Thursday, December 31, 2015

Montreal-based La Presse ends 131 years of daily printed news

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw writes:
"The presses have stopped at La Presse, as the newspaper’s last weekday print edition hits doorsteps on Thursday.
"As promised in September, the Montreal-based daily is scrapping its Monday-to-Friday printed papers starting Jan. 1, ending a 131-year run of publishing hard-copy news throughout the week.
"The last daily print copy is a special edition featuring dozens of momentous front pages from the paper’s history. And La Presse will still deliver newsprint copies on Saturdays. But daily printing is coming to an otherwise quiet halt, without even so much as a newsroom gathering planned to mark the end of an era.
“'Maybe it’s a sign that a lot of people here have already turned the page – pardon the pun,' said Charles Côté, president of Le syndicat des travailleurs de l’information de La Presse (STIP), the union that represents newsroom staff, and also the paper’s environment reporter. 'We’ve been told for the past three years that the tablet is our main driver now.'”
The whole story

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ready for pick-and-pay with TV channels? Who wins, who loses?

"Beginning March 1, 2016, all Canadian TV providers will have to offer a basic package of channels for no more than $25 a month and give consumers the option of ordering individual channels a la carte or in small bundles. By December, TV providers must offer both a la carte ordering and small channel bundles."
Full Toronto Star story

Friday, December 25, 2015

Can YouTube kill YTV? Networks grapple with shakeup in kids’ television

The Star's Robin Levenson King writes: (excerpt)
When Netflix and YouTube first came onto the scene, many thought kids would be immune to the charms of binge watching.
“Kids were underestimated,” said (Vince) Commisso (of Toronto's Studio 9), who got his start at Nelvana Studios in 1992 at the height of the boom. People in the industry assumed that the editorial role of the network was essential for kids and parents, who needed help finding good shows, he said. Instead, children have proven to be the most challenging on-demand viewers yet. Now, streaming services are investing big in children’s television, in part because it tends to be cheaper to produce and because it has a big payoff in terms of shelf life and merchandise tie-ins.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Russell Smith: Say bye to the online comment section as you know it

The Globe and Mail's Russell Smith writes:
"Has one of the great promises of the Internet finally shown to be false? The democracy that instant free publishing promised, the sense that everyone would have a say – are we bored with this already? It has been fewer than 10 years since comments sections on news stories began to be heavily plugged as avenues for 'engagement' and debate, and now many major media outlets are reconsidering their existence.
"The CBC has announced it is suspending commenting on any stories relating to First Nations issues, as the outright racism they provoked was vile and uncontrollable. The Toronto Star has announced an end to all online commenting on stories (although they will accept letters sent to the editor for a special section). This trend actually began a couple of years ago, when both Popular Science and Scientific American shut off their comments sections – following studies that showed that readers were unconsciously influenced in their judgments of scientific research if they read highly negative comments about it. In other words, comments create bias.
"The Star’s reasons are partly principled and partly pragmatic: Their editors said that the comments sections were often filled with useless vitriol and simply not worth reading."

John Doyle: From Harper’s sweater to Freeland’s red dress, it’s fair game

"This column’s recent Top Ten Most Irritating Canadians (TV-related) for 2015 irked JtG’s posse to no end. Apparently, mocking Chrystia Freeland for her ostentatious, repetitive wearing of a red dress is the work of a sexist 'journo pig' and is, in general, overt sexism of the worst sort. The sort that gets some people to claim they will never read this newspaper again, ever. Ever, ever, ever.
"No less an eminence than Gerald Butts, 'Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau,' weighed in on Twitter to admonish yours truly and to claim, for Freeland, 'She ended a 7 yr spat with our #1 trading partner in 30 days.' Right. That’s some magic red dress Freeland is wearing, obviously.
"Now you’d think the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau would have better things to do than engage with a TV critic’s tongue-in-cheek year-end column, and helping unleash Twitter-shaming, but it’s an illuminating incident, I think.
"No humour allowed, no mocking, no teasing! Is that the gist? You’re either a booster for the magical kingdom or you’re some kind of “journo pig.” "Next thing, merely rolling your eyes about the magical kingdom will be frowned upon."
(Amanda Lang tops Doyle's list. Freeland is only No. 7! -- the link above click through to the original.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hazel Ann Desbarats obit

Hazel Ann Desbarats (nee Rickets), widow of the late Peter Desbarats has died at age 79. Below is a link to the paid announcement.
Obituary announcement in the Globe and Mail

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Chronicle Herald's talks with newsroom staff break down

The largest independently-owned newspaper in the country has more contract trouble, this time with its newsroom staff, the CBC reports.
The Chronicle Herald has ended talks with a conciliator after two days, said Dave Wilson, a representative of the Communication Workers of America, of which the Halifax Typographical Union is Local 30130. The union represents 61 news employees.
"We are pretty confident the employer is going to lock us out," Wilson said.
Herald management could lock out employees 14 days after the conciliator files a report, likely close to the end of January, he said.
More from the CBC web page

Producer Stan Jacobson dead at 85

Fred Langan writes:
Stan Jacobson produced dozens of Canadian and American television shows over five decades, including several seasons of The Wayne and Shuster Show. He also produced live spectacles, such as the opening ceremony of the 1988 Calgary Olympics and the opening of the SkyDome, in Toronto, in June, 1989. But it was a CBC television special on Johnny Cash, which Mr. Jacobson produced, wrote and directed, that changed both men’s lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gil Cardinal: Canadian documentarian found his identity in film (Globe obit)

For more than 30 years, Gil Cardinal was a pre-eminent Canadian filmmaker, best known for documentaries, such as Foster Child, The Spirit Within, David with F.A.S. and Totem. Mr. Cardinal also worked on the TV miniseries Big Bear and Indian Summer: The Oka Crisis, as well as episodes of the series North of 60.
Gilbert Joseph Cardinal died in Edmonton on Nov. 21 of cirrhosis. He had been hospitalized for the final months of his life as he experienced a serious health decline complicated by diabetes. He was 65. (Excerpt from the obit by James Cullingham)
 Link fo obit

How the business is changing!

This series, announced last March, is airing its first episode Saturday night at 7 p.m. (the usual W5 time slot) From Bell Media's initial announcement last March:
"The customer is always right! CTV announced today from Prime Time in Ottawa the start of production on the new one-hour reality series pilot, DREAM FUNDED: LET THE CROWD DECIDE, produced by CTV in association with Entertainment One (eOne), Highway Entertainment, and United Artists Media Group. The pilot is the first project from Bell Media’s partnership with United Artists Media Group (a newly formed joint venture among MGM, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and Hearst Entertainment) and Omnicom Media Groups’ Highway Entertainment. Hosted by TSN’s James Duthie, DREAM FUNDED: LET THE CROWD DECIDE offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to earn up to $50,000 by pitching their untested business ideas to a crowd of 100 real consumers. Production begins today in Toronto through March 10.
“'DREAM FUNDED puts an entertaining spin on the crowd-funding phenomenon, where the crowd invests in everyday products, making dreams come true for emerging entrepreneurs while creating a feel-good show,” said Phil King, President – CTV, Sports, and Entertainment Programming. 'With our partners’ stellar background in non-scripted entertainment, we anticipate the pilot will deliver high-stakes drama and real-life happy endings.'”
Link to announcement

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Toronto Star closes comments on all online stories

The Toronto Star has done away with reader comments on its website, as online comment boards at newspapers become increasingly rare, the paper's media reporter, James Bradshaw writes.
Michael Cooke, the Star’s editor, said in a note to readers posted Wednesday that the paper has closed commenting on, promising to “engage with you in a more meaningful way.”
 Instead of hosting comments, the Star plans to promote comments shared on social media, or in more traditional letters to the editor, on its website. He also said the paper will launch a campaign to have readers weigh in on important city issues in the new year.
Reader comments, once seen as a fresh way to get a newspaper’s audience more engaged in its journalism, have long been plagued by vitriol, foul language and racism, despite repeated attempts to use human and automated moderators to weed out the worst material. That has made such comment boards a dying breed on newspaper websites, as the conversation shifts to social media, where anonymity is less prevalent.
A spokesperson for the Star confirmed the decision was made “partly because of the negative tone of many comments.”

