Thursday, July 30, 2015

Struggling Torstar wagers $200-million on a niche digital company

The Globe's James Bradshaw writes:
"Torstar Corp. is betting some of the money it reaped from bodice rippers on the growth potential of other obsessions, such as muscle cars and golden retrievers.
"The newspaper publisher announced on Wednesday it is spending $200-million for a 56-per-cent stake in VerticalScope Inc., a Toronto-based digital media company that operates hobbyist and niche-interest websites on subjects ranging from cars and sports to pets and collectibles."

Mark Starowicz announces retirement from CBC

Veteran CBC producer Mark Starowicz has announced his retirement from the corporation. He turns 69 in September and plans to work as an independent producer. He is credited with starting As It Happens and The Journal as well as the series Canada:A People's History.
Globe and Mail story by Simon Houpt

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Star on Global News rebranding

The Star's Tony Wong writes:
"Global TV anchors Farah Nasser and Alan Carter are in the middle of the North York newsroom of the Canadian broadcaster, posing for a photographer.
“'I think I have more pictures of you and me together than my entire family,' jokes Nasser to Carter.
"Whether it’s on billboards or television, you’ll be seeing a lot more of Nasser and Carter in the future. The pair were front and centre after launching a rebranded suppertime hour Global Evening News Toronto at 5:30 and 6 this week, which they are co-anchoring for the first time.
"But there is one giant elephant absent from the room. That’s the ghost of former senior news anchor Leslie Roberts. He resigned in January after a Star investigation into conflict of interest allegations involving a public relations company that he co-owned.
"The resignation led to some soul searching at the broadcaster, as well as a major shakeup of their news team lineup. The most visible result is the hiring of Nasser from CP24 and promoting Queen’s Park Bureau chief Carter to the anchor desk."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Journalists wonder if the Financial Times is safe in Nikkei's hands

Roy Grenslade of the Guardian writes:
"Why has Nikkei bought the Financial Times? What’s the logic of the Japanese media company’s very expensive acquisition? Business commentators, while acknowledging the financial sense in Pearson’s sell-off, appear concerned about the FT’s editorial independence in future.
"As far as the FT’s own Tokyo-based writers, Kana Inagaki and Leo Lewis, are concerned, it’s all about international expansion, “an attempt to turn a heavily domestic name into a global brand and survive the shift to digital journalism.”
"Noting that the deal came just four months after Nikkei appointed a new chief executive at the business newspaper, Naotoshi Okada, they argue that 'the company has struggled to build its name overseas, grappling with the same burden faced by other Japanese companies: a shrinking and ageing home market.'”
The whole story

Anti-terror law challenge creates journalistic dilemma: Star's Public Editor

A sort of "inside journalism" story by the Star's public editor, Kathy English:
"When Canadian Journalists for Free Expression joined with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association this week in launching a court challenge against Canada’s anti-terrorism act — the recently passed Bill C-51 — the Star and its national security reporter faced a dilemma.
"Michelle Shephard, a multiple National Newspaper Award-winning reporter who has covered national security and terrorism issues for the Star since 9/11, has been a member of the board of CJFE, the advocacy organization that “boldly champions” free expression issues in Canada and abroad. Given that the anti-terrorism legislation is a contentious political issue and will likely remain so through the fall federal election, that affiliation raised questions about whether the Star has some responsibility to disclose Shephard’s CJFE role to readers in its reporting on the constitutional challenge the organization launched with CCLA.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A new and better CBC must start from within: John Doyle

The Globe and Mail's John Doyle writes:
"Neither the Senate standing committee report on the future of the CBC, nor Senator Art Eggleton’s minority report in response, is much use in figuring out where the CBC goes in the immediate future.
"Blunt opinions on the CBC come as part and parcel of Canadian citizenship. So a passel of grumpy senators hardly has a monopoly on ideas about the CBC’s future. The Senate report, often livid with resentment and obsessed with salaries and money, is far from a series of reliable signposts about the public broadcaster’s best possible future. . . "

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Senate Committee Studying CBC Nearly Crossed Line: Ombudsman

 A Senate committee studying the future of CBC/Radio-Canada came dangerously close to “political interference,” French-language service ombudsman Pierre Tourangeau said Monday.
In an interview with The Huffington Post Canada, Tourangeau said non-elected senators had no business calling him or his CBC counterpart, Esther Enkin, to testify. The “partisan” senators, he said, also had no business calling journalists in charge of news operations, such as Jennifer McGuire and Michel Cormier, to appear before them.
The full Huffington Post story

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Star's Catherine Porter writes "apology" column about the Ezra Levant incident

