The process to launch TTP Media’s talk radio stations in Montreal has taken so long that they’re now in the process of getting their licences renewed after the end of their initial seven-year term. And the publication of the application for the first of those stations suggests that the company may be moving away from its proposed news-talk format and toward health and wellness, which sounds like the kind of thing that has been tried on other AM stations in the market.
Just For Laughs time is upon us. Or as I like to call it: Summer Christmas. (I’m lying. I would never give this such a lame name.) The English shows start tonight, but I’ve been going to French shows in the companion Zoofest festival for two weeks now, and I’ve already seen more than a dozen shows and booked three more for tonight and three for tomorrow for a grand total of $90 plus tax.
Two years ago I explained how to maximize the quantity (if not always the quality) of the JFL/JPR experience with the use of passes. But things have changed a bit since then so it’s time for an update. Here’s how things work in 2018:
The Zoofest pass
Start by getting one of these. The Zoofest passes (ZOØFF, as they call them) cover shows that are part of the Zoofest and OFF-JFL series at Just For Laughs. These shows are mostly an hour long, and normally go for $20 to $25 apiece. They feature up-and-coming comedians, some right out of Quebec’s comedy school, those testing out materials for bigger one-man/woman shows (en rodage, as they say in French) and more experimental shows like theatre and improv, so going to these involves taking more of a risk than going to a gala at Place des Arts or seeing Kevin Hart at the Bell Centre.
The Ultra pass is the highest level of this pass. It costs $120 (or the equivalent of about six Zoofest/OFF-JFL shows) and will let you book six shows during the festival. But its real power is that for many Zoofest/OFF-JFL shows, you can get a ticket for free 48 hours in advance. And you can do this for three one-hour shows a night. (The first shows generally begin at 7pm and the last ones at midnight. So it’s easy to do three in a night. I’ve done four in the past — 7, 8:30, 10 and midnight.)
The pass applies to both English-language OFF-JFL shows and French-language Zoofest shows. If you don’t care what language it’s in, that’s up to three and a half weeks of shows.
Not every show will be available this way. Some shows are popular and seats available for pass holders can be gobbled up in minutes. Others aren’t available to pass holders at all. A show can be out of free daily pass tickets but still have tickets available for the retail price. Most of the English OFF-JFL shows during the peak week of the festival have this issue, making the value of the pass diminished slightly (and turning you into a paranoid junkie constantly refreshing the free tickets page hoping to get it just after a new block is opened.) On the other hand, there are sometimes special offers, like tickets to a gala made available to Zoofest pass holders, so that compensates quite a bit.
If you don’t have time for three shows a night, you can get the lowest-level pass for $50. It’ll let you in one free show a night (booked 24 hours in advance), plus three reserved shows during the festival.
If you get any of the passes, there’s a 15% discount for the 2018 edition with the promo code PASSE15. That covers the equivalent of taxes, so you get the pass for about $120 total. If you’re looking at buying one for next year, keep an eye out around Christmas for an offer to buy the Ultra pass for $90, which I took advantage of.
You can’t use these passes to get tickets to Just For Laughs galas or the big solo shows (except for special one-time offers), but they’re good for a lot of shows that have big-name comics. You can see a full list of the OFF-JFL shows here. Some worth noting:
- Midnight Surprise, midnights. The ultimate risk-taking show, you won’t know who’s in it until they perform. This could mean a comic you’ve never heard of, but some big-name comedians have shown up here and done surprise sets, including Dave Chappelle, Louis CK and Kevin Hart. At worst, you get a mediocre one-hour show. At best, you get to tell everyone you saw an A-list comedian do a secret show in a 100-seat venue.
- The Alternative Show, midnights. The name might put you off, but this is actually pretty mainstream. Hosted by Andy Kindler, this show features a lineup of comedians doing 10-minute sets. Because a lot of the travelling comedians want to get in as much on-stage time as possible during the festival, you’ll often see them doing a solo show, a gala appearance and a set here all in the same night.
- Best of the Fest (Newspeak) and Fest at the Nest (Comedy Nest). It shouldn’t surprise you that actual comedy clubs are also busy during the festival. Often, big-name comics will stop by the comedy clubs before one of their big shows and test out material on a smaller audience. Maybe some jokes will flop, but you might have more fun here than at a gala, and for a much lower price. (The Best of the Fest show used to be at Comedyworks, but with that venue still closed because of a fire, it has moved to Newspeak for this year.)
