Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rob Ford can glance across the pond for lessons in media relations

Globe colunist Marcus Gee compares Rob Ford's media relations with those of London Mayor Boris Johnson:

"Rob Ford isn’t the only mayor who gets a hard time from media. As Mr. Ford was facing press allegations that he was acting intoxicated at a military ball, London’s Boris Johnson was enduring a good going over from BBC journalist Eddie Mair.
In a television interview linked to a new documentary on the tousle-haired Conservative mayor, Mr. Mair grilled him about reports that he denied an extramarital affair to his boss, doctored quotes when he was a young reporter and once offered to help an old schoolmate who wanted someone beaten up. . ."
The column

Friday, March 29, 2013

Huzzah for ruthless reporters: Chris Selley, NatPost columnist

NatPost columnist Chris Selley comes out for the Toronto Star's coverage of Mayor Ford:
"In these pages last Wednesday, columnist Christie Blatchford objected to the Toronto Star very thorough coverage — other adjectives are available — of all things to do with the city’s constantly embattled mayor, Rob Ford. She dislikes the paper’s 'tactics': sending a reporter to Huntsville, Ont., where he has a cottage; “staking out his backyard at night”; and posting a video in which two people giggle as Mr. Ford exits a KFC location with a bucket of chicken.
To my mind, those tactics are in fact in the best tradition of a very ruthless brand of journalism that we don’t often see in Canada.
The whole column

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reports that Barbara Walters will retire next year

ABC News has refused to comment on reports that journalist Barbara Walters plans to retire in May 2014. Walters has been a master of all the news and television trades for more than 50 years. She is 83 and has been in ill health.  She is expected to announce her retirement to viewers herself in the coming weeks, the source said.

Telus case clarifies when police can read texts

The Supreme Court of Canada has said in a split decision that police must have what is known as "wiretap authority" as well as a warrant in order to access text messages as part of criminal investigations. The judges issued a 5-2 decision. The matter was brought to the SCOC by Telus Communications. The case arises from a warrant the Ontario Superior Court granted to police in Owen Sound that ordered Telus to turn over texts from two of its customers. Globe and Mail 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Star's print readership plummets nearly 14 percent

You have to work hard to find it, but that's the astounding news out of the Star's NADBank story. Toronto Star

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Star's advice for mayor on how to get re-elected

Michael Cooke
To hear Star Editor-in-Chief Michael Cooke tell it, his employer just wants to help Rob Ford get re-elected. "If he goes into re-hab, he'll get re-elected," the doughty Mr. Cooke insisted as he rebutted  Stephen LeDrew's questions on CP24. LeDrew wondered how any of Canada's great leaders could have gotten elected if the Toronto Star has been on their case the way the paper has dogged Mr. Ford. Cooke said the paper was just as interested in previous mayors (he mentioned David Miller) but they wouldn't talk, Cooke noted. Mr. Ford's problems were all out in the open, said the Star editor. Overall, the Star's Editor-in-Chief evaded LeDrew's curiosity about its sources. Mr. Cooke insisted that the many anonymous contributors to the front page screamer were the  Mayor's friends. "They love this guy," said Mr, Cooke.  He also said the Star would not be suing the mayor for calling its reporters "pathological liars" despite the mayor's invitation. The mayor, through his brother, has said that Mr. Ford will not be suing the Star for its accusations although as we note below, the things said in the story seem highly actionable and potentially, if they cannot be proved, monetarily quite damaging.   Previous post

Telegraph (London) to put up paywall

Telegraph in London to put up paywall.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chris Hadfield a media savvy astronaut

Global News surveys the Chris Hadfield phenomenon. Global News 

Jay Leno departs "Late Night" but not quietly

Jay Leno is facing the embarrassing public spectacle of leaving his dream job, not on his own terms. Sound familiar?
It’s a replay of the Conan O’Brien departure of three years ago, except this time, Leno is being ejected from “The Tonight Show” instead of taking back his old job.

Because of the turnabout, O’Brien, who has long since decamped for TBS, may find himself on late-night TV long after Leno is gone.

