Thursday, November 29, 2012

An inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press: The Leveson Report

"A law is needed to stop press havoc": Lord Leveson calls for "genuinely independent and effective watchdog to protect innocent members of the public" -- Daily Mail headline.

The Daily Mail story
Executive Summary

The full report

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sun papers to move behind paywall

Sun Media says it will launch a metered pay-per-view system for online readers of its daily tabloids next week. The move folows announcements earlier this year by the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star that they were moving to so-called paywalls which would require readers to pay for their online news. 

Warren Buffet still bullish on newspapers despite closing one

Warren Buffett isn’t letting one troubled newspaper color his view of buying what many media experts consider the dinosaurs of the news business. Mr. Buffett said he still planned to buy newspapers, even though he recently announced that he would be shutting down one that he recently bought by the end of the year.
“I hope we have a lot more,” said Mr. Buffett about his newspaper portfolio while he attended a party Monday night for his longtime friend Carol Loomis, a writer for Fortune who recently published “Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012.”
Mr. Buffett went on a newspaper spending spreethis year by buying more than 60 newspapers from Media General and a small stake in the newspaper company Lee Enterprises, a chain of mostly small dailies based in Iowa. At the time, he stressed that he had great confidence that newspapers would continue to be solid investments for decades to come.
“I think newspapers in print form, in most of the cities and towns where they are present, will be here in 10 and 20 years,” Mr. Buffett said. “I think newspapers do a good job of serving a community where there is a lot of community interest.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Journalists caught freeloading -- at IKEA. No kidding!

Members of Winnipeg's media outlets are being chided for throwing ethics out the window in exchange for a night of alcohol, food and discounted shopping at Ikea.
"It looks to the public as if the journalists are just what they're made out to be in the old movies — freeloaders, drunks," said Nick Russell, a former journalism professor who wrote the book, Morals and the Media: Ethics in Canadian Journalism.
Ikea, the Swedish retail giant which opens its Winnipeg store to the general public on Wednesday, invited media to an exclusive party on Monday night, lavishing them with beer and champagne, live music and a gift bag of free stuff, in addition to the chance to shop with a 15 per cent discount.
Russell said there shouldn't have been a single media person at the event.

Ottawa under pressure to sign Internet surveillance bill

The Harper government, under pressure at home over its controversial Internet surveillance bill, including a renewed push from law enforcement to pass the legislation, continues to come under international pressure to pass Bill C-30.
The legislation, dubbed the "lawful access" bill, contains provisions that would allow Canada to ratify an 11-year-old convention on Internet crime, which its allies are antsy to see approved.
A confidential briefing note for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, prepared ahead of a meeting with officials from the United Kingdom, notes that Canada has yet to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention, named after the city in which is was signed in 2001.
"Key allies, including the UK and the United States, view this as a key international agreement and are eager for Canada to complete its ratification process," the undated briefing note says. "The recently tabled Bill C-30 contains measures, including provision for data preservation orders, which would enable Canada to ratify the Budapest Convention."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bomb found under car of Pakistani journalist whom Taliban threatened over stories about shot schoolgirl

A bomb was found on Monday under the car of a prominent Pakistani journalist who the Taliban had threatened over his coverage of a schoolgirl the militants shot, his employer said.
A half-kilogram of explosives were found under the vehicle of the senior journalist for the Geo News television station, Hamid Mir, while parked at his home in the capital, Islamabad. A bomb disposal squad defused the bomb.
“I was told a few days ago that my name was mentioned in a letter written to the Interior Ministry and in that, there was a threat,” Mir told reporters.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Britain's Leveson Inquiry issues report

Beyond celebrities and bereaved parents, the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards is focused on proposing a new system for regulating Britain’s newspapers.

Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations could radically change the way media organisations operate in the UK.
He said he wants a body independent of the establishment and the press, which will provide redress, particularly to those who cannot afford expensive legal action, and a mechanism of swift resolution for privacy and libel cases.
Those who complain of press harassment have said the inquiry must produce a system that tackles invasions of privacy, damaging inaccuracies and the culture that resulted in the phone-hacking scandal.
But journalists and editors warn that freedom of expression will be threatened if the current Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is replaced by a regulator with wide-ranging powers to clamp down.
The proposals

Friday, November 23, 2012

TSN appoints digital media execs

TSN is leveraging the success of its partnership in the Olympic Media Consortium with new leaders at the helm of its integrated digital media and marketing initiatives, Mediacaster reports.

