Recent comments

  • Opinion: Media's latest stories on Toronto's Mayor Ford a challenge for a court fight   1 year 13 weeks ago

    Hi Sherwin,

    No you are absolutely correct.

     In two important cases before the Supreme Court in  2009 (Grant v. Torstar & Quan v. Cusson) the Court broaden libel defence for reporters.  It also broadened the definition of just who can be considered a journalist, but that is another matter.  The upshot of those decisions is as you state, a claim by a journalist need not be true to be successfully defended against a charge of libel. 

    For more on this, please see the Law Section of J Source, in particular the article "So Why Hasn't Rob Ford Filed a Libel Suit?"

    Thomas Rose


  • Chequebook journalism: Should news outlets pay for the alleged video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine?   1 year 13 weeks ago

    I'm going to assume that this video exists given that the reporting by Gawker and the Toronto Star corroborate that a video does exist but whether it is actually Rob Ford in the video is a more difficult question that is better left until/if the video is released. 

    This video has monetary value - if Gawker or the Star get this tape they stand to make money on it through increased ad revenue because of larger page views and print sales.  How much they stand to make is debatable but they wouldn't be after this story if they didn't think it would increase the number of people reading their product.  Given that is the case, why should the media outlets profit while the people who filmed the video get nothing?  

    This seems like less a case of protecting journalists ethics and more a case of protecting media companies bottom lines.

  • Opinion: Media's latest stories on Toronto's Mayor Ford a challenge for a court fight   1 year 13 weeks ago

    This is very interesting. But perhaps you've overstated the case. Truth is indeed a defense against libel. But so is warrant. A claim could turn out to be false, but as long as the defendent can show that the claim was warranted and was in the public interest then truth is not required. You do actually say this, early on in the essay, but then you turn the issue into a "black and white" one and the point is lost, which is too bad. 

    A claim need not be true to successfully defend against a charge of libel. Am I wrong?

  • Peter Worthington: 10 facts about the journalist who wrote his own obituary   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Peter Worthington would have known that there is a venerable tradition of journalists writing their own obits. Charles Lynch, the long-time chief of Southam News, wrote his in the early 1990s in The Ottawa Citizen. James Cameron, the celebrated columnist for The Guardian in Britain, wrote his four decades ago. My memory says that Caneron's lede was very similar to Worthington's.

  • Opinion: Why all journalists should study public relations   1 year 14 weeks ago

    I like this. It's very important to see the closeness of public relations and journalism. And I agree that journalism students should study public relations. I believe, however, that you are mistaken when you claim that journalists aren't in public relations. I would argue that journalism is a subset of public relations, but with stricter adherence to virtues like justification, corroboration, predictability, accountability, social relevance and others.

    My view explains why some articles written by journalists succeed only in being public relations and also why some press releases written by public relations professionals are more journalistic than the resulting newspaper articles. Seeing journalism as a special case of public relations also allows us to talk in terms of degrees and dimensions of journalism, which is very important to any serious analysis. Finally, seeing journalism as a subset of public relations helps us to understand the systemic bias that occurs in different kinds of journalistic institutions, e.g. when businesses do journalism.

  • Opinion: Why all journalists should study public relations   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Do journalists really need to take a course to learn that practitioners of PR are working for the interest of their clients, and that their spin is not to be taken at face value? I knew that before I ever wrote my first lede. I also learned very early that when a source tells you something like what Fif'e's sources told him, you don't go to air, or to print, until you get corroboration from a second independent source that doesn't stand to gain from the leaked information.  It's called Journalism 101. (See Watergate)

  • Final day to submit comments to CRTC on CBC/Radio-Canada license renewal   1 year 14 weeks ago

    I have really loved browsing your blog posts

    نصائح للجسم، الاهتمام بالجسد

  • Opinion: Why all journalists should study public relations   1 year 14 weeks ago

    Hi Ira,

    For the past few years, I have required that my students listen to your Spin Cycles series in my second reporting and news writing course. It ties in well with the critical thinking portion of the same course. Most important, it helps them understand how both they and the public can be manipulated by spin doctors - and what they can do to counter the spin.

    I agree that a PR course would help journalists understand the relationship between journalism and PR - and it would also help them understand the spin tactics that are used upon them. But there has to be enough room in the curriculum. Given the increasing demands placed upon graduates these days, it's tough to find room in a curriculum for everything. An elective is certainly a good option - if a journalism school has the resources. I opted to tie some content to my existing reporting and critical thinking objectives.

    Best wishes,
    Frank Carroll
    Journalism instructor
    College of the North Atlantic
    Stephenville, N.L.


  • Toronto Star reporters get mandatory training after newspaper publishes false allegations about MPP   1 year 15 weeks ago

    and here I thought that this was part of the most basic training in J-schools!

