Media matters 2014

Written by  //  November 28, 2014  //  Media, Security  //  1 Comment

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
U.S.National Archives Media Matters

The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi Seems to be a thorough summary and paints a very unflattering picture of CBC management’s handling of the sordid story.
(The Fifth Estate) He was the breakout success the CBC needed and there was a time Jian Ghomeshi was everywhere – on radio, TV, hosting award galas and specials. Still there were whispers and allegations…. Ghomeshi was arrested on sex assault charges Wednesday but for years he seemed untouchable. Did his stardom blind people to what was going on ? CBC insiders tell the story of what really happened.
22 November
Linden MacIntyre: Why I Left The CBC And Its Toxic Atmosphere
(HuffPost) Critics argue that the quality of the service offered by the CBC has deteriorated to the point where it’s hard to justify even the measly $33. But it takes us to that old chicken and egg dilemma: which comes first, stingy funding or mediocre programs. I can tell you because I was there for 38 years. The CBC I’m leaving is a shadow of the CBC I joined. In 1976, I joined an institution which was a place for young Canadians to grow and, eventually, contribute to the country in diverse ways. I’m leaving a place where people struggle to survive professionally and, sad to say in many cases — psychologically and emotionally. The difference can be explained to a very great extent by funding cutbacks driven largely by political hostility which has resulted in a hemorrhage of brains and talent from the corporation.
Since the announcement that sparked my decision to leave the CBC — the loss of 657 jobs — 400 more people have received redundancy notices and there will be 400 more positions lost in 2016 and that will not be the end of it, not by a long shot. The active abuse and the passive neglect have been going on for a long time and will continue until politicians get a clear signal from Canadians that a broadcaster dedicated to the service of Canadians is worth supporting.
21 November
Jonathan Kay: My life at the National Post, and why I’ll miss it
This week will be my last as a staff member of the National Post. I will still write for these pages on a freelance basis. But I’ve decided that it’s time to pass the comment-pages reins over to someone else.
As I leave, I want to thank the people who made the National Post such a fantastic place these last 16 years — especially my colleagues in the comment section … From the way Kelly McParland, Matt Gurney, Chris Selley, Gary Clement, Robyn Urback, Jesse Kline and I banter and taunt one another on Twitter, one might get the impression that life in our little corner of the Post is a daily diet of interesting debate and hilarious quips. I’m happy to report that this impression is completely accurate: This job has been a blast.
A job where you get paid to talk to your mother every day — while telling the whole world what you think about whatever subject pops into your mind? It’s been a privilege and a delight. And not a minute of it has passed without me realizing how lucky I am to have been given this extraordinary opportunity.
18 November
New level of Fox News dominance demands analysis, not dismissal
(Baltimore Sun) it’s time to think seriously about what that says about Fox, CNN, MSNBC, the state of network news today and the role TV plays or doesn’t play in providing us with reliable, trustworthy information. … But there are three ratings stories the last two weeks that taken together show Fox News rising to a new and remarkable level of dominance – and they have been underreported in the mainstream media.
First, Fox News beat not just CNN and MSNBC, but also ABC, NBC and CBS on Nov. 4, the night of the mid-term elections. It did so in both total viewers and the key news demographic: viewers 25 to 54 years of age. … Step One in assessing this sea change is for the media establishment to admit the dominance of Fox News today. Ignoring its success doesn’t make it any less real. And then, we need to start seriously trying to figure out how and why it has come to pass that Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly matter more to Americans on election night than Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, George Stephanopoulos, Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer – way more than the latter two.
I think one of the reasons for this latest evolution of ratings dominance might be that Fox was a far better watchdog on the Obama White House than any other TV news organization.
6 November
Jian Ghomeshi: How he got away with it
Jian Ghomeshi’s behaviour was an open secret, going back to his university days. Not that anyone took action. In fact, the CBC made him a star.
(Maclean’s) It’s a story far from over. Ghomeshi,…  has said he plans to address the allegations, but has not yet done so. (Maclean’s requests for an interview were not answered.)
31 October
Let’s hope that with this no-nonsense account from the Globe & Mail Behind the CBC’s decision to fire Jian Ghomeshi, some of the voyeuristic frenzy will die down. One statement that particularly caught my eye:
“You’re on this crazy ride so you just deal with Jian’s perfectionist attitude,” said Mr. Tunnacliffe, who is one of the two minds behind at least 95 per cent of the trademark essays Mr. Ghomeshi read at the opening of each show. (Although the essays were often attributed to Mr. Ghomeshi, most were written by Mr. Tunnacliffe … or Sean Foley, another former producer.) For many listeners, I suspect, the essays were often a highlight of the show.