Adding to the indignity, Leno is being replaced despite leading his late-night rivals, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, in total viewers and the key demos.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reality-TV immigration raid spurs human-rights complaint

A migrant worker who unwittingly starred in a reality-television show about Canadian border guards was already back in Mexico on Thursday when a rights group filed an official complaint with the federal privacy watchdog over his treatment at the hands of the Canada Border Services Agency.
In the complaint, Oscar Mata Duran said he felt a surge of adrenalin March 13 when about a dozen immigration officers pulled up at his Vancouver low-rise condo construction site with a television camera in tow. Running upstairs to hide, Mr. Mata Duran hoped he’d be overlooked in the raid. Five minutes later, however, he was discovered and bombarded with questions about his immigration and work status.
When he was found lacking the proper documents to work in Canada, the complaint filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said, Mr. Mata Duran and several others were taken into custody at a downtown immigration detention facility – the video camera trained on them the entire time.
“When he asked why there was a camera present, the officer told him ‘not to worry, it’s for a reality TV show,’” said the complaint.

U.S. judge bans airing of made-in-Canada movie

New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Muller has ruled that the specialty channel Lifetime cannot air Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story, which was scheduled to debut on the U.S. cable channel on Saturday. Filmed earlier this year in Vancouver, the movie is based on the true story of the murder of Peter Porco and the attempted murder of his wife Joan Porco by their son Christopher. It stars London, Ont. native Lolita Davidovich as Joan Porco and Toronto-born actor Eric McCormack as a detective. Christopher Porco, who is portrayed by Matt Barr in the movie, filed a lawsuit claiming Lifetime violated his rights. The convicted killer has not seen the movie but alleged it was “a substantially fictionalized account.” Lifetime countered that the “essential elements of the movie are true and accurate.” It has filed an emergency application to stay or vacate the injunction, claiming it will lose millions.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Canadian Press reporter wins $25,000 James Travers Fellowship

Canadian Press reporter Mike Blanchfield has won an international reporting grant that will allow him to probe the human cost of cluster bombs worldwide, a selection committee announced Wednesday.
Carleton University named Blanchfield the winner of the second annual R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship, a $25,000 award designed to encourage Canadian journalists to report on key global stories.
The fellowship was established in 2011 in honour of Toronto Star columnist Jim Travers, a longtime journalist whose Parliament Hill coverage earned him plaudits from across Canada’s political spectrum.

Should raids on illegal immigrants be reality television?

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is taking the side of reality television in a tense battle over highly-public raids on Canadian immigrants.
The federal government has been criticized for allowing a television crew to go along with Canada Border Services Agency officers as they executed raids on illegal immigrants.
"It is important to remember that illegal immigrants cost law-abiding Canadian taxpayers tens of millions of dollars per year and it costs our constituents thousands of jobs," Toews said.
"We expect the CBSA to enforce Canada's immigration laws by removing individuals who take advantage of Canada's generous immigration system by jumping the queue."
In response, thousands of people have signed a petition to have the series taken off the air.

U.K. Newspapers divided over press regulation charter

Following Monday's presentation of a tough new press regulation charter in the British parliament, some newspaper publishers continue to make noise about possible legal challenges or the start of an alternative regulatory system, while others look ready to accept it.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has so far said that it was studying the planned regulator, which could put fines of $1.5 million on publishers running afoul of a code of conduct and force them to run prominent apologies. But Murdoch himself took to Twitter late Tuesday to comment on Monday's all-party agreement to introduce the new regulator via a so-called royal charter rather than via a regular law.

"UK Royal Charter requires Queen's signature," Murdoch tweeted. "Unlikely without full all party support. Queen doesn't do politics."

Given that the press regulation deal had the support of all British parties, observers on Wednesday took the comment as a toned-down expression of concern and criticism. It was the latest signal that his company could oppose the proposed regulator after the Sun tabloid had on Tuesday criticized the regulation attempt with comparisons to the totalitarian regime described in George Orwell's "1984."

