The Big Issue

Aug 04, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott

In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China is keeping a “reporting interference tally” on their Web site. Meanwhile, journalists scored a small victory this week when China agreed to the partial unblocking of several Web sites, including the Reporters Without Borders site. But in a public statement the FCCC said their organization “remains concerned that access is inconsistent and many internet sites remain off limits.” Can China be expected to accept across-the-board Internet freedom, or is this as good as it gets for now? Below are a few of the sites that remain blocked.     

(Reporters Without Borders logo)

Jul 28, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott

The Las Vegas Sun is in competition for the world’s longest correction, while New Hampshire's Valley News has learned even a small mistake can look huge when it’s in your masthead in 60 pt. type. Both papers bit hard on the confession bullet. But when Toronto Star public editor Kathy English reviewed her own paper’s track record, she found journos reluctant to admit mistakes.

Hey, it happens: even the NYT’s obit section has to say ‘oops’ after lionizing the Whitehouse photographer who wasn’t. Meanwhile the folks at have given us corrections we’d like to see, including sincere apologies for the lack of a labour section. But seriously, folks, here’s a resource to help lower the number of red faces out there: Fact-Checking and Copy-Editing.

J-Source regrets in advance any errors this week’s Big Issue may contain.

Jul 21, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott

J-Source’s post on the Obama cover controversy led one reader to reminisce about the time his newspaper depicted the local town council as pigs. Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens’ commentary in the Mirror puts a pox on all houses, stating: “(Jonathan) Swift’s ‘satire on satires’ could hardly be better…er, illustrated.” Lesson one might be: 'make sure it's clear who's the butt of the joke.' For our J-Source readers, here’s some further background on the fine art of the cartoon skewer:

Jul 14, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott
As a newly appointed Canwest VP of digital media, Kenneth Maclean has been tasked with growing the online versions of three newspapers. Our advice: take three aspirins and visit J-Source in the morning. Here are some recent posts on the tangled and often uneasy relationship between print media and the Internet.


Jun 27, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott

For the past year, Québec journalists have pushed the envelope of debate over issues like protection of sources and the multimedia work crunch. This week’s Big Issue highlights some of J-Source’s coverage.

(Qyd image - Creative Commons)

Jun 22, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott

Data on young people’s news habits has been mostly pessimistic, to the point where delegates to the recent World Conference of Newspaper Editors wondered if it may not be worth the energy to chase young readers. But young people are an audience in search of substance according to a recent post on J-Source by Alan Bass. In the Commonwealth Magazine article Plugged In, Tuned Out and on his blog site Media Nation, Dan Kennedy suggests youth and newspapers meet somewhere in the middle – newspapers need to be introduce social networking and interactivity, while youth need to take greater interest in the world. Meanwhile the website Y Tribune tries to deliver “the best possible daily youth newspaper online of today.”

On J-Source:


  • Young People and News – Report on a national survey by the JoanShorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University, July 2007.

Jun 15, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott

Writers’ unions are among the few contrary voices in a storm of protest over Canada’s proposed new copyright legislation. “Everyone says it is complicated — but the anti-copyright community hasn’t let that stop it from unleashing a torrent of abuse,” the Creators Copyright Coalition, whose members include PWAC and the Writers Union of Canada, states on their website.

Indeed, within hours of the unveiling of Bill C-61, email inboxes, blogs and FaceBooks were inundated with commentary, most of it negative. The issue of digital locks – which would stop consumers from transferring files from one technology to another – seems to have caused the most uproar. This has left the traditional writers unions defending what appears to be a pro-industry bill against hip young musicians and artists who have embraced the world of digital exchange.
Jun 07, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott

Journalists are more productive than ever before – but what are they producing? A new British study finds that prepackaged spin accounts for a greater number of stories than most newsrooms would care to admit. This week’s Big Issue looks at big spin.

(Tjako van Schie image/WikiCommons)

Jun 02, 2008 - Posted by Heather McCall
While the complaints against Maclean's were dismissed in Ontario in April, the BC human rights commission will hear the case this week. The CAJ -- who stepped in the first time around calling for amendments to the human rights law -- has been granted intervenor status in the BC case to defend freedom of expression. Most of the J-Source background and commentary on the case can be found in this Town Hall Post, but a keyword search for "human rights" yields more, related content.
May 26, 2008 - Posted by Patricia Elliott
The CBC’s recent plea for stable funding reminds us that broadcasters – not just print publishers – are concerned about survival within the global communications revolution. At this spring’s Broadcast Executive Society’s annual luncheon, broadcast execs pondered the possibility that former print readers and advertisers may be leapfrogging over broadcast media straight to popular non-news Internet sites. A year ago, the Communications Research Centre Canada, in a brief to Heritage Canada, stated a major industry challenge is the viewers’ increasing ability to set the agenda.

Meanwhile, web media experts are looking at the situation less from a standpoint of trepidation and more from a standpoint of curiosity. At the tech-head site Gigamon, Robert Young casts the issue as linear versus non-linear on-demand viewing. For background, the short paper ‘Convergence and the Future of Broadcast’ by Kenneth Brown, Director of Technology Programs at the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, lays out some of the basic technology and vocabulary of the technological horizon.
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The Big Issue


Every week, we select a timely topic in journalism and explore it as The Big Issue. Patricia Elliott is a freelance magazine journalist, alternative media practitioner and author of The White Umbrella. She currently teaches journalism at The University of Regina.