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

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