Stewart Johnston, President of TSN, has announced two new appointments to the network’s senior management team. Nathalie Cook has been appointed Vice-President of Integrated Marketing and Partnerships, and Mark Silver has been named Senior Director, Digital.

Both join TSN after successful roles at Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium.

Interesting New York Times piece on "in bed with the media" in France

"The line between politicians and the news media can be blurry in France, where the fates of some journalists have long been hitched to those in the government they pester or please. Mr. Sarkozy’s close ties to media executives were considered something of a scandal, and his presidency drew greater scrutiny to the incestuous relationships." the Times says.
The full story

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tom Haberstroh, Margo Harper fired from CTV

Canadian Journalism Project

Online publication fights Gallery strictures

An online publication, Blacklock Reporter, says it will legally challenge the Ottawa Press Gallery over the gallery's decision to require certain information about the Reporter. The issues remain unclear even as the gallery asks to know who is behind the Blacklock Reporter, what other work its staff does and the names of principals. The gallery being so clubby itself it is difficult to know just what is at work.  Blacklock Reporter

Monday, November 19, 2012

Media a pivotal player in libel suit against Ford

When Blatchford is covering the trial, every story reads like a column. Each column has a summary perspective. She does it in a way that always does justice justice (if you will) and can never offend the most scrupulous of justices. Christie Blatchford

BCE and Astral try again for CRTC approval

Who believed all that silliness about how businesses would just go to ground after the CRTC rejected the proposed takeover of Astral Media by BCE. The atmosphere would just be sooo chilling, we were told.  That must be why, less than a month later, BCE-Astral are back knocking on the government's door with a similar deal in mind.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Today Show Goes Female At The Top

Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairwoman of the newly-created NBCUniversal News Group has taken a firm hand at The Today Show, demanding a sharper and faster paced morning show. Stephen Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, promoted Fili-Krushel to the top new job and since then she has reportedly been working on a plan for reinventing Today. Mediaite

Reporters w/o Borders re attack on Hamas media


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fearing for the future of journalism

In this Toronto Star column Tony Burman has a worried look about the future of investigative journalism in light of the BBC scandal. We say don't worry. Journalists have been going over the top in search of the big story since the Washington Post commissioned Woodward and Bernstein to find out what the president knew and when he knew it. They got it just about right. But subsequent generations of scribblers have frequently been blinded by the glory of breaking a "Holy Shit" tale. The BBC's shame is heightened because while journalists went right off the rails seeking a paedophile in the government (there wasn't one, apparently) it firmly ignored a well-documented scandal within its own ranks. It's happened here. A few years ago, the CBC libelled a couple of doctors and fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Corp lost badly. But, it appears, the fifth estate is still on the air doing useful work. Have no fear. Toronto Star

Friday, November 16, 2012

BCE, Astral said to be ready to announce a new deal

BCE Inc. and Astral Media Inc. are poised to announce a new takeover deal that seeks to overcome regulatory opposition with a plan to auction off a number of Astral’s English broadcast assets, the Globe and Mail reports.
People familiar with the talks said the terms of the transaction have largely been finalized and a deal could be announced as early as Friday.
We shall see!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Canada Year Book felled by the Internet

After 145 years of documenting the country’s history, the Canada Year Book will no longer be published.
Statistics Canada published the last edition of its longest-running publication on Tuesday. It is the last such print publication and will not continue as an online resource.
Rather, the agency says it “will continue through other means to keep Canadians informed about their social and economic life.”

Lorrie Goldstein laid off at the Toronto Sun

Well known editorial writer and Toronto gadfly Lorrie Goldstein is among the most prominent of the 500 or so people laid off yesterday by Sun Media. Together, the layoffs hit papers in Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg and printing facilities in Kingston and Ottawa. Associate Editor Goldstein was a 34 year stalwart at the Sun and in his heyday was a must-read for anyone inclined to challenge a lot of what passes for wisdom in our town. Toronto Sun blog

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interesting piece in New York's Photo District News about "crowdsourcing" of photos

The word "crowdsourcing" has come to mean audience and reader generated photos sent to newspapers and other media.

Photo District News, a N.Y. based photo magazine, headlined its interesting analysis of photos from the hurricane Sandy disaster "The failure of crowdsourcing news photos."