As of this year, the Zoofest pass isn’t actually a physical pass unless you pay extra. Instead, you’re emailed a bar code that you can print or keep on your phone. It’s scanned by a volunteer holding a smartphone at the entrance to the venue. For Ultra Zoøff pass holders, tickets become available at 6pm ET two nights before the show. For the other passes, it’s 6pm the night before.
You book shows by going to a website that’s emailed to you (and is linked to from the Zoofest app), punching in a pass number and PIN, and selecting shows one at a time.
Also new this year is a punishment system for ticket hoarders who book shows using the pass but don’t show up to them. After three no-shows using the free tickets, your pass is suspended for 72 hours (the three or six booked tickets still work). After another three no-shows, the privilege is revoked. (Keep an eye on the website: if your ticket doesn’t scan properly — and almost every time it takes a couple of tries — you could end up listed as a no-show even if you were there. If that happens, email JFL’s ticket office and they’ll fix it for you.)
You have until noon the day of the show to cancel a free ticket without penalty. If you do, you can use that pick for another available show. And you have until the actual showtime to select a ticket, if you want to go really last-minute. But show up on time, because your free ticket isn’t guaranteed after the show starts, and could be given to someone else.
The JFL pass
Just For Laughs also has passes, that work in a kind of similar way. The cheapest pass is two shows for $100, but with that you also get a free ticket every night at the height of the festival, which can be used on the big shows — galas, club shows like the Nasty Show and Ethnic Show, or solo shows by big comedians.
But the free tickets are subject to availability. If there’s a must-see show in town with only one or two showings, there might not be tickets available on the pass. Like with the Zoofest pass, you have to be pretty flexible in what you’re willing to see.
Use the last-minute ticket booth
At the corner of Jeanne-Mance and Ste-Catherine Sts., inside a tent that sells merch, is the festival’s last-minute ticket booth. Shows that aren’t selling well get deeply discounted here in the hours before they start, and you can find some sweet deals if you’re flexible with your plans.
So head here and find out what kind of deals can be had for shows where the supply is exceeding the demand.
Follow the action on social media
So much of what happens at the festival happens at the last minute. A comedian might be in town completely unannounced and decide to perform a show. Maybe something that’s selling well gets dates added. Or maybe for some entirely different reason things are added or special deals announced during the festival itself.
In 2015, Just For Laughs announced on Twitter with less than three hours of notice that Aziz Ansari was doing a show, and tickets would be $20 at the door. People who didn’t follow JFL on Twitter might have missed a great chance there.
So add these to your follows and likes:
- Just For Laughs Twitter
- Just For Laughs Facebook
- Just For Laughs Instagram
- Zoofest Twitter
- Zoofest Facebook
- Zoofest Instagram
Also, download the Zoofest and JFL apps. Each has push notifications that will alert you to last-minute changes.
The passes, the last-minute ticket booth and special deals announced on social media have one thing in common: They mean you’re not going to know more than a day or two in advance where you’re spending your evening. That might work for some people more than others. If you’re with a group of friends, it might not be practical. But if you’re like me and have no friends and no life, you can surf this wave of improbability for savings.
Always have a backup plan until you have tickets in your hand. Better yet, have two. If a Zoofest/OFF-JFL show you planned to use your pass for gets sold out quickly, you won’t get any free tickets. (In fact, the show doesn’t even need to be completely sold out for your pass to not work this way.) The risk inherent in operating this way is you might not get to see the show everyone’s talking about.
Remember some times are more popular than others
Friday and Saturday night shows are actually slightly more expensive than shows on other nights, because of how much more popular those nights are for people casually heading out. Despite the price difference, and the large number of available shows, the last Friday and Saturday of the festival are the busiest and that means you’re less likely to be able to get access to shows using your pass.
So how do you deal with this? Well, if a popular show is playing throughout the week, go to a weeknight show instead. And if there’s a Friday or Saturday night show you want to go to, use one of your included tickets to book it well in advance rather than waiting and trying to use the pass. Otherwise, keep in mind that your ability to be flexible on these nights will be tested more than other days.
Take in the outdoor shows
Though much of the outdoor action during the JFL festival is more fun than funny, there are a few outdoor shows worth taking in, in both languages. The biggest ones begin around 9pm and end by 11. You certainly can’t beat the price: It’s free.