Aislin fifty shades of QJian Ghomeshi: 8 women accuse former CBC host of violence, sexual abuse or harassment
One woman, actor Lucy DeCoutere, alleges she was slapped and choked without her consent.
Ghomeshi, 47, was fired Sunday from his job as host of Q , a flagship radio show of the publicly funded broadcaster. Ghomeshi has alleged in a lawsuit filed the next day that CBC made a “moral judgment” that his practice of a bondage-sadism sex life was wrong. He is suing the CBC for $55 million for defamation and breach of trust and the corporation has said it will “vigorously” defend itself against Ghomeshi’s lawsuit.
do you know about jian
“For at least half as long as I have been been alive, a string of five short words, or something very like them, slipped through the back-channels of certain social scenes. The question was whispered around wine glasses from Toronto to Vancouver, they were tapped out in texts and Twitter direct messages between old friends, or between kindred spirits newly met. In time, the answer that most followed became just as familiar as the question that preceded: a nodded affirmative, a mouth twisted in a rictus of disgust.
Generally, the stories the women have told the Star describe a man obsessed with his image and power, and someone who they say has little or no respect for barriers.”
26 October
Ghomeshi out at CBC; intends to sue
21 October

Ben Bradlee, legendary Washington Post editor, dies at 93

Although he really did not look like Jason Robards (Watch: Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in ‘All the President’s Men), Ben Bradlee was a folk hero for media junkies of several generations, setting an example that few of today’s editors would dare – or care – to emulate.
Vanity Fair: Legendary Journalist Ben Bradlee Dies at Age 93 — Bradlee’s self-confidence was the stuff of legend—and, as the saying goes, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend;  The Atlantic: Ben Bradlee: Everything a Great Editor Should Be — The legendary Washington Post chief, who died on Tuesday at 93, enlivened the newspaper and the nation’s capital alike; The New Yorker: Postscript: Benjamin C. Bradlee (1921-2014) By David Remnick.