An excerpt:

"At a time of cost cutting for media budgets, lots of news organizations imagine that user-generated content can fill the void. But the recent failure of crowd-sourced news photos of Hurricane Sandy, and the shortage of coverage of other climate change-fueled disasters around the world, demonstrate how far we are from truly democratizing the medium of photography. Photographers worry that the lowering of technological barriers means “everyone’s a photographer now,” but in fact, the number of people who can take and share news photos is still limited by economics, infrastructure and geography."

The whole story

Is Warren Buffet getting less bullish on newspapers?

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway plans to shutter the 143-year-old News & Messenger in Manassas, Virginia, just six months after it was scooped up from Media General.
The 10,000 circulation newspaper, its website, and its companion weekly publication will close on December 30, the day the final print edition will be published. The move affects the staff of 33 whose jobs will be eliminated.

The announcement was made on Wednesday by World Media Enterprise, which operates the 63 newspapers that Berkshire Hathaway acquired from Media General in June.

"Business conditions drove us to this decision," wrote Doug Hiemstra, president of World Media Enterprises, in a post published on the News & Messenger's website

"We do not see a long-term viable way to maintain a daily news operation here."

Buffett, who not too long ago derided newspapers as investments, changed course this year, snapping up scores of small and mid-sized papers throughout the United States.

In addition to the majority of Media General's newspaper properties, he recently purchased a paper in Texas and took a small stake in the newspaper chain Lee Enterprises.

Known as the "Oracle of Omaha," Buffett's acquisition approach to newspapers is to buy small publications that cover the local market. Though he holds a stake in the Washington Post Co, he shuns large metropolitan newspapers.

The closing of such a small paper in the Berkshire stable could be a sign that even publications that are laser-focused on community news are facing serious challenges.

Radler gets off easy at OSC hearing

When the OSC finally resolved its case against ex-Hollinger exec David Radler on Wednesday, the outcome was not spectacular.  Radler received no sanction, no financial penalty and no requirement to contribute even some of the costs of the commission’s lengthy investigation. Paying at least a portion of costs is common in OSC cases.
Instead,  Radler signed a series of undertakings including agreeing not to serve as an officer or director of a public company in Ontario. And even that can be revoked at his request.
The undertakings also don’t apply outside of Ontario or to private companies anywhere, something critical to  Radler who lives in Vancouver and co-owns Alberta Newspaper Group, a private newspaper company.
Globe and Mail story

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quebecor’s sweeping job cuts highlight newspaper industry’s stark reality

Excellent analytical piece on newspapers' problems by te NatPost's Jamie Sturgeon:

The stark economic reality presently facing the newspaper industry was made all too apparent for hundreds of staff members across Sun Media Corp.’s national operations Tuesday, as parent Quebecor Media Inc. announced sweeping job cuts.
Gone are 500 positions or 8.8% of the Quebecor news unit’s workforce, affecting both unionized and non-unionized ranks, from advertising sales personnel to circulation workers to members of scores of newsrooms — some of whom have worked for decades creating the stories that helped define their cities, towns and communities.
The full story

Sun TV wants you to start paying for it whether you watch it or not John Doyle reveals

"It has been revealed that the owners of Sun News have put in for mandatory carriage on basic cable in Canada. The elusive, lucrative 9(1)(h) category, as it is called by CRTC wonks. What it means for us is that if you purchase a basic cable package, Sun News would be part of it, whether you bloody well like it or not," he writes.
John Doyle's whole column

TVO's Saturday Night at the Movies bites the dust after 40 years; 35 to 40 staffers to leave in cutbacks

TVO, Ontario’s publicly funded broadcaster, is cutting up to 40 positions and cancelling Saturday Night at the Movies after a nearly four-decade run as part of an effort to save $2-million.
TVO says it will put more resources into “digital innovation in children’s educational media” and current affairs as it addresses reduced government funding.
The broadcaster says its plan will see 35 to 40 current employees “leave” TVO between now and the end of March, 2013.
As a results, TVO will have fewer staff dedicated to traditional TV production and a enhanced focus on digital technology.
The current season of Saturday Night at the Movies will be its last. Allan Gregg in Conversation and Big Ideas will also go off the air in the spring.
TVO says it plans to include some Big Ideas lectures as part of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Sun Media to cut 500 jobs

