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July 2, 2008

Vancouver Sun Civic Affairs Reporter Frances Bula Resigns Her Post


Frances Bula, the Vancouver Sun civic affairs reporter since 1994, abruptly announced her resignation from the newspaper today.

Dear all of my blog-readers,

This will be my last post on this Vancouver Sun blog, as I have resigned from the paper.

As Vancouver-based blogger Rob Cottingham states in his farewell tribute to Ms. Bula today, "Her blog post makes it clear that she thoroughly understands blogging - which makes losing her voice at the Sun doubly painful." Another Vancouver blogger, Bill Tieleman, weighs in on Ms. Bula's departure from the Sun, on Sean Holman's Public Eye Online, writing ...

This is indeed bad news for all of us who either report on municipal politics, follow them or are active in local government.

Frances Bula has done an outstanding job for many years and amazingly maintained her sense of humour despite sitting through endless rounds of pointless Vancouver city council meetings and much more.

Good luck to Frances wherever she goes - she will have many fans who will follow.

The Pivot Legal Society's David Eby writes on his blog, "For her to leave the Sun is, well ... shocking."

In what is shaping up to be the most important Vancouver civic election in almost a half century, Ms. Bula's resignation from the Sun, and rumoured movement to Vancouver Magazine — with its three month advance deadline, and consequent lack of reportorial immediacy — represents the loss of a critical voice, at a critical juncture, on Vancouver's civic scene.

Unless Ms. Bula commences with her new blog (which she promises) by early autumn, Vancouver citizens will find them far less informed on the machinations of the fall civic election than otherwise would be the case.

We are all the lesser for Ms. Bula's departure from the daily journalistic rigours of reporting on the often tempestuous Vancouver civic scene.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 6:38 PM | Permalink | Vancouver

August 15, 2005

CBC Locks Out 5500 Employees After Talks Fail


The CBC locked out about 5,500 employees at 12:01 a.m. Monday after no substantial progress was made in last-minute bargaining between Canada’s largest broadcaster and its union, the Canadian Media Guild.

The workers have been without a contract for more than a year, with the CBC saying it needs more flexibility to hire new staff on a contract basis instead of full-time.

The CMG, which represents producers, newsroom staff and technicians, says 30 per cent of the CBC’s workforce is already non-permanent, giving the network all the flexibility it needs.

In an announcement late Sunday evening, the CBC said “the rhythm of negotiation this past week has given no indication of urgency on the part of the union” which it says has not presented a comprehensive offer.

Programming on all CBC services — radio, television and online — will continue, though it will be scaled back. Management says the CBC will continue to broadcast CFL football and NHL hockey games — but possibly without play-by-play commentary or colour analysis. Local radio morning shows will be replaced by a single national broadcast. TV newscasts will be cut back, with more acquired programming and movies aired.

As background, last month, guild members voted 87.3 per cent in favour of giving their negotiating team a strike mandate. The employees have been without a contract since the end of March 2004. Negotiations for a new contract began in May 2004. Employees in Québéc and Moncton, N.B., belong to different unions and are expected to continue working but not to cross over into Ontario to help out.

The broadcaster’s last major dispute was late in 2001, when technical staff were locked out across the country. In some cases, the sound and lighting was not up to usual standards, newscasts were truncated or eliminated, and repeats filled the airwaves.

Among those locked out is Peter Mansbridge, anchor of The National, the country’s flagship television newscast.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:58 AM | Permalink | Media

July 8, 2004

A Triumphant Return To TV: Fiona Forbes and Michael Eckford

Mike and Fiona: ‘Happy Together’

By far, the single most frequent Google search bringing visitors to VanRamblings concerns longtime Urban Rush, and recently deposed CITY-TV Breakfast Television, hosts Fiona Forbes and Michael Eckford.

In a Vancouver Province e-entertainment news story published today, columnist Dana Gee reports that “Fiona Forbes and Michael Eckford have agreed to terms with Shaw TV and will return in October to host Urban Rush, a show they last helmed almost two years ago.”

“It’s great. I won’t have to get up in the middle of the night,” says Forbes, referring to the 19 months the pair spent on Citytv's BreakfastTelevision. “When we met with our old bosses (at Shaw) and they made us an offer, Mike and I left the meeting and looked at each other and immediately high-fived. We really are excited about this.”

