Friday, December 30, 2011

Canadian communists mourn Kim Jong Il

The website of what is known as the Korean Central News Agency has published a list of "condolatory" messages to Kim Jong Un.  One of them comes from Sandra Smith, national leader of the  Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).  It must be a final and absolute admission of defeat for any hope at the polls that Ms. Smith has expressed her "heartfelt condolences on the untimely passing of Comrade Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army."  While the rest of Canada thinks of Kim Jung Il as a tyrant and a notorious fraud, Ms Smith tells the North Korean gang leaders that Jong is  greatly admired by all revolutionary forces for working tirelessly for the peaceful independent reunification of Korea, upholding the dignity and honor of the Korean nation, and securing peace on the Korean Peninsula on the basis of the Songun military first policy, thus contributing greatly to world peace" This incredible boiler plate goes on:  "We are confident that the Korean communists and people led by the WPK and united around you as supreme leader, will turn their grief into strength and face all the challenges which lie ahead by marching together to ever greater victories on the road of independence, national reunification, socialism and peace".  Given the challenges to her composition,  Ms Smith wisely left out all that stuff about kidnapping Japanese women, floating his non-economy with billions of dollars of counterfeit U.S. dollars, stocking up on Marlboroughs and French wine while Koreans starved and his many other claims to fame.    

Star exclusive about 911 Christmas Day call

The Toronto Star has published a a story slugged exclusive about a 911 call made from the home of Mayor Ford on Christmas morning. The call was made by the mayor's mother-in law. The Star report  suggests the essence of his mother-in-law's complaint was that the mayor was drinking and arguing with his wife. He is said to have decided to take his children to Florida and his wife objected. It is a long story with many sources but there is no material conclusive of anything except an undetermined  number of calls to 911,  including the call made by the mayor when he was ambushed in his driveway by a CBC comedy program.  There is no further mention of drinking. The police are quoted as saying there have been no accusations of physical abuse. The nine-column banner headline says the calls "raise questions".

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tyler Anderson named news photog of the year

National Post phoptographer Tyler Anderson has been named news photographer of the year by the News Photographers Association of Canada. Here he is interviewed by the CBC.

Not everything funny in Canadian comedy: Joe Bodolai

The death on Boxing Day of Canadian TV producer Joe Bodolai in a Los Angeles hotel room illustrates how everything isn’t all ha-ha in Canadian comedy. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office is treating Bodolai’s death as an apparent suicide before a final investigation is concluded. But in a departing blog, the former Saturday Night Live writer listed among his many regrets leaving Canada for Hollywood after being passed over in 1996 by then CTV topper Ivan Fecan to run the broadcaster’s Comedy Network, a cable channel he helped launch.
“My handshake disappeared. I got offered a deal my lawyer described as 'they want you to walk away. This is an insult.' I objected. The next day they hired Ed Robinson. I like Ed, but…,” Bodolai wrote in the final blog post entitled “If this were your last day alive, what would you do?”
The veteran writer, who died at 63 years of age after apparently drinking a concoction of Gatorade and antifreeze, came up against the harsh reality of Canadian comedy: you get to be creative north of the border, but you need to go to Los Angeles to get down to real business.

Read the whole article in the Hollywood Reporter:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

N.Y. Times selling U.S. regional newspapers

The New York Times Co. is selling its 16 regional newspapers to Halifax Media Holdings LLC that paid $143 million in cash for the newspapers, which are spread across the Southeastern U.S. and California. The Times Co. said it was looking to cut costs and focus on its most important papers and their websites. Regional newspapers have struggled in recent years because of weak local retail and national advertising, partly reflecting the economy's broader travails. The newspapers being sold have a combined weekday circulation of about 430,000.

N.Y. Times sent e-mail to eight million people by mistake

Some 8 million people received emails from the New York Times on Thursday offering a special discount if they would reconsider their decision to cancel their subscriptions. The trouble is, the offer was supposed to go to only about 300 people who had decided to stop taking home delivery of the newspaper -- it was erroneously sent by a New York Times employee to more than 8 million people on an email marketing list. The debacle lit up social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, sparking concerns that hackers might have broken into the newspaper's computer network to send out spam. A spokeswoman for the newspaper blamed human error, saying hackers were not involved and security was not at fault. The email offered a 50 percent discount for 16 weeks on home delivery.