Quebecor Inc. is cutting some 500 jobs at its Sun Media newspaper division in a move that includes the closure of two production facilities in Ottawa and Kingston, the Toronto Star reports.
The downsizing, representing about a third of Sun Media’s unionized workforce, is part of the Montreal-based media group’s efforts to reduce annual costs by $45 million.
There had been earlier reports Quebecor would eliminate the position of publisher at some newspapers.
Quebecor’s president and CEO, Pierre Karl Peladeau, says the restructuring is warranted by changes in the newspaper industry.
“With the recent announcement of a major strategic redesign of Sun Media’s organizational structure, the restructuring further streamlines and optimizes the organization’s operations,” he said in a release Tuesday.
“By doing so, Sun Media Corporation is proactively leading the way to ensure long term success.”
It remains committed to its publications, which include the Toronto Sun and other dailies across Canada under the Sun and other banners, Peladeau added.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Now BBC news chiefs step aside . . .

Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, and her deputy Stephen Mitchell, stepped aside pending a review of why editors spiked the report last year on Savile, who has been accused of abusing children on BBC premises.

Some BBC staff have cast the 22,000-strong Corporation as a bureaucratic behemoth where journalistic talent is throttled by incompetent managers, and opponents - and even some allies - questioned whether it could survive in its current form.
If you want to read more . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BBC needs radical overhaul, chairman says

The BBC’s chairman said Sunday that the broadcasting organization was in a “ghastly mess” as a result of its bungled coverage of a decades-old sexual abuse scandal and in need of a fundamental shake-up.
“Does the BBC need a thorough structural overhaul? Of course it does,” the chairman of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, said on The Andrew Marr Show, the BBC’s flagship Sunday morning talk show, after the resignation of the broadcaster’s chief executive.
But although Patten has said that the BBC’s handling of the scandal was marked by “unacceptably shoddy journalism,” he pushed back on the Marr show against suggestions that the crisis could lead to a dismantling of the BBC as it now exists, with 23,000 employees, a $6-billion annual budget and a dominant role in British broadcasting.
“The BBC is and has been hugely respected around the world,” he said. “But we have to earn that. If the BBC loses that, then it is over.”
Public confidence in the broadcaster has slumped further in opinion polls in the wake of its coverage of a scandal involving allegations of abuses by a senior politician at a children’s home in Wales in the 1970s and ’80s. But the British public would not support breaking up the BBC, Patten said, adding, “The BBC is one of the things that has come to define and reflect Britishness, and we shouldn’t lose that.”

BBC chief resigns over false sex abuse report broadcast on Newsnight

The director general of the BBC has resigned in the wake of a controversial broadcast on child sex abuse, the BBC announced Saturday night.
The director, George Entwistle, issued a statement saying, “I have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down.”
Earlier Saturday, Entwistle said the report, broadcast on the Newsnight program, never should have been broadcast.
The report wrongly implicated a former Conservative Party official, Alistair McAlpine, the BBC statement said. He admitted that the program further damaged trust in a broadcaster already reeling from the fallout over its decision not to air similar allegations against one of its star hosts.
George Entwistle’s comments followed an embarrassing retreat for the BBC, which apologized Friday for its Nov. 2 “Newsnight” TV show on alleged sex abuse in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.
During the program, victim Steve Messham claimed he had been abused by a senior Conservative Party figure. The BBC didn’t name the alleged abuser, but online rumours focused on Alistair McAlpine, a Conservative Party member of the House of Lords. On Friday, he issued a fierce denial and threatened to sue.
Messham then said he had been mistaken about his abuser’s identity and apologized to McAlpine, prompting fury over the BBC’s decision to air the report and the suspension of investigative programs at “Newsnight.”
“We should not have put out a film that was so fundamentally wrong,” Entwistle told BBC radio on Saturday. “What happened here is completely unacceptable.”

Media fight on the right over GOP

From Politico:
Rush Limbaugh couldn't have been more right.
Months before the election, the conservative radio host made a prediction: "If Obama wins, the Republican Party is going to try to maneuver things so conservatives get blamed."
And that's exactly what's happening.
On the night of Nov. 6, shortly after President Barack Obama won reelection, Steve Schmidt went on NBC News and called on GOP leaders to "stand up" against the extreme elements in the party that the Republican strategist believes are leading it down the wrong path, even singling out Limbaugh by name. Days later on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough criticized Republicans for taking cues from unnamed pundits "who make tens of millions of dollars engaging in niche marketing" that the host complained provides a misleading picture of the nation's electorate. Columnist David Frum last week slammed the "conservative entertainment complex" that had "fleeced, exploited and lied to" Republicans, ensuing doom on Election Day.
More from "Politico"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Legendary" CBC radio drama studio to close