Forbes and Eckford will replace current UR hosts Erin Cebula and Russell Porter, whose contract expires July 16th.

The new Urban Rush will remain a one-hour talk show, and will be broadcast from the almost completed Shaw Tower in Coal Harbour, affording viewers a background vista (and here) of Vancouver’s magnificent harbourfront.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Vancouver

May 14, 2004

An Editor's Hollywood Ties Pay Off
Carter Strikes Deals With People Vanity Fair Covers


Graydongate continues to unfold with new, and more bizarre, revelations made available over the course of each passing hour.

David Carr and Sharon Waxman, at the New York Times, were first out of the gate with confirmation that “Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, had received a $100,000 payment from Universal Studios in 2003 for suggesting years earlier that the book A Beautiful Mind be made into a film.”

Close on their heels, Claudia Eller, Michael Cieply and Josh Getlin, at the Los Angeles Times, rushed to press with the allegation that Carter “and three former colleagues shared a $1-million advance from the book division of Miramax Films for the rights to publish an anthology of material from the now-defunct Spy magazine, of which Carter was a co-founder and editor.”

Hollywood pundit David Poland weighs in on the controversy, suggesting that Vanity Fair “is not in the business of selling journalism,” and that as we see “Graydon Carter playing kiss-kiss with movie industry people” there’s no real conflict because “Graydon can’t be bought.”

As for VanRamblings, we're in complete accord with veteran editor Ed Kosner, who writes: “You don’t do any business on the side with people you’re covering. You don’t pitch projects to people your magazine is covering.” Not enough that Carter is a highly paid ($1.5 million U.S.) editor of a prestigious publication, he feels he has to go out and seek to supplement his income by selling favours to the movie executives, directors, stars and publicists that his magazine covers?

Talk about cynical. Talk about avarice. In addition to being a story about conflict of interest, Graydongate is a story about greed. Where’s this story going? Only time will tell. But, Poland aside, it’s not looking good for Carter.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 6:12 PM | Permalink | Media

May 12, 2004

Vanity Fair: Last Days of the Empire for Beleaguered Editor?


According to L.A. Weekly’s Nikke Fink, both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times are working on major stories about whether Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter is using his close ties to Hollywood to benefit financially. A source close to the action told Defamer that the investigations are likely to turn up some serious dirt, and it’s “last days of the Roman Empire” time for Graydon Carter’s ‘freewheeling’ Vanity Fair.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Media

Horror Show: Nightmarish Images Emerge From Iraq
Soldiers Armed With Digital Cameras Bring The Warm Home

On Tuesday, Michael Berg, center, hugs his daughter, Sara, as his son David stands
nearby, after learning the details of the killing in Iraq of his other son, Nick.

Farhad Manjoo, writing for Salon (free day pass available) theorizes as to why 26-year-old freelance contractor Nick Berg did not become a media story until video of his horrible decapitation was played on an Arab website.

From a government which has, for years, held sway with the American press, when spin control from the White House, since 9/11, has all but guaranteed favourable press for the Bush administration across the United States, times have certainly changed. The brutal realities of war have been brought home in a new and horrendous way, as digital age ‘travelogue’ pictures and videos are transmitted back home from the war front, sent by e-mail, or posted on websites.

And the senior ranks of the Bush administration reels with each new revelation.

“The video of Berg’s beheading that so dominated the news on Tuesday is just the latest example of how gruesome digital images are forcing us, and forcing the government, to confront the awful reality of war,” writes Manjoo.

We were never supposed to see the pictures that are now pouring out of Iraq. If the U.S. government had its way, ‘embedded journalists’ would have reported only on what the American administration wanted us to see and read. There would be no pictures of dead soldiers returning, of Iraqi prisoner abuse, or of Canadian and American civilians held at the mercy of the shadowy enemy.