"Many raise questions about my part in things that day. Why did I talk to Levant at all? Why did I do so with the camera rolling? "Good questions. My bad decisions — ones that have kept me awake many nights.
"People have suggested it might be unwise to mix my family and professional roles. This has given me great pause. I will think more about it.
"People have suggested there is a conflict between being a journalist and engaging in social activism. "Well, that’s what I do. I am a columnist who is also a social justice activist. I don’t always get involved in the causes I write about, but when I do, I am transparent about it — to my subjects and my readers. My bosses at the Star not only condone this, they encourage it.
"I should say also that Levant was quite right about the fact I misquoted my daughter in the column."
The full column

Journalism group, civil liberties ass'n to launch challenge to anti-terrorism bill

In a joint statement, both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression say sections of Bill C-51 violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms "in a manner that is not justified in a free and democratic society."
Bill C-51 gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to thwart suspected terrorist plots -- not just gather information about them. (CP)
The full CP story

Monday, July 20, 2015

CBC should disclose employees’ salaries and find new ways to pay for productions: Senate report

A Senate committee is calling on Canada’s public broadcaster to publicly disclose how much employees make and ensure non-executives aren’t getting paid more than their peers in private broadcasting.
The Senate’s communications committee is also calling on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to find new ways to fund its operations to limit the amount of funding it receives from the federal government.
The recommendations stem from what was a politically-charged study of the CBC, where senators pressed the broadcaster for salaries of its top on-air talent, specifically chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge.
The full CP story

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan to launch libel suit against Globe and Mail

The Star's Robert Benzie reports:
Michael Chan says he will sue the Globe and Mail for suggesting his ties to China make him a threat to national security.
Ontario’s minister of citizenship, immigration and international trade said Friday he is “proceeding with a libel suit in connection with the recent front-page articles about me that attracted so much attention.”
In the notice of libel, Chan’s lawyers called the articles “false, malicious and defamatory.” While Globe officials did not respond to a request for comment, editor-in-chief David Walmsley said in the paper last month that “We stand by the stories.”
The full story

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Star's Catherine Porter makes Ezra Levant look good!

Excerpt from the Star's public editor's column:
"But, what is not in question here is that Porter’s column fell short of the Star’s journalistic standards regarding accuracy and fairness. It misled readers in omitting key facts captured on the video, portraying Levant as having been mean to her daughter when the video evidence makes clear that was just not so. This controversy also raises significant questions about Star standards regarding the need for journalists to clearly identify themselves to those they write about and newsroom policies regarding columnists, advocacy and journalists involving their children in their work."

Full story

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Diane Francis accused of 'hate speech' over Greece comments

From the CBC web page:
"Many Greeks from across the globe are outraged over recent tweets by National Post editor-at-large and columnist, Diane Francis.
They have taken to social media, labelling her tweets about Greece as "hate speech," "racist," "condescending," "bigotry," and "unacceptable" coming from a journalist at a national newspaper. "Some are also demanding a public retraction.
Francis tweeted her comments leading up to and just after Greece's July 5th referendum, in which citizens of the debt-laden country voted to reject austerity conditions of a rescue package from its European creditors."

Monday, July 13, 2015

New voices, new approaches expected in 2015 campaign coverage-excellent Hill Times story


"New media outlets on the Canadian political beat and resource-deprived traditional ones taking new approaches could make for election coverage this fall that’s less centered on the main trail and offers more variety for an increasingly splintered audience. . . .

"New social media applications like Periscope, which allows users to live-stream videos from smartphones, and Snapchat, which launched a live stories section last year, are opening up new platforms for media to deliver content and come with their own pre-existing user bases.
"At the same time, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly helping to shape that content by providing a venue for reporters and readers across the country to connect and engage.
"Political parties in general have also increasingly clamped down on media access in recent years, with interactions more scripted than ever before and questions limited—making media organizations question the value of forking over tens of thousands of dollars to send reporters on leaders’ tours. . ."
The full Hill Times story

Newsweek to shutter Europe edition just 18 months after it began.

Alex Spence of Politico reports:
"Newsweek has pulled the plug on an ambitious attempt to build a European weekly magazine based on in-depth, original narrative journalism.
IBT Media, Newsweek’s owners, are abandoning a dedicated European edition in a cost-cutting move less than a year-and-a-half after it began publishing, according to three people familiar with the matter.
"Newsweek’s European edition, based in London, was one of the biggest magazine launches outside the U.S. in recent years.
"With sumptuous paper stock, slick design and articles that ran as long as 10,000 words, it was a bold bet that there was a market in print for long-form reporting on current affairs — and that there was still life in a once-venerable media brand.
"Yet while payments to well-known writers sucked up cash, the magazine failed to bring in nearly enough advertising to make it commercially viable, insiders said.
Newsweek will still be distributed in Europe but the product available on newsstands here will be mainly produced in America, with fewer original articles about the region, the sources said."