29 August
In harm’s way: Why war correspondents take risks and how they cope
(Globe & Mail) The persona of the war reporter is well established. These men and women occupy a unique niche in the media – a small, intrepid group whose high public profile is given a vast stage by a world perpetually in conflict. Some like Ernie Pyle, Robert Capa and Martha Gellhorn have attained a legendary status, their names inextricably linked to cataclysms that have shaped how we live today. No doubt future generations will view Marie Colvin and her contemporaries – James Nachtwey, Ian Stewart, Tim Hetherington – in a similar light.
In the field
What unites all these men and women is a body of work that shows us countries in chaos, burning, disintegrating, engulfed in something so terrible we can only pity them and give thanks that what we are witnessing is taking place on the other side of the world. Except now, in the age of globalization, linked as we are by technology, what unfolds in remarkable clarity on our iPhones or high-definition TVs is not really that far away at all. Keeping us informed of world events that have the power to shake us loose, even momentarily, from our comfort and complacency, correspondents’ work is more essential than ever before. They open our eyes to a contemporary history we can no longer ignore.
To the viewer or reader whose attention has been captured by the content of breaking news, what is not so readily apparent, for it is frequently obscured by the courage of journalists, is that this work can often come at a terrible personal cost.
17 August
I watched the western media turn away from explaining the world
Anjan Sundaram shared the lives of the Congolese to report one of the worst human disasters. Now, he says, journalists focus on an ever-narrower agenda … and miss the real stories
(The Guardian) The western news media are in crisis and turning their backs on the world, but we hardly ever notice. Where correspondents were once assigned to a place for months or years, reporters now handle often 20 countries. Bureaux are in hub cities, far from many of the countries they cover. And journalists are often lodged in expensive houses or five-star hotels. As the news has receded, so have our minds.
26 June
Wade Rowland: The CBC’s a service, not a business
(Globe & Mail) The CBC’s strategic plan to shift priorities from broadcast to digital services and outsource virtually all but news and current affairs programming is, on the whole, a sensible strategy – from a purely business perspective. …  [BUT] most people who study digital online media recognize that one of its impacts is to atomize audiences. Where traditional broadcasting creates a kind of congregation, a community of interest, the fragmented, specialized nature of Internet content tends to encourage individuals to focus on their own established interests. There is certainly a place for this, but it runs counter to the community-building remit of public broadcasting.
26 May
Freedom of the Press 2014Freedom of the Press 2014
Press Freedom at the Lowest Level in a Decade
Only 1 in 7 people live in a country with a ‘free’ press.
Global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, according to the latest edition of Freedom House’s press freedom survey. The decline was driven in part by major regression in several Middle Eastern states, including Egypt, Libya, and Jordan; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.
Freedom of the Press 2014 found that despite positive developments in a number of countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, the dominant trends were reflected in setbacks in every other region.
PRESS FREEDOM IN 2013: Media Freedom Hits Decade Low
by Karin Deutsch Karlekar and Jennifer Dunham
Global press freedom fell to its lowest level in over a decade in 2013, as hopes raised by the Arab Spring were further dashed by major regression in Egypt, Libya, and Jordan, and marked setbacks also occurred in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa. In another key development, media freedom in the United States deteriorated due primarily to attempts by the government to inhibit reporting on national security issues.
Meanwhile, as a result of declines in democratic settings over the past several years, the share of the world’s population that enjoys a Free press remained at 14 percent, meaning only one in seven people live in countries where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures. (May 2014)
26 May
John Doyle: Remembering Knowlton Nash is remembering a CBC that’s long gone
When Nash was anchor of The National and before that, for a decade, a CBC TV executive running the news and current affairs division, there was exceptional clarity and even precision to CBC TV’s role in Canada. It had a mandate, it had the resources and it forged ahead, telling stories, reporting on scandals and personalities. People paid close attention. The PMO paid attention. It mattered. Sure, I once heard Knowlton Nash joke that the firm line-up for The National was decided when the bulldog edition of the Globe and Mail appeared – the initial print edition that was sold on the street in Toronto in the early evening – and confirmed to CBC News the hierarchy of news stories. But CBC TV news started and controlled the national conversation to a forceful degree.
Nash’s days at CBC, National anchor from 1978 to 1988, and just after, were extraordinary times. In Canada, the end of the Trudeau era and arrival of the Mulroney government. Abroad, the emphatic Reagan-era, the rise of neo-conservatism and the end of the Cold War. On CBC, The National was followed by The Journal and Barbara Frum, like Nash, directed a national conversation. Glory days.
Knowlton Nash remembered as ‘professional twin’ of ex-CBC correspondent Joe Schlesinger
Peter Mansbridge: Knowlton Nash, Peter Mansbridge, and a final ‘goodnight’
Knowlton was the bridge between the way journalism once was and the way it is now. He wasn’t pleased with news programs that sold sizzle instead of steak. He wrote a book about that, Trivia Pursuit. He certainly wasn’t opposed to new technologies that made it possible to deliver news faster and more widely. But he was adamant that news values shouldn’t change.
Get the story. Make sure it’s right. Tell it straight.
A plain, no-nonsense theory but one so honest to the core of what our profession is all about.
24 May
Knowlton Nash, longtime anchor of CBC’s The National, dead at 86
23 May
the first newspaper
( Today’s selection — from The Invention of News by Andrew Pettegree. In the wake of the invention of the printing press came printed news, first in the form of more lively news pamphlets, then in the form of more regular but less colorful newspapers. From the very first newspaper published in 1605, the problems that still plague the industry were present. Real news was often dull so publishers were inclined to spice it up. Politicians and rulers had a vested interest in getting favorable coverage so they maneuvered to influence or own newspapers. And content was inclined toward advocacy rather than reporting:
14 May
Photojournalist Camille Lepage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic
Camille Lepage, a 26-year-old French photojournalist, has been killed in the Central African Republic, say reports from the Associated Press and Reuters.
According to the Reuters report, citing a statement released today by French President Francois Hollande, Lepage’s body was found when French-affiliated soldiers stopped “a car driven by anti-balaka [Christian militia] groups, in the Bouar region.”
The Associated Press report, citing Lepage’s colleagues, says the photojournalist was caught in fighting “while traveling in a village about 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Bouar, near the country’s border with Cameroon.”
8 May
Veteran journalist Linden MacIntyre first high-profile casualty of CBC cuts
Mr. MacIntyre, a 24-year co-host of The Fifth Estate with nine Gemini Awards to his name, said he felt compelled to leave in part to preclude the layoffs of younger colleagues he characterized as being vital to the broadcaster’s future. Mr. MacIntyre said he expects to continue writing fiction, but is not anticipating further work with CBC. “I feel a great sense of bereavement in that something I’ve done for a very long time – I’ve been 24 years at The Fifth. It’s almost like a family, and I’m leaving it. You can’t do that without a certain sense of melancholy.” Very touching interview
5 May
Postmedia to outsource printing of Montreal daily The Gazette to Transcontinental