That amateurs — American soldiers employing new technology — have emerged as the journalists who have created the iconic images of the Iraq war represents a watershed change in the way we receive news, and a shattering and revolutionary new way of documenting the world around us.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:10 AM | Permalink | Politics | Comments (3)

May 8, 2004

Elvis Mitchell: ‘I Just Said I Had to Leave’

Memo from New York Times executive editor Bill Keller


I'm sorry to inform you that Elvis Mitchell has decided to leave The Times. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, it is an amicable parting on both sides, a little wistful but not acrimonious. In the years since he joined The Times, Elvis has brought our readers (and shared with his colleagues) a profound knowledge of film, an original and exciting voice, and a great deal of fun. As one of the editors who hired Elvis, I will miss him a lot, and so will everyone who worked with him.


Elvis Mitchell (Photo credit:
Jeremy Harmon/WireImage)

After joining the New York Times as lead film critic in late 1999 ago — arguably, the most influential film reviewer position in American media — Elvis Mitchell has resigned his position with the paper. Sean Elder, at Salon, wrote this piece, in 1999, about the appointment of Mitchell, and fellow reviewer A.O. Scott, to the Times’ movie section.

Richard Prince, at the Maynard Institute, reports that “Mitchell resigned after (cultural news editor Steven) Erlanger appointed colleague A. O. Scott the lead film critic.”

New York magazine’s Metro section suggests that Mitchell’s resignation may have something to do with “how unfriendly a place the New York Times is for blacks,” or, perhaps, the consternation that was felt when Mitchell accepted a job as a visting lecturer in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard (“He took another full-time job while he was working here as a film critic?”).

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:16 AM | Permalink | Media

May 3, 2004

Media Matters: Connecting Progressive Websites

There are a couple of new websites that are turning a critical eye on the right in America which VanRamblings would like to bring to your attention.

The first website is called Media Matters, edited by David Brock.

According to a story in the New York Times ...

David Brock, the former right-wing journalist turned liberal, describes himself as once having been a rather large cog in the machinery of the conservative media. Now Mr. Brock is starting a new endeavor built to combat the very sector of journalism that spawned him, with support from the same sorts of people (Democrats) about whom he once wrote so critically.

With more than $2 million in donations from wealthy liberals, Mr. Brock will start a new Internet site this week that he says will monitor the conservative media and correct erroneous assertions in real time.

Also, say hello to Moving, formerly known as the Electronic Policy Network, a website which is “dedicated to explaining and popularizing complex policy ideas to a broader audience.” From its about page ...

Our goal is to improve collaboration and dialogue between policy and grassroots organizations, and to promote their work to journalists and legislators ... (by) post(ing) the best ideas and resources from leading progressive research and advocacy institutions ... We hope to strengthen democratic participation by providing a more inclusive and intelligible debate about the issues that shape our world.

Two worthy additions to the new media dialogue on issues affecting us all.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:10 PM | Permalink | Media

April 19, 2004

Surprise: Teens Have Little ‘Attachment’ to Newspapers


Is it any wonder that teenagers don’t read the daily newspaper, when there are so many alternatives to traditional print media available to them? And just as most savvy teenagers choose to build their own music playlists from songs downloaded from their favourite p2p network, and burn mixed mp3 CDs of their favourite artists, why wouldn't they choose to receive the news of their choice from new media sources on the Net?

Editor and Publisher magazine reports that on Tuesday the Newspaper Association of American will release a study examining the ‘emotional attachment’ (or lack thereof) that teenagers have to newspapers. In part, the report says teenagers don’t want news that is ‘dumbed down’.

Vancouver’s Province newspaper should take note, and stop pandering to teens with their multi-page spreads of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Hint: take teens seriously, don’t talk down to them when reporting the news, provide more human interest stories on adolescents across the globe, report considerably more on the environment (a perennial concern of teens, as it should be for all of us), as well as on ‘new media’ and tech ‘gadgetry’, and cut the bullshit — teens know when they’re being lied to.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:37 PM | Permalink | Media

April 18, 2004

Roger Ebert: “Stern Belongs on The Radio”


While March 19th marked the one year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, it also marked another anniversary – the day the mainstream press addressed the blurring boundaries between Clear Channel Communications and the Bush administration.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, writing in the International Herald Tribune, examines the “close links” between George W. Bush and Clear Channel management (Clear Channel’s vice president Tom Hicks helped make G.W. a multimillionaire) and points out how “the absence of effective watchdogs” make this merger between the media and the government possible. “In the Clinton years the merest hint of impropriety quickly blew up into a huge scandal; these days, the scandalmongers are more likely to go after journalists who raise questions.”