Google, Facebook top Internet destinations in 2011

Search was still more important than being social on the Web in 2011--but not by much. Google edged out Facebook as the top Internet destination this year, according to data released today by market researcher Nielsen. The Web giant logged 153.4 million average unique visitors per month, compared with the social-networking giant's 137.6 million. Yahoo came in at No. 3 with 130.1 million unique monthly visitors, while Microsoft's MSN/WindowsLive/Bing and Google's YouTube filled out the top 5. (CNet)

BCE to buy back up to 2.1 million shares

BCE Inc. says it will buy and cancel up to 2.1 million of its common shares under private deals with an arm's-length third-party seller. The share buyback will be part of the company's plan to repurchase 6.5 million common shares over the next year, BCE said Wednesday. The company did not say how much it paid for the shares, which are worth about $87-million at current TSX prices.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CP Editors pick Tory majority as story of the year; poll for Postmedia picks death of Jack Layton

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's win of a Conservative majority government has been named Canada's News Story of the Year by editors and news directors who participated in the annual survey of newsrooms across the country by The Canadian Press. The Conservative majority captured 25 per cent of the votes in the annual CP survey – narrowly beating out the NDP's surge to official Opposition status, which earned a nod from 24 per cent of those newsrooms that voted. Together, those two sides of the Election 2011 coin dominated the other nominees. The post-Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver earned 12 per cent of the vote, the wildfires in Slave Lake 11 per cent and the Occupy protest movement 8 per cent.
Postmedia News and Global TV commissioned an Ipsos Reid poll in which the death of Jack Layton was the top Canadian news story in 2011. Thirty-seven per cent of survey respondents across the country cited Layton's death as the top national story, followed by the royal visit of Prince William and Kate (13 per cent), the Vancouver hockey riots (nine per cent), the federal election (eight per cent) and the Occupy protests rounding out the top five Canadian news stories at seven per cent.

Newspaper to pay damages after readers burned attempting recipe

Chile’s Supreme Court has ordered a newspaper to pay out more than $120,000 to 13 people who suffered burns when they attempted a recipe the paper had published for churros, a snack of deep-fried dough dusted in sugar that’s popular in Latin America. Days after the recipe was published in 2004, hospitals around the country began treating people for burns after the dough had shot out of their pots, showering them with hot oil. The high court found that the newspaper failed to properly test the recipe before publication: If readers followed the instructions, their churros had a good chance of exploding once the oil reached the suggested temperature, which was too high. “The explosions were so violent that in some cases the splashes hit the ceiling and covered the person who was cooking,” the ruling said. “Faithfully following the recipe published in the newspaper, this damage could not have been avoided.” The publisher of the newspaper, La Tercera, will pay damages ranging from $279 to $48,000, the latter to one woman whose burns were especially severe.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Warren Buffet completes hometown newspaper purchase

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has completed the purchase of company Chairman Warren Buffett's hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald. The $200 million deal, announced Nov. 30, included $50 million in debt. Under the agreement, Berkshire acquires the World-Herald and daily newspapers in Kearney, Grand Island, York, North Platte and Scottsbluff in Nebraska; the Council Bluffs Nonpareil in Iowa; a number of weekly newspapers; and World Marketing, a direct-mail company with operations in Omaha, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles. World-Herald spokesman Joel Long said Monday that the deal closed Friday. He says World-Herald shareholders—about 275 employees and retirees and the Peter Kiewit Foundation—approved the sale by an overwhelming vote. Mr. Buffett has said the World-Herald "delivers solid profits and is one of the best-run newspapers in America."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

N.Y Times to re-start negotiations with union after CEO retires

New York Times Co. contacted union leaders about restarting contract negotiations a day after the publisher announced last week the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson, according to the local Newspaper Guild. Negotiating groups plan to meet in January on a date to be determined, Newspaper Guild of New York President Bill O’Meara said in a telephone interview yesterday. The guild, representing almost 1,100 workers at the company’s flagship New York Times newspaper, said the two sides last met June 1. “We have been asking for full meeting since,” O’Meara said. “A lot of the big issues have yet to be dealt with.” The negotiations come at a “strange time” as Times Co. pushes a pension freeze for some employees that is intended to save $9 million a year, about the same amount as Robinson’s reported retirement payout, O’Meara said. The company said Dec. 15 that Robinson, who will retire Dec. 31 after seven years as CEO, will be paid $4.5 million as a consultant for one year. Reuters, citing unidentified sources, reported this week that Robinson also stands to make $10.9 million in pension benefits. “That would have paid pensions for over 1,000 employees,” O’Meara said. “Our employees are very upset.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Volkswagen unplugs after-hours BlackBerry use