Shaw Communications agrees to buy Wind Mobile for $1.6 B

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) is making its long-anticipated foray into the wireless business by picking up Wind Mobile for $1.6 billion, CP reports.
The Calgary-based telecommunications company says it will acquire the country’s fourth-largest mobile operator by subscribers, pending a number of regulatory approvals, including the Competition Bureau and the Ministry of Innovation, Science & Economic Development.
Shaw expects the transaction to close in the third quarter of 2016.
Wind Mobile was formed exactly six years ago on Wednesday as part of group of new entrants in Canada’s wireless industry, a move encouraged by the federal Conservative government to stoke competition.
Since then, telecom giant Telus was rebuffed by the government in multiple attempts to buy Wind Mobile.
Wind Mobile has run into financial problems and has had difficulty raising money for its capital investments, but a change in its ownership structure late last year cleared the way for it to raise funds.
The Toronto-based company has 940,000 subscribers across Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CHCH's woes sign of a larger crisis in local broadcasting: Globe

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw writes:
"An ambitious plan to remake a Hamilton television station as a model for revitalized local news has come undone.
"CHCH-TV, which reaches four million homes across Ontario, briefly but abruptly cancelled its newscasts last Friday as its owners announced that the company that created local news for the channel, Channel 11 LP, had filed for bankruptcy, triggering massive cutbacks.
"The network laid off all 129 full-time and 38 part-time staff members, claiming losses of $130,000 per week, then offered to hire back 71 people to similar roles under a new, numbered company contracted to create daily news. On Monday, it revived CHCH’s 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts with a skeleton staff, whose members have rallied to begin a new, leaner era.
"The restructuring signals the collapse of a vision for CHCH outlined in 2009, but it is also symptomatic of a larger problem afflicting local news.
"The industry has suffered steep revenue declines from lost advertising in a crowded television market. Local channels across Canada are fighting for survival, including those run by giants such as BCE Inc., but independently owned CHCH was supposed to be a hopeful outlier.
"Until last week, it aired 80 hours per week of local programming, far more than most stations. Now, its lineup has just 17.5 hours made locally."
The whole story

Monday, December 14, 2015

Two media companies trying digital pay-as-you-go model

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw reports:
News publishers have long wondered whether asking readers to pay per story could get customers who are accustomed to free news to open their wallets. This model is perennially “just around the corner,” said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab.
 But two companies – the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper and the digital newsstand Blendle – have lately put their faith in micropayments and say the experiment looks to be gaining traction. A slice of readers have handed over their credit-card info and are buying stories one at a time – even some millennials.
Whether pay-as-you-go can draw in a wider audience remains an intriguing question for the news industry, and its stiffest test may come early in 2016, when Blendle, a European news-aggregation app that charges by the article, launches its beta version in the United States. The app has prospered in countries with a distinct language like the Netherlands, where it was founded. But the English market is another matter.
“There is so much free content in English, in North America, that I think a micropayment model will have significant challenges,” Mr. Benton said.
The whole story

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Globe's Simon Houpt on Trudeau's recasting of Canada image

The Globe and Mail's media reporter writes (excerpt):
"Mr. Trudeau’s appearance this week in two U.S. glossies – The New York Times Magazine and the high-fashion bible Vogue – gave new fuel to his critics, who will never forgive him his good hair.
"To them, he is and will remain the Selfie PM, more invested in perfecting his pout than his policies.
"But they overlook three insights underpinning his team’s apparent press strategy.
"First, Mr. Trudeau has a short window of opportunity in which to exploit the international media’s curiosity about him and thus kick-start a rebrand of Canada on the world stage.
"Second, all media are now international, which allows Mr. Trudeau to speak simultaneously to foreign audiences and supporters at home who might be a little bit thrilled to see him nestled amid the spreads of $10,000 winter coats, hot celebrities and cool cocktails.
"Third, outlets such as Vogue are natural platforms for the first Instagram prime minister.

Friday, December 11, 2015

CHCH TV suspends newscasts as company declares bankruptcy

At least 129 full-time employees and close to 30 part-timers have been let go as part of a massive restructuring of local news at CHCH TV, the Hamilton Spectator reports.
A newsroom staffer says the number of cuts was announced in a meeting with senior management Friday.
Of that group, 71 people have reportedly been offered new jobs, but it's unclear in what capacity.
With the changes, CHCH is expected to reduce its local programming from 80 hours to 25 hours a week, Unifor media sector director Howard Law reportedly told The Canadian Press.
News staff at CHCH TV learned Friday their company has filed for bankruptcy.
As of 4 p.m., newscasts were cancelled for Friday and the remainder of the weekend.
Channel Zero chair and CEO Romen Podzyhun went on the air late Friday afternoon to tell viewers that local news would return on Monday. He did not detail what changes would be happening.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CBC workplace is psychologically unhealthy, internal poll by Gallup shows

The Star's Kevin Donovan writes:
"Many employees of Canada’s national broadcaster believe the CBC workplace is psychologically unhealthy and managers do not deal effectively with issues that may threaten or harm them, according to an internal survey carried out following the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. “'Psychological health and care for individual well-being are significant concerns,' says a report released internally to CBC and obtained by the Star. "The results show 43 per cent of survey respondents said they would not describe their workplace as psychologically healthy.
"Concerns were also raised by survey respondents over whether the CBC deals effectively with 'situations that may threaten or harm employees.' Almost a third (29 per cent) said the CBC does not.
"A CBC spokesman said the results of the survey are 'humbling.' Chuck Thompson said it 'provides a new baseline from which we will address the concerns expressed.'
"The survey, conducted for CBC in the summer by Gallup, also showed that 'pride of association' in the national broadcaster has plummeted from 92 per cent of employees feeling proud to be CBC journalists and support staff in 2012 to 69 per cent in 2015.
"Just over one half of the CBC’s 7,600 full- and part-time employees completed the survey. The questionnaire asked people to answer the questions on a 1-5 scale from 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree.'”
The full story

Christie Blatchford on Mike Duffy's testimony: "It was a miracle."

Christie Blatchford writes:
"And so it came to pass that Mike Duffy was at least briefly healed, for such is the sweet power of revenge.
"On Tuesday morning, the former veteran broadcaster and beleaguered senator from Prince Edward Island took the witness stand at his criminal trial on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
"This medically frail 69-year-old man — and his lawyer, Don Bayne, already has made much of this, suggesting Duffy was particularly vulnerable to the brutish charms of the dapper set from former prime minister Stephen Harper’s office — has had two open-heart surgeries, suffers from diabetes and osteoarthritis, is on 14 medications and goes to bed with a CPAP machine forcing air into his lungs so he doesn’t wake up every 40 seconds because of sleep apnea.
"And yet, this particular morning, Duffy talked almost non-stop for two hours, barely pausing for breath, never short of wind: It was a miracle."
The full column
Our favourite excerpts:
“'I don’t know if you’ve ever been through a big corporate layoff, Mr. Bayne,' he said, 'but it is awful. It hurts the people laid off, but it kills the people who are left behind.'
"So with that background, he said, he went home that night and talked things over with his wife, Heather. 'She said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want to do, but if you go (from CTV), it’ll give the bean counters more money' and perhaps in that way the jobs of some young people could be saved.
"He did it for the kids! He was sacrificing himself for the youth!"

