Monday, June 29, 2020

Larry Stout has died

 LAWRENCE (Larry) STOUT September 11, 1939 - June 27, 2020 After a courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease, Larry Stout has signed off and taken what he always referred to as the "eternal high jump". Larry had a wonderful sense of humour; he was a terrific pal to his friends and one of Canada's best broadcast journalists. 


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Facebook strikes agreement with Canadian Press to create eight reporting jobs

Facebook has struck an agreement with The Canadian Press that will create eight new reporting jobs.
The digital giant says it will provide $1 million through a one-year fellowship initiative to allow the news agency to hire, train, equip and provide salary and benefits for reporters to be added to its newsrooms from Halifax to Vancouver.
The jobs are to be posted immediately and reporters are expected to be in place by the fall.
"The stories that will be created by these journalists will be, of course, administered and managed entirely by CP editors for the benefit of our customers and so this will add a significant new volume of stories from different regions across the country," said CP president Malcolm Kirk.
"So I think it's a real win for journalism, it's a real win for young journalists starting out in their careers and a huge value for our customers to be able to get new content at no additional charge."
CP agreed to participate in the project only after ensuring it will promote the development and growth of Canadian journalism without influence from 
Facebook and that there will be no infringement on editorial independence, Kirk said. 
The partnership comes as Canadian publishers banded together last month to call on the federal government to force large international digital companies including Facebook and Google to share their advertising revenue with media companies, who have seen a heightened pace of advertising sales declines since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The publishers want Canada to follow Australia and France in trying to make digital companies pay news media for use of their copyrighted content _ although Google and Facebook both argue they actually benefit news companies by driving online traffic to their websites.
Facebook has invested nearly $9 million in Canadian journalism through various programs over the past three years and offers similar programs in other countries, said Kevin Chan, head of public policy for Canada for Facebook Inc.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

New York Times editorial page editor resigns after uproar over Cotton op-ed

The New York Times on Sunday announced the resignation of its editorial page editor James Bennet, who held the position since May 2016, and the reassignment of deputy editorial page editor James Dao to the newsroom.
The announcement comes just days after the newspaper published a controversial op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R.-Ark.) titled “Send in the Troops,” which called for military intervention in U.S. cities racked by protests over police violence.
Soon, dozens of New York Times staffers publicly denounced their newspaper’s decision to run it, calling it dangerous and containing assertions debunked as misinformation by the Times’s own reporting. (Washington Post)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Torstar to be sold, taken private in $52-million deal

The company that publishes the Toronto Star has agreed to be sold to a company run by entrepreneurs Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett in a deal worth roughly $52 million.
Torstar, a print and digital publishing company that runs newspapers and websites across the country, including the Toronto Star and, announced the deal with NordStar Capital Tuesday evening.
Tuesday, Torstar’s B shares fell 16 per cent, closing at 40 cents per share, giving up some of their gains from the day before, when they rose from as low as 33 cents to 48 cents per share, with most of the gains coming in the last hour of trading on the TSX. NordStar’s offer is worth 63 cents per share, for all Class A voting shares and Class B non-voting shares.
“We believe in news. With this transaction we can ensure a future for world-class journalists and world-class journalism befitting the paper’s storied history,” said Bitove. “We are committed to investing in the news business, along with preserving the Atkinson Principles, as fairness and accuracy will continue to guide the papers’ prevailing value system.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Canadian Press may not qualify for government media grants

Excerpts from a memo sent to Canadian Press staff on April 3, 2020 from president Malcolm Kirk:
"...There is no way to ignore the realities confronting society today and confronting every business in the world. Obviously, we are not immune to these forces. 
"The elimination of virtually every sporting event means there are no results to report, and that means almost no sports agate for our PMNA desks to handle. We have seen a sharp revenue drop in our commercial assignments business. Custom content work – material that is invariably part of a client’s marketing strategy – has also slowed down.
"Amid the backdrop of a sizable number of layoffs, wage rollbacks and the cessation of print editions in the past two weeks, it also won’t surprise you to learn that many wire clients are looking for payment holidays and suspension of billings. Advertising revenues, already in a decline before the crisis, have dropped dramatically for many of our customers, which means cash flow is tightening for everyone. 
"You may have heard the federal government has announced business assistance initiatives in recent days. We are assessing our eligibility for these measures. Candidly, we are not optimistic that these programs will be very helpful to CP in the immediate term simply because of the eligibility requirements.
"We are pressing Ottawa and the Quebec governments on these and other possible initiatives that could support our sector and CP specifically."
The full text