(Financial Post) Postmedia Network Canada Corp. announced plans Monday to outsource the printing of Montreal daily newspaper The Gazette to TC Transcontinental Printing beginning this August.
The Toronto-based newspaper company — which owns the largest chain of English-language dailies in Canada including the National Post — plans to put the Gazette’s printing facility on the market and use the proceeds to pay down debt.
The decision to end in-house production of the newspaper affects about 54 full-time and 61 substitute or casual employees, said Postmedia spokeswoman Phyllise Gelfand. The company did not yet have a figure for how much it expects to save.
Postmedia launched a cost transformation plan in July 2012 aimed at cutting annual operating costs by 15% t0 20% and it has also outsourced production at other titles.
2 May
Queen Mary
Mary McGrory and the lost art of the Washington prima donna.
(Politico Magazine May/June 2014) A colorful, cheeky anthropologist of American political life, she was a trailblazer who, 10 years after her death at age 85, has not been forgotten but hasn’t been fully appreciated, either. Over five decades and more than 8,000 newspaper columns, she fundamentally altered how we talk about politics and how we think about politicians—all while fending off presidential propositions and other indignities her male colleagues never endured.
Make Me Melt: The sale of Torstar’s Harlequin as a bodice-ripper
(Globe & Mail) Chapter 1
The tension in the room was palpable. The fan blades twirled to keep the sweat from trickling off their bodies. They’d done similar things with other people, of course, but it was never like this. This was scintillating, and they ached just from the anticipation.
Oh, yes, the bankers groaned, in their throaty way.
Yes, there, the lawyers moaned, passion mounting as they pointed to where to sign the deal.
Just hours before – really, it seemed like only minutes – the Torstar official had ripped off his suit jacket and was ready for business. The News Corp. representative, too, had removed his jacket, slowly, though, the muscles in his arms rippling, his tight shirt emphasizing his flat stomach.
In the corner of the room, on this warm spring day cooled only somewhat by the wind off the lake, stood Harlequin, arms crossed and still in shock that he wanted a divorce after 39 years.
17 April
David (Jones): Future of the CBC: It’s time to pull the plug on taxpayer-funded broadcasters
Essentially, there are multiple reasons that public broadcasting is irrelevant: philosophical, professional, and political. …
conservatives stress free market reasons to reduce funding while liberals seek new mechanisms for funding while cutting staff and hoping to survive until warmer climes return with the eviction of the hated Tories from government.
David (Kilgour) Future of the CBC: Canada still needs a healthy public broadcaster
there is still much value in a good public broadcaster, and good reason for taxpayers to sustain our own. Things are certainly changing at record pace in the communications sector, however, and CBC/Radio Canada will have to demonstrate more effectively than it has in the recent past that it remains an essential feature of our country’s cultural landscape.
Ontario MP Peter Kent, a former CBC correspondent and host, offers sage advice: “Any ‘rethink’ or ‘contemporization’ of the CBC comes down to a single hard truth: Canada needs a national public broadcaster, not a semi-private service. That’s where the conversation must begin.”
14 April
CBC logoCBC: Life support or the killing floor?
( Endless hacking away at the CBC’s budget has been going on for decades through a succession of both Liberal and Conservative governments. But this time, management is making a point of saying, in so many words, that it’s our fault, it’s not their fault. We’ve been told our financial woes are due to a number of internal pressures — such as lower-than-expected ad revenues and the loss of NHL broadcast rights.
None of this would be an issue if the CBC had a funding model like the BBC’s. In Britain, the public broadcaster is not dependent on the whims of the party in power; and there is no revenue from advertising because there are no ads. Instead, every household with a television pays a licence fee for public broadcasting (about $270 a year/ 74¢ a day). This means the Beeb knows how much revenue it will have year after year. It also means that Brits would choke on their crumpets if they felt they weren’t getting their money’s worth.
A Pulitzer triumph: Snowden reporting wins journalism’s top prize
Guardian, Washington Post win for surveillance reporting by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman
8 April
CBC Job Cuts, Budget Reductions To Be Announced Thursday: Reports
(HuffPost) CBC staff are preparing themselves for bad news Thursday when the broadcaster is expected to announce a major round of job cuts and reductions to services.
Insiders expect the cuts to hit the sales and news departments, but it’s CBC’s sports programming that will likely see the deepest reductions.
The broadcaster is scrambling to find a new business model after the devastating loss of NHL hockey, which moves to Rogers’ cable networks this year under a $5.2-billion, 12-year deal the telecom giant signed with the hockey league last year.
13 March
CBC should stop journalists like Rex Murphy from taking speaking fees: Ombudsman review
After Rex Murphy and Peter Mansbridge took spotlight over oil industry speaking fees, an Ombudsman now concludes the CBC’s broadcasters should be wary of payments from “powerful advocacy groups”
A new CBC Ombudsman review found that the public broadcaster should not be allowing its broadcasters to accept speaker fees, in light of recent “perception” controversies that both Rex Murphy and Peter Mansbridge were paid for appearing at oil-friendly conventions. Though both Murphy and Peter Mansbridge were cleared of any wrongdoing, Enkin said “taking money leads to a perception of a conflict of interest” — especially when the money is from “powerful lobby groups”.
9 March
Miles O’Brien, PBS reporter, has partial arm amputation
Miles O’Brien has partial arm amputation days after apparently minor injury on assignment
(AP via CBC) In a blog post posted Tuesday and verified by PBS, O’Brien recounts the Feb. 12 injury that occurred while he was on assignment in Asia and how it progressed to a life-threatening stage.