Volkswagen employees in Germany will no longer receive company emails 30 minutes after their shift ends and they won't start up again until 30 minutes before work under a union agreement.The decision comes after complaints that the work and home lives of employees are blurred, causing stress and negatively affecting decision making. The move follows criticism of internal emails by Thierry Breton, chief executive of the French information technology services giant, Atos. He said workers at his firm were wasting hours of their lives on internal messages both at home and at work. He has taken the more radical step of banning internal email altogether from 2014.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Torstar to acquire Blue Ant Media

Torstar Corp. is to acquire a 25 percent stake in domestic broadcaster Blue Ant Media for $22.7 million. The deal marks a return to broadcasting for Torstar after it sold a minority stake in CTV, Canada’s top-rated broadcaster, to phone giant BCE.Blue Ant Media is led by Michael MacMillan, a former CEO of Alliance Atlantis Communications until he cashed out in 2007.MacMillan has since returned to broadcaster with his Blue Ant Media earlier this year acquiring a controlling interest in GlassBOX Television, and a minority interest in Quarto Communications. Also Wednesday, Blue Ant Media unveiled a deal to acquire Canadian broadcaster High Fidelity HDTV Inc. and its four premium high definition channels - Oasis HD, eqhd, radX and HIFI.Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Blue Ant Media will pick up an initial 29.9 per cent stake in High Fidelity HDTV, with the 70.1 percent stake to be acquired after the deal received regulatory approval from the CRTC.  U.S. private equity firm Providence Equity Capital Markets will help Blue Ant Media finance its High Fidelity HDTV acquisition."We view the investment in Blue Ant Media as strategic, providing Torstar with the opportunity to further diversify our Canadian media asset base" David Holland, president and CEO of Torstar, said Wednesday.  Hollywood Reporter. 

What will Star do with high-brow properties

The HDTV channels, which will now be 25 percent owned by the Torstar empire, sell a fine blend of niche entertainment. Much of it appeals to the intellect. All the channels are available only by subscription. The most broadly based of the quartet of HDTV signals is Oasis HD. It appears to be a family quality nature-oriented channel. The charming video from YouTube above, which is embedded on Oasis HD's website, tells the story of a friendship between an elephant and a sheep. The channel eqed is proudly brainy. Eqed boasts the motto "Ït's smart in here."  HIFI is a highbrow music and arts service. Finally, radX features risk, adventure and danger. Some may wonder what a relentlessly populist media giant like Torstar would like to do with these rather narrowly-defined properties. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Piers Morgan squirming under questioning

Lord Justice Leveson threatens to call Heather Mills to give evidence as former News of the World and Daily Mirror Editor Piers Morgan struggles with questions on whether he listened to illegally obtained voicemails.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guardian pans Piers Morgan at media inquiry

Highly-coloured blog post from the Guardian expressing all its dislike of Piers Morgan. Most authoritative reporting: "But as a witness at the Leveson inquiry, when asked to explain his guide to hacking into telephone voicemail from a 2001 entry in his own published memoirs, Morgan said: "I'm sorry – it was 10 years ago, I can't remember." Questioned further, Morgan couldn't offer even the vaguest recollection where the "little trick" might have come from."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Killing of bin Laden AP's top news story of 2011

Suitable choice even given the many profound events of this year.

CTV News Channel unveils new set, format

CTV News Channel unveiled a new look and format Monday.  Story linked off the headline

No free press in DPRK

BBC pot boiler recounting the lack of freedom in North Korea. No, really? But in fairness, it's a complete picture of the worst predictions of Orwell come true in Korea..  The  official name of this benighted national jail reminds us of the old newsroom  rule-of -thumb that if a country has the word Democratic in its name, it definitely isn't.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

CBS to revive Murrow epic Person to Person

The New York Times is calling it "back to the future" programming and in this case CBS is going a long way back. The network will revive the seminal live-remote epic TV interview show Person to Person.  Person to Person appeared during the 1950s and was hosted by Edward R. Murrow (left). Somewhat interestingly, it is said that Murrow rather disliked the program. It featured him in a New York studio talking live (or visiting) a celebrity or well known person in his/her home. The program involved tons of equipment and an army of cable pullers as the distant past required. (there was no satellite). The revival will feature Charlie Rose and Lara Logan, who are scheduled to take over the CBS Early Show in the new year. 

