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Annual report on Canadian broadcasting

The broadcasting industry is continuing to expand and new media are increasingly important to Canadians’ lives, said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in its annual broadcasting report. Here are the report’s findings:
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Blogosphere at 10

In an essay in the Toronto Star, David Eaves and Taylor Owen explore the impact of blogging, which they contend reaches its 10th anniversary this month.

“Blogging continues to be misunderstood by both technophiles and technophobes,” they argue, and say blogs will neither replace traditional journalism nor threaten the quality and integrity of journalism – or democracy.

Eaves and Owen say that instead of being a substitute blogs, like books, are symbiotic with journalism, “to the benefit of everyone.”

“Ultimately blogs, like books, don’t replace journalism; they simply provide another medium for its dissemination and consumption,” the pair argue. “If anything, it has made journalism more accurate, democratic and widely read.”

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Helicopter deaths: shame

The news that four people died when two U.S. news helicopters collided last week was stultifying; the deaths seemed too pointless to even mention here.  Then I read Mark Hamilton’s blog post, and find myself in agreement with his opinion that the helicopter crash is a sign that “somehow journalism has lost its way and has copped out of making tough decisions about what deserves to be covered and about what’s important.”

Read it yourself.

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“Citizen Journalist” site lands big financing deal

NowPublic Technologies Inc. calls itself the world’s largest participatory news network, with 100,000 non-professional contributing reporters from more than 140 countries and 3,600 cities,  and a partnership with Associated Press. Today, the company that began in a Vancouver garage received $10.6-million US in venture-capital financing. It says it aims to become the world’s biggest news agency.

Contributors can be paid, according to NowPublic’s web site, but serious questions for journalism remain outstanding: What will be the long-term effect of “citizen journalism” on “professional” journalism that serves the public interest?  Who ultimately will benefit?

An excerpt of the NowPublic statement:

In a short period of time, NowPublic.com has become one of the fastest growing news organizations in the world with contributors in over 140 countries and 3,600 cities.  By harnessing the wisdom of crowds and tapping into the news reporting potential of the hundreds of millions of Internet users, eye witnesses, bloggers and photography enthusiasts, NowPublic is changing the way news is produced and distributed.

NowPublic also reported today that it has surpassed 100,000 contributing reporters, making it by far the largest “citizen journalism” service in the world.  In addition, NowPublic announced that it’s expanding its landmark partnership with the Associated Press (AP) to include AP’s bureaus across the United States.  The AP is the world’s largest newsgathering organization with a staff of more than 4,000 employees located in more than 240 bureaus in 97 countries.  NowPublic.com and AP agreed in March to an innovative initiative designed to expand the world’s access to news as it happens.

These achievements serve to affirm NowPublic’s leadership position in the booming landscape of “crowd-sourced” participatory news, a category that NowPublic pioneered.  In fact, NowPublic is cited in Time Magazine’s recently released 50 Best Websites 2007 (“…nowhere are the merits of citizen journalism more apparent than at NowPublic.”).


An excerpt from a Globe and Mail story:

Co-founder and CEO Leonard Brody said in an interview that two major media entities expressed interest in buying the Vancouver company over the past couple of months, but he and his partners felt that they should remain independent.

“We got quite a bit of acquisition interest over the past month or two,” Mr. Brody said, from what the NowPublic CEO referred to only as “large media companies.” Both are based in countries outside of North America, he said.

“But we made a decision that we felt we could grow this thing, and that it was just too early [to be acquired],” Mr. Brody said. “We are big believers in what we are doing… and that is building the largest news agency in the world. We are laser-focused on that goal.”

A CBC story on the financing is here.
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Black was overdone by media, suggests poll

As a reader, my eyes started glazing over every time there was another headline about Conrad Black, and I turned off the radio or TV when the news turned to him. I’d had about enough, oh, six years ago.

Seems that my interest level about the former media tycoon and former Canadian is shared by most Canadians. Among other findings, a poll, conducted for The Canadian Press by Decima Research suggests” that the near-incessant media coverage of Mr. Black’s trial was not nearly proportional to the public’s interest.”

“Although the story consumed newscasts, and publications such as Maclean’s magazine devoted entire issues to the trial, only 39 per cent of respondents said they followed the trial very or fairly closely,” said a story in the Globe and Mail. The Globe quoted Decima CEO Bruce Anderson: “It did not really capture the attention of ordinary Canadians.”