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

160-year-old Vatican newspaper succumbs to coronavirus

 The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, which Pope Francis has jokingly called “the party newspaper”, suspended printing for only the third time in nearly 160 years on Wednesday due to the coronavirus.
 The paper, which was founded in 1861, will continue publishing online and most of its staff of about 60, including 20 journalists, will work from home, editor Andrea Monda said.
“A newspaper and the paper on which it is printed are inextricably intertwined so it sad that this is happening but the reality is that we are all facing a crisis,” Monda told Reuters.
Wednesday evening’s edition will be the last for the time being. The newspaper’ print run of about 5,000 is disproportionate to its wider influence in reflecting Vatican opinion on international affairs and Church matters. It is followed by many ambassadors. (Reuters)

Friday, March 20, 2020

CBC’s closure of local newscasts amid the coronavirus crisis is a shame

Robert Hurst, one time president of CTV News, writes in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail:
"Shame on the CBC for closing its local newscasts amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"This is a moment when news gathering and reporting is a critical public service. This is a moment when citizens need and crave information.
The CBC says it is “pooling our resources” into one core national news offering. What poppycock! Those resources are already pooled into the CBC News operation.
"What the CBC is actually doing is eliminating more than 75 hours a week of original local news reporting at a time of crisis.

"PEI Premier Dennis King is justifiably angry. The CBC is the only local newscast in Charlottetown and King says it is a “critical partner.”

"Across the country, thousands of local stories will now go unreported. For example, the failings of Ontario’s Telehealth emergency service will get only a passing mention on CBC News Network while that important story leads local newscasts. The CBC’s national audience will not have much interest any more in the Lynn Valley Care Centre, where 4 people have died from the coronavirus. But people in North Vancouver will want more, much more. Thankfully CTV and Global are active and vibrant in British Columbia."
More (subscription needed)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

China expels American journalists

China announced on Tuesday that it would expel American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. It also demanded that those outlets, as well as the Voice of America and Time magazine, provide the Chinese government with detailed information about their operations.
The announcement comes weeks after President Trump limited the number of Chinese citizens who could work in the United States for five state-controlled Chinese news organizations.
The announcement, made by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came weeks after the Trump administration limited the number of Chinese citizens who could work in the United States for five state-controlled Chinese news organizations to 100.  LINK

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Australian Associated Press: News agency to close after 85 years

The national news agency Australian Associated Press said Tuesday it will close in late June, its 85 years in business vanquished by a decline in subscribers and free distribution of news content on digital platforms.
“The saddest day: AAP closes after 85 years of excellence in journalism. The AAP family will be sorely missed,” AAP Editor-in-Chief Tony Gillies said in a tweet.
Sydney-based AAP was started in 1935 by newspaper publisher Keith Murdoch, father of News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch. It is owned by Australian news organizations News Corp. Australia, Nine Entertainment Co., Seven West Media and Australian Community Media.
The agency is renowned for its fair and impartial reporting and its extraordinary reach across rural and urban Australia. The surprise decision by its owners to close the agency comes amid a brutal consolidation in the industry and raised an outcry both from its staff and from many Australians who view it as a pillar of a free and fair press.
“When you have such an important institution such as AAP coming to an end, ... that is a matter of real concern,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament. (AP)

Monday, March 2, 2020

Subway must pay CBC $500,000 for failed defamation lawsuit over chicken

Sandwich chain Subway has been ordered to pay the CBC $500,000 in legal costs following its failed bid to sue the public broadcaster for defamation.
In his decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Ed Morgan attributed much of the length and complexity of the legal battle to the approach taken by the fast-food chain.
Subway had sued the CBC for defamation over a Marketplace report in February 2017 that focused on the amount of chicken in its chicken sandwiches. The world's largest fast-food operator sought $210 million in damages.
"Its materials were overwhelmingly aimed at the issue of truth in the news magazine item that was the subject of the suit — an issue which goes to the heart of the merits of Subway's defamation claim, but is only relevant in a minor way to the SLAPP criteria," Morgan said. "The motion turned into a massive undertaking to which CBC, as moving party, was compelled to reply."
Both Subway's approach and the CBC's response required a "Herculean lawyering effort" resulting in a "monument to high-end legal work" in complex litigation, Morgan said. However, the effect was one of extending and complicating what was intended to be a relatively quick procedure, the judge said.
The result, Morgan said, was that CBC racked up a total of $800,000 in legal costs that reflect the "large-scale undertaking" the anti-SLAPP motion became.