One of the first casualties of this “close link” was controversial disc jockey Howard Stern. “As soon as I came out against Bush, that’s when my rights to free speech were taken away. It had nothing to do with indecency,” Howard Stern said on March 19, 2004. Clear Channel dropped Stern’s show from 8 of its stations, following the imposition of a $495,000 Federal Communications Commission fine.

Film critic Roger Ebert weighs in on the Stern controversy, in an essay published April 16th in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Like millions of Americans, I listen to Howard Stern on the radio in the mornings. I think he is smart, quick and funny ... A listener to Stern will find that he expresses humanistic values, that he opposes hypocrisy, that he talks honestly about what a great many Americans do indeed think and say and do ... I find it strange that so many Americans describe themselves as patriotic when their values are anti-democratic and totalitarian.

Ebert goes on to say that what offends him “is that the right wing, secure in its own right to offend, now wants to punish Stern to the point where he may be forced off the air.”

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Media

April 4, 2004

Solitude: A Writer's Best Friend

... it becomes clearer and clearer that fundamentally solitude is nothing that one can choose or refrain from. We are solitary. We can delude ourselves about this and act as if it were not true. That is all. But how much better it is to recognize that we are alone; yes, even to begin from this realization. — poet Rainer Maria Rilke
Writerly solitude, on a park bench alone

For many, the most salient aspect of writing is the time that is spent alone in front of the computer (or, in some cases, typewriter, or writing pad). In a world that demands some form of sociability from us, how wonderful the notion can be of simply spending some time alone, seeking only one's own counsel.

There is a certain amicable integrity to solitude, as well.

If you've been a reader of VanRamblings for awhile, the thought must have occurred to you as to why the sobriquet VanRamblings was chosen as the identifying URL. Well, if you haven't figured it out already, this writer tends to ramble; the rambling on VanRamblings tends to be reflected in run-on sentences, paragraphs, and brief essays — thus (Van)rambling(s).

By extension, if one rambles when writing composition, there's not much of a logical leap that need be made to imagine the nature of the personal, communicative interaction one might enjoy with such a person. Which is to say, I ramble in public, as well: on and on, words and sentences, paragraphs and whole essays of thoughts. Writing — quite pleasingly — affords me an opportunity to gather my thoughts, edit my presentation, and afford the person(s) with whom I am communicating the opportunity to read, or listen, to those thoughts (and, if the reader is not captivated by my thoughts, the next web page is only a matter of a click away).

The Globe and Mail's Leah McLaren ruminates on the solitary life in her Saturday newspaper column, in which she quotes a friend as saying, “I just need to be alone a lot. It's my absolute favourite thing.” Me, too.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 4:01 PM | Permalink | Media | Comments (3)

March 30, 2004

Howell Raines: Bitter, Conceited, Clueless and Dumb
Lots of Mea, Little Culpa in Gray Lady Scandal Response

The reign of Howell Raines came
to a bitter end

For those in the media, and perhaps for a few others, the most gripping, real-life story to emerge last year involved a series of unprecedented scandals at the The New York Times, the ‘grey lady of journalism’.

On May 1 2003, Jayson Blair, a New York Times reporter, tendered his resignation when it was revealed that he had fabricated and plagiarized dozens of articles. In the month that followed, the internal scandals at the Times became hot news.

Rick Bragg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning national reporter, resigned after he made derogatory comments about Times reporters' use of stringers. Reporters and editors who had been upset by the imperious and autocratic leadership style of then editor Howell Raines felt emboldened to speak out.

Slightly more than a month after the scandal broke out, Raines and his managing editor, Gerald Boyd, were asked to leave the paper by Times publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. Bill Keller, the man who had been passed over for the top editorial job at The New York Times two years earlier, in favour of Raines, was then elevated to the executive editor's position.