You can see the full lineup of outdoor shows here. And wander around the festival grounds during the day to see all the other stuff going on, from the labyrinth to the board games to the circus acts.
Some other things to keep in mind about shows at Just For Laughs, OFF-JFL and Zoofest that don’t pertain specifically to saving money.
- Be on time. If you arrive late to a show with assigned seating (like a gala), you end up disrupting a lot of people during the show and opening yourself up to ridicule. Don’t be that person. Some shows might even refuse you entry (it happened to me once when I was 10 minutes late, but fortunately I had a backup plan.)
- Get there early. Aside from the galas and other shows at the Place des Arts theatre venues, most shows are general admission, so where you sit depends on how many people get in the venue before you. If you want to sit up front and risk being the victim of a crowd-working comedian, get there first.
- Schedule travel time. Most Zoofest and OFF-JFL shows are about an hour long (gala-type shows and some midnight shows are exceptions and can go longer). But that doesn’t mean you can schedule a show at 7pm and another at 8. Give about 15 minutes of leeway in terms of the actual length of the show, and consider that you have to get from one venue to another between them. 75 minutes between show starts can work if the shows are in the same building (Monument National has four venues), 90 minutes if both shows are in the same neighbourhood, and give yourself more time if you have to get to a farther-away venue like Mainline Theatre or the Comedy Nest. For JFL shows, the Ethnic/Nasty Shows or big solo shows, the show length can be longer, as much as two hours. Err on the side of giving yourself an extra 20 minutes. (If you’re not sure how long a show is, the best indication is to look at when the next show at that venue begins. If it’s an hour and a half later, then expect an hour-long show. If the first show is at 7 and the next one at 9:45, then expect a show a bit longer than two hours.)
- Don’t heckle. You’re not funnier than the people on stage, who have been working on material for a while in preparation for their shows. If a comedian asks a question to the audience, feel free to respond, but otherwise keep your mouth shut and avoid embarrassing yourself. Hold your solo performance for open mic nights if you don’t want to get thrown out of the venue.
- Expect repetition. If you go to a lot of shows, particularly those with multiple comedians, you’re going to see several comedians more than once, doing the same jokes. You might even hear the exact same 10-minute set multiple times. You’re just going to have to deal with that possibility. Similarly, the pre-show videos (at least at the French-language Zoofest shows) are pretty repetitive.
- Don’t take pictures or video. Each show will begin with this reminder (though there are some shows that actually allow taking pictures discreetly — they’ll make this clear in the pre-show announcement). You’re here to enjoy yourself, not film the show for later broadcast using your crappy cellphone camera. Getting caught filming a standup act is grounds for a quick ejection, aside from being distracting to the performer and the audience. Instead, take a picture of the venue before the show, or of your ticket (don’t show the bar code if you’re using a pass or posting to social media before the show begins). You’ll be able to see the gala performances and some other shows broadcast on CBC or Comedy Network or Netflix in a few months, recorded and edited by professionals.
- Don’t use your cellphones at all. These venues are dark, and the bright light of a cellphone screen is very distracting. Wait until after the show to text your friends. And make sure the ringer is turned off. If you want to make note of a particularly great joke to tweet about it later, use a pen and paper (and be sure to credit the joke to the right comedian).
- Spread the word about what you see. Help out those people looking for a good show, and the lesser-known comedians who are putting them on. If you liked something, write about it on Twitter or Facebook and spread the word. Use the hashtag #JPRMTL or #Zoofest (French) or #JFLMTL or #OFFJFL (English). A lot of these smaller shows don’t have big marketing budgets and rely on word of mouth more than anything else.
- Respect your comedians. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to conclude that a comedian doing a one-hour show in a 100-seat venue where most people paid between $25 and $0 to attend isn’t making that much money from it. Keep that in mind when you check out a show. They’re there for the love of the craft, one they spend a lot of time and effort honing. They might also be on their third show of the night. So show them some appreciation, even if it’s just telling them they did a great show, but make it brief because they’re probably way busier than you are.
I probably forgot a few things. Hit me with questions in the comments. But don’t expect responses between 7pm and midnight, because I’ll be busy for the next week and a half.
