecor to launch all-sports channel this fall

Quebecor Inc. is launching its all-sports specialty channel TVA Sports this fall, broadcasting Ottawa Senators and Toronto Blue Jays games in French as chief executive Pierre Karl Péladeau works on winning his own NHL hockey franchise. Wearing a baseball cap and blue cycling jersey, Mr. Péladeau peeled the lid off his plans for the new station during a news conference Tuesday. TVA Sports will compete with RDS, owned by telecommunications giant BCE Inc.'s CTVglobemedia unit. TVA Sports won a broadcast licence from the CRTC last year. In its application, the station requested the regulator give it permission to broadcast Canadiens games. But the current broadcasting contract for the Habs, which lasts until the end of 2012-2013, is between the NHL and RDS. The CRTC said it would not interfere.

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