The trials and tribulations of the Times made for compelling reading (nothing like airing your dirty linen in public). Raines, who subsequent to leaving the Times took on teaching duties at the Columbia School of Journalism, has written a sweeping and often scorching 21,000 word essay, titled ‘My Times’, for the May issue of The Atlantic Monthly, wherein he sets about to re-write history, absolving himself of much of the blame for the travails which beset the Times in 2003.

“Two distinct and parallel cultures (existed): the culture of achievement and the culture of complaint ... a large percentage of Times reporters and editors opt(ed) out of meritocratic competition within a couple of years of joining the paper, with many simply passing their time until retirement … one important mission I did not get around to was finding the kind of critics capable of becoming trademark names in every field of aesthetic or consumer interest — everything from wines to Broadway.”

“My greatest joy in newspapering came from the quarter of a century ... at The Times with the most talented staff in the business. My greatest frustration was that The Times was seldom as good as it could have been, given its advantages in money and prestige.”

Raines accepts responsibility “for the failure to catch” Jayson Blair, but claims he didn't know about Blair's error-prone ways until the writer left the paper. He says no one told him.

Cynthia Cotts, in the Village Voice, finds Raines' disavowal mystifying at best, disingenuous at its worst, while Jack Shafer in his article, published on the Slate website, suggests that Raines' is a “very selective account.”

According to Newsweek's Periscope column on the Raines essay, “Atlantic Monthly editor Robert Vanes, who edited the story, told Newsweek that Raines's original draft was a third longer — and even meaner. ‘If anything, we worked to tone down sections,’ said Vanes.”

Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis when asked for a response to Raines' screed, simply avers: “We wish Mr. Raines well.” Noting that Raines calls The Times “indispensable,” Mathis added, “We agree. And this is due to the inspired work of Times men and women over decades.”

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Media

March 29, 2004

Sex and the Single Plagiarist

“After three years of chronicling the local dating scene, one of Vancouver's most talked-about columnists has put away her little black book — and dodged her biggest controversy yet.”
Angèle Yanor

The Globe and Mail's Alexandra Gill bemoans the fact that Angèle Yanor no longer writes the ‘singles chick’ column for the Vancouver Sun.

For VanRamblings, the real issue surrounding the controversy involving Ms. Yanor is not that she proved to be a plagiarist (gee shucks, came as a complete surprise to me), but rather that The Vancouver Sun cynically chose to inflict her unreadable, self-indulgent wannabe ‘chick lit’ prose on an unsuspecting readership, in the first place.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:04 AM | Permalink | Media | Comments (5)

March 21, 2004

The Triumph of Idiot Culture

COMOXFERRY Speaking to a crowd of about 200 at Tampa Bay, Florida's Wyndham Westshore, legendary Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein told the gathering that the media today is more trash than news.

Bernstein, the journalist who, along with fellow reporter Bob Woodward, unearthed the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, said much of today's news has deteriorated into gossip, sensationalism and manufactured controversy.

“That type of news panders to the public and insults their intelligence, ignoring the context of real life,” he said. “Good journalism should challenge people, not just mindlessly amuse them.”

He said the modern press lacks true leadership, citing such examples as AOL Time Warner and mogul Rupert Murdoch as media owners that have increasingly abandoned the principles of meaningful reporting.

“Their interest in truth is secondary to their interest in huge profits,” Bernstein said.

Still, he said people can change that trend by exploring the Internet and piecing together from reputable sources their own news about important world matters. He offered another solution to avoiding the trash that fills the airwaves: “Change the damn channel. Simple.”

Bernstein also also turned his attention to the coming election in the U.S., calling President Bush “the most radical President of my lifetime and perhaps in the century,” saying Bush “is radical in every degree,” from a favouritism of the wealthy to a pre-emptive foreign policy to a lack of concern for civil rights.

Bernstein ended his address by saying that he hopes a genuine debate can take place this year about the future of the United States, rather than the petty quarrels and meaningless accusations that so often dominate campaign coverage.

“Let's move beyond the absurd name-calling and sound bite journalism," he said. “It is our job ... to force a real debate.”

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:35 AM | Permalink | Media

March 15, 2004

The Future Of News: An "Epochal Transformation"

NEWSMEDIA According to an article published in USA Today, quoting from a 500-page Project for Excellence in Journalism report, titled "The State of the News Media in 2004" ...