Metroland closes 6 weeklies in Ottawa area

Ottawa Citizen on how the EMC group of weekly papers is being shut down to let Metroland titles expand and thrive. Staff at the discontinued papers are to be absorbed by Metroland papers. More consolidation is expected.  Link above.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, militant pundit, essayist and author dies

Christopher Hitchens, the author, essayist and polemicist who waged verbal and occasional physical battle on behalf of causes on the left and right and wrote the provocative bestseller "God is Not Great," died Thursday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.

AP obit here:;postID=504394959203775312

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Britain's top judge relaxes rules on court tweets

British journalists are now free to report directly from trials by using mobiles and laptops in court, England and Wales' most senior judge has decided. The ruling for courts in England and Wales means media organisations no longer have to seek permission to report live using emails, texts or websites such as Twitter. The new guidance only extends to reporters and legal commentators. Members of the public will still have to seek approval if they want to use their devices in court because of fears witnesses or jurors could be influenced or distracted.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crown applies to have Stanley Cup riot cases televised

Eight accused Stanley Cup rioters appeared in Vancouver Provincial Court Wednesday with Crown prosecutors making an application to televise the proceedings.
In her throne speech in October, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she wanted the riot proceedings broadcast. Crown spokesperson Neil MacKenzie said an application to televise proceedings would be made on a case-by-case basis.
“The crown will be making the applications for broadcast of trials for sentencing proceedings, so substantive appearances,” he said. “Those applications will be made when the court schedules them at the appropriate time.”
MacKenzie said the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch initially opposed the idea. However, Crown prosecutors are now acting on directions from the Attorney General, who supports it.
MacKenzie would not speculate how long the application process would take, but said additional staff would manage the process, allowing the dedicated five-member Crown prosecution team to focus on the trials.

'Monochromatic, nervous and no charisma': Critics slam Chelsea Clinton as she makes NBC debut

Chelsea Clinton’s much-hyped debut as an NBC reporter last night was today slammed as 'monochromatic', 'nervous' and showing 'no charisma'. The 31-year-old former first daughter chatted with Rock Center host Brian Williams on the NBC sofa and did a segment on a non-profit organisation. Some reviewers gave her the benefit of the doubt for first-night nerves but one suggested she could be ‘one of the most boring people of her era’. Dressed in a plain claret dress for the studio part, she was decidedly low key as she talked about the non-profit story and how she came to NBC.

The critics:

'What was surprising to see on Monday night’s show is how someone can be on TV in such a prominent way and, in her big moment, display so very little charisma - none at all. Either we’re spoiled by TV’s unlimited population of giant personalities or this woman is one of the most boring people of her era' (Hank Stuever, Washington Post)

'Clinton... seems like a very nice young woman. She is obviously bright, although we already suspected she was that as well. Otherwise, there was nothing else that necessarily dismissed charges (mostly by TV critics, although they were not alone) that she got this job because of that name' (Verne Gay, Newsday)

Los Angeles Times editor to step down this month; layoffs may be the cause

Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton will step down this month and be replaced by the managing editor for news, the newspaper has announced. Stanton has been editor since 2007, guiding the paper during a tumultuous period in which its parent, Tribune Co, has been mired in bankruptcy proceedings and the newsroom has weathered multiple rounds of layoffs. Once among the most influential news organizations in the world, the Times has suffered severely from the financial problems that have afflicted most big-city newspapers in the age of the Internet. One person familiar with the situation told anews agency that further layoffs were expected and that may have been a factor in Stanton's departure. During Stanton's tenure as editor, the newsroom staff has fallen from more than 900 people to about 550, the paper reported on its website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Former hockey star calls for firing of Montreal Gazette columnist Pat Hickey

