Recent comments

  • Chronicle Herald restaurant reviewer request raises controversy   1 year 10 weeks ago

    I don't see a conflict of interest here. Spurr writes a freelance restaurant review column for the Chronicle Herald, and is entitled to be paid for his work. If a favourably reviewed restaurant wants to run the review on its website to promote its menu, he's also entitled to be paid. How is this any different from, say, a freelance book reviewer writing a review for the Chronicle Herald, and then turning around and selling the same review to another publication? This is how freelancers make their money? The fact that Spurr also happens to be an employee the Chronicle Herald is irrelevant. 

  • Chronicle Herald restaurant reviewer request raises controversy   1 year 10 weeks ago

    A fascinating story.  As much as I support freelancers' intellectual property rights, I think Bill Spurr was totally out of line here.  But I also find it a bit odd that the Chronicle Herald needs to put one of its own staffers on freelance status to write restaurant reviews.  When I was at The Citizen way back when, I would have loved reviewing restaurants as part of my regular assignment, if only to get away from the hurly-burly of city hall reporting, not to mention all the free (ie employer-subsidized) eats! 

  • The issues facing Canadian University Press and how it intends to tackle them   1 year 10 weeks ago


    This article fails to mention that The Link's editor-in-chief did show up at NASH's Plenary in 2012, while the paper was a member, with a "stack of motions" that had been approved by the newspaper's masthead and Board of Directors. The proposals were intended to bring about a number of changes to the functioning of the organization and tackle the problem of newspapers looking to exit CUP.

    However, that Plenary was cancelled due to a virus at the conference.

    Multiple requests by The Link to hold Plenary at a later date or online were ignored by CUP. The newspaper was left unable to articulate its grievances as guaranteed by CUP’s founding documents or to deal with a fee situation that was no longer affordable. The only remaining options were to leave an organization that had breached our fundamental rights or pay an additional year’s fee to guarantee a speaker’s right at the next NASH.

    The decision to leave was of CUP’s making and hardly an “after-the-fact approach.”

    Justin Giovannetti,
    President of The Link's Board of Directors

  • RECAP: CJF J-Talk on media innovation   1 year 10 weeks ago

       Zach Seward of Quartz: "The 800-word story is dead; go short; go long; or even better, go visual (with photos and charts)."

       Oh, really?

       Why wouldn't someone who has time for more than 100 words but fewer than 5,000 be happy with 800, give or take a few?

       Good question. As it turns out, Quartz's readers -- "business people in the new global economy" -- are fine with it.

       Right this minute their #2 story is a piece on the Dell buyout that measures 699 words. Yes, it includes two charts -- just as it might have in the Stone Age. 

       And clicking on "popular" gets you a story about ARM Holdings, the UK microchip designer. That one is 782 words, with three graphics.

       Good legacy-style facts and analysis in both of them. The form is alive and thriving.

  • On slipping custom content into newspapers' revenue mix   1 year 11 weeks ago

    I signed up to write a couple of pieces for a magazine and was livid when I received an e-mail back from the editor. Instead of her comments, there were comments from the PR department of the sponsor of the magazine.

    Perhaps it as a bit naive of me to assume that this wouldn't happen (I did accept the assignments in rush during a hectic period) but I will certainly do my research next time and won't participate in this type of writing again. Call it whatever you like, but it certainly isn't journalism when the story is vetted by PR people and they are suggesting revisions to the story to make it more palatable to their eyes.

    My solution? I told them to do whatever they wanted with my stories as long as they didn't put my byline on them. In exchange for not finishing the assignment to their satisfaction, I promised not to send them an invoice.

  • Le virage numérique, une menace au journalisme?   1 year 11 weeks ago

    Merci à M. Cipriani pour ce lien et pour la découverte du vocable "mook", que je ne connaissais pas. J'ai dit la même chose que ces auteurs à un ancien éditeur du journal Le Soleil, il y a bien des années, avant même l'explosion de la pub sur le web: le modèle d'affaires des médias menace la crédibilité du journalisme. La lecture du blogue de The Newsosaur est éclairante à cet égard. Les éditeurs de journaux pensent aux annonceurs, pas aux lecteurs, et c'est ce qui les tuera. Je me suis abonné au magazine Nouveau Projet pour cette même raison: ce que je peux lire là, je ne le trouverai pas ailleurs. C'est à cela que doivent se concentrer les journalistes: donner du contenu inédit à leur clientèle, au lieu de remâcher la même bouillie que la concurrence.