The news business is "in the middle of an epochal transformation, as momentous probably as the invention of the telegraph or television," say the report writers. "Journalism is not becoming irrelevant. It is becoming more complex."

The report suggests things don't look good for newspapers and network television, and only three out of eight media sectors (ethnic, alternative and online media) are seeing audience growth.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Media

March 13, 2004

A Felon's Recipe for Martha Stewart: Scrub Toilets With Gusto

TOILET R. Foster Winans — who did time for misdeeds while an employee at The Wall Street Journal — advises Martha Stewart not to pay someone else to do her prison tasks. "Immerse yourself in humility. It's good for the soul."

Additional advice: "Offer to host or appear on 'Saturday Night Live.' Your situation, in the context of all the horrible things that can happen to people, is a tempest in a teaspoon. Poke fun at yourself."

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:40 PM | Permalink | Media | Comments (1)

March 10, 2004

All The News That's Fit To Print

SALON Titling their article "Unembedded, unintimidated", Salon today announced the appointment of veteran journalist and ex-Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal to their new Washington D.C. bureau. "The country wants and needs unintimidated news," says Blumenthal. "The Bush administration has put enormous political pressure on the press not to probe its radical policies and their consequences. Salon intends to be fearless."

Former New York, and Spy, magazine editor-in-chief Kurt Andersen — whose work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Architectural Record, among other publications, and who was also co-founder of the lost and lamented — will return to New York magazine as a regular contributor, explaining his decision thusly: "I wrote occasionally at the The New York Times magazine for Adam Moss [who now edits New York magazine], and that was always a very pleasant experience. He called me last week and had this good idea and said, 'Wouldn’t it be fun to have you in my first issue?', and I agreed."

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 6:04 PM | Permalink | Media

March 9, 2004

Columnist Goodman is sick of guys shouting on TV, radio

GOODMAN It's good for columnists not to live in Washington, says Boston Globe syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman (available as a link, to your left, under Politics / United States). "There are too many insiders there; they go to dinner with each other, talk to each other and then have breakfast with each other. So, in professional terms, they're all talking to each other."

Goodman tells Anthony Violanti, of the Buffalo News, that political talk shows "are, by and large, men screaming at other men in front of a male audience. I get annoyed with these shows and I think most women do. Women in general have had quite enough angry men in their lives."

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Media

March 3, 2004

The Celebrates An Anniversary

THE-TYEE-ANNIVERSARY-FOREST-FIRE The celebrates its 100th birthday this week, which means to say that some 100 days ago — towards the end of November 2003 — The was launched as British Columbia’s much-needed “feisty online presence”.

In this week’s issue, Steve Burgess comments on the leave-taking of the esteemed duo of Michael Eckford and Fiona Forbes from CITY-TV’s Breakfast Television show (go on to read the comments at the bottom of the page, when you’ve finished Steve’s article); Tom Hawthorn writes on the cult of personality surrounding federal NDP leader, Jack Layton (and also offers this accompanying article about those fighting to join Layton's "army"); and, journalist Tim Howard writes on the provincial Liberals’ recently announced "brown budget", in which nary a word was mentioned about British Columbia’s “environment”.

And published today, Barbara McClintock, The’s legislative reporter, offers this article on the recent raids at the B.C. legislature.

Good reading all, and worth checking out.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 5:44 PM | Permalink | Media

February 24, 2004

Forbes Given the Boot

In a release to the media, reported in today's Province newspaper, CITY-TV publicist Julia Caslin (one of the more misanthropic PR people I've ever had the displeasure of working with), announced that longtime Vancouver media maven Fiona Forbes has been, as the Province reports, "sent packing".

CITY-TV moved quickly to update their Breakfast Television web page to reflect Forbes' departure. No word from Forbes' longtime co-host, Michael Eckford, who (no doubt due to shock and amazement at his co-host's fate) was given the remainder of the week off by CITY-TV management.