  • Crowd-funding journalism: A new financing model for freelancers?   1 year 15 weeks ago is also continuing to accept crowd-sourced story pitches from freelancers. Owned by Algonquin College in Ottawa, GoJournalism is a non-profit venture started in September 2010 and to date has crowd-funded more than $4,000 and more than 20 stories in partnership with the Ottawa Citizen, OpenFile Ottawa and the Media Club of Ottawa. There is no fee to join and all monies raised go directly to the freelancer as overhead for the site is covered by the Algonquin Journalism program.

  • Student internship opportunities shrinking across the country   1 year 16 weeks ago

    If it wasn't for interns I'd never be able to get any vacation. We share an intern with a neighbouring weekly paper so we have to coordinate our vacation schedules but otherwise I think we would have to shut the paper down for a month. I've been working here since 2004 and never had an intern complain they didn't learn anything or didn't have enough to do.

  • Student internship opportunities shrinking across the country   1 year 16 weeks ago

    I work for a small weekly and if it wasn't for interns I wouldn't be able to take a holiday in the summer. With myself and one reporter it lets us take a couple weeks off (one at a time of course) while the intern gets to work really hard. Anybody else in the same position?

  • Postmedia Network replaces 10 daily newspaper publishers with 3 regional managers   1 year 16 weeks ago

    i am asking this here but it could be posted anywhere.  while technology is wonderful, it comes at precisely the  wrong time - more people than ever, fewer and fewer jobs.  how will everyone eat? and live? is this supposed to be better?  we have known for a long time that a society pools its resources in various ways, in part because it has to do so for the society to survive.  a slice of that is the creation of work that one person can do for others. perhaps it is job creation, in a way, but as a society we have benefited from it.  we have been able to raise our standard of living, educate our children and go on holidays to exotic places.

    journalism grew out of a need to know and was coopted by the corporations.  they now see the papers as superfluous cost centres, not providers of important news. they do not want exposes on house prices in vancouver.  don't delude yourself that they will become leaner and meaner.  they will carry on exactly as before - whichever before brings in the most cash. it won't be exposes, people want "happy news"

    by providing the means for most people to do most work for themselves we are cutting our own throats as we merrily play our games.  when magazines come out with a story such as "you can soon be your own doctor" you have to ask when this all went off the rails.....and how will it end.

  • Postmedia Network replaces 10 daily newspaper publishers with 3 regional managers   1 year 16 weeks ago

    If Postmedia has begun firing publishers, it won't be long before we get an announcement the Vancouver Sun and Province are combining.

    The only reason there are two papers with a single owner in the Lower Mainland is historical: Back in yonder year they wanted to stop any competitor from entering the market with something livelier, more relevant and cheaper to run. Any vestige of fear Pacific Media felt about competition probably ended 20 years ago, so it's a miracle they haven't yet combined.

    I imagine The Sun will be the survivor, since the Province has always needed to justify its existence. But that part of Pacific Media has probably NEVER contributed to the owners' profits, so its fate is pretty much sealed.

    Look on the bright side. This is a real opportunity for the combined outfit to be honest with what really gets management excited about Metro Vancouver. Instead of the curious and vague "Seriously Westcoast," I suggest they get come out of the closet once and for all: "Obsessed With House Prices."



  • Opinion: Gordon Fisher, Don't blame reporters and editors for the problems of the newspaper industry   1 year 16 weeks ago

    > What I don't like about corporate bullies like Fisher is they're blaming the problems of the newspaper industry on reporters and editors, and not management's own failure to find a more sustainable business model.

    Whatever the general failings of newspaper managements, and of Fisher in particular, this assertion is sadly lacking in logic.

    Was the collapse of the vinyl record industry the fault of failure to 'find a more sustainable business model'?

    Often products and services just become obsolete. Whence the videocassette, the DVD rental store, the spinning jenny? Whence, coming closer to home, type foundries? Photo processing staff? All gone due to management failure to find 'a more sustainable business model'? Sometimes there just isn't a sustainable business model.

    In short, the argument begs the question, assuming in its premises what it wants to find in its conclusion, namely that there is some way in which readerships and revenue can be maintained, and journalists and editors employed in significant numbers and on significant packages of benefits; it's just that 'corporate bullies' have failed to find that way.

    But perhaps there isn't a way, and most newspapers are going to disappear altogether, at least in anything like their current form. If so, Fisher and his like are merely delaying (or accelerating) the inevitable, or having no effect at all.

  • Fox News anchor: Canada "not great at the television"   1 year 16 weeks ago

    Since you have already described what an ass he is I won't bother watching the video. ;)

  • Compressions chez TC Média: une gifle à l'info hyperlocale à Montréal?   1 year 16 weeks ago

    Ce n'est pas mais 

    Et il y a aussi le Journal de St-Michel qui est le seul hebdo indépendant, même s'il ressemble à TC.

  • UPDATED: Layoffs coming at Vancouver Sun and The Province   1 year 17 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 17 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 17 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 17 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 17 weeks ago

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

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


    Christiane Dupont, rédactrice en chef

  • Why Global's Mark McAllister broadcast his own story of epilepsy   1 year 18 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 18 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 19 weeks ago


    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