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Don Martin now says only one person called Arthur Kent "Dud Stud"

 CP's Bill Graveland reports:
"A columnist who wrote a piece critical of Arthur Kent during an Alberta election campaign acknowledged during testimony Monday that a paragraph in his article was not true.
"Don Martin, Postmedia and the National Post, are being sued for defamation by Kent, who became known as the Scud Stud for his Gulf War reporting on U.S. television. Martin’s 2008 column was headlined ‘Scud Stud’ a ‘Dud’ on the Election Trail.
"While cross-examining Martin on Monday, Kent’s lawyer Michael Bates pointed to a paragraph that read: “Alberta Conservatives have bestowed problem candidate Arthur Kent with a less flattering designation as he noisily blusters his way through their reeling election campaign — the Dud Scud.”
“'Isn’t it the reality that one person — that you say you can’t remember — told you that Arthur Kent was the Dud Stud? It’s one person isn’t it?' Bates asked.
“'Could be,' Martin responded.
“'Your article characterizes it as a large group of Albertans have bestowed him with that new name and that’s not true, is it?' Bates persisted.
“'I’d write it differently today,' replied Martin.
“'You’d write it differently today because as it sits in Exhibit 1, it’s not true, correct?' Bates asked.
“'That paragraph is not true. Correct.'”
Link to full CP story

Saturday, December 5, 2015

New book slams political meddling at Radio Canada

The Globe's Kate Taylor reviews a new book by former Radio Canada news director Alain Saulnier. She finds it "alarming." Excerpt:
"When Prince William and his wife, Kate, were visiting Canada in 2011, James Moore, the minister of Canadian Heritage at the time, sent an e-mail to Hubert Lacroix, president of the CBC. Moore had been watching CBC coverage of the royal visit and said, 'It’s not a big problem but …”
"The minister just wanted to remind Lacroix that the couple should correctly be called the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, not Will and Kate, and that this was a royal tour, not a royal visit, since Prince William is a future king of Canada, not a visitor. According to an alarming new book by former Radio-Canada news director Alain Saulnier, Lacroix quickly passed along the little style reminder to news executives on both the French- and English-language services."

The Globe's Simon Houpt trashes Q (the radio program)

Until the Ghomeshi scandal readers of this blog likely never heard of the CBC Radio program Q. The program was a success, especially with younger viewers. Ghomeshi was replaced by the rocker Shad and according to Simon Houpt, it's not working.
"But seven months in, it’s clear that Q still needs a strong hand at the wheel, someone who not only wants to drive but who knows where he wants to go. Shad’s written introductions are as stilted and flat as they were in April; he can’t seem to lift the words off the page. And the flaws in his interviewing style – in which he assiduously hews to a list of prepared questions and rarely follows up on anything his subjects say – have been sharply exposed during some recent high-profile sit-downs."
The whole story

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mobile streaming powers ahead of traditional TV viewing

The Associated Press reports:
The use of Internet-ready devices like smartphones appears to have seriously cut into the time Americans spend watching traditional TV, new Nielsen data show, potentially undercutting the notion that mobile devices merely serve as “second screens” while people are plopped in front of the set.
Data provided to The Associated Press show an increase in the number of 18-to-34-year-olds who used a smartphone, tablet or TV-connected device like a streaming box or game console. That grew 26 per cent in May compared with a year earlier, to an average of 8.5 million people per minute.
Those devices, which all showed gains in usage, more than offset declines in TV, radio and computers. In the same age group, the demographic most highly coveted by advertisers, use of those devices fell 8 per cent over the same period to a combined 16.6 million people per minute.

Mark Blandford was a pioneer in Canadian television

Fred Langan writes:
Mark Blandford was a linguistic and cultural chameleon whose unusual upbringing and talents allowed him to conquer the worlds of television drama in both English and French Canada.
When he arrived in Montreal after attending film school at Columbia University, he initially worked in local current affairs on the English side of CBC Television. His first ambitious project was 1975’s The October Crisis, a contentious program that ran three hours in one evening.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Former players, CTV's W5 petition court to unseal secret NHL emails

They are suing the NHL, alleging league and team officials knew or ought to have known about the links between head trauma and long-term cognitive problems but failed to act to protect players – all the while profiting from the violence of hockey.
The league says players could have put “two and two together” and done their own research about the long-term effects of repeated concussions.
The Milbury-Campbell exchange and thousands of others are now at the centre of a high-stakes battle over whether the media and the public have a right to know what NHL executives said and did behind the scenes about violence in the game and player head injuries.
So far, the NHL has turned over more than 2.5 million pages of internal league documents in the case. The vast majority of those documents, however, are sealed by a court order at the NHL’s request.
But on Tuesday in Minnesota, a judge is scheduled to hear from lawyers for the former players and CTV’s W5 that the public has a right to review an initial batch of 61 documents, most of which have been completely hidden from public view.

Monday, November 30, 2015

CBC suspends comments on indigenous stories

The Globe and Mail's Simon Houpt writes:
"The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is temporarily suspending comments on its online stories about indigenous people, after its editors determined that too many comments were being posted that it deemed 'off the mark' or 'racist.'
In an online note to readers, the CBC’s acting director of digital news said that comments on those stories will be barred until editors can review moderation procedures.
“'While there are a number of subjects and groups of people who seem to bring out higher-than-average numbers of worrisome comments, we find ourselves with a unique situation when it comes to indigenous-related stories,'” wrote Brodie Fenlon.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Star's Vinay Menon trashes CBC emojis of personalites

Vinay Menon writes:
"In the grand scheme of things, emojis may seem small and silly. But when you’re struggling to survive, the wrong kind of small and silly reflects a bigger problem of vision. And so, in the end, I believe there is already an emoji to express what’s happening here: sad face."
The full story
In case you are wondering, emojis are ideograms or smileys used in electronic messages and Web pages. So says Google.

Postmedia empire falters while CEO Paul Godfrey earns millions-Star

The Star has launched a frontal attack against PostMedia.
Here is a link:
The Star PostMedia story

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Postmedia paid $1 million in bonuses as it slashed jobs

Postmedia Network paid nearly a million dollars in bonuses to executives for their hand in the deal to buy the Sun newspapers, even as the debt-saddled company was slashing costs and jobs across the country, the Star reports.
Canada’s largest newspaper chain paid out a total of $925,000 in discretionary bonuses to its top six executives in the 2015 fiscal year ended in August, according to company documents filed Wednesday.
CEO Paul Godfrey, whose base salary was unchanged at $950,000, received $400,000 in the special payout. He was also the only executive to receive a bonus under the short-term incentive plan. The short-term bonus amounted to $118,750, even though the company fell short of its operating profit target used to calculate that bonus structure.
Godfrey’s total compensation was $1.76 million, up from $1.42 million the previous year.
Ousted chief operating officer Wayne Parrish received a $150,000 bonus related to the Sun acquisition, plus a $1-million severance package after his termination in July. That was twice his $475,000 base salary.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

“Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be sports reporters.”

Star technology reporter Raju Mudhar on the sports TV layoffs: (excerpt)
It has been a bad month for sports media in terms of jobs losses, cuts and devastating personal stories about the changing nature of the business. Here at home, the news centred on Bell Media, which shed 380 jobs last week — 270 in Toronto — and the headlines were about some of the well-known personalities who are out looking for work, but many long-time behind-the-scenes staff were affected.
TSN was hit hard, although it’s been difficult to ascertain if it was more or less proportional than other departments.
A month ago, ESPN did the same with many of its production staff. As well, most of the U.S. sports media is sharing a Jeff Bradley blog post detailing his life after being let go as the baseball reporter at the Newark Star-Ledger in 2013. He’s freelancing and working as an attendant at a golf club, and his post has resonated, with an Ed Sherman follow-up on Poynter, a journalism organization, garnering several similar stories.
There was also a column from the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University basically saying “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be sports reporters.” Actually, it advises to go get your MBA or law degree and try to work for a team if you really want to work in sports.
The full column
 (Maybe he should have expanded it to all reporters? - ed.)