  • Would mandatory carriage of Sun News Network be a victory for intolerance or for media diversity?   1 year 12 weeks ago

    Justin Ling makes some excellent points in a clever column.

    Yes, Lippman was dead right: ""The theory of the free press is not that the truth will be presented completely in any one instance, but that the truth will emerge from free discussion."

    This cannot be repeated too often.

    Yes, we Canadians need to hear a point of view different from the generally liberal (note the small l) Canadian news media.

    Yes, we should have a conservative (note small c) news outlet in Canada.

    And yes, I've been interviewed on Sun TV.

    And no, I wasn't abused by Michael Coren (even if he is a Christian). In fact, I was treated very fairly — praise which will likely ruin his career. 

    And no, I don't believe Sun TV should join the pantheon of stations enjoying mandatory carriage on basic cable.

    That's because, in spite of Ling's claim, Sun TV isn't news. 

    It's propaganda.

    In fact, with minor exceptions, Sun TV is a string of interviews during which one propagandist agrees with another.

    And that's not news.

    Back in April, in my Huffington Post column, Watching the Watchdog,  I called Sun TV "A conscious conspiracy to destroy traditional ethical journalism in our democracy and replace it with reality TV based entirely on far right-wing fantasy."

    At the time I meant the statement as over-the-top hyperbole. But lo, these many months later, I'm not so sure it was actually hyperbolic.

    I'm all for people watching stuff like Sun TV if that's the sort of stuff they like watching.

    But I certainly don't want to pay for it



  • Would mandatory carriage of Sun News Network be a victory for intolerance or for media diversity?   1 year 12 weeks ago

    I suggest that Justin Ling should read, or perhaps re-read, two pieces from the Canadian Journalism Project:

    1. "What is Journalism? The CAJ’s ethics committee takes a stab at definition," by Patrick Brethour, and

    2. "What is Journalism?" a report by the Ethics Advisory Committee of The Canadian Association of Journalists.

    Sure, I think it's vital that contemporary journalists reject the traditional idea of a "view from nowhere," (see, for example, Jay rosen). In so far as Ling seems to be advocating for this, I agree. But Sun News seems far too interested, and too lacking in transparency about their interests, to meet the criteria set out by the CAJ. And even though Ling down plays the role of Ezra Levant, it's kinda because he has to: Levant is a well known public relations and communications professional and he's worked a large number of private contracts for multiple right wing and industrial interests.


    Journalists draw their own conclusions about the necessity and direction of a story -- and of the underlying veracity of facts. Such conclusions are drawn in a disinterested way - that is, independently of consideration of the effect, for good or ill, of the coverage provided.

    - from the report of the Ethics Advisory Committee of The Canadian Association of Journalists


  • On the ground in Haiti: "I set down my pen and notepad and helped"   1 year 13 weeks ago

    I agree with you, brilliant work for sure. Nicely written post by by the way. Regan, you have done a good job. Take care

  • ProjetJ et J-Source à la recherche de partenaires   1 year 14 weeks ago

    vous etez audacieux, tout ceu qui ont essayer de toucher aux system de ploutocratie mondial sont effacer  et minimiser d'impact abituellement, mais je crois que ces la meilleur chance de percer les division social, economique et territoriel  que d'informer la société et j'aimerais avoir une chance de faire ma part de quelque facon que ce soit ! 

    meme si je crois qu'ils faudra continuer la batail contre ce system de privatistion de developpement pour mettre une poigné de famille informé juska la moelle par des generation et des génération, qui, avec la plus grande facilité que de juste controler le  savoir et les pouvoir. sa cree une société divisée falcifier qui fait decourager chaque personne avec linteligence necesaire pour savoir faire les lien des abscence de reponce... mais comment ne pas voir que le monde cour a sa perte avec un system economique imposé avec des lois mal interpreté dans le but de concerver cet poignée de gens aux pouvoir. on dirai que leconomie qui cour a sa perte en amerique du nord base sur des motif aussi nocif que de vivre le moment present en tout temps sans voir se soucier.

