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Commentary

Na, na, na: My way is BETTER!

A website is a website is a website, argues Steve Safran in this column:

The more tools we keep giving journalism, the more journalists keep arguing over the tools. What they don’t see is the toolbox …. News isn’t about our internecine squabbles over how to present it. We’re killing each other over methods. We’re backstabbing over choices of presentation style. We blame the audience for too much dislike of the media — but then we show them we can’t stand each other, too.

Hat tip to Mark Hamilton.
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Morin new CRTC commissioner

Former Radio-Canada journalist Michel Morin was appointed this week as commissioner with the Canadian radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Morin retired from Radio-Canada two years ago, after 34 years as a journalist, including as the chief editor of TV news for Radio-Canada and the French language news network RDI.

Here’s the CBC story.

Here’s the CRTC press release.

Continue Reading Morin new CRTC commissioner

Corporate control of information

A couple of interesting items this week about corporate control of public information:

A major U.S. telco censored two lines in a telecast of the band Pearl Jam. The lines were critical of U.S. president George W. Bush. From the response on Pearl Jam’s web site:

AT&T’s actions strike at the heart of the public’s concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.

And a Washington Post writer, Rob Pegoraro, has a critique of our dependence on Google’s search engine:

The technology used to figure out what pages people want to see also helps companies calculate what products people might want to buy, and therefore what ads to display for them. Do you really want one company controlling that show?

Pegoraro takes a look at other search techniques, it’s a worthwhile read for any journalist.

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Yahoo grilled over role in Chinese jailing

The behaviour of Yahoo and Google in China has long been controversial, because of allegations that the companies comply with Chinese censorship. Now Yahoo is on the hot seat before a U.S. congressional committee.  An excerpt of a story in the Financial Times:

A US congressional committee is investigating whether Yahoo intentionally misled Congress over its role in exposing the identity of a Chinese journalist who was sent to prison for a decade.

The House foreign affairs committee announced the probe last week after new documents showed possible discrepancies in Yahoo’s 2006 testimony at a congressional hearing about its co-operation with Chinese authorities in the case against Shi Tao. The Chinese reporter and editor was arrested after posting material on a website about a government crackdown on media and democracy.

Michael Callahan, Yahoo senior vice-president and general counsel, said last year that the company had “no information” about the nature of an investigation by Chinese authorities when it divulged identifying information about the activist.

But the Dui Hua Foundation, a California-based human rights group, released documents that disputed Mr Callahan’s version of events.

Hat tip to Janet Tate’s Press Notes at the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Info-porn: enough already

From a report on the CBC web site: A survey conducted this July shows nearly nine out of 10 adult Americans believe there is too much coverage of celebrity scandals.

Finally!!!!!

Here’s the Pew report.

Continue Reading Info-porn: enough already

Climate change: misreporting?

A story by Mike De Souza of CanWest concerns a report blaming mainstream U.S. media for “stalled international efforts to reach an agreement to fight climate change.”

An excerpt of the story:

The report, in the latest edition of a magazine published by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, said there are multiple examples of major American media organizations watering down recent warnings from peer-reviewed scientific literature about the consequences of global warming and the human-produced pollution that is causing it.

The watchdog group based its analysis on a comparison of American and British headlines and articles about the release of a series of international reports that assessed the latest peer-reviewed on climate change.

Oddly, the report by FAIR seems to be available only in print, not on the Internet. 
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Media and Chinese Olympics

Weekend protests against Chinese repression of press rights by Reporters Without Borders included a giant flag flown in Paris showing the Olympic rings transformedinto handcuffs; a bicycle rally in New York with the “Beijing 2008” handcuffs graphic; a news conference in Beijing outside the building that houses the Beijing Organising Committee; and a news conference with Amnesty International in Montreal. An op-ed was published in several daily newspapers.

The press rights organization wants China to keep human rights promises made before it was awarded next year’s Olympics — namely, the release of some 100 imprisoned journalists, cyber-dissidents and free speech activists and “an end to censorship of the news media and Internet. ”
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Tom Long and the CBC’s news future

The NDP is charging political interference by the federal government, in the search for a president and a news chief for the CBC. Tom Long, the man apparently in charge of the CBC head-hunting task for the firm Egon Zehnder International, is a former Canadian Alliance leadership candidate and is well-connected to the top tiers of the Conservative minority government.

On one hand it’s tempting to dismiss such criticism, on the other, there is evidence that the American conservatives meddled with public broadcasting in the U.S. Add that to the well-documented attempts at media management by Stephen Harper’s PMO, and the charges are worth journalists taking a hard look. Question is, given Canadian media’s reluctance to report on ourselves, who will dig deeper?

A CP story is here.

Here is the NDP press release.
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California journalist gunned down

The editor of the Oakland Post in California was gunned down on Aug. 2. Was his murder linked to his work?

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Who are you calling sleazy?

A cover story in Maclean’s entitled, “Lawyers are Rats,” is generating much controversy and attention from Canadian lawyers — which of course is the point of the provocative heading. The story is a full-on attack on the sleazy aspects of the legal profession. The Canadian Bar Association instantly demanded an apology then called the story a distorted, one-sided and sensationalized picture of the legal profession that tarnished every lawyer’s reputation.

The material in the kerfuffle is easily accessible (linked below) and makes for an interesting case study of journalism ethics.
Continue Reading Who are you calling sleazy?