Recent comments

  • UPDATED: Layoffs coming at Vancouver Sun and The Province   1 year 12 weeks ago

    Back in the mid to late '80s I tried talking to folk at the newspaper at which I worked about computers and newspapers. At the time I belonged to something run by GE which was called Genie, I believe. I sent and received text-based info over a 300 baud modem. I tried telling the people I worked with about getting a newspaperat home using a personal computer. Won't happen in our lifetime, I was told. Computers will never be popular, at least not in the foreseeable future, I was assured.

    When I brought my Mac to work to demonstrate how the photo department work flow could be done more quickly using a computer rather than an IBM Selectric typewriter, everyone's eyes glazed over. Assignment sheet "fields" could be linked to negative tracking sheet "fields" and any other related sheet. "Fields? What are fields? And who cares?"

    After the paper finally entered the computer age, they began looking for hard drives for the Fat Macs in the graphics department. I suggested they buy at least 80 MB LaCie external drives; They laughed. That is ridiculously big, I was told and they bought Apple 20 MB drives. I bought the LaCie for home. We were both wrong. Both drives were quickly too small.

    Over the years many of the leaders at newspapers have been proud to boast they were Luddites when it came to computers. These newsroom leaders seemed equally proud that they didn't know anything about halftones or how to achieve good reproduction in a newspaper. They weren't Luddites. They were and are simply incompetent when it comes to some of the "factory" aspects of the business.

    I can show you examples of photos in my paper today that are plugged with black ink, leaving the halftoned pictures impossible to read. I have looked at pictures from Iraq and had not a clue as to what I was looking at. I understand from chatting with workers from the backshop that the halftones I am complaining about are created by a computer. The software is fooled by spectral highlights and sets the wildly bright highlight as the area where the dot is dropped. The next tone down, one in which the dot should also be dropped, is now given a dot the drags the highlight well down into the shadows. The majority of the image tones are dark end and when dot gain hits the pictures plug up almost completely.

    Is it really any wonder that newspaper are dying?

    Break up the chains. Newspapers need local ownership to thrive. Link newspapers across the world in an updated manner similar to the way newspapers of old once cooperated through CP. Develop a newspaper search engine that make finding info in any member paper easy.

    Link all classified ads and make sure they are easily searched by the industry-created search engine. Reclaim the lost classified advertising revenue. With major ads, carry nothing but advertising that seems truthful and offers consumers value. (No more ads for Amish electric fireplaces. Such ads lower reader respect and raise doubts about all ads carried by the newspaper.)

    Work closely with universities, medical centres and others who produce valuable content. The goal is to go up against the present search engines, beat them at their own game and regain a great deal of the lost revenue stream.

    Newspapers must hire copy editors, not lay them off, they must up become information factories and they must profit from what they create.

    Newspapers believe that they are roadkill on the information highway. They aren't. They are just another badly mismanaged industry.

    (Please forgive my typoes and grammarical errors. I once won a writing award at WONA, not a first but I got a plaque, and I always give some of the credit to the fine editing my copy received. Think of my errors in this posting as an excellent example of why copy editors are needed and should not be jettisoned at a well-run paper.)

  • UPDATED: Layoffs coming at Vancouver Sun and The Province   1 year 12 weeks ago

    One of the less sensational aspects of Gordon Fisher's memo was telling staff: "lf you aren`t part of the solution, ask yourself why that is."

    I can only surmise what he had in mind when he made that comment, because he did not elaborate. But it sounded a lot to me like he's asking his handsomely paid and practically undismissable employees to quit taking advantage of their untouchable positions and put in an honest day's work.

    The Sun, especially, has had a fleet of business reporters whose idea of "jouralism" is to rewrite a press release, get a comment from the CEO, and call it a day at Steamworks where the backslapping begins.

    Is there a company in the world that can afford that kind of output from an employee? Not in the real world, there isn't.