    spour sa je dit que ces plus un pouvoir emotif que mediatique, car la tactic morderne du maintien d'unne ploutocratie est de simplement ignorée les idéologiste ou progressiste, car le ''systeme'' batie pour exploité l'ignorance a atteint son appogee depuis longtemps depuis le debut d'un avancement technologique en communication, car ces sa le progres inépuisable, car si on était tout le monde de la planette allié et informé dans une équilible economique stable  et un équilibre social basée sur les compétance et non pas sur le savoir des classe social. pour cela il faut partager le progress quit a cognée a chaque porte pour amener un debat mondial pour amener une équilibre total des chose qui nous amenerai a une vitesse de developpement plus vite que jamais réunisant chaque inteligence chaque plus de chaque personne 

    on a fait l'erreur de prendre un chemin qui nous divise, il est plus que temps de s'unir par la connaissance universel de tous et chaqun

    je peut surment amener une contribution quelquonque a tout sa que ce soit en trouvant bénevol qui informerai les gens de ce site de partout dans les rue du quebec pour un rasemblement sur tout patron a intention special, qui deverais etre ilegal par logic de morale 


  • Toronto Star publishes apology for unattributed material taken from The Globe and Mail   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Did Madhavi-Acharya also involved in a plagiarism charge many years ago?

  • Toronto Star publishes apology for unattributed material taken from The Globe and Mail   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Looks like there still are a few rewrite guys hanging around, eh?  Again, there's been a sea change in Society and not everyone has caught up.  At least some of us, when we used to rewrite an article, would actually rewrite the facts, which are not in dispute in any case.

    I'd like to come back to the web in a hundred years to see how many news sites there are, and how everyone refrains from copying everyone else's facts. . . .

  • Reporters turned away from Victoria Island and Chief Spence, threatened with charges in Attawapiskat   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Why am I not surprised?  the entire history of Native/White relations is a trail of broken promises, misunderstanding, sleight-of-hand, recriminations, apologies followed by more of the same, and if I were a Native from Attawapiskat I wouldn't be happy with the way the leaked media report was handled. 

    How is the auditor's comment about lack of supporting documents any different from comments on audited bookkeeping in the federal bureaucracy?  Having been there I could tell you a few stories that are at least as bad as what appears to be problematic here.  And I have no doubt that bookkeeping at media headquarters has a few weak areas of its own. 

    What people ought to be angry about is that the federal government hands an amount of money to the Native community and essentially says "take it, use it" etc but never teaches any one of them how and what to use as supporting documents, how to enter expenditures against the appropriate line items, and all the other fun basics of bookkeeping that everyone loves.  Is it just me or is there a distinct odour of "give 'em enough rope and they'll hang themselves"???

    The auditors also slammed the federal government and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, tho that was lost in most of the electronic reports (those pesky ten-second clips! and those angst-riddled reports of journalists savaged by Attawapiskat's policeman!  having to leave without a story!)

    Here's what ought not to be overlooked:  there are traditional ways of doing business, no matter which side of the equation you are looking at.  But there has been a sea change in attitude by Society as a whole, necessitating more rigorous record keeping for almost everything. 

    Then how can Natives - whom the Government always leaves alone at such times - keep better records when they have neither been informed of, nor taught, the stricter requirements?


  • Checking your bias   1 year 14 weeks ago

    In the following sentence: "you cannot apply your own standards and your own morays to people".

    "Morays" looks like it should be "morals".

  • Grilling the Guest – Laurier LaPierre and the Hot Seat Interview   1 year 14 weeks ago

    I am a great fan of LaPierre’s, the time span of work was really small but it was memorable enough! There are great works done and will never be forgotten.

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  • Toronto Star publishes apology for unattributed material taken from The Globe and Mail   1 year 15 weeks ago

    The Star's editor and the writer owe readers a timely and full explanation. Plagiarism is among the most serious threats to a newspaper's credibility.