While the Guardian and Financial Times have previously signaled they would be willing to accept a tougher press regulator, others have also signaled discontent.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Moses Znaimer battling to keep Vision TV's choice spot on the dial

The Globe's Steve Ladurantaye reports on Moses Znaimer's battle to keep Vision TV in the "must carry" (a.k.a  "viewers must pay") slot on the dial:

"Tens of thousands of Canadians wake up early each day to watch Mass on Vision TV, but when Catholics around the world were learning about their new Pope, the only channel in Canada dedicated to matters of faith was showing a 13-year-old rerun of a short-lived television series.
The channel, part of Moses Znaimer’s ZoomerMedia empire, has enjoyed a guaranteed spot on Canadian televisions for the last 25 years, but could lose the designation as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission takes a new look next month at which channels must be included in basic cable and satellite packages. That placement is vital to Vision’s survival – $8.6-million of its $26-million in revenue comes from mandatory subscription fees from Canadian television subscribers.
The story

Monday, March 18, 2013

Skater's pic in the Globe stirs controversy

A close shot of 17-year-old Canadian figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond performing a high kick at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships has turned controversial. the Star reports.
Globe and Mail Public Editor Sylvia Stead quickly declared it “not acceptable” and explained why in a column by midday Monday.
Sylvia Stead's column
Globe Photo Editor Dennis Owen amplified that sentiment.
“I would not have done it myself,” Owen told Maurie Sherman, KISS 92.5’s senior producer of the Roz & Mocha Show.
“It’s not our policy to run photos like that.”
The skater herself said in a Twitter post: “Reaction to photo: it’s not a bad pic. It could have been better, it also could have been worse. I’m excited to be on the cover pic isn’t bad.”
The Globe, the Toronto Star’s Steve Russell and Reuters all shot the same moment of Osmond’s routine. The Globe’s picture appeared on its front page Monday, the Star’s picture appeared online only on Sunday and the Reuters’ photograph moved on its wire Sunday but as a full-length picture of a high kick.

A reader, using the handle "melodytime,"  posted this comment on the Globe's web page:

" . . .the photographer, Kevin Van Paassen, decided to photograph and I guess the editor of the Globe OK'd it, showing 2/3'rds of Kaetlyn's crotch? Are you guys all born and; stuck in 1953? So so tacky. . . ."

(Have these people never read the Sun?--ed)

Pew 'State of the Media' study bemoans weakening 'filter,' 'shrinking reporting power'

In 2012, a continued erosion of news reporting resources converged with growing opportunities for those in politics, government agencies, companies and others to take their messages directly to the public.
Signs of the shrinking reporting power are documented throughout this year’s report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978. In local TV, our special content report reveals, sports, weather and traffic now account on average for 40 per cent of the content produced on the newscasts studied while story lengths shrink. On CNN, the cable channel that has branded itself around deep reporting, produced story packages were cut nearly in half from 2007 to 2012. Across the three cable channels, coverage of live events during the day, which often require a crew and correspondent, fell 30% from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which tend to take fewer resources and can be scheduled in advance, were up 31 per cent.

The full report

CNN under fire for coverage of rape trial

CNN's coverage of the verdict in the Steubenville rape case appeared to be curiously weighted on Sunday, focusing on the effect the guilty verdict would have on the lives of the now-convicted rapists and their families, rather than that of the victim and her family, Huffington Post columnist Kia Marakechi writes.
Steubenville High School football players Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, were accused of raping a severely intoxicated 16-year-old West Virginia girl who also attends the Ohio school. Thousands of text messages introduced in the case presented a picture of teens swapping graphic stories about the assault.
In a Sunday afternoon segment, anchor Fredricka Whitfield followed the straight news of the guilty verdict (which she described as rape occurring "after a night of heavy partying") by showing the rapists' parents' weeping in court. Footage of Richmond, his mother and father offering emotional appeals to the victim's family dominated the segment.
Whitfield threw the story to reporter Poppy Harlow, but not before reiterating that Mays and Richmond's "family members tried their hardest to plead for some forgiveness from the victim's family, as well as from the judge."
To her credit, Harlow appeared to try and correct the segment's tone: "That's true Fredricka," she said of the tears of the convicted rapist's families, "but this is an incredibly serious crime, it's the crime of rape."
And yet, the effects of the rape on the victim seemed to be an afterthought: "It was incredibly emotional, it was difficult for anyone in there to watch those boys break down," Harlow said. "[It was] also difficult, of course, for the victim's family."