T V as we know it is screwed -- for now: John Doyle

John Doyle writes:
"Canadian TV is screwed. For now. The old advertising model has been shattered and nobody knows what the looming pick-and-pay change is going to do to the specialty channel menu. Nothing will ever be the same. Profits can be achieved but nothing like the vast, vast amounts that have been made in the past."
The whole column

Layoffs at CTV Barrie

CTV Barrie is laying off more than a dozen of its employees as part of job cuts announced by Bell Media earlier this month, the Barrie Examiner reports.
They include union employees in creative services, editors, those in promotions, an ENG/EFP shooter, reception, the library and an announcer, along with four non-union staff.
Also leaving CTV is popular, longtime weatherman Bob McIntyre. At 73, he's been in broadcasting for 50 years, and with the Barrie TV station since 1972.
McIntyre was not being laid off but retired to save the job of another local CTV employee. He said he was asked to stay on when he turned 65.
UNIFOR Local 714, which represents union employees at CTV Barrie, said the station lost 25% of its union membership with the layoffs and 26% of the entire station with non-union layoffs – a combined 304 years of service, the most senior person being 41 years. CTV has now lost 75% of its workforce from the peak in 1993, said UNIFOR.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Washingon Post's move to digital helps it become U.S. news leader

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw writes:
A movie about the veteran newspaper editor’s signature professional accomplishment – revealing widespread abuse and systemic indifference in the Catholic Church while leading The Boston Globe in 2002 – hit theatres to critical acclaim this month. Titled Spotlight, after the name of the paper’s investigative team, it serves as a testament to investigative journalism’s crucial role in uncovering injustice.
At the same time, the paper he now steers as executive editor, The Washington Post, is reaching a record readership. For the first time, the capital city daily topped The New York Times in digital traffic in October, with 66.9 million unique online visitors in the month, establishing it as the U.S. national news leader.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stuart McLean cancels Vinyl Cafe Christmas tour due to melanoma

Vinyl Cafe host Stuart McLean has cancelled the remainder of his Christmas tour this year because he has been diagnosed with melanoma.
In a post on Facebook and the website for the CBC Radio program, McLean said all remaining shows after Sunday in Thunder Bay, Ont., will be cancelled.
"I have just learned that I have melanoma. I begin therapy next week," McLean said in the post online early Saturday.
"This is not quite as ominous as it sounds (or not as ominous as it sounded to me). Melanoma, which was once a deadly diagnosis, has, over the last couple of years, become eminently treatable. The treatment is, as my wonderful doctor describes it, the poster child of cancer therapy." (CBC web page)

CTV anchors to read recorded newscasts on CFRA

The Ottawa Sun's Susan Sherring reports:
"Starting Monday, CTV news anchors are taking over the reading of the radio’s newscasts from their CFRA colleagues. For CFRA employees, it’s a a kick in the teeth - demoting them from reading the news on-air to writing it for the television anchors."
Full story

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Robert Fife to become Globe and Mail's Ottawa bureau chief; will continue hosting rebranded CTV's Question Period

Robert Fife
CTV News Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife is leaving his post  to take on the same role with The Globe and Mail, effective Jan. 1.
But Fife will remain as host of CTV’s Sunday morning political panel Question Period, which will be rebranded CTV’s Question Period with The Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife.
Fife also served served as executive producer of CTV’s Power Play with Don Martin, who took to Twitter Thursday to report the “sad news in our bureau.”
Before joining CTV, Fife was Ottawa bureau chief for CanWest News Service and the National Post, and spent a decade in the same role with the Sun Media chain.
The Globe wrote glowingly about the venerable Fife, 61, in a September opinion column detailing Fife’s work in breaking the story about Nigel Wright paying $90,000 in contentious expenses on behalf of Sen. Mike Duffy.
The Globe's CNW media release

Richard Stursberg on how to save the CBC

"There is only one way to move forward. The government, through Parliament, must establish a vision for the CBC, so that it can make sensible decisions about how much new money to provide. It should not give the corporation more money until there is a clear understanding about the direction it needs to pursue."
The whole story

Ottawa Citizen's editorial board members resign

Kate Heartfield and James Gordon, who wrote editorials for the Postmedia-owned Ottawa Citizen, announced that they were resigning from the paper on Wednesday.
Toronto Star story

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bizarre goings on in top CBC ranks, senior official resigns

The Star's Kevin Donovan reports:
A top CBC official who called for a more respectful workplace has apologized for her own behaviour to one of her senior staff. Heather Conway, executive vice-president of English Services for the public broadcaster, was recently accused of harassing Neil McEneaney, sources told the Star.
Until he resigned Tuesday, McEneaney was in charge of negotiating key CBC business deals including broadcast rights for the Olympics. “(Conway) apologized and we carried on,” McEneaney told the Star on Tuesday.
The Crown corporation abruptly announced to staff Tuesday the resignation of McEneaney, the CBC’s chief business officer, English Services.
He is taking up a position as president of a firm that tracks audience numbers for television and radio programs.
In the wake of McEneaney’s informal complaint, CBC has hired an outside firm to conduct a review of the conduct of senior managers including Conway.
Full story

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

CTV co-anchor, CFRA staff laid off in Bell Media job cuts

Longtime CTV News Ottawa co-anchor Carol Anne Meehan was one of a number of casualties Tuesday in a swath of job cuts at the local CTV station, as well as radio station CFRA, both owned by Bell Media, the Ottawa Citizen reports.
Meehan’s colleague, Olympic gold medal winner-turned-sports reporter Carolyn Waldo also lost her job.
Among other casualties were CFRA on-air staffers, Lunch Bunch host Rick Gibbons and traffic and weather reporter Shelley McLean, plus many behind-the-scenes staff at both stations including engineers, producers and several sales people.
Full Ottawa Citizen story
Various Twitter feeds say those included in the cuts are Dan Matheson, Tom Kennedy, Bill Hutchison and Suneel Joshi.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Globe's Simon Houpt about ethics in political journalism

The Globe and Mail's Simon Houpt has written an interesting piece on friendships between journalists and their sources. Excerpt:
"News people aren’t supposed to become friends with sources. We’re instructed to maintain distance, even as we lunch and gossip and booze with them – building blocks of relationships, frankly, from which so many of the best stories emerge. It’s a delicate dance, dangerous like a tango, and sometimes we slip up and our cordial relationships become friendships. The line separating them is like the oft-quoted distinction between erotica and pornography: We know it when we see it."
The whole story
(PS: TVO has an excellent Danish series on Sunday nights, Borgen, which  chronicles the life of a female prime minister. A small country, there are a lot of conflicts of interest, including media.  More here )

Arthur Kent a.k.a. "Scud Stud" suing Don Martin over calling him "Scud Dud"

The Canadian Press reports:
The lawyer for a former television war correspondent known as the "Scud Stud'' says he intends to prove his client's reputation was damaged by a "false article'' that failed to meet even "ordinary journalistic standards.''
Arthur Kent, 61, is suing Postmedia, the National Post and former columnist Don Martin over a column that ran when Kent was campaigning to win the constituency of Calgary Currie as a star candidate for the Progressive Conservatives in the 2008 provincial election.
The trial, which has been in the offing for seven years, got underway Monday in front of a judge, jury and a gallery packed with onlookers.
The Alberta-born Kent rose to international prominence and acquired his nickname when he reported for NBC during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He often went live on the air from a hotel rooftop as Iraqi Scud missiles were launched into Saudi Arabia.
Kent was narrowly defeated in the election after a hard-fought campaign in which a piece by Martin appeared under the headline "Alberta's 'Scud Stud' a 'Dud' On Campaign Trail.''
The column, which was published in several newspapers that were part of what was then the CanWest chain, described Kent as "a hunky bear-witness reporter'' who "got female hearts pumping.''
The whole story

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Toronto Star encouraged as tablet app downloads hit milestone

The Globe and Mail's media reporter James Bradshaw reports that the Star says it has a solid start to the big bet it placed on a daily tablet edition. The Star says its Toronto Star Touch app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in its first two months.
Downloads of the app give little hint at how often readers open its editions. But getting onto 100,000-plus tablets marks the first milestone on the way to the newspaper’s goal of attracting 180,000 daily readers by the end of 2016. And it gives ownership some early data to show to advertisers whose willingness to buy tablet ads will ultimately determine whether the Star’s gamble, which is costing the company up to $25-million this year, will pay off.
“We’ve gotten out of the gate,” John Cruickshank, the Star’s publisher, said in an interview. “We’re now sort of trending in the way we want.”
The Star’s tablet edition is based on the design and technology behind La Presse+, a similar product produced by its namesake daily in Montreal. The Star’s is updated once daily and free to download, although only for iPads so far. (An Android version is expected before the end of 2015).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Justin Trudeau ‘looking into’ RCMP probes of journalists

The Star's Tonda McCharles reports:
"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern Thursday about the impact on press freedom of RCMP investigations into the source of leaks of government documents to journalists, adding that he would be “looking into” it.
" Three cases have surfaced in recent days. These include RCMP investigations, in 2011 and in 2007, into La Presse journalists who published leaked information about two Montreal men suspected of terrorist ties.
"They also include an RCMP attempt to get a court order to force Vice News to hand over communications between a journalist and a Canadian suspected of fighting overseas with ISIS. Asked if he supports the police investigating the source of leaks to journalists, Trudeau endorsed freedom of journalists strongly.
"He said he is waiting for more information 'on these troubling issues.'
“'I have made a long-standing principle, and value of, freedom of the press,' said Trudeau at his second news conference as prime minister, his first at the National Press Theatre."