  • The emotional commitment to objective journalism   1 year 16 weeks ago

    A high-minded invite to media tradespersons to be more 'mindful', seems rather too precious for use in the trench warfare to today’s revenue-stricken marketplace. 

    Unmindful journalism -- using negative, distorting biases, wishful thinking, dismissive of contrary facts, while promoting stereotypes -- predominates largely for the same reason political attack-ads do: it works.  The revenue-stream challenges confronting each and every media format today are certain to ensure that the decline in standards many note will only continue.

    Perhaps the proposal of  Messr. Bryan Myles -- president of the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec – to certify journalists, should be extended throughout the country.  A certification should also exist for corporations, too.

    A consumer of information, like me, needs before-the-fact reassurance that standards not only exist but will be reinforced.  One could then safely select and chew-on any certified media-product, reasonably confident that its DNA will not prove corrupted.

  • Grilling the Guest – Laurier LaPierre and the Hot Seat Interview   1 year 17 weeks ago

    I realize that on December 17, 2012, there was no report—or hard information available—about the actual "date of death", only a confirmation of LaPierre's death.  On  Dec. 21, the Ottawa Citizen published the obituary for Laurier LaPierre, including Dec. 16 as the actual date of death. -- (Choose "LaPierre, Laurier", under Recent Obituaries)

    Therefore,  your lede should say --

    "Laurier LaPierre, who died Sunday, December 16, at the age of 83, was a pioneer in modern television broadcasting. His flamboyant style was designed to engage and provoke, but ultimately to hold powerful people to account."

    Your lede (at  J-News) currently states that he died on Monday, which is incorrect.

  • Why shouldn’t newsrooms work with the marketing department?   1 year 17 weeks ago

    "The first duty of a publisher is to stay in business."

    Not sure who first said that; I've heard it attributed to the former Globe and Mail editor-in-chief, Dic Doyle. In any case, the idea is coming up on two centuries old. It dates from the 1830s, when "penny press" publishers began to liberate themselves from ties to partisan political backers by creating a mass audience and selling advertisers their ability to reach it.

    New York publishers were the pioneers -- the first to recognize that "sales and marketing, strategy, leadership and, first and foremost, revenues" (to use David Skok's words) would create a sustainable revenue base for news-gathering. Pulitzer and Hearst refined the model; British and Canadian newspaper publishers followed. One of the most successful was Joseph Atkinson of the Toronto Star. 

    Aggressive promotion was a significant part of this strategy from the beginning. Much of it was undertaken by news organizations, but individual columnists and correspondents churned out books based on their news exploits and undertook extensive speaking tours. These folks had no qualms about marketing their work. Neither did privately owned news agencies such as United Press International, or co-operatively-owned agencies such as Reuters selling their services outside their home markets. Now that The Canadian Press is a for-profit agency, it's not surprising to see client relations and marketing move closer to the strategic core. 

    Editorial departments don't need an impermeable firewall between themselves and promotion or marketing. (Who wouldn't want their work to be promoted?) But where advertising sales are concerned, they do need to be wary. This would have been the reason for the washroom peculiarity Ivor recalls. And as both David and Scott acknowledge, it remains essential to bar advertisers from influencing news decisions.

    That concern is as important as ever -- especially as news organizations seeking new revenue streams move more aggressively into custom publishing, develop new forms of advertorial and infotainment, and forge partnerships with non-news organizations centred on news events or issues.

    Such endeavours don't necessarily compromise editorial integrity. But they should be carefully designed and transparent.

    For example, David asks: "Why not involve the marketing and sales teams in coordinating an event around a particular issue?" Well, if prominent newsmakers appear at an event organized or co-sponsored by a news organization, how much should we be told about who's paying for what, and under what conditions? Or, if a news organization puts on an event featuring a reporter who covers a particular beat and gives preferential access to advertisers in that sector, should it tell the world about the arrangements?

    I can recall conversations with advertising sales people for whom editorial integrity was an important concern. They knew it was one of their big selling points.

    There's nothing wrong with co-operating to make a business model sustainable. But if that model includes reliable news that's independently gathered and edited, it also needs a clear and public division between the editorial church and the advertising state.

    Happy holidays, everyone!