News about news
- La Presse has officially transitioned from a division of Power Corporation to an independent nonprofit company controlled by a trustee. Louis LeBel, former Supreme Court of Canada judge, has been named that trustee, charged with ensuring the publication follows its mandate. Alain Gignac, former TC marketing boss and general manager of the group that organized Montreal’s 375th anniversary, has been named chair of the board of directors, and will recommend other directors to LeBel. The trust’s rules state that, once the founding board has been formed, further appointments to it will be made by the trustee on recommendation of a 2/3 vote of the board.
- Myanmar has filed charges against two Reuters reporters for violating the Official Secrets Act. They were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men. Reuters has an entire section of its website devoted to updates.
- Vice Canada has cut another 23 jobs.
- London’s Times newspaper has fired a journalist for posting fake reviews in order to get free stuff.
More than a year after it was announced that Citytv is creating local evening newscasts in markets including Montreal, we finally have a launch date: Sept. 3.
On that date, CityNews launches newscasts at 6pm and 11pm in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
Rogers has also announced staffing for those newscasts. In Montreal, the anchorless newscasts will be staffed by the following reporters (bios from the press release):
- Akil Alleyne – Alleyne is a graduate of Princeton University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he studied constitutional and international law. His previous experience includes stops at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) as a Research and Program Associate; and CBC where he assisted with production, and writing.
- Andrew Brennan – A newly-minted reporter with Breakfast Television Montreal, Brennan will continue to engage Montrealers with the local buzz on CityNews. For the last five years, Brennan has been a news anchor and reporter at CJAD 800. He graduated from Concordia University with a double-degree in Communication Studies and Journalism. (He announced his move last week.)
- Emily Campbell – Campbell is an experienced video journalist, most recently having worked in reporting and as an anchor with CJAD 800 News and her work has appeared on CNN.
- Giordano Cescutti – With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Concordia University, Cescutti is a recipient of the Sportsnet Scholarship in Sports Journalism for excellence in journalism and sports reporting. His previous experience includes MAtv, Montreal Gazette and CJLO 1690AM, where he was co-host and producer of award-winning sports talk show The Starting Rotation.
They will work under Supervising Producer Melanie Porco, who has been with Citytv Montreal since its launch in 2013. Two people have also been hired to work behind the scenes with the newscast in Montreal, which will be directed out of a centralized control room in Vancouver.
Last fall, Citytv hired two reporters in Montreal in preparation for the new newscasts: Tina Tenneriello and Cora MacDonald. Tenneriello will be on both BT and CityNews, Rogers tells me. MacDonald left Citytv recently to join Global Montreal.
As previously announced, the newscasts will be an hour long, at 6pm and 11pm, seven days a week.
When the announcement was made, the plan was to have the newscasts running in the winter. Rogers wouldn’t say what caused the delay, beyond this: “The fall launch is reflective of our commitment to ensuring we are delivering a gold standard of local news in these markets.”
In Vancouver, the staff is:
- Ashley Burr, formerly of CKPG in Prince George, Alta.
- Kyle Donaldson, producer and on-air personality with Breakfast Television Vancouver
- Travis Prasad, formerly a news writer at CTV Vancouver
- Isabelle Raghem, formerly of CHEK News and CHCH
- Tom Walsh, Breakfast Television reporter since 2017
- David Zura, formerly of Roundhouse Radio in Vancouver
- Mary Cranston, Thor Diakow and Greg Harper, existing Breakfast Television Vancouver reporters
In Calgary, the newly announced staff is:
- Kristen Fong, formerly of Global News Radio
- Kendra Fowler, formerly of 660 News
- Crystal Laderas, formerly of 660 News.
- Michael Lumsden, reporter for Breakfast Television Calgary since 2017
- Jonathan Mumam, formerly of 660 News
- Brittany Rosen, formerly of CTV Regina
CityNews launched in Edmonton and Winnipeg last fall (those stations had dropped their Breakfast Television programs, so launching newscasts became a requirement to meet new local news quotas). Once the new newscasts are running, City will be able to meet its local programming and local news conditions of licence with just the evening newscasts, meaning Breakfast Television will no longer be required.
“There will be no changes to BT as a result of the launch of CityNews Montreal,” Rogers spokesperson Michelle Lomack tells me, repeating what has been said previously. But that could always change as the decline of ad revenue puts more pressure to cut costs.
This post has been corrected.