Friday, February 28, 2020

With the departure of Jennifer McGuire, CBC announces plan to restructure

The following are excerpts from a memo sent to CBC staff on Feb. 27 from Barbara Williams, executive vice president of English Services, published by J-Source.

 "What we are introducing today is a shift from a siloed traditional media operation to a truly audience-centric, content company. . . .
"I have spent a significant part of the past year travelling to locations across the country. I’ve seen first hand the vital role Local Services plays in communities. And the incredible power of our journalism on radio in all communities. I also came to realize that we are doing journalism in three different spaces, with three groups and three structures and that they are not always as connected as they could be. We can work better together by bringing our journalism under one division. One CBC."
The full memo as published by J-Source

(I guess we will have to wait for the Globe and Mail's John Doyle to find out what it all means.)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Head of CBC News Jennifer McGuire leaving CBC

CBC's editor-in-chief of news, Jennifer McGuire, is stepping down after more than a decade in the role and leaving CBC at the end of this week, CBC announced Thursday on its web page.
As general manager and editor-in-chief of CBC News since May 2009, McGuire has been responsible for English language news content and programming across the public broadcaster's different platforms: radio, television, digital and social.
She was responsible for the multi-anchor revamp of The National that has recently been abandoned.
The CBC announcement says that the broadcaster " underwent major redevelopment initiatives during her tenure, including the reinvention of CBC Radio 2, the integration of the broadcaster's television, radio and digital news operations, the rebranding of CBC Newsworld into CBC News Network and the revamp of flagship TV newscast The National."

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Anne Kingston has died at 62

Anne Kingston, book author, magazine writer and former columnist at the National Post, has died at age 62.
Born and raised in Toronto, she was diagnosed in December with an aggressive cancer. She died on Wednesday in a Toronto hospital. Kingston had started teaching a course at the University of Toronto on the #MeToo movement and the media in September and was continuing her long tenure as a senior writer at Maclean’s magazine.
National Post obit

Thursday, February 13, 2020

McClatchy newspaper chain files for bankruptcy

McClatchy, the second-largest newspaper group in the United States, is filing for bankruptcy. The publisher — which owns 30 newspapers around the country, including The Miami Herald and The Kansas City Star — is not going out of business, however.
McClatchy’s Chapter 11 plan, if approved, will cede control of the company to Chatham Asset Management, making it the latest newspaper chain to be taken over by a hedge fund or a private equity firm as local newspapers have struggled to survive due in part to dwindling ad revenue.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Christie Blatchford dead at 68

Christie Blatchford has died at age 68. She was undergoing treatment for lung cancer.
Canadian Press obit

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

'Some people were confused' about media-licensing comment, says Guilbeault

The minister responsible for overhauling Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications sectors tried to reassure Canadians Monday that the federal government is not preparing to license news outlets.
“Let me be clear. Our government has no intention to impose licensing requirements on news organizations nor will we try to regulate news content,” Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault told reporters at a news conference he called Monday morning. In an interview aired over the weekend, Guilbeault had said the government would ask media outlets to be licensed.
“We are committed to a free and independent press, which is essential to our democracy,” the minister said Monday.
“Our focus will be and always has been to ensure that Canadians have access to a diversity of high-quality and credible news sources.”
His weekend remarks sparked a social-media firestorm, fanned by the Opposition Conservatives, over the prospect of the government using licensing requirements to censor news.
Full CP story

Friday, January 31, 2020

Linda Diebel dead at 71

Linda Diebel was a tenacious reporter and gifted story-teller who broke new ground as the Toronto Star’s first Latin American Bureau chief in 1995.
Diebel died this week of natural causes several months after a serious fall down the stairs in her Toronto home. She was 71.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

CBC scrapping four anchor format for The National

The CBC is scrapping the four-anchor format for its flagship newscast and going back to a conventional format. The  Globe and Mail's Simon Houpt reports that Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang will become hosts Monday to Thursday. Ian Hanomansing will host the Friday and Sunday broadcasts.
Rosemary Barton, based in Ottawa, will become the chief political correspondent of CBC News, contributing to “digital, podcasts, radio, and television political specials,” according to a memo sent to CBC staff. She will also continue to moderate The National’s weekly At Issue panel discussion.
Ratings for The National on CBC TV and CBC News Network rose 3.6 per cent year over year, from an average audience of 667,000 in January, 2019, to 691,000 in January, 2020, according to figures provided by the CBC.
The Globe story contains no information on ratings for the CTV National News and Global's National News. Both broadcast in a conventional newcast format.
Globe story (subscription needed)

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