    It is not just unionism to blame. Mr. Fisher makes a big deal about how the newspapers have to get on-line in a big way to compete with all the other free digital media. But when Patricia Graham was dropped from her post as editor-in-chief, this friendly old face (known in the Southam days as a "good old boy") took a job heading Postmedia's digital strategy.

    Mr. Fisher, if you want twentysomething readers, you're going to have to set the bar a little higher on the digital side.

    There are some very good people at Pacific Media, no doubt, but the days of higher pay and greater benefits should have ended decades ago, when the journalism tapered off, the stenography began, and reader interest waned.

    The Sun has no columnists with any bite, and its failure to stand up to developers during the leaky-condo crisis, and its failure to hold the VPD accountable during the Missing Women's crisis of the late 1990s has readers saying, "Why should I bother subscribing?"

    It is truly sad.

    Jerome Collins

  • UPDATED: Layoffs coming at Vancouver Sun and The Province   1 year 12 weeks ago

    The most interesting comment to make is that nobody has made any comments about this. In 2013 these kinds of layoff/cuts are a news story with the lede not just buried but truly interred. A truer intro might have read: "In another likely failed effort to save big city newspapers from bankruptcy caused by the destruction of their business model by the internet, the publisher of the Vancouver Sun and Province has written a memo to staff...."

  • Fox News anchor: Canada "not great at the television"   1 year 12 weeks ago

    Such a narrow view from someone who most likely still doesn't know how to pronounce nuclear.

  • Compressions chez TC Média: une gifle à l'info hyperlocale à Montréal?   1 year 12 weeks ago

    "Le marché est toutefois dominé par TC Média sur l'île de Montréal, où des initiatives comme RueMasson.com pourraient éventuellement émerger dans d'autres quartiers."

    C'est déjà le cas: journaldesvoisins.com existe depuis bientôt un an (Ahuntsic Ouest), et Hochelaga.com depuis quelques mois.

    Salutations,

    Christiane Dupont, rédactrice en chef

    journaldesvoisins.com

  • Why Global's Mark McAllister broadcast his own story of epilepsy   1 year 13 weeks ago

    When I saw Mark's report on Global, which included the clip of his on-air seizure, I was reminded yet again of the reason for journalism, which is to sift through the superstitions, rumours, factoids, snippets of envy, greed etc. and arrive at the truth. 

    Epilepsy has had negative connotations for too long.  One is not possessed by any devils or under any magic spells.  One has a physical problem that exhibits itself in metaphysical ways.  In this way one is no more threatening than a journalist with a broken leg.  But people still are afraid when something is unintelligible, doesn't make sense, seems somehow freighted with unseen "spirits".  There was always the pressure to present the focal point of the public - whether a star, a talking head, or a head of state - as a paragon of perfection.  So it is a doubly courageous act to stand up and say "I have epilepsy but I can still do my job".

     

     

  • Happy Birthday Sun News Network (and why it might not get another one after the CRTC hearings)   1 year 13 weeks ago

    I have to question the 4.9 million viewers' stat. I have met only one person who watches SUN TV, and he is in SM's middle management and probably thinks his airwaves are being hacked to ensure he does.

    I was also appalled by a recent Globe article on this issue as it said seniors were writing in to support SUN TV, but that is only because (in my view) SM papers were forced to carry one-page ads pretending Canadian freedoms were at stake if PKP didn't get some public-teat money.

    How can a station lambaste the CBC for being at the teat, and then turn around and bleat about its need for teat money? The mind boggles.

  • Pondering journalism’s future in a digital universe   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Kelly,

    Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully read and include our article on your esteemed list. I know that I speak for all the authors when I say that we're grateful for the feedback.

    I wanted to clarify the critique that you pose on our work. You write:

    "The failing of this report is that it focuses almost exclusively on the “job-to-be-done” by the audience. For most traditional media, advertisers pay the bills, not readers. This report gives little thought to where and how the advertising market is being disrupted and how advertisers fit in the news ecosystem."