Remember Dimitrios Koussioulas? He was a flash in the pan around 2013. He had a web series called Parc Avenue Tonight, in which he interviewed locals late-night-talk-show style in his apartment, and CBC Montreal created a one-hour TV special out of that. That same summer, City TV aired a local lifestyle series called Only in Montreal in which he was one of three hosts.
And then, nothing. A second season of his show was filmed in 2014, but never got released. Only in Montreal was never renewed (though its timeless episodes spent a long time in reruns). And Koussioulas seemed to move on with his life.
And then, last Friday, this:
News about news
- Ontario courts have changed their rules to allow journalists to use electronic devices in court provided they’re not disruptive. But the rules don’t define what “media or journalists” means in this context. There’s a list of media established solely for the purpose of determining access to digital recordings (that explicitly says it “should not be referenced as a list of designated media for any other policy or protocol applicable to the courts”), but otherwise it’s not defined, which could cause problems when journalists are given special privileges not allowed to members of the public.
- About 25 jobs have been cut at Quebec City’s Le Soleil.
- BuzzFeed exposes a writer who contributes to websites like Forbes and Entrepreneur for taking money from clients in exchange for mentioning them in his stories. The story is a warning to all media outlets who think they can profit off free content contributed by people they don’t monitor.
- Prompted by a tweet from Louie Mantia, I created a Twitter moment of tweets from journalists (and some of my own contributions) about things people probably don’t know about journalists that would be obvious to anyone working in the industry.
- CBC News published its first story entirely in Inuktitut about Nunavut’s legislature ousting its premier.
- The National Newsmedia Council is now offering ethics advice support to freelance journalists.
- CTV News has filed its defence in the lawsuit brought by former Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown. There’s not much earth-shattering new here, but there are some details about the process CTV News went through in reporting its story about Brown’s alleged behaviour toward young women.
Someone in my neighbourhood decided to go around and write messages on some of the Moving Day trash on the sidewalk. Trash day was today, so it’s gone now, but I’m sure some people appreciated the chuckle while it lasted.
It’s a Jazz Festival show in which white people sing black slave songs. What could possibly go wrong?
That’s an oversimplification, but it’s what’s at the core of criticism about SLAV, a musical theatre production directed by Robert Lepage and performed by Betty Bonifassi, which was the subject of protests last week claiming it was cultural appropriation.
Whether white people can do things is a popular topic of discussion among white people in the media, so this controversy sparked quite a bit of commentary. Unfortunately, because there aren’t a lot of dark-skinned opinion leaders in this country or this province, we didn’t get to hear much in the mainstream press from people whose personal experiences might give them more nuanced views about this topic.
We’re getting better, though, both because there are more media sources out there and because existing ones are starting to acknowledge their lack of diversity. So here I’ve compiled links to local black commentators who offer their opinions on the subject. And those opinions aren’t all the same.
- Aly Ndiaye, aka Webster: “Like it or not, the question of race is at the very heart of the American slave system. It was purged from the piece. We cannot talk about slavery in the Americas without addressing this issue.”
- Fabrice Vil, Le Devoir: “Il n’est pas question de censurer la démarche artistique. Mais comme l’a suggéré Nathalie Bondil, les artistes devraient éviter de pécher par arrogance ou indifférence. La voie qu’elle propose est celle de la conversation, ce à quoi les créateurs, ici, ferment la porte.”
- Vanessa Destiné, Tabloïd: “J’étais beaucoup sur mes gardes en arrivant dans la salle, mais j’en suis sortie agréablement surprise. Je n’ai pas été émue, ni renversée, mais sachez que la souffrance des esclaves n’est pas minimisée, le rôle des Blancs n’est pas excusé et je n’ai pas non plus senti qu’on cherchait à s’approprier quoi que ce soit. Il y a des passages qui m’ont fait tiquer parce que l’équipe n’a pas su éviter le piège des clichés, mais bon, je vais survivre et vous aussi.”
- Marilou Craft, Urbania: “À mes yeux, toute œuvre forme un discours qui s’inscrit dans un dialogue plus large : une œuvre reflète la société où elle s’inscrit autant qu’elle l’éclaire. L’analyser, ce n’est donc pas seulement mieux la comprendre, mais aussi mieux se comprendre.” (This post, published in December, proceeds to interview Bonifassi.)