  • Upcoming journalism job/internship program deadlines   1 year 19 weeks ago

    Due date: February 1, 2013

    Looking for: Early-career journalists to participate in a 9-month reporting fellowship in East Africa, starting June 2013.

    More info:

  • The intersection of politics, local news and the idea of journalists acting as citizens: Jill Winzoski’s firing   1 year 19 weeks ago

    There has got to be more to it than what is being reported. Chances are The Selkirk Record needed to make some cutbacks, and whacked the gal that was causing management the most grief.

    Always follow the money.

  • The intersection of politics, local news and the idea of journalists acting as citizens: Jill Winzoski’s firing   1 year 19 weeks ago

    This story caught my interest, as I have run into these types of situations a number of times in 34 years working in community newspapers.

    My first observation is that reporters in doing news stories must be objective and be seen to be objective. In smaller communities, signing a petition, even a fairly general one as in this case, is a strong sign of subjectivity. Whether or not it is the newspaper's policy, journalists should stay away from signing petitions, speaking at public meetings and expressing opinions or other obvious signs of what could be interpreted as bias.

    The story's point about sources, businesses or MPs (as mentioned) refusing to deal with a newspaper because of a certain reporter is an important one. This type of pressure is often applied to media outlets, large and small, but can be more pervasive at smaller media outlets. This is often because we are dealing with the same sources on a regular basis, living in the same communities and interacting with them much more than would be the case in a large city.

    These are all reasons why it is important to keep being as objective as is humanly possible.

    However, it is also important to mention that journalists are called on to express opinions as part of their jobs — if they are editorial or column writers. In such cases, they are being asked to take a stance. In my experience, virtually every community newspaper is happy to allow its reporters to take stands within columns and editorials. I believe this allows reporters to express themselves, and if they do so in a well-researched and well-presented fashion, they will attract interest and readership. They must at the same time be open to those who differ, and be prepared to be chastised in letters, comments on websites etc. It is also important when a newspaper publishes a letter that disagrees with a column or editorial that the reader's opinion be allowed to stand, and not be immediately rebutted.

    If an issue comes up which involves a jourmalist's family members, the journalist needs to take a hands off approach and be sure that the news story (or other item) is handled by someone else at the newspaper and that those involved in the issue know that.

    Journalists in my experience should not belong to political parties or run for office, even of the smallest nature, until they have left the field of journalism.

    I have run into all these situations over the years and it seems to me that adhering to these principles will avoid most problems.

    Frank Bucholtz, editor, Langley Times


  • The intersection of politics, local news and the idea of journalists acting as citizens: Jill Winzoski’s firing   1 year 19 weeks ago

    Does anyone agree that impartiality and fairness are far more comprised when a Legislative reporter is married to a person who works as a high-level communications official for the provincial government?

    Ms. Winzoski's action pales in comparison, doesn't it?

  • Sun Media cuts: Former editor laments, current editor responds   1 year 20 weeks ago


    Another story that kind of begs a question I have never seen addressed on J-source, or anywhere else where people calling themselves journalists gather to talk about the state of things here in Canada - namely, what kind of media does a country have, and what can it expect from them, when the financial status of whatever media it is, and profits for investors, come ahead of, eclipse, really, providing either high-quality, fair and impartial reporting, or working within a general national environment which allows a wide range of opinions about what to cover, and how, and do so with reliability and trustability? What should a democratic citizenry, through their government, be doing to ensure that their media is not only free, which doesn't seem to be much of a problem, but responsible to 'the people' rather than entirely moulding itself to the desires and demands and POVs of the people (a) expecting a profit from its operation, and (b) expecting any media they own to promote opinions and policies of the owners, which does seem to be a quite major problem these days?