Trudeau tells ministers in mandate letter to be nice to journalists!

The Star's Susan Delacourt got a look at the new PMs mandate letter to ministers. Excerpt from her column about it:
“'Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential,' the letter states.
"This is, we’ll remember, a slightly more formal way of saying what Trudeau told a crowd of people booing reporters during the last week of the election campaign. 'Hey! We have respect for journalists in this country,' Trudeau chided unruly Liberals at a campaign stop in Montreal. 'They ask tough questions and they're supposed to. OK?'”
The full column

Canadaland skewers Mansbridge for attenting PMO communications director's wedding

The gadfly web page Canadaland skewers Peter Mansbridge for attending and speaking at the wedding of PMO communications director Kate purchase. Excerpts:
"Now here's the wedding video of Kate Purchase, Justin Trudeau's Director of Communications. At 3:30, a man who looks just like Peter Mansbridge appears to be officiating the ceremony.
"The CBC and Kate Purchase both confirm that Mansbridge is a close family friend of Purchase's, and that he attended her wedding in Italy.
When asked whether Mansbridge officiated the ceremony, both replied that he 'spoke' at the wedding.
"And both said this is no big deal. CBC's Head of Public Affairs Chuck Thomspson said, 'there was no conflict of interest' and Purchase said, 'we have always been very diligent in keeping our personal and private lives separate.'
"So does this mean that when Mansbridge wants exclusive access to the prime minister, Purchase has nothing to do with it? Nope. Both Purchase and the CBC told us she was involved in arranging the 'logistics' of the coverage."
The whole Canadaland story
(Mansbridge may have done nothing wrong but the optics are not good.-- ed)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Facebook set to steal more TV ad dollars as video views soar

Facebook said its video views surged to 8 billion per day in the third quarter, from just 1 billion a year earlier, highlighting a rising threat to TV ad revenue.
Reuters reports that the growth in video views presents the most significant near-term opportunity for Facebook as the company looks to grab a bigger slice of the TV advertising market, analysts said.
Cable companies in particular face an increasing threat to revenue as consumers switch to online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu – a trend known as “cord-cutting”.
“We think (Facebook) looks well positioned to capture an increasing portion of TV ad budgets as markets migrate toward data-driven, highly targeted online video ad campaigns,” Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz said in a client note.

General counsel for Al Jazeera America lacks a license to practice law

The New York Times reports:
"David W. Harleston, an executive who serves as general counsel for the media company Al Jazeera America, has had a busy year.
"He has helped oversee lawsuits against DirecTV and Al Gore, who sold his Current TV network to the company. There are wrongful-termination cases brought by former employees who accuse the news channel of fostering a sexist and anti-Semitic environment. Earlier this year, he dealt with the departure of the company’s chief executive, who stepped down after employees complained about what they described as a culture of fear.
"But according to court officials, there are no records that indicate Mr. Harleston is licensed to practice law in New York State, where Al Jazeera America has its headquarters. He has also not been admitted in any other jurisdiction, according to research by The New York Times."
The whole story

Monday, November 9, 2015

Postmedia let down readers by dictating election endorsements: Honderich

John Honderich writes:
"Never before in a federal election, in my memory, have newspaper endorsements become so controversial.
"Topping the list unquestionably was Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey’s dramatic order to all 16 major Postmedia papers across Canada to support Stephen Harper.
"Each paper was allowed to write its own editorial, but the conclusion was preordained.
“'Since God made babies, I think (endorsement editorials) were always made that way,' longtime Conservative Godfrey explained later, reacting to the uproar. 'If anyone thinks otherwise, I think they were dreaming in Technicolor.'”

Friday, November 6, 2015

CBC building evacuated after ‘military artifact’ found

About 2000 people are now allowed to enter the Centre for Broadcasting Centre (CBC) Building after police called for an evacuation after a “military artifact” was located, Toronto Police say, the Star reports.
CBC News says that the military artifact was found in a shipment of objects donated to CBC Archives. Sergeant Martin Vandall said that the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense (CBRN) technicians are investigating the artifact.
Trevor Trotter, Toronto Fire chief, says that while the CBC was doing inventory work in their archives, they found the artifact. It was full of rubber and a “prop”. A CBRN technician told The Star that the artifact is not active but, it would have been active once in the 1980s.

Rogers and VICE announce new specialty channel, VICELAND (media release)

CNW news release:
Rogers and VICE Media, the youth media brand and digital content studio, today announced details of the new 24-hour Canadian VICE channel, VICELAND, and unveiled the new VICE Canada production facility, located in the heart of Toronto.
The newest addition to the Rogers Media specialty portfolio, VICELAND will launch in Winter 2016, featuring hundreds of hours of new and exclusive programming developed and produced by the young creative minds that are the heart and soul of VICE. The license currently used for bio. will be rebranded to VICELAND. Additional details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Boasting the country's brightest young talent and serving as an incubator for the next generation of Canadian creators, the VICE Canada studio, which operates under VICE's creative direction and ownership, is currently in development and production on nine new, Canadian original series. Since the Rogers-VICE partnership was announced in October 2014, more than 100 writers, directors, editors, producers, and filmmakers have been hired to create sought-after, homegrown content for all screens, to be exported around the world.
Link to tlhe full media release

Bell Media announces 270 layoffs; most from editorial and production

CTV has announced another round of job cuts, this time in Toronto and Montreal, CP reports.
A CTV spokesman says more than 50 positions will be eliminated in the two cities.
The union representing Bell Media employees in Toronto says it has received layoff notices.
Unifor says Bell has indicated to it that some 270 employees will be affected.
Unifor local 723M President Kelly Dobbs says the union has been told that 220 of the layoffs will come from production and editorial operations, 45 will be in sales and marketing and five will come from administration.
Bell has vast media holdings in Toronto including CTV, the CP24 cable news channel and Business News Network.
It's not immediately clear what the total will be in Montreal, but the Globe and Mail reported late Thursday that there would be 110 job cuts in Montreal.
More extensive Globe and Mail story

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Torstar reports flat profit, as Toronto Star readies tablet edition

The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw writes:
"As print advertising revenue continues to shrink at Torstar Corp., the company is pinning its hopes on a tablet edition of the Toronto Star expected to attract new readers and advertisers.
"Torstar reported flat profit for the fourth quarter of 2014 on Wednesday, but the ongoing plunge in revenue as advertisers move away from print newspapers remains a major drag on results. And the declines show no signs of slowing yet.
"At the Toronto Star, the company’s flagship newspaper, print ad revenue was down 26.9 per cent in the fourth quarter. A 2-per-cent year-over-year fall in revenue from print ads at Metroland Media Group, which owns local papers such as the Hamilton Spectator and Guelph Mercury, was a relative bright spot, marking the slowest decline in more than eight quarters."
Full story

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hydro One rehires employee who harassed female TV reporter

Hydro One has rehired the employee fired last May after he defended the sexual harassment of a female TV news reporter, Global TV reports.
As Global News first reported, the Ontario power utility rehired Shawn Simoes after an arbitration process.
Hydro One spokesman Daffyd Roderick offered no further details on the reinstatement when contacted Monday.
Link to Global TV story

Friday, October 30, 2015

VICE Media to fight Mounties’ demand for notes on suspected ISIS fighter

The Star's Alex Boutilier reports:
 The RCMP is demanding VICE Canada turn over “all notes and communications” between the journalism outlet and a suspected Islamic State fighter, the outlet reported Friday.
The RCMP served VICE with a production order in February to turn over reporter Ben Makuch’s notes and instant message chats with Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Calgary-born man turned Islamic State militant.
VICE Canada’s head of content, Patrick McGuire, said they intend to fight the Mounties’ demands in court.
“Complying with this production order would set a precedent that could deeply rupture the independence of the Canadian media,” McGuire said in an email Friday morning.
“Sources should be able to speak to journalists without fearing that the cops will turn around and try and request the records of those conversations. We are not here to assist the RCMP with their work.”
VICE began in Montreal in the early 1990s as magazine startup but, according to the Ryerson Review of Journalism, has quickly grown into a $2.5 billion international media enterprise.
The emphasis in VICE is on mostly youth-oriented content, ranging from a video series that interviews people who have just had sex to edgy investigative journalism.
Full story