Forner hockey star Theoren Fleury is calling for the firing of a Montreal Gazette sportswriter who called the him “hypocritical” in a column over recent remarks Fleury made about the justice system’s handling of Graham James, the former junior hockey coach who sexually abused Fleury and other players.
In an article that appeared in the Gazette and other newspapers Tuesday, Pat Hickey called out Fleury for saying Canada’s justice system didn’t do enough to keep James behind bars. Fleury cited James’ pardon after being convicted of sexual assault in 1997 against three players, including another former National Hockey League player, Sheldon Kennedy. James was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and given a pardon in 2007.
But Hickey wrote in his column that Fleury only went public with his allegations against James more than a decade later in his autobiography, Playing With Fire.
Hickey said it was “hypocritical that Fleury can blast the justice system for giving James two months of freedom when he provided his former coach with years.”
A website for Fleury posted a statement — under the headline “This is why no one comes forward” — that called on the public to “demand” from the Gazette that “Pat Hickey be fired immediately.”
“We find it very distressing to hear anyone, much less a columnist for a major newspaper, take the side of a known convicted rapist by calling Theo Fleury an enabler,” said the statement.
Hickey used the term “enabler” when recounting how Fleury was a business partner of James — Fleury was a co-owner of the junior hockey team the Calgary Hitmen while James was coach — when Kennedy’s allegations became public.
“Here was someone who had suffered abuse at the hands of Graham James,” Hickey wrote. “Here was someone who knew that James had abused other players. Here was someone who was exposing other children to the same sexual predator.
“Fleury has been through enough counselling to know there’s a word for someone who acts in this fashion — enabler.”
Kennedy himself was a minor investor in the Hitmen hockey team.
In comparing the two abused former NHLers, Hickey stated that “Fleury didn’t show the same courage as Kennedy,” based on how much longer it took for Fleury to come forward.
Fleury’s rebuttal said: “Pat Hickey is more interested in attempting to pit the abused against one another than in demanding justice. This column makes all other pedophiles rub their hands in glee; they have found a new hero in Pat Hickey.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Calgary columnist says E-mails no substitute for real interview

Calgary Herald columnist Jeremy Klaszus writes:

"In the age of smartphones and social media, the e-mail interview has become the bane of Canadian journalism.
"Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an e-mail interview. An interview is a conversation. A reporter asks questions, listens, and asks further questions based on the answers he or she hears. It's a fluid process that requires real, human, audible voices.
"But under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the federal government regards the spoken word method (it's called 'reporting') as antiquated. Federal communications staff, once called spokespeople, shy away from speaking to journalists. They prefer, or are forced, to do everything by e-mail.
"It's a common experience for Canadian journalists. You phone a federal department with a few simple questions. A so-called spokesperson won't give answers, but asks for your e-mail address, or worse, asks you to e-mail your questions. You do so, and wait. Your e-mail is sent through who knows how many offices in Ottawa. You keep waiting. Finally, right before deadline, you get an e-mail with a few carefully crafted lines in response to your query.
"The reporter is encouraged to attribute the scripted lines to a spokes-person. This is presented as an acceptable substitute for an interview.
"Here's where journalists should simply say "no" and refuse to play ball. In fact, they should refuse to even give their e-mail addresses in the first place, demanding that everything happen by phone or in person. The e-mail procedure is a joke, de-basing journalists and readers alike. There's usually no time for followup questions; dodged questions remain dodged, weak explanations go unchallenged. Everyone loses, except for the control freak overseeing this bizarre operation. . . ."

Shaw paid $25.5-million to retired CEO Jim Shaw

Shaw Communications Inc. made a $25.5-million payment to former CEO Jim Shaw when he retired in the past fiscal year, regulatory filings show. The company offered no explanation for the payment in an annual shareholder proxy circular filed late Friday, which also shows Shaw’s pension entitlement ballooned in the past year. However, the company’s first-quarter earnings released in January showed  Shaw received a $25-million “package” upon his retirement, which equalled three years of compensation at $8.5-million a year. The new document shows  Shaw earned $26.7-million in the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, and a footnote to the compensation chart briefly says the total includes “a payment totalling $25.5-million for Jim Shaw in 2011.” Mr. Shaw retired as CEO in November, 2010, at age 53. . Shaw, the son of cable company founder JR Shaw, retired two months earlier than his previously announced retirement day of Jan. 13, 2011, shortly after he was criticized for displaying unusual behaviour at an investor luncheon. Some people who attended the Vancouver event said he appeared to be inebriated. He is still on the board of Shaw and is the company’s vice-chairman.

Bell must share mobile NHL with other telcos

Release from the CRTC in Ottawa -- Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) found that Bell Mobility gave itself a significant competitive advantage by entering into exclusive agreements for the mobile rights to popular National Hockey League (NHL) and National Football League (NFL) content. "Canadians shouldn't be forced to subscribe to a wireless service from a specific company to access their favourite content," said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. "Healthy and fair competition between service providers will promote greater choice for Canadians." Today's decision was triggered by a complaint filed by Telus Communications after it had unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate for the rights owned exclusively by Bell Mobility. The NHL content in question includes games and video highlights, while the NFL content includes prime-time games, all playoff games (including the Super Bowl) and access to NFL Network programming. Bell Mobility must file a report within 30 days explaining how it will ensure that Telus has access to its NHL and NFL content at reasonable terms.