    I am sure the first response, should anyone care enough to even bother, will be to try an endrun around the question, by claiming we really do have 'left' and 'right' and 'balanced-centrist' media outlets, with for example the CBC-Toronto Star, NP-Sun, and Globe, respectively, and thus of course the people are well-served, but any impartial consideration of the situation leads very clearly to the conclusion that while all of these major Cdn media outlets have some 'progressive' elements in terms of 'personal freedoms' in Canada (everybody, with the exception of the odd antediluvian or far-right-nutbar columnist featured for some 'color' and/or 'controversy', supports women's rights, gay rights, dealing fairly with first nations, mocking and attacking smokers and people who are disinclined to wear seat belts, etc etc these days, all those 'social' things that might be called 'politically correct') - and every single one of them is also somewhere between center-right and far right economically and politically, and there is simply nothing coming from a truly 'leftist' (as in 'for the interests of the people' rather than the rightwing 'for the interests of big money and 'investors'') side of the spectrum economically or politically to be found in any Canadian (mainstream) media editorially (pointing to an odd column in the Globe or Star with some minor criticism of the latest 'free trade' or regime change operation proposal is not sufficient to label a paper 'leftist' politically, regardless of the screaming from the rightwing nutcases at every tiny word daring to oppose their 'freedom' to do as they wish without criticism, showing little more than their complete disconnection from reality, as they tend to do with everything they write. But I digress ..).

    Indeed, rather than a good collection of spirited journals with honest journalists and quality columnists dedicated to working for the people and fostering open, inclusive, wide-ranging discussion and understanding of important issues through speaking for different segments of our society, sort of working mainly around the center left-center right of the economic-political spectrum, which is where most people live and was the situation at one time in the past, the current situation vis a vis the media in Canada is much more like the Canadian media have morphed into a small number of sub-outlets of a single corporate-state media, with different editions and focal points for different demographics but all with the same underlying philosophy and messages concerning the really important stuff (reduce taxes!!!! austerity rules but that's ok it's good for you!!! hate (demon of the day)!!, etc), whilst featuring different opinions on trivial things, for instance encouraging the proles to believe that the Lib-Con-NDP tweedledee-dum-dumber parties actually respresent different ideas of government, and different visions of what they would do in the country if elected, and that keeping up with the latest teen bands and sports news etc is of far more importance and interest on a daily basis than thinking about what is wrong with our country and system that has led to the current mess. No doubt that thought will be met with considerable indignant protests (again if anyone cares enough to read and respond at all), but I would challenge anyone to point to any differences in ongoing, long-term policy between any governments in Canada the last 30 years, federally or provincially - take away party labels and media hype, and you could not pick the dee from the dum in any jurisdiction, every one without exception preaching 'fiscal austerity' and cutting 'fat' from programs and reducing taxes, every one endorsing the latest "free trade" proposal and the 'war on terror' and regime changes around the world and heavier and heavier intrusions of 'the state' into people's personal lives. And, it is worth noting, virtually none of the things these various branches of this Bay St government have been getting up to the last 30 years has had the approval of any 'majority' of the people, but they all have had the virtually unanimous approval of the ruling Big Business-Money-Investor class in the country, minority though they are, in 'democratic' numbers. (Talking about whether or not it is legitimate or honest to even call this country a 'democracy' any more is something else those calling themselves 'journalists' don't seem overly eager to address either, but that is stuff for a different comment.)

    So the question is very valid - when stories like the one above, about yet more cutbacks in one or another of the media outlets Canadians rely on for their news and 'insight commentary', why doesn't anyone get into the deeper questions, the much more important questions, about how well are Canadians served by a media controlled by and serving the financial and political interests of, 'big business', which are very much not the same interests as 'we the people' have concerning most issues of importance in our country and world?

    Well, this grows long for a comment, and I have not even gotten to discussion of some of the specific things that show the entire Cdn media, including those presented as 'lefty' media and thus supposedly 'for the people' rather than the accepted rightwing views of most Cdn media, operate from the 'right' of the political spectrum in terms of the most important economic and political matters, very much against the political and economic wishes of most Canadians living in the 'progressive' people-friendly center left. However, I recently wrote a letter in response to another article outlining exactly how the "leftist" CBC is indistinguishable from the acknowledged right wing media, in terms of its actions regarding the important economic and political things they promote, for some more detail about such things, if anyone cares to take up this challenge - .

  • The Grid’s Sue-Ann Levy profile: Twitter fights, hashtag mistakes and the controversial columnist's less-public side   1 year 20 weeks ago

    Geez, Sue Ann, if you can't express yourself correctly in 140 characters, don't tweet!