Globe has noticed that staffers are leaving! "Retention remains big issue"

Memo to staff from the Globe's editor David Walmsley on "newsroom culture":
"In recent days there has been understandable focus on the people leaving The Globe and Mail. Some have left the industry entirely, others to new opportunities. Retention remains a big issue for us. We are committed to providing a work environment where all staff are encouraged to do their best work, where they feel their work is acknowledged on its merits, and where their ideas are respected. Our talent is our most precious commodity.
"We know from those we have recruited in recent months that The Globe remains a destination employer but we also recognise the need to double down to make The Globe a place where people want to stay in the long-term, particularly women. The investment of time and effort by the high-performing, high calibre staff in editorial takes a significant bump when somebody leaves. We want to encourage a better early warning system, a chance to reduce the obstacles and the exhaustion felt by so many."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Rogers puts Shopping Channel up for sale, attracting U.S. buyers, sources say

The Globe and Mail reports that Rogers Communications has put its The Shopping Channel up for sale and received interest from foreign buyers for the television asset that may fetch over $300 million, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The move fits into a refreshed strategy at Rogers, which hired a chief executive with a reputation as a turnaround artist in late 2013, as it tries to shake up its corporate culture and stem declines in its wireless and cable divisions, the company’s biggest sources of revenue.

Rogers, which started the process about six weeks ago, has received the first round of bids and is currently lining up second round bids, the sources said. U.S. and European buyers have shown interest.

Rogers hires Rick Brace as new president of media business

Rick Brace
Rogers Communications Inc. has hired Rick Brace, a veteran broadcasting executive with a deep sports pedigree, as the new president of its media business, seeking to make the most of its multibillion-dollar bet on NHL hockey rights and ownership stakes in baseball’s Blue Jays and hockey’s Maple Leafs, The Globe and Mail's James Bradshaw reports.
Starting Aug. 10,  Brace will head up Rogers’ entire media arm, a $1.8-billion business that includes the City and Omni television networks, a large stable of radio stations and more than 50 publishing titles. But it is his long history with TSN and CBC Sports – key competitors to Rogers-owned Sportsnet – that stands out.
He will succeed Keith Pelley, who announced in April that he will be leaving to take over as commissioner and CEO of the European Tour, a professional golf circuit.
“Rick is a seasoned business leader with strong operational experience and a passion for the media industry that’s second to none,” Rogers CEO Guy Laurence said in a statement. “He’s highly skilled at developing strong teams who perform, so he was the natural choice to tackle the challenges facing the media industry.”
Most recently,  Brace was head of specialty channels and CTV production for Bell Media. He cut his teeth as a producer and director with CBC Sports before moving to TSN in 1986, where he oversaw coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary and rose through the ranks, becoming president of the network in 1998. (Bell Media’s parent company, BCE Inc., owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Postmedia reports major drop in revenues, Conrad Black scolds leaders

The Globe's James Bradshaw reports:
After reporting yet another quarter of steep losses, Postmedia Network Canada Corp.’s leaders were publicly scolded Thursday by one of the company’s high-profile investors – Conrad Black.
The former proprietor of some of Postmedia’s newspapers, who is now a shareholder and writes a column for the flagship National Post, joined the usually tame conference call for analysts to urge for a re-investment in journalistic quality – while also lamenting the lack of trading in the company’s stock.
On Thursday morning, Postmedia reported its first public numbers since it acquired 175 Sun Media newspapers, specialty publications and digital assets from Quebecor Inc. for $316-million in April. Excluding the new assets, the company reported a 13.5-per-cent drop in revenues, including another year-over-year plunge in print advertising revenues.

Mr. Black argued that Postmedia’s only option is to spend its way out of decline by investing in stronger content.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Election debate dates set by broadcasters without Conservatives

Canada's largest broadcasters have announced the dates for this fall's federal election debates despite an ongoing boycott by the Conservative Party.
The group of networks known as the broadcast consortium, including CBC, CTV, Global, Radio-Canada and Tele-Quebec, has set the English-language debate for Thursday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. ET, and the French-language debate for Wednesday, Oct. 7, from 8 to 10 p.m. ET.
Negative reactions on social media were swift, with people pointing out the English-language debate is not happening in prime time in Ontario and Quebec, and is during the afternoon — and normal business hours — in Alberta and British Columbia.
The French-language debate is set for the same time as the NHL's Montreal Canadiens season-opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which could be a factor in how many people watch that debate in real time.
The New Democrats, the Liberals and the Green Party have confirmed their participation in the debates run by the   consortium. The Conservatives say they will participate in other debates, but not the consortium debates.