- Craft, again: “Il se trouve que j’ai vu le spectacle. Et non seulement mes questions initiales quant au processus de création demeurent-elles entières, mais elles se superposent maintenant à davantage de réserves quant à certains choix artistiques.”
- Émilie Nicolas, Québec inclusif (via a Radio-Canada interview): “Certaines personnes décident de reproduire cette culture, sans donner de crédit ou de récompense financière aux gens qui l’ont créée. Ça reproduit les dynamiques de vol et de pillage qui font partie de la colonisation. Quand on parle d’appropriation culturelle, fondamentalement, c’est ancré dans des rapports de pouvoir inégalitaires dans une histoire très précise. C’est profondément blessant pour les gens de voir encore une fois ce qu’ils créent être pris, sans que rien leur reste en retour.”
- Frédéric Pierre, actor: “L’appropriation académique de l’histoire des « Noirs » ou des « Peuples des premières nations » me préoccupe et je serai toujours le premier à militer pour que les livres d’histoire soient ré-écrits avec l’accord et la collaboration de ces dites communautés. Mais laissons les artistes tranquilles. Laissons des artistes « Blancs » être touchés et émus par cette histoire et ses chants qu’elle a générés…même si c’est une compréhension différente. Le fond demeure le même.”
News about news
These are the five victims killed at @capgaznews today.
Rob Hiaasen https://t.co/CBJAVUuJNQ
Wendi Winters https://t.co/kKhVllQWWb
Gerald Fischman https://t.co/bmYvTdDBwd
Rebecca Smith https://t.co/3cM4VhG0q9
John McNamara https://t.co/vCRaIUIzAB pic.twitter.com/55Jeu3UhSh
— Kevin Rector (@RectorSun) June 29, 2018
- Five people were killed in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. The shooter is identified as a man who had a long grudge against the paper. Remaining staff kept producing the paper.
- Postmedia is making more cuts to its news operations as the company (my employer) continues to struggle financially with declining print ad revenue. It’s closing six community newspapers, making three others online-only (which, in the past, has only delayed the inevitable), and reducing print frequency for a 10th. All 10 affected papers were bought in the Sun Media deal and have long histories of ownership changes, with owners like Thomson, Hollinger, Osprey, Otter, Bowes, Newcap and Annex. Postmedia as a whole wants to cut 10 per cent of its salary base, which means another round of buyouts to unionized staff (including those at the Montreal Gazette), and possibly layoffs if those don’t reach that target. Community papers being cut are:
- The Daily Graphic in Portage La Prairie,
Alta.Man., is ending its print edition but will remain as an online-only publication.
- The Camrose Canadian in Camrose, Alta. The Canadian’s last issue will be Aug. 9.
- The High River Times in High River, Alta., is dropping from twice a week to weekly. It just brought in a new intern, which it’s sharing with two other local papers.
- The Ingersoll Times in Ingersoll, Ont., is shutting down. Its last issue is July 11. It is redirecting readers to the Woodstock Sentinel Review, based 15km away.
- The Kapuskasing Times (aka Kapuskasing Northern Times) in Kapuskasing, Ont., is shutting down. Its last issue is July 26.
- The Northern News in Kirkland Lake, Ont., is dropping from three days a week to one (Postmedia has this listed as going online-only, so I’m not sure if that weekly edition is a print one).
- The Norwich Gazette in Norwich, Ont., is shutting down. Its last edition is July 11. Like the Ingersoll Times, it is redirecting readers to the Woodstock Sentinel Review. Woodstock is 20km from Norwich.
- The Pembroke Observer in Pembroke, Ont., is shutting down its print edition but will remain online. Its final issue is July 28.
- The Petrolia Topic in Petrolia, Ont., is shutting down. Its last issue is July 11, five months short of its 100th anniversary. It’s redirecting readers to the Sarnia Observer, based 23km away.
- The Strathmore Standard in Strathmore, Alta., is shutting down. Its last issue is July 25.
- The Daily Graphic in Portage La Prairie,
- The New York Times has a story about one of its own journalists, Ali Watkins, being in hot water after it was discovered she was having an affair with a senior official on the Senate Intelligence Committee (which she covers as a national security specialist). She said she didn’t use him as a source, and he denies giving any information to journalists, but it’s an obvious red flag.
- The Canadian Journalism Foundation has posted videos from its awards gala. A highlight is this one of Robyn Doolittle