O’Brien says he was diagnosed with “acute compartment syndrome,” in which blocked blood flow in the body can cause serious consequences.
His doctor suggested an emergency procedure, called a fasciotomy, to relieve the pressure. During the procedure, O’Brien was unconscious but says there were complications during the procedure and the doctor had to make the choice to amputate his arm just above the elbow.
The PBS reporter says his doctor told him removing part of the arm was a choice between “a life and a limb.” He says he’s grateful to be alive.
PBS spokeswoman Anne Bell says O’Brien has continued working, despite the ordeal.
10 February
Postmedia Decapitates Parliament Bureau: A Tipping Point?
The more investigative reporters sacked, the less incentive the rest have to probe.
(The Tyee) Postmedia’s decision to torch its parliamentary bureau last week will inevitably compromise the newspaper chain’s ability to produce investigative public affairs reporting. There will be fewer hands to file access to information requests, fewer eyes to read public records and fewer minds to think of questions that aren’t being asked.
That’s a blow to Canada’s democracy, given that Postmedia publishes the National Post, the website and nine newspapers in major cities across the country.
7 February
CBC is going all-out for Sochi, but can’t ignore ‘dark clouds on the horizon’
(Globe & Mail) [President Hubert] Lacroix was clearly still trying to be inspirational when he sent out an internal memo to all employees last week. “Whenever I walk down the hall, wherever I happen to be, the energy is palpable,” he wrote. But, he added, “I also see dark clouds on the horizon,” citing the poor advertising market across the industry, low ratings for the main CBC-TV network this season, disappointing ad sales on its Radio 2 and Espace Musique services, and the impending loss of NHL hockey rights. He spoke of “tough and more fundamental decisions” that must soon be made.
The Sochi Olympics Are A Huge Test For NBC News
This year, NBC and its corporate sister channels are airing over 1500 hours of Olympics programming from Sochi.
Its news channels are turning over huge chunks of their schedules to sports. Its biggest news programs have all packed up and headed to Russia for the rest of the month. It is using the Games to give Jimmy Fallon his biggest potential introduction as the new host of “The Tonight Show,” and it will surely be promoting a huge number of its other corporate properties as well.
There is probably nothing more important to NBC than the Olympics. Unfortunately for the network, this year’s Games are shaping up to be the most controversial in years, and that could cause NBC a giant headache—especially its news division.
6 February
Don Martin: Only the government wins as Postmedia goes dark in Ottawa
(CTV) 14 years after Southam morphed into Canwest and then limped into a rechristening as Postmedia. On Tuesday, Postmedia brass delivered last rites to the once-mighty Ottawa operation. Another five layoffs reduced the overstretched bureau to rubble with its final four reporters sent off to join the Ottawa Citizen.
It’s a literal decimation, leaving just 10 per cent of the original Southam bureau to cover a government bloated in size and steeped in secrecy.
Those popping sounds are champagne corks going off in the Prime Minister’s Office as they celebrate another slash to their contingent of tormentors.
After all, a smaller media means a greater chance of bad news staying under wraps. The obligatory coverage of Parliament stretches reporter resources beyond the industry’s ability to dig deeper than the press release or scripted news conference. In a drought of warm reporting bodies, investigative journalism becomes a luxury, not a necessity. Add it up and that means victory for a government which has cocooned itself with communications staff programmed to deny, obfuscate or simply not respond to media requests.


One Comment on "Media matters 2014"

  1. TB via Diana Thebaud Nicholson May 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm ·

    Freedom House has published its annual list of nations ranked according to the freedom of the press:
    Finland shares the top post with Norway and Sweden.The US is number 24 and Canada 25, both behind such bastions of liberty as Palau and Jamaica. The UK is number 36 and Israel 65, trailing among others Ghana and Suriname.

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