    The advertising disruption is a profound one, but Clay’s theories would argue that from the perspective of traditional media, your causality is inversed. That is, advertising follows readers, not the other way around. To attract new advertising (whether that be traditional display ads, sponsorships, or branded content) or new revenues (Circulation, subscriber fees, event marketing etc) the Jobs-to-be-done theory would argue that you need an audience for that job, first. You need to satisfy the job that you're being asked to fulfill. When you are able to do that, customers - in whatever form- will instinctively 'pull' your product into their lives.  I think it's important to clarify this because the theory would argue that it's precisely because publishers have focused on the advertising piece of the puzzle that they've missed other potential revenue streams that can help to sustain quality journalism. I would agree with you that the advertising market is itself being disrupted and l hope that someone will advance our research with a thoughtful analysis that applies Clay's theories to the advertising industry. Thanks again for your interest. David

  • Parenting columnist leaves Toronto Star over disagreement on freelance contract rights   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Seems that the Star puts itself in a position to profit from "rented" intellectual propery.  Salaried writers/photographers/artists are like staff carpenters - build a fence for the boss and it's the boss's fence.  However, if it's a rental fence owned by a portable fence company,  Boss gets to use it only for the time and purpose specified in the rental agreement - no sub-leasing for profit or initial rental fee recovery.  The owner of the rental fence has the right to know where it is and how it's being used.

    Freelancers and contract writer/photog/artists should be able to maintain all future rights to their work - it's customary for the rights to contract and freelance works to remain with the creator, after selling one-time rights unless otherwise agreed.

    This is almost as bad as the "all entries become the property of so-and-so" clauses in the fine print of photography and writing contests.  A very underhanded way of amassing a mountain of of potentially invaluable work for next to nothing.

  • Historic day for investigative journalism with release of offshore tax haven story   1 year 15 weeks ago

    Many of the best examples of investigative journalism throughout history have relied on leaks and whistleblowers as a starting point. I don't think you would argue that Woodward and Bernstein were slackers because they were being fed information by "Deep Throat." You need to realize that Gerard Ryle received the files more than a year ago. It was far from "all the information that was needed to tell this story." Since then, the data has been analyzed and dozens of reporters have been hard at work investigating the stories that were ultimately released this month. You just have to look at CBC's stories on Tony Merchant to see the extent of additional investigation that was required to put the story together. And keep your eye on future investigative stories from the CBC that will spin out of these initial efforts.

  • Journalism’s struggle with infographics: The facts and figures behind omnipresent images   1 year 15 weeks ago

    Agreed! Oftentimes confusing infographics can be the result of the disconnect between the designer and the journalist, or lack of a designer altogehter. Infographics are complicated and, under pressure, journlaists piece together something that is eyecatching and flashy but that really does not serve as an effective piece of visual data. In the graphics world, they call these "poster graphics," because all they do is show off the data without adding any context or insight into the numbers.

  • Journalist's reporting style not suitable topic for closed-door council meetings: Ontario Ombudsman   1 year 15 weeks ago

    "The Star claims that [Toronto's] mayor has stopped sending them official news releases because of his displeasure with the coverage he's received."

    Your wording ("claims") insinuates there's some doubt about this. Either you know something we don't, or you haven't been reading J-Source.

  • Journalism Spin: How (somehow) everybody wins with the NADbank figures   1 year 15 weeks ago

    Glad that you noticed! That is the point of doing the kind of research that we do at NADbank for our newspapers. The database provides a rich source of information about readers so the newspapers could look closely at who their readers are. If each paper did not have a unique reader group - a brand - it would be difficult to maintain a position (and therefore a business) in the marketplace.

  • Journalism’s struggle with infographics: The facts and figures behind omnipresent images   1 year 15 weeks ago

    Most of the infographics I have seen on CBC regional sites, New Brunswick in particular, are so confusing as to be useless. The perceived need to create such visual elements online has more to do with the CBC saying, "Hey, look at us. We know how to use technology. Aren't we great?". They don't, and they aren't. Forget the showing off with poor infographics and spend the time and resources you have to do quality journalism.