Star publisher rejects reporter’s accusation

The Star's Jacques Gallant writes:
"On Wednesday, Star publisher John Cruickshank rejected Watson’s allegation in a staff memo.
“'(Watson) speculates that the Prime Minister’s Office and a former editor of The Globe and Mail’s editorial page have convinced the Star to constrain this reporting,' Cruickshank wrote. 'Let me publicly deny this extremely odd idea. There is no truth whatever to the suggestion.'
"Cruickshank went on to emphasize that the Star has never suppressed stories of significant public interest, and will never do so. As examples, he listed recent high-profile Star investigations into former Toronto mayor (open Rob Ford's policard)Rob Ford (open Rob Ford's policard) and ex-CBC host Jian Ghomeshi.
"Cruickshank also said this is 'fundamentally' a personnel matter, and as such, the company will keep details about the “employment relationship” confidential.
“'We regret that Paul has chosen to resign suddenly and to provide inaccurate information about the Star’s role in his decision,' Cruickshank said. 'Paul made many valuable contributions to the Star during his years with the newspaper and we wish him well.'”

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pulitzer-winning journalist Paul Watson quits Toronto Star over ‘refusal to publish’ story on Franklin expedition

Paul Watson, who won a Pulitzer prize in 1994, has quit the Toronto Star over that paper’s “refusal to publish a story of significant public interest” — an allegation the paper denies.
“There’s no truth to that suggestion,” a spokesperson told the National Post.
Watson announced his resignation on his blog Tuesday.
Link to the story in the National Post

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

As the Tories lag out of the lead, will they reconsider their heavy handed media management strategy? (CP story)

CP's Jennifer Ditchburn reports:
"On Monday in Calgary, print reporters were barred — as usual — from watching a photo opportunity unfold, this time between Harper and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. Questions are always strictly prohibited by Harper’s team at such events.
"But will the thinking shift in an election that is perceived to be much closer, a pre-campaign that is stretching out for months?
"Clinton’s campaign, which appeared to have adopted a similar strategy of limited media access, said this week it would ease up. Unfavourable comparisons have been made between her and more accessible rivals, including Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Jeb Bush."
The full story

Monday, July 6, 2015

Free-lancing on the web and the tax man (interesting story)

Excerpt from the Globe and Mail:
"The long-time voice of Toronto Maple Leafs reporting for the FAN 590 (Howard Berger) saw the writing on the wall before the radio station he called home for 23 years cut him loose on June 1, 2011. He planned to reinvent himself as an independent hockey blogger. But a false start on the money-making side of his venture left him defending his tax-loss claims in federal court.
"Mr. Berger, 56, covered the Leafs as a radio reporter and self-declared fan for 17 years. Yet his effort to craft a small business from his expertise and reputation serves as a cautionary tale about the challenges of turning content and clicks into a paycheque, even as digital media expands rapidly. He claimed business losses of $26,540 in 2011 and $37,866 in 2012, according to court documents; his gross income from the blog in that span was $7,500.
"On June 19, Mr. Berger won his tax appeal – the amounts he claimed were not at issue, but rather whether his blog, titled Berger Bytes, should be considered a business or a personal hobby."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

CBC Report: Growing Number Of Canadians Cutting Traditional Television

A growing number of Canadians are ditching their traditional television subscriptions, according to a new CBC research report, the  Canadian Press reports.
The May 2015 report said more than half of Canadians currently without cable television have "cut the cord," meaning they had a television subscription and cancelled it.
"With the prevalence of TV content on the Internet and Netflix, Canadians are seeing less need to have a TV subscription," the report said.
Sixteen per cent of Canadians don't pay for a traditional TV service, up from 12 per cent three years ago, the report said.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

BBC aims to become 'leaner and simpler' with new round of job cuts

Hundreds of jobs are expected to be axed by the BBC as it tries to become “leaner and simpler” at a time when it is facing a £150m-a-year shortfall in funding and growing political pressure from the Conservative government, the Guardian reports.
Tony Hall, the director general, is expected to warn on Thursday that a drop in the number of people paying the licence fee has hit BBC funding harder than previously expected and that the broadcaster must take radical action.
A BBC source said the new round of cuts would be “painful” and involve the reduction of senior and middle managers.

CBC asks YouTube, Facebook to remove Conservative ad

The CBC has asked YouTube and Facebook to remove the Conservative Party’s latest attack ad against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, arguing the ad “not only uses CBC's news footage but also re-edits” it.
“Our guiding principle is simple and clear,” CBC news editor Jennifer McGuire wrote in a blog post Friday. “No one — no individual candidate or political party, and no government, corporation or NGO — may re-use our creative and copyrighted property without our permission. This includes our brands, our talent and our content.”
The 45-second video was still available on the Conservative Party’s YouTube channel and its Facebook page as of Monday afternoon.

Blog Archive