Sunday, March 17, 2013

CRTC orders Corus to obey Oprah Winfrey Network educational mandate

The CRTC has told Corus Entertainment to fall in line with an educational mandate for OWN Canada, or face losing its broadcast license.
That call came via a rarely-issued mandatory order from the regulator to ensure that the Canadian version of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network complies with an original 1996 licensing mandate for Canadian Learning Television to “provide formal and informal educational programming and learning opportunities” that generally focus on adult education.
Corus subsequently rebranded CLT as Viva and then as OWN Canada, to bring Oprah Winfrey’s female-skewing network to Canada.
Corus issued a statement in the wake of the CRTC decision indicating it was “pleased” with the decision to allow OWN Canada to continue operating as a category A service. “Corus will work within the guidelines set out by the commission and will ensure that OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) continues to provide a compelling service to its viewers,” the broadcaster said.
Corus gave no details on how it will meet the guidelines and monitoring requirements imposed on it. Today’s events follow a December 2012 hearing where Corus argued it was acting in good faith and complying with the educational mandate of OWN Canada, and the CRTC finally ruling it remains in non-compliance with the nature of service definition.

What was Samsung thinking? Awful on-stage antics mar S4 launch

The Globe's technology reorter Omar El Akkad pans the launch but not the product:

"Samsung now joins a growing list of bizarre tech industry press conferences over the past few months – including a Sony PlayStation launch event that treated the audience to exactly zero images of the PlayStation, and a Qualcomm CES keynote that featured Big Bird, a guy dressed sort of like Big Bird and Archbishop Desmond Tutu."
The story

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Peladeau to step down as Quebecor head

Pierre Karl Peladeau is stepping down as CEO of Quebecor Inc. to devote more time to family and philanthropy but ,the CBC reports, he will still have influence over the media and telecom company's corporate strategy.
Peladeau will remain as chairman of its main subsidiary, Quebecor Media. That division includes newspapers hit by weak advertising and recent layoffs and will require some of his attention.
Peladeau said he will provide advice and leadership on strategic projects "vital" to the company, but also cited family and philanthropy as reasons for stepping down.
"Because one cannot be a part-time CEO, I have decided to retire from this position and devote my life to other pursuits," he told a conference call after the company released its quarterly results Thursday.
His executive duties are taken over by Robert Depatie, who has been president and CEO of Quebecor's Videotron cable and telecom service since 2003.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Finalists announced for 2012 National Newspaper Awards

The Globe and Mail leads all newspapers in Canada with 15 finalists in the 64th National Newspaper Awards competition, followed by La Presse of Montreal with 12 and the Toronto Star with nine. The Canadian Press finished with five finalists, followed by the Edmonton Journal, The Vancouver Sun and Winnipeg Free Press with three each. The Hamilton Spectator, National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News had two each. Single nominations went to Barrie Examiner, Brandon Sun, Brantford Expositor, Huffington Post, Kamloops Daily News, Le Journal de Montreal, London Free Press, Montreal Gazette, Reuters, St. John’s Telegram, St. Catharines Standard, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Waterloo Region Record, Victoria Times Colonist.
Full NNA list

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Magnotta request to keep out public and media denied

A Quebec judge presiding over Luka Rocco Magnotta's preliminary hearing says the public and media will be allowed inside the courtroom.
Quebec court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman handed down her decision this morning at the Montreal courthouse, denying a defence motion to exclude the public and the media.
Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Jun Lin last May. The preliminary hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence to send him to trial.
Magnotta's preliminary hearing began Monday with a motion presented by the accused's lawyers calling for a closed court.
Preliminary hearings are subject to an automatic publication ban when requested by the defence, but Magnotta's legal team sought an even more stringent ban.
The Crown said the measure was unnecessary and lawyers representing the media and Lin's family say the publication ban was enough.

Canada Revenue Agency and Conrad Black battle over $5 million

Conrad Black is locking horns with the Canada Revenue Agency over taxes from 2002 that may see him paying taxes on more than $5 million in income and benefits.
Among the litany of items the CRA is trying to collect on is a $90,000 bill for security at his Toronto home and $1.3 million in benefits from the use of a company airplane.
The agency alleges Black held Canadian residency at this time and must pay taxes, including those applicable to taxable employment benefits such as the private jet. At the time, he filed as a U.K. resident, which his lawyers maintain was the true case.