In this Sunday, February 29th update, CITY-TV announced the departure of Forbes' longtime co-host, Michael Eckford.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:53 PM | Permalink | Media | Comments (5)

February 22, 2004

As Girls Spend More Time Online Teen 'Zine Sales Slumber

The New York Daily News "Hot Copy" columnist Paul Colford reports that teen-magazine sales have plummeted — and online usage by kids is one of the key factors in the decline.

The suggestion in the article: any teen-oriented magazine these days better not be first-and-foremost a magazine, but rather an intelligently converged print / online teen information/news/entertainment source.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:54 PM | Permalink | Media

'Liberal' Apologist: Chasing Judith Miller off the Stage

The New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning bio-terrorism reporter, Judith Miller, is taken to task for her role as an apologist for the Bush regime in Washington, with reference made to Miller having gone as far as hijacking a military unit while reporting on the war in Iraq.

And who said that the media are independent, and their reporting fair and balanced, in service only of the 'truth'? Don't you believe it for a moment.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 4:52 PM | Permalink | Media

February 11, 2004

Breaking the Rules

One of the defining aspects of current journalistic practice that has, for years, caused me concern is the written-in-stone dictum that a responsible journalist must NEVER share his story with a source prior to publication.

Whenever, in the past, I queried a publisher or editor about doing such, to check a fact or to clarify information prior to publication, I was met with a look of horror, followed by verbal outrage and a litany of reasons why.

In this week's issue of The Nashville Scene, media ethics instructor and 'Scene' contributor Willy Stern asks and answers the question "What is wrong with sharing a story prior to publication?"

You'll likely be surprised at his answer to that question.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:07 PM | Permalink | Media

February 9, 2004

A prerequisite for putting any democratic system in place

When Conrad Black purchased Pacific Press back in 1992 - 1993, many in Vancouver thought the media sky had fallen. As he had done with the Daily Telegraph in Great Britain when he purchased it some years previous, he immediately excised staff (quaintly called downsizing, as if this word could possibly serve to encapsulate the harm that is perpetrated on the lives of people who are thrown out of employment, their life's vocation).

Where Pacific Press (both The Vancouver Sun and The Province), in the early 90s, employed some 2700 people, by the time Black was through with his 'downsizing' purge, the total number of staff was below 400.

When Black sold the Southam chain of papers to CanWest Global, at the outset of the new millennium, a collective sigh of relief was breathed.

Ah, thought many, that mean old baddie Black is gone, and all will be well with the grand old Asper family in control. Such, of course, proved not to be the case.

Where Black had a genuine love for newspapers, the Asper family did not seem to understand at all, or have any regard for, the role the press plays in a free and democratic society. The Asper family had long adhered to a bottom line mentality. And, when the family assumed control of Pacific Press, theirs became an intrusive, disrespectful anti-free press mentality, one which saw editorial control centralized in Winnipeg, accompanied by an ongoing and unwelcome (at least by the staffs of their daily newspapers across Canada) interference in reporting on stories covering Israel.

Under the Aspers, the press in Canada has stopped being 'free', or as 'free' as it had been previous to their involvement. Capitalist, yes. Ever seeking to curry favour with the political and business elite, yes. Free, no.

The CanWest papers do not 'comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable', but just the opposite. And they do not, either, sanction insubordination within their ranks, or deviation from the dictates of the Asper family and their world view, and how that world view is realized within the editorial content of the newspapers under their control.

Thus many fine reporters and outstanding journalists, over the past couple of years, have come to leave the employ of CanWest Global. To land where?

Well, it would seem ... at The, a progressive, independent voice on the Web.

And thank God The Tyee is available to readers (at least those on the Web), alive, hopefully thriving and engaged in the 'good fight'. Without their voice available to the citizens of British Columbia, much of importance would go unreported.

In his column in the Globe and Mail last week, Paul Sullivan wrote as much.

Where to now? You tell me. From this corner of the Web, the future for newspapers in Canada looks pretty darn bleak.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:18 PM | Permalink | Media

This is not a dialogue, it is a lecture

One of the great joys of writing on a weblog is the feedback that comes from readers.

Unfortunately, not all feedback arrives offered in quite the positive vain of encouragement one might hope. The question then arises, how does one respond to criticism which one feels is unwarranted, unfair or you just plain don't give a damn about?

The Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg seems to have come up with the answer.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Media


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