The CP story headline on the Canoe site said, “Hang-’em-high … Canadians have little sympathy for Conrad Black: Decima poll.” Oddly, that story makes no mention of the poll results about overblown media coverage. Is this another case of the media being reluctant to report on itself?

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Reader’s Digest increasingly ambitious

Peter Stockland, editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest Canada, is out to rock the boat. A story by Dana Lacey in the latest Ryerson Review of Journalism says the magazine is starting “to get noticed again. Peter’s plan to develop longer, more culturally engaging features, to bring long-form journalism back to the brand made famous by shortening articles, might work.”

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Warren Buffet’s cure for online journalism

In a piece that’s essential reading for anyone interested in the business of journalism, CNNMoney.com has a story on the challenges facing the Washington Post

It includes this nugget from Post director and shareholder Warren Buffett, on the topic of online journalism: “The ideal combination would be if the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Post had a joint website, and you couldn’t get any one individually. That, you could sell for a fair amount of money, and it would have one hell of a readership.”

Ya, but would that be before or after Rupert Murdoch has his hands on the WSJ?

Hat tip: Romenesko

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Search on for CBC president

The federal government has started looking for a new president for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to replace Robert Rabinovitch, whose second term ends in November, reported Canadian Press.
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Quebec journalists protest hospital expulsion

Quebec’s federation of journalists protests the expulsion of a journalist from a Laval hospital:

        QUEBEC, le 26 juillet /CNW Telbec/ – La Fédération professionnelle des
journalistes du Québec (FPJQ) section de Québec dénonce l’expulsion d’un
journaliste, hier matin à l’Hôpital Laval, geste qu’elle juge abusif.
        Le journaliste Jean-François Labrie, du FM 93, s’est rendu hier matin à
l’Hôpital Laval dans le but de rencontrer la famille d’une patiente. Les gens
avaient eux-mêmes contacté M. Labrie, parce qu’ils souhaitaient dénoncer le
changement de chambre de la patiente en question.
        Alors qu’il marchait et discutait avec les gens, dans les corridors de
l’hôpital, M. Labrie s’est fait interpeller par trois agents de sécurité.
Après lui avoir demandé s’il était journaliste, ceux-ci l’ont sommé de quitter
les lieux sous peine de contacter les policiers. M. Labrie n’avait pas de
calepin, de caméra, d’enregistreuse. Il souhaitait vérifier les informations
recueillies de visu.
        “Déjà, les journalistes doivent se heurter au pare-feu des
portes-paroles, dans les hôpitaux. Or tout bon journaliste se doit de vérifier
de la façon la plus rigoureuse possible une situation, dont un cas d’abus
possible à l’encontre d’un patient”, a souligné Karine Gagnon, présidente de
la FPJQ section de Québec.
        Le règlement de l’Hôpital Laval stipule notamment que “toute présence des
médias d’information doit être adressée aux communications et relations
publiques de la Direction générale et que toute présence des médias
d’information dans l’hôpital doit être signalée au Service de sécurité. Un
usager qui souhaite être photographié ou filmé doit également remplir un
formulaire écrit.”
        “Il s’agit pour nous d’une façon détournée de contrôler l’information,
une situation qui nous inquiète”, de conclure Karine Gagnon.

    
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Journalism at sea on a “ship of fools”

This piece is worth reading, partly for a summer laugh and partly because it’s one British writer’s wry take on a large and influential chunk of the American media audience. An excerpt from “Ship of Fools” by the Independent’s Johann Hari:

I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a 35-year-old California designer. When I hear her say, “Of course, we need to execute some of these people,” I wake up. Who do we need to execute? “A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralize the country,” she says. “Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that’s what you’ll get.”

I am traveling on a bright white cruise ship with two restaurants, five bars, a casino – and 500 readers of the National Review. Here, the Iraq war has been “an amazing success.” Global warming is not happening. The solitary black person claims, “If the Ku Klux Klan supports equal rights, then God bless them.” And I have nowhere to run.

From time to time, National Review – the bible of American conservatism – organizes a cruise for its readers. I paid $1,200 to join them. The rules I imposed on myself were simple: If any of the conservative cruisers asked who I was, I answered honestly, telling them I was a journalist. Mostly, I just tried to blend in – and find out what American conservatives say when they think the rest of us aren’t listening.

Two questions: An editor should have asked the writer to identify just who that Canadian judge was. And, when will some wit take on a similar assignment, reporting on the Canadian version of these cruises — the ones organized by the Western Standard?

Hat tip to Janet Tate’s press notes at the (U.S.) Society of Professional Journalists
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