Monday, March 11, 2013

North Korean television takes a look at US poverty

A North Korean television documentary gives a detailed report on poverty and homelessness in the US and Europe, apparently in an attempt to counter "Western imperialist propaganda" about widespread poverty and starvation due to famine in North Korea.
The report manages to suggest that vast numbers of Americans live on the streets in conditions of extreme poverty. According to the documentary entitled "How Americans Live Today," millions of Americans sleep in tents and homes that get blown down easily. The report claims that American children buy guns to kill each other, and drink hot coffee made of snow. It explains that the poor, cold, lonely and homosexual Americans live cramped in shelters.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ex-TIME INCers will enjoy Maureen Dowd's column today, aptly titled "as TIME goes bye" "

It was a plummy time when a top editor could arrive in Paris and think nothing of sending a staffer from Paris to London to fetch a necktie he had left in his hotel room, or of sending a minion flying off to fetch a box of his favorite cigars, or of having articles about the Nicaraguan contras flown to his Martha’s Vineyard house so he could make sure the political tilt was right.
Mere writers got to expense dial-a-cabs out to the Hamptons after working late Fridays, at $150 a pop; and people rarely shared, snaking out to Sag Harbor in a pampered convoy.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

CBC attacks Sun News over Suzuki ‘escort’ claims

CBC president Hubert Lacroix unleashed a ferocious retort against Sun News in front of a government committee Tuesday, saying the newspaper chain and TV network has mislead Canadians in their “outrageous” accusations that the public broadcaster is a hotbed for sexual harassment. National Post 

Star reporters protest layoffs with byline ban

Reporters at the Toronto Star withheld their bylines from the newspaper’s Wednesday edition in a show of protest against upcoming layoffs and restructuring. Where a byline should be in the paper, it simply reads Star Staff.   National Post    Previous post 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Competition Bureau OKs Bell's Astral takeover

It looks like it's one down and one to go as Bell Media gets approval from the Competition Bureau to buy Astral Media if it complies with requirements from the bureau to sell off some of  Astral's assets. Since nothing is forever, we can be sure that Bell will find this arrangement just fine and press on with getting approval from the CRTC as well. According to the Competition Bureau's ruling, media giant BCE (Bell's parent company) must divest itself from several of Astral's specialty and pay channels if the $3-billion deal is to go through. The bureau also prohibited Bell from imposing "restrictive bundling requirements on any provider seeking to carry the Movie Network or Super Ecran as part of its consent agreement with Bell."  Just incidentally, have you noticed how there are no more snarky references to Ma Bell in the media these days.

Toronto Star plans to out-source page production

The Toronto  Star will lay off 55 employees and is making plans to out-source what is known in the newspaper business as page production. This process involves the fabrication of the plates bearing the information from which the newspaper pages are printed. The layoffs come as no particular surprise with the Star, like newspapers everywhere, facing a revenue squeeze caused by the Internet revolution. Those who follow the economics of newspapers will understand that the flight of paid classified advertising to cyber platforms where it is published free, sinking subscription revenues and the many alternatives for display advertisers are threatening the very existence of large daily papers.  

Wallin, Duffy’s chased down halls by media

Hill Times 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Warren Buffett says strong local newspapers with web strategy will remain viable

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett devoted several pages of his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders to explaining why he’s been investing in newspapers lately. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said the company has bought 28 daily newspapers over the past 15 months for $344 million. He prefers papers to be locally oriented and likes them even better if they are monopolies, he said. “If you want to know what’s going on in your town – whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football – there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job,’’ Buffett wrote in the letter released Friday. The key will be who figures out how to successfully charge online for their content, Buffett said. He cited the Wall Street Journal as having adopted a pay model early on. Among local newspapers, he said the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, published by Walter Hussman, Jr., has been successful at getting subscribers to pay for access online. “Whatever works best – and the answer is not yet clear – will be copied widely,’’ Buffett said. More

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