William (Bill) MacDougal, CP veteran, dies at 76

Bill MacDougal, a 35-year veteran of The Canadian Press, has died at age 76. Following his retirement, he worked with the Election Consortium, a group that co-ordinates election coverage. Bill was the son of the late Fraser MacDougall, who was also a long-serving CP staffer, specializing in election coverage. The Globe and Mail death notice is here:

BBC admits faking footage of polar bears

The BBC's popular "Frozen Planet" series promises to show viewers Arctic animals in their snowy, frozen habitats, but the broadcaster conceded Monday that recent scenes of a polar bear with her cubs were actually shot in a European zoo, not the wild, as had been implied in the program.
The BBC insisted that it had not misled audiences or tricked them into thinking that the scenes showing a female polar bear tenderly nursing her newborn cubs in an icy den in the dead of winter were filmed in the wild.
Its response came after The Daily Mirror accused it of "faking" the footage. The paper quoted lawmaker John Whittingdale, who heads the House of Commons culture committee, as saying the BBC should have been clearer about the origin of the shots.The BBC statement said most of the footage for the Frozen Planet series was filmed in the wild but that some sequences, including those of the polar bear giving birth, had to be filmed in controlled conditions.
It said: "We felt that the birthing process was a pivotal part of the story, which had to be told. It would be quite impossible for our cameras to film inside a den in the wild without disturbing the female. For this reason the polar bear den sequence was filmed in controlled conditions."
The BBC said presenter David Attenborough's narration was carefully worded so that it did not mislead audiences.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Martyn Burke doc about journalists in combat screens Dec. 19 to 21 at Revue

The psychological cost of covering war
Shortlisted for Academy Award Nomination
REVUE CINEMA – 400 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Sneak Preview - December 19 thru 21, 2011, 7:00 pm
Q and A with filmmakers, December 19

Only two journalists were killed in World War I. Sixty-three journalists were killed in World War II. In the last two decades almost a journalist a week has been killed, with the dead numbering in the thousands. The conclusions are obvious. Journalism in times of war has become an increasingly lethal endeavor - and extremely traumatic – as journalists are now viewed as natural targets by combatants; subject to kidnapping, torture and even beheadings. With journalists facing these new realities, UNDER FIRE weaves together combat footage and first-hand accounts by the journalists who were there to reveal what they see, think and feel as they confront the physical danger and savagery of war. (Running time – 1:30)
Directed and Produced by Martyn Burke.
Produced by Anthony Feinstein
martynburke.comWATCH THE TRAILER:

Interesting feature interview with Jill Abramson of the N.Y. Times

The Globe's Susan Krashinsky did a nice interview of Jill Abramson, the first woman to run the New York Times. Link:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Man publishes fake obit of mother to get time off from work

Authorities in Brookville, Pennsylvania, say a man published a fake obituary for his living mother in a ploy to get paid bereavement time off from work. Relatives called The Jeffersonian Democrat newspaper in Pennsylvania after the obit appeared to say the woman was actually alive and well. The woman herself then visited the paper. Police charged 45-year-old Scott Bennett on Tuesday with disorderly conduct. Newspaper editor Randy Bartley says he accepted the obituary in good faith after being unable to confirm the funeral arrangements at press time. He told The Derrick newspaper on Friday that the woman was very understanding. Police Chief Ken Dworek says Bennett wrote up the memorial notice because he didn't want to get fired for taking time off.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Newspaper's union slams Mayor Ford's shutout of The Star

The union representing journalists and other Toronto Star employees is adding its voice to those complaining about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's boycott of the newspaper's reporters. Ford's decision to exclude Star reporters in emails about city events and press releases threatens the ability of all reporters to do their job, said Paul Morse, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. John Honderich, chairman of Torstar Corp., wrote last week that the newspaper would file a complaint with Toronto's integrity commissioner. Ford has stated he won't lift the ban until the Star makes a front-page apology for an article that appeared more than a year ago that he says was false.

Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors sold to Rogers and BCE; competition bureau to vet takeover

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan announced on Friday that will sell its 79.5 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, to Rogers Communications and BCE for $1.32 billion. The companies made the announcement in a morning news conference at the Air Canada Centre to confirm the blockbuster deal. MLSE also owns the Raptors of the NBA, Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, the Marlies of the American Hockey League, the Air Canada Centre, two specialty television channels and Maple Leaf Square, a condominium development adjacent to the arena. Under the agreement, Rogers and Bell Canada will divide their 75 per cent share of MLSE evenly. And Larry Tanenbaum whose firm, Kilmer Sports, owned 21.47 per cent of MLSE increases its ownership to 25 per cent. The federal competition watchdog has announced that it will vet the takeover. “The Competition Bureau will be investigating the transaction to see if it results in a lessening or prevention of competition,” said a spokesperson for Melanie Aitken, the head of the federal bureau charged with rooting out anti-competitive corporate behaviour. Noting that news of the deal only broke early Friday, the spokesperson couldn’t say how long the investigation would take.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paul Godfrey on Postmedia shakeup

Chris Powell in Marketing takes a few digs at Postmedia digital strategy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NDP winner must face Tout le monde en parle

Nice insight from Chantal Hebert into the perilous command performance awaiting the new leader of the NDP.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Terrance Wills dead at age 73

Terrance Wills, 73, has died of cancer in Ottawa at the age of 73. He was an Ottawa- and Washington-based reporter (The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette, Southam News, Newhouse News). His obit, published today in the Citizen, said he was from "the faded era of hard-living journalism (and) through the strength and loyalty (49 years) of a loving wife (Bee), saw three great kids mature into thoughtful adults and form strong bonds with fine partners (Marc and Nanda, Julie and Gordon, Jennifer and Colin), that Terry and Bee might enjoy four spirited grandchildren, Xue, Mattias, Markus and Mei."

British put 300 years of newspaper articles online

It is an epic achievement but as Ed King, head of the British Library’s newspaper collection said: "What’s really striking is how these pages take us straight back to scenes of murders, social deprivation and church meetings from hundreds of years ago, which we no longer think about as we haven’t been able to easily access articles about them.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

British MP criticized for Auschwitz remark

The UK media panel has come face to face with the central question at the heart of tabloid immorality. It happened during a free-wheeling exchange between Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith and Lord Brentwood. (inset left to right). In a set-to regarding the publication of stories about private lives, Lord Brentwood said the government has to take into concern the "commercial viability" of the media. He said the press needs to be commercially successful. Goldsmith in effect said bunk. He declared: "Nobody said...that Auschwitz should have been kept open because it created jobs. This is just a non-argument." After this, Goldsmith was criticized to using the name of the WWII death camp. He is accused of having said media is somehow like Auschwitz. This would seem a stretch. It may be rather florid usage but it does address the moral issue of whether newspapers need intrusive gossip about citizens for the purpose of keeping their reporters employed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

City News on Cable 15, Sun News gets lost

Now that Rogers Cable has plopped its new baby, CityNews Channel, on Cable 15, it's only a question we suppose of how Ezra Levant and the folks at Sun News like their new home in nosebleed country. That would be Cable 142. It's right between the unwatched repeaters of City tv (Cable (140) and TVO (Cable 144). Talk about being out in the cold. Those familiar with the arcane practices of channel bundling may know why both these channels cannot be fitted into the news package including everything from Fox News to Deutsche Welle. But don't mind us, we're only here to pay our subscription.

Buffett muses on future, and value, of newspapers

Warren Buffett talked to shareholders of his new acquisition, the Omaha World-Herald. His remarks are somewhat disparate but of interest. It does sound a bit like he's trying to persuade himself he did the right thing.

"A few of you may have heard me talk about the economics of the newspaper business, which have changed dramatically in recent years. It was an extraordinary business for a long time. ... But of course it's a different game now. ...

"I think newspapers, if they partially solve one of the three big problems they face, have a decent future. ... (The daily newspaper is) still primary on a lot of things, but it doesn't have the universality of primariness that really made the paper such an incredible bargain and a necessary purchase for everyone. It is a high-cost form of distribution, as you're doing everything from cutting down trees all the way to getting a product in my hands early in the morning, and there are a lot of steps in that and a lot of people involved. ...

"And the third problem is, papers are giving away free what they are trying to sell. That's a business model you have to think through carefully over time. Those problems have now been recognized, to some extent there is a counterattack. I think ... an attack on the third factor can make most operations economic, (although) not with the economics of 20 or even 10 years ago.

"So far, I would say the evidence is there will be many papers who can deal with those problems. It is still an enormously useful product to a great deal of people. ...