Thursday, October 29, 2015

CBC president and board must go: Unions

The Star's Jacques Gallant writes:
"The two unions representing the vast majority of CBC and Radio-Canada employees across the country are calling for CBC president Hubert Lacroix and the entire board of directors to step down, and are launching a petition on the matter amongst its members.
"The petition, obtained by the Star, lists a number of grievances, including:
  • failure to defend public broadcasting and a shift towards privatization;
  • haste in imposing the previous Conservative government’s budgetary cuts;
  • the sale of CBC/Radio-Canada properties and an end to in-house production;
  • laying off more than 2,100 employees between 2009 and 2010, 1,300 between 2014 and 2015, and the planned departure of more than 1,000 workers between now and 2020;
  • “'We concluded that (Lacroix and the board) no longer have legitimacy,' Isabelle Montpetit, president of Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada, told the Star. That union represents most of Radio-Canada’s employees in Quebec and New Brunswick.
    "She noted that even while the incoming Liberal majority government has promised to reinvest in CBC/Radio-Canada, Lacroix and the board are continuing to move forward with cuts to staffing and production. "

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    Trudeau’s ‘open government’ plan guaranteed to make waves in Ottawa: Bill Curry

    The Globe and Mail's Bill Curry writes:
    "Parliament Hill is in for a major shakeup should Justin Trudeau follow through with his ambitious pledge to reform Question Period, give more power to committees and allow all government documents to be available by default.
    "The e-mails of political staffers working in the Prime Minister’s Office and for cabinet ministers would no longer be exempt from the Access to Information Act. Parliamentary committees would be given more research money and chairpersons would be elected by secret ballot, rather than appointed by the PMO. Free votes would be the norm, rather than the exception.
    "Those are a few of the 'open government' promises that Mr. Trudeau, now prime-minister-designate, approved in his party’s election platform.
    The whole story

    Saturday, October 24, 2015

    CRTC Commissioner suing chairman

    The Globe and Mail's telecom reporter Christine Dobby writes:
    "A rift at Canada’s broadcast and telecom regulator has again spilled over into the legal system, raising questions about how efficiently and fairly the commission can make public policy decisions.
    "Raj Shoan, the commissioner for Ontario for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), has commenced a legal action arguing that chairman Jean-Pierre Blais has overstepped his authority by naming panels of commissioners to consider and rule on telecom files.
    "Mr. Shoan is already fighting the chairman in a separate case, filed with the Federal Court in April, in which he is seeking a judicial review of Mr. Blais’s response to a third-party investigation that found Mr. Shoan had harassed a CRTC employee over e-mail.
    Full story

    Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    CBC/Radio-Canada nabs broadcast rights to Olympics in 2022, 2024

    The CBC will continue to be Canada’s official Olympic broadcaster through 2024, The Canadian Press reports.
    The public broadcaster says it has nabbed the broadcast rights to the Beijing 2022 Winter Games and the 2024 Summer Games.
    That makes CBC/Radio-Canada the country’s official broadcaster for the next five Olympics including Rio 2016, Pyeongchang 2018, and Tokyo 2020.
    They’ll be working again with broadcast partners Bell Media and Rogers Media.
    CBC/Radio-Canada president Hubert Lacroix says the deal is “fiscally responsible, and perfectly aligned with CBC/Radio-Canada’s current strategic plan.”

    Hungarian camerawoman says she plans to sue refugee she was caught on film tripping

    The Hungarian camerawoman who sparked international outrage when she was caught on film last month tripping a refugee carrying a child now says she plans to sue her victim, The Telegraph reports.
    Petra Laszlo appeared to intentionally kick two young refugees before tripping Osama Abdul Mohsen, a Syrian refugee who was holding his young son at the time.
    Mrs Laszlo was fired from her job and faces a criminal trial in Hungary for "breach of the peace".
    She has now told a Russian newspaper she will sue Mr Mohsen, whom she accuses of altering his testimony to the police investigating her. She also says she will sue Facebook for allegedly refusing to remove threatening content directed at her.

    Monday, October 19, 2015

    Andrew Coyne resigns as NatPost comment editor over election endorsement; stays as columnist

    Andrew Coyne has stepped down as the National Post’s editor of editorials and comment after what he called a “professional disagreement” over the paper’s endorsement of the Conservative Party in today’s election, Peter Edwards writes in the Star.
    Coyne explained his decision in a series of tweets posted Monday morning, saying he resigned “to protect my reputation and to preserve my editorial freedom as a columnist.”
    However, he said he will continue to write a column for the newspaper. “Postmedia executives and I had a professional disagreement,” Coyne wrote.
    “Their view was that the publication of a column by the editorial page editor…dissenting from the Post’s endorsement of the Conservatives would have confused readers and embarrassed the paper.
    “I don’t see public disagreement as confusing,” Coyne tweeted. “I see it as honest. Readers, in my view, are adults & understand that adults can disagree.”

    Thursday, October 15, 2015

    Sue Lloyd-Roberts, pioneering BBC journalist, dead of cancer at 62

    The BBC journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts, a veteran foreign correspondent who specialised in getting into difficult places, has died from cancer aged 62.
    She spent decades reporting from dangerous areas around the world, and has been praised by colleagues, friends and viewers for her "extraordinary" determination and courage.
    Full story:

    Amanda Lang goes to Bloomberg TV

    Amanda Lang will host and produce a show for Bloomberg TV Canada, the company launching the new business channel said Thursday. Lang will host Bloomberg North, a half-hour show that will “dissect local and global business news with Canadian heavyweights,” according to a statement from Bloomberg. The show will debut in the first quarter of 2016 and air two days a week at 6 p.m. Bloomberg TV Canada, a 24/7 business network operated by Channel Zero, is scheduled to launch on Nov. 16. At CBC, Lang hosted The Exchange with Amanda Lang and was a correspondent for The National. Her last day on air there is Friday. (Star)

    Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    Amanda Lang leaving CBC

    The National Post reports that Amanda Lang, the CBC’s senior business correspondent, is quitting the public broadcaster this week, according to a Tuesday announcement.
    Lang is pursuing “a new opportunity outside the CBC in television,” Jennifer McGuire, CBC News general manger and editor-in-chief, said in a memo to staff. She did not specify where Lang is headed.
    “Lang will also devote more time to her writing. Her second book on innovation and creativity will be published next fall,” McGuire said.
    Lang will host her CBC show, the Exchange, for the last time on Friday, McGuire said.
    She started at the CBC in 2009, hosting the Lang & O’Leary Exchange with Kevin O’Leary — who left the show last year.

    Saturday, October 10, 2015

    Bill Grogan, veteran radio guy and Stanfield speech writer, dead at 80

    William Douglas Grogan died on  July 4, 2015 at the Concordia health facility in Bella Vista, Arkansas, at age 80. He was born, raised and educated in Winnipeg, where he had a memorable career in radio, TV and the local entertainment scene until the late seventies when he became a Special Assistant to the late Hon. Robert Stanfield. On Stanfield's retirement, Bill joined the Public Service of Canada and served in several appointments at the Executive level until his retirement in 1994.
    In the 1970s, Bill was a gregarious regular at the old Ottawa Press Club.
    Ottawa Citizen death announcement

    Friday, October 9, 2015

    CBC introduces bullying helpline for staff in wake of Ghomeshi scandal

    The CBC has introduced a “bullying and harassment helpline” to hear complaints about inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, the Globe and Mail reports.
    The measure is in response to the Rubin report, which lambasted managers for the way they handled alleged misconduct by disgraced radio star Jian Ghomeshi.
    Members of a committee working on the report’s recommendations announced the phone line in a memo to staff.
    The committee says the line will “help ensure a workplace we can all be proud of.” They also promise no personal information will be shared with CBC/Radio-Canada or anyone else.
    Lawyer Janice Rubin launched the investigation after CBC fired Ghomeshi in October, 2014, saying there was “graphic evidence” he had caused physical injury to a woman.