The CBC’s Studio 212, home of radio drama production, will close at the end of the year, the CBC has announced.
As part of the federal budget cuts this spring, the CBC will no longer produce radio dramas, so the production facility at the Toronto headquarters will be disassembled. Its last creation, the popular war series Afghanada, wrapped in the spring.
Studio 212 was also the laboratory for the mystery series Midnight Cab,Monday Night Playhouse and Rumours and Borders.
(Anyone ever listened to any of these? Just asking.)
Link to Star story

Cleveland Plain Dealer staff launch campaign to save the daily newspaper

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's future as a daily newspaper is in jeopardy. The Cleveland newspaper, which is owned by Advance Publications, has seen the writing on the wall for some time. Diminishing subscriptions and ad sales, along with the changes that Advance Publications' has made with some of their other major dailies, puts the paper in peril of losing its daily status.

In a last ditch attempt to stave off the possibly inevitable switch to a reduced print schedule, staff at the Plain Dealer have launched a "Save The Plain Dealer" campaign.
Beginning on Sunday, billboards, bus placards, and advertisements will be seen around town alerting readers to dramatic changes in the newspaper industry and the possible consequences of Cleveland being without a daily newspaper. The ads assert that newspapers as we know them are in peril, and ask people to make their feelings known to the paper's owners.

The "Save The Plain Dealer" campaign is being led by members of Newpaper Guild Local One, which represents about 170 writers, photographers, designers, and other newsroom staff at the PD.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chief Justice recuses herself re Black decision

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin will not take part in the ultimate decision about whether Conrad Black should be stripped of his Order of Canada. “On Sept. 25, 2012, the chief justice wrote to Mr. Stephen Wallace, secretary to the Governor General, recusing herself from all deliberations of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada on this matter,” said Owen Rees, McLachlin’s executive legal officer. McLachlin, as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, also chairs the advisory council. That’s the independent panel that decides who gets — or should lose — the prestigious national honour. Its recommendations are binding on the Governor General. Toronto Star

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

OpenFile bank accounts frozen

The bank accounts of OpenFile are frozen and freelancers still haven’t been paid, but founder Wilf Dinnick says the innovative journalism network will return in 2013 – or before. Canadian Journalism Project

Tom McKee dead at age 76

Tom McKee,  legendary  radio and television sports broadcaster with CBC, CTV, ABC, TSN and TV Labatt  has died in the Toronto area at age 76.

Karl Rove questions own decision desk at Fox

Careful media coverage of a close presidential election Tuesday exploded so suddenly Tuesday that it left the bizarre spectacle of Fox News Channel analyst Karl Rove, a major fundraiser for Republican Mitt Romney, publicly questioning his network's declaration that President Barack Obama had been re-elected.  AP

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cogeco founder Henry Audet dead at 94

Henri Audet, founder of the Quebec-based Cogeco cable and media business, has died at age 94. He began what has become Canada’s fourth-largest cable company and one of Quebec’s largest media companies in 1957 with a TV station in Trois-Rivieres, Que. His son, Louis Audet, now heads the business, which had consolidated revenue of $1.4 billion for fiscal 2012 and 3,500 employees in Ontario and Quebec. Cogeco Inc., through Cogeco Cable Inc., Cogeco Data Services Inc. and Cogeco Diffusion Inc., is a major Canadian communications company.
 Cogeco founder Henri Audet dies at 94

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bell Media calls it a wrap at Masonic Temple

The hopelessly unwanted Masonic Temple seemed to have found a real use when CTV purchased it in the 90s to have a "downtown" location like CHUM. Now CTV is owned by Bell Media and Bell owns the fabled 99 Queen Street West. Who needs the Sonic Hall any more?  So the Masonic Hall at Yonge St. and Davenport Rd. will go into moth balls at least for the time being. Story

Thursday, November 1, 2012

British photographer wins $50K Grange Prize

A British photographer who captures elite athletes at their moment of peak perfection has won the Grange Prize, the annual $50,000 award for photography given by Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario.
London's Jo Longhurst was named as winner Thursday evening, chosen by public vote ahead of fellow British finalist Jason Evans and two Canadian photographers: Emmanuelle LĂ©onard of Montreal and Annie MacDonell of Toronto.
Each year, the Grange Prize pits two Canadian photographers against two from another country. The other three finalists receive $5,000 each.

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