"The great majority (of newspapers) are making money. The question is whether the trends take those papers into a position of loss. I don't think it has to happen, but I don't think it's 100 percent sure it won't happen. ... From what I see, I think The World-Herald will earn a reasonable return on the money we're laying out for it. It doesn't have a comparable future economically to certain other businesses we have. So be it."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Warren Buffett buys his hometown paper

Nice to think there is one small town newspaper that just will never have to worry about outsourcing or layoffs again. Really, doesn't it seem like Warren Buffett's purchase of the Omaha World-Herald is an act of philanthropy? What happened to all that "proven record of profitability"stuff.

The Chronicle Herald publisher dies at 84

Obituary of Graham Dennis.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Todd van der Heyden Toronto-bound

News anchor Todd van der Heyden will say goodbye to his hometown, and to CTV Montreal, at the end of the year. Van der Heyden has accepted a new position at CTV News Channel in Toronto, and begins work on a new show in January. Since 2008 van der Heyden has been co-anchoring the top-rated news program in Montreal, CTV News at Six, with Mutsumi Takahashi, but he's been working here for more than a decade and his presence will be missed. CTV.

Sun TV Photoshops out former anchor, inserts new one

The National Post reports that rather than retake a group photo after the departure one of its anchors, the Sun News Network simply decided to “erase” the ex-employee and paste in anew one.In a Tuesday Web post announcing the channel’s return to Bell TV, the network’s anchors are featured at an April 1 ribbon-cutting with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.To account for the June departure of Theo Caldwell, third from right in the second photo below, image editors pasted over the former anchor with a discoloured, mildly out-of-proportion image of his replacement, Michael Coren.
This practice has a long history in the former Soviet Union where ousted members of the Politburo were simply retouched out of group photos.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Andrew Coyne leaving Macleans to write for PostMedia

Andrew Coyne has announced in an e-mail that he will be leaving Maclean’s to write a column for the Postmedia newspaper chain, starting in the new year. He said "an opportunity to write for a combined national readership of five million, three times a week, is too good to pass up."
"It’s exceedingly hard to leave Maclean’s, which is a great magazine and an even better place to work. I wish Ken Whyte, Mark Stevenson and his team the very best," Coyne wrote. "It’s an auspicious time to be joining Postmedia, which is on a roll these days."

Toronto Star taking mayor Ford's shutout to City's integrity commissioner

The Toronto Star will file an official complaint to the city’s integrity commissioner about Rob Ford’s directive that excludes the paper from official releases and announcements, John Honderich, chair of the Star’s parent company, Torstar, announced. During Ford’s mayoral campaign last year, the paper ran a story about his conduct as a football coach that led to him leaving his position from a team in 2001. Ford alleges the story is untrue, and called it a political attack on his campaign. He imposed a freeze on issuing official releases to the Star after his election, and says the freeze will not be lifted until he gets a front-page, above-the-fold apology. Councillor Adam Vaughan's motion for "free press and democracy" was recently shot down by Ford's allies, though Vaughan says the motion that would have prohibited city officials from excluding specific jounalists or outlets was not specific to the Star. Vaughan spent over 20 years as a political reporter before running for council in 2006. “Mayor Ford has no obligation to speak to or be interviewed by the Star. That is entirely his choice. However, when it comes to public press releases and public notifications from his office as mayor of all the people, that is another matter,” Honderich said in a statement featured on the Star’s homepage. “That directly affects our ability to cover city hall and serve our readers.”

Honderich's statement is here:

U.S. TV ownership declines for first time in Nielsen history

Every year, the estimated number of U.S. households owning TV sets goes up. Until now. According to Nielsen Media Research’s annual “Television Audience” report that was released this week, the number of households with a TV set will decline for the first time in the company’s survey history (which extends back to 1970). The rising trend of TV ownership has been leveling off in recent years, and now the number has dropped from 115.9 million homes in 2011 to an estimated 114.7 million in 2012. As TV Barn pointed out, that’s a 1 percent decline despite the number of households rising. TV ownership among the key adult 18-49 demo also declined, and even steeper (down 2.7 percent — a downtrend that started to a slight degree in 2010 and then accelerated this year). Plus, the percentage of homes without a TV is at the highest level since 1975 (3 percent, up from 1 percent the previous year). Why is this happening? There’s a few factors that could be at play, including more people watching TV shows online and the distressed economy.

Blog Archive