    Thursday, October 8, 2015

    Federal election’s broadcast consortium debate cancelled

    The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw reports:
    "There will be no federal election debate airing on Canada’s national over-the-air broadcasters, breaking a tradition of coast-to-coast televised debate coverage that stretches back to 1968.
    "Despite months of discussions, the consortium of public and private networks that has long framed national election debates had to cancel its event planned for Thursday after failing to get the leading political parties on board.
    "Instead, the party leaders chose where they would spar from a menu of pitches put forward by other media and civic-minded organizations, fragmenting the national debate and reshaping the way Canadians tuned in to watch. The chair of the consortium now believes the group was the victim of a boycott, and there are calls for an independent body to co-ordinate future debates, helping check the parties’ power over the process.
    "It was only last week that the consortium’s networks – the CBC, CTV, Global, Radio-Canada and Télé-Québec – released the time slots they had held open for the English debate back to regular programming. That marked an end to months of talks which began with two private, all-party meetings the CBC hosted at its Toronto headquarters on April 24 and in its Ottawa offices on May 21. The Conservative Party rejected the consortium’s proposals and it became clear “that things were not going to be the same as they had been in years past,” consortium chair Jennifer McGuire, the general manager and editor-in-chief of CBC News, said in an interview."

    Sunday, October 4, 2015

    Colin Perkel's review of Louie Palu's documentary on Afghanistan

    "After five years of working in Kandahar, I'm not sure any of my work connects to anyone," he (Palu) ponders. "How can I possibly convey the reality of war?"
    His efforts to enlighten folk back home is at the core of his 75-minute "Kandahar Journals," slated to air nationally on the CBC and the Documentary Channel on Oct. 6. It's no Hollywood production. Instead, his often shaky, small-cam video interspersed with photographs covers a war from the mundane and banal to the beyond brutal, with little gloss or fanfare.
    Full review

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    Long-time CJOH anchor Max Keeping dead at 73

    Long-time anchor of Ottawa's CJOH, Max Keeping, has died after a long and debilitating battle with cancer. He was 73.
    Winston Maxwell Keeping retired from CTV Ottawa five years ago after 37 years on the anchor desk.
    Keeping moved to Ottawa from Grand Bank, Newfoundland in 1965 to work as a parliamentary radio reporter for CFRA. His ability to break stories helped to land him his first TV job as a national parliamentary reporter for CTV News
    In 1972, after a failed run to become a Newfoundland MP – he took over the anchor desk at CJOH, Ottawa.
    CTV Ottawa obit
    Globe and Mail obit

    Tuesday, September 29, 2015

    Swiss TV Station Replaces Cameras with iPhones and Selfie Sticks

    iPhones may not be very good at photographing lunar eclipses, but apparently they’re just fine for television news broadcasts. A local TV news station in Switzerland has ditched standard TV cameras to go 100% iPhone, the website Petapixel reports.
    Swiss newspaper Le Temps reports that the TV station Léman Bleu made the major switch this past summer when it outfitted each reporter on the field with an iPhone 6 kit for shooting pre-recorded stories and for shooting live shots.
    “It’s a search for lightness and responsiveness, but also a way to reduce the costs of producing a newscast,” the station’s news director, Laurent Keller, tells Le Temps. The station may not even be the first to make this shift: Keller also notes that one Scandinavian news outlet has already gone with an all-iPhone camera roster.
    Keller says the new use of iPhone cameras allows reporters to go live from anywhere, both on air and online. “It’s up to us to reinvent the grammar of the image, to learn to shoot differently,” Keller says. Since the station is only on air for a few hours each day, this move to iPhones will allow reporters to capture and share much more content for online channels.

    "A day of outrage," reinstates Leafs broadcasters on the road: Toronto Sun

    The Toronto Sun's Rob Longley writes:
    "And after a day of outrage at the insult sent to long-time voice of the Leafs Bowen and his witty colour sidekick Ralph, the folks that run Rogers and Bell came to what was left of their senses late Monday.
    "Yes, Ralph and Bowen will be on the road again for all 41 Leafs regular-season away games. And yes, they will be able to do their jobs as professionals."
    The full story

    Layoffs at The Daily News: The end of tabloids?

    Alan Feuer of the New York Times writes:
    "When it was over and the feature page was gone, dozens of reporters had been fired and the morning assignment editor was shown the door only minutes after handing out the morning’s first assignments, The Daily News — or what was left of it — was in a state of shock.
    "For weeks the staff had known that layoffs might be coming, and when they did come, on Sept. 16, it was with the swiftness of a Soviet-era purge. Newsroom veterans were summoned into an office and told about a digitally driven corporate restructuring.
    "Those outside the building were told their fates by phone — some while on vacation. One reporter was so left in the dark that when she got to work that day, there was already an intern in her seat."
    The whole story

    Monday, September 28, 2015

    Maple Leafs kick radio crew off team charters to road games

    Toronto Maple Leafs management won’t allow its radio broadcast crew to travel on team charters this season, a new development that will leave long-time play-by-play voice Joe Bowen calling road games off a television feed inside a Toronto studio, the Star's Sean Fitz-Gerald reports.
    The team informed the broadcasters of its policy change as training camps opened this month. In Toronto, TSN Radio 1050 and Sportsnet 590 The Fan split the radio rights — with the parent companies, BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications, respectively, holding a majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
    “We have a new team policy this year, in that team charters are going to be for the team,” Leafs spokesman Steve Keogh said Monday.
    “They’re not on the plane, no.” He said the radio crew was allowed on the charter flights last year, and while he could not say how long that practice had been in place, he believed it had been “for some time.”
    Bowen and Jim Ralph, the long-time colour analyst, were informed late last week. Keogh said the decision was not part of any broader tightening of editorial control by the franchise.
    The full Star story

    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    Moderator trying to rein in party leaders in Monday's debate. Good luck with that!

    Mike Blanchfield of The Canadian Press writes:
    "In a turbulent world with new troubles at every turn, the moderator of Monday night’s foreign policy debate has a simple message for the three main federal leaders: forget the talking points, and go deep.
    "Rudyard Griffiths, the chair of the Munk Debates, knows politicians like to keep things tightly scripted, but he says the world is at a pivotal moment — from new challenges posed by a more assertive China and Russia, to the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War with the Middle East exodus.
    " So it’s time, says Griffiths, for Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau to explain their rationale for how Canada can navigate all of that turmoil and make a concrete — and practical — contribution, especially at a time when the country has limited resources."
    The whole story

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    Wynne documentary to air next month

    The Star reports that the contentious documentary about Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne by Peter Raymont's White Pine Pictures will air next month on CTV in the W5 time slot. The documentary was produced for TV Ontario but the broadcast was cancelled when a dispute developed between White Pine and the premier's office.
    Link lo Star story

    Canadian priest go-to communicator during Pope’s Cuba, U.S. tour

    The Globe and Mail's Eric Reguly writes:
    "Rev. Thomas Rosica, chief executive of Toronto’s Salt + Light Media, a Catholic TV and web service, is the grand tour’s English-language media attaché, and predawn to midnight a whirlwind, surviving on only five hours’ sleep. He pumps out detailed daily reports on the Pope’s itinerary, puts the Pope’s comments into historical and cultural context, interprets for the English speakers, is the go-to man for a million Pope-related questions, and sums it all up for American TV viewers on CNN, CBS and other networks."
    Full story

    Friday, September 25, 2015

    Former Star editor remembered for legendary caper in Canadian journalism

    The Star's Mary Warren writes:
    "One day in 1977, Alastair Dow and fellow Toronto Star editors Bruce Garvey and Jim Rennie decided over a booze-soaked lunch to fly to across the Atlantic, just because.
    "In a story that’s become legendary in Canadian journalism, the details of which differ depending on who tells it, the three newspaper men eventually got sent home and landed in a whack of trouble with their bosses.
    “'They just needed to go to England right away,' recalled Dow’s son, Rob, with a laugh.
    “'There wasn’t a plan. They went over and someone at the Star had to collect them and send them back. They sent a hat around the airplane and begged for money.' It was a caper from another time and the stuff of old-time newspaper movies.
    "Dow, the sole living member of the trio and a former Toronto Star business writer and political editor, died this week at age 77 after a long illness."
    The whole story

    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    La Presse laying off 158 as weekday printed edition ends

    Montreal La Presse is laying off 158 employees as it prepares to eliminate its weekday printed newspaper in January, The Canadian Press reports.
    The French-language newspaper says it is cutting 102 permanent and 56 temporary positions.
    They include 43 newsroom positions.
    However, La Presse says it will still have the largest newsroom in Quebec with 283 employees compared with 239 in 2011, before it began hiring to create a digital offering called La Presse Plus.
    The job cuts include unionized, non-unionized and management positions. La Presse says the departure of unionized positions will be determined in accordance with collective agreements, including seniority.
    After the job cuts, the paper will have 633 permanent positions.
    The print edition of the 131-year-old paper will only be available on Saturdays after Jan. 1.