  • Historic day for investigative journalism with release of offshore tax haven story   1 year 15 weeks ago

    I'm sorry but this is not a good example of investigative journalism. Data-mining yes. Storytelling yes. A disc with 2.5 million files was dropped in a reporter's lap with all the information that was needed to tell this story, minus the obligatory clips with "yackademics" and tax experts. Had this groups of journalists decided to 'investigate' the topic from the start as a public service and come up with some great results, then yes, that would be a historic day for investigative journalism. They did not. Let's not pretend otherwise.

  • Journalist's reporting style not suitable topic for closed-door council meetings: Ontario Ombudsman   1 year 15 weeks ago

    Thanks for flagging the error and it's been corrected. 

  • Journalist's reporting style not suitable topic for closed-door council meetings: Ontario Ombudsman   1 year 15 weeks ago

    Good article. One correction though: it's the Clinton News Record (not Record News).

  • Canadian Geographic names new senior editor   1 year 16 weeks ago

    Quote:

    “My principle responsibility ....."

    One would wish that an editor, however senior he may be, would know the difference between "principle" and "principal".

  • Robot reporters: The new frontier in journalism?   1 year 17 weeks ago

    I'm glad you're covering this issue, but I disagree strongly with your take. My hunch is that you've never written any computer code. Underneath every algorithm is a human mind or multiple human minds. Those that write code know that their interests and ideas are indelibly embedded. Technology shapes those ideas, no question. And technology shapes the consumption of those ideas as well. But I think you set up a false opposition between human values and technologies.

    It's human values and human ideas that drive algorithms. Same in statistics. Same in science. Same in Python, Ruby, PHP or Javascript. 

    Put another way, it's not the technology that worries me. The automated data gathering and analysis, and publication, is awesome. What worries me is the values that are making these algorithms. And it also worries me that these processes will probably be proprietary and closed. News outlets are too often commercial enterprises first, and "journalistic" enterprises second. In scientific endevours the methods and the statistical analysis have to be published and peer reviewed. I doubt news outlets will open up their data sets, or their methods. 

    In my view, this technological development is only a new face to a long time challenge for journalism: what passes as journalism, often isn't.

  • Globe and Mail public editor responds to questions of Wente plagiarism   1 year 17 weeks ago

    Margaret Wente might have done some mistakes at one time or the other, but mistakes are tolerable, not the attempt of plagiarism. Plagiarizing is just like cheating or stealing the work done by the other hard working writers. Regards, Turnitin free

  • La surveillance des médias par le public, un futur système de régulation?   1 year 17 weeks ago

    Une version préliminaire de cette note de lecture confondait malheureusement la Suède avec la Suisse... Nous avons corrigé cela. Nos excuses encore une fois. CG/MFB

  • Contrat de Transcontinental: une lutte en 140 caractères   1 year 18 weeks ago

    Bonjour! De petites erreurs se sont glissées dans cet article dans lequel je suis citée. Il est faux que «Anne-Marie Parent compte également refuser de signer le nouveau contrat de Transcontinental», puisque je ne collabore même pas aux médias de cet éditeur! À votre question: «Si vous collaboriez, signeriez-vous?» J'avais certes répondu que si j'étais une pigiste de Transcontinental, je ne signerais pas.

    Je n'ai pas pu dire non plus ceci, puisque la question ne s'est pas présentée, n'étant pas une collatrice de Transcontinental: «Le problème, c’est que si je ne signe pas avec Transcontinental, je vais aller voir qui? Québecor? Ils font signer le même type de contrat.»

    Par ailleurs, on me fait dire deux phrases contradictoires: «Bien qu’elle embrasse la cause, Anne-Marie Parent estime quant à elle qu’il est trop tard pour s’opposer à ce type de contrats.» C'est en contradiction avec ma première citation, où j'ai espoir que cette fois-ci la mobilisation fasse la différence (alors il n'est pas trop tard pour s'opposer à ce type de contrats!): «Même son de cloche pour la journaliste Anne-Marie Parent, qui croit que la mobilisation au Canada anglais pourrait faire la différence cette fois-ci. «Il y a des journalistes partout au Canada qui collabore avec Transcontinental, avance-t-elle. Ils pourraient agir comme levier pour la contestation.»

    Enfin, je ne comprends pas pourquoi vous me faites dire ceci: «Elle ajoute qu’il est difficile pour les journalistes indépendants de développer une solidarité puisqu’ils n’ont aucune façon de se regrouper.» On a une façon de se regrouper, c'est en devenant membre de l'Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec (AJIQ)!

    Ce qui est difficile, c'est plutôt que n'importe qui peut devenir journaliste, puisque le métier n'est pas réservé ni sanctionné par un ordre professionnel, alors tout le monde peut proposer des textes aux médias. Pour se monter un portfolio, les débutants acceptent de collaborer à des tarifs dérisoires, voire bénévolement, ce qui fait que les éditeurs trouveront toujours des pigistes acceptant des conditions peu reluisantes.

    Mai oui, il faut se regrouper en devenant membre de l'AJIQ: plus nous sommes nombreux, plus nous avons du poids, face aux éditeurs-Goliath! Il faut que le plus grand nombre de pigistes possible se rencontre à l'Assemblée générale annuelle 2013 de l'AJIQ, qui se tiendra le 19 mars prochain au local A-2730 du pavillon Hubert-Aquin de l'UQÀM, à compter de 18 h 30. www.ajiq.qc.ca
    Solidairement vôtre,

    Anne Marie Parent (sans trait d'union!)

  • La surveillance des médias par le public, un futur système de régulation?   1 year 18 weeks ago

    En effet, nos excuses... CG/MFB

  • Le Consortium canadien de recherche sur les médias se dissocie de Media Research   1 year 18 weeks ago

     

     

    J'ai pris note de la réaction de M. Trudel.  Toutefois, la note de lecture reflète intégralement l'état de choses au moment de sa rédaction. Ce matin encore, Media Research (http://www.mediaresearch.ca/about/) se présente comme «The Canadian Media Research Consortium promotes economic, social and cultural research in Canadian media and communications ». Il cite les universités et le CEM comme partenaires. De même, au moment de la rédaction de la note, le site Internet (http://www.cmrcccrm.ca) nous renvoyait à celui de Media Research (ce lien semble inactif ce matin). Tant mieux si le Consortium a été alerté de la situation, mais la conclusion de M. Trudel est bien mal avisée en l'occurrence. Vérification a été faite sur le site du Consortium alors actif... Les faits parlent d'eux-mêmes et il est très étonnant qu'une telle situation n'ait pas été détectée avant la rédaction de notre note, par ceux qui sont responsables du Consortium ou y sont associés. Bien entendu, cet élément nouveau modifie notre analyse du texte de Edge eu égard au «nouveau» mandat du Consortium. Reste la critique de Edge.
      Marc-François Bernier (Ph. D.)Titulaire, Chaire de recherche sur la francophonie canadienne en communication, spécialisée en éthique du journalisme (CREJ)(www.crej.ca)Professeur titulaireDépartement de communicationUniversité d'OttawaPavillon Desmarais55, av. Laurier Est, pièce 11146 K1N 6N5(613) 562-5800 (3828)mbernier@uottawa.ca(http://www.communication.uottawa.ca/fra/profs/bernier.html)

     

  • La surveillance des médias par le public, un futur système de régulation?   1 year 19 weeks ago

    Bonjour

    il y a une erreur assez grave de traduction : cet article concerne la Suède ( Sweden en anglais) et pas la Suisse (Switzerland)....

    Coridalement

    Pierre Ganz

source