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015

    Good rundown on the remaining debates by L. Ian MacDonald

    "The first one, on Radio-Canada in Thursday prime-time, will be picked up via ‘simultrans’ by CBC News Network and CTV News Channel, and streamed on
    "In effect, it’s a consortium debate with Radio-Canada playing the lead role. So it will be professionally produced and run by journalists who understand television — a marked contrast to last week’s Globe and Mail debate on the economy, an unmitigated disaster in terms of both production values and moderating.
    "The Rad-Can debate will be followed next Monday by the Munk Debate on foreign policy. It’ll play out before a live audience in a sold-out, 3,000-seat Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, with Rudyard Griffiths in his usual role as moderator. Griffiths is a polished television performer, and Peter Munk’s organization knows how to run a major-league event."
    The whole story

    Mohamed Fahmy pardoned by Egyptian president, released from prison

    Mohamed Fahmy, who last month lost his second trial on terrorism-related charges, has been released from prison after he was granted a pardon by Egyptian President Adbel Fattah el-Sisi.
    The Associated Press reported that Fahmy and fellow journalist Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian national, were dropped off by police in a Cairo suburb.

    CBC might sell all its buildings including Toronto HQs

    There are conflicting reports today that the CBC plans to sell all its buildings across Canada including its downtown Toronto broadcast headquarters at Wellington and John, Blog T.O. reports. The Canadian Media Guild is reporting that an announcement came at a town hall meeting and was in response to the decline in funding the CBC is receiving from taxpayers.
    According to the Toronto Star, however, the manager of media relations at CBC, Alexandra Fortier, denied the claim, saying the broadcaster will be following the plan announced in February to sell up to 50 percent of its property.
    The news comes in the midst of a Federal election campaign where both the Liberal and NDP parties have promised to restore some of the funding the CBC lost under the Harper government

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    Election debates too important to be left to amateurs: Robin Sears

    Excellent analysis of the botched leaders' debates.
    "David Walmsley learned a hard public lesson on Thursday night in Calgary: successfully moderating a live political debate is a fine art that requires a rare skill set hard to acquire. As a result, there was a surprising degree of pundit unanimity about the winners and losers of the economic debate. The Globe and the audience who stayed with the amateur production lost. The broadcast consortium won. . . .
    "Live television production is a complex challenge requiring dozens of professionals and big budgets. Sadly, the Calgary event offered some clear evidence of that, looking more like a community cable channel production."
    The full column

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    Federal leaders debates, campaign tours outliving their usefulness: Delacourt

    The Star's Susan Delacourt writes:
    "We are seeing the looming extinction of two political species in this federal election — leaders tours and leaders debates.
    "Both were created for another time, and neither is serving a particularly useful role in helping make citizens make an informed choice a month from now at the ballot box.
    "Start with Thursday night’s debate, which was hosted by the Globe and Mail in Calgary and moderated by the paper’s editor-in-chief, David Walmsley.
    "In sheer visual terms, the event cast politics as a private insiders club. Leaders stood behind podiums against a Gothic, violet-hued photo backdrop of the Parliament buildings (which raises the question about why one would need to go all the way to Calgary to create a big purple Ottawa on a stage). "The three leaders shouted over each other’s remarks and punctuated their talking points with personal shots at their opponents.
    "The best that can be said about this exercise is that it was good training for the empty theatre of question period, which is also well past its best-before date in format and democratic utility."
     The full column
    (We are not sure she is right. Let TV people stage the debates with TV journalists as moderators. The Globe and Mail debate was amateurish. Steve Paikin of TVO would have handled it much better.)

    Friday, September 18, 2015

    Former Olympic boss John Furlong wins defamation case

    Former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong did not defame a freelance journalist who reported on allegations he abused First Nations students, a judge ruled Friday,
    CP reports that British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge has released her written decision in a defamation lawsuit filed by freelance journalist Laura Robinson.
    Wedge said she found no evidence that Furlong was motivated by malice and accepted his defence of qualified privilege, meaning he had the right to defend his reputation. She said the issue in the legal action was whether Furlong was entitled to respond in the way he did to Robinson’s published stories.
    The woman’s articles could not be fairly characterized as simply reporting on another persons’ allegations against Furlong, her ruling stated.
    “Rather, the publications constituted an attack by Ms. Robinson on Mr. Furlong’s character, conduct and credibility.”
    Furlong issued a statement that said he was pleased with the ruling and thanked his family, friends and supporters for standing by him.
    The whole CP story

    Wednesday, September 16, 2015

    La Presse to end weekday printed paper in new year

    Montreal La Presse, owned by Power Corp., announced Wednesday that the print edition of the 131-year-old French-language paper will only be available on Saturdays after Jan. 1, the Canadian Press reports.
    Publisher Guy Crevier says the paper will become the world’s first major daily to go completely digital on weekdays as it responds to a permanent shift in advertising spending.
    The North American newspaper sector has lost 63 per cent of its revenues — or $29 billion — over the past decade, Crevier said in an interview.
    “There is nobody who can survive in an environment like that,” he said.
    His newspaper’s digital edition — called La Presse Plus — is more successful than the print edition just 30 months after it was introduced.
    Full story

    CTV 1, CBC 0, in the John Doyle scoring of TV election coverage

    The Globe and Mail's John Doyle writes:
    "And there’s the pivotal point. CBC’s coverage is, too often, just terrible TV. CTV News grasps that it’s in the TV racket and the medium itself must be served. It’s perfectly possible to do serious campaign coverage while making compelling TV. That’s shouldn’t be news to CBC."
    The whole column
    (Let's see what he says about the Globe hosted debate scheduled for Thursday! -- ED)

    Elizabeth May to tweet her way into Globe and Mail debate

    The Green Party leader plans to muscle her way into the conversation, at least online, with the help of Twitter.
    The party is teaming up with the social media company to swiftly film and Tweet May's video responses to statements by the three invited leaders.
    The Globe and Mail asked  Harper, Tom Mulcair and  Justin Trudeau to discuss economic issues Thursday evening at Calgary's Stampede Park.
    May and her team will be hunkered down in a Victoria church with Twitter's Steve Ladurantaye, creating a steady stream of video remarks, retorts and reality checks.
    People watching the debate on the Canadian Parliamentary Affairs Channel or at won't see or hear May.
    But the idea is to engage Canadians following the debate on Twitter, including many who will have their TV remote in one hand and their smartphone or tablet in the other.
    Full story

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    Toronto Star pins hopes of younger audience on new tablet app

    The Globe and Mail's media reporter James Bradshaw reports:
    "The Star Touch application, launching Tuesday, is an ambitious but expensive bet on the device Apple Inc. has made a staple in many households since the first iPad in 2010, but whose popularity shows signs of stalling. And it marks a major change of course in the way the Star makes its news, and delivers it.
    "Since it was first announced last November, the Star has upended newsroom routines to make the tablet edition’s needs paramount and shift to a more TV-news-style production cycle, without abandoning its print, online or mobile offerings. The tablet has changed the way the Star crafts its news, promising richer visuals and more interactivity, but whether it can reshape and expand readership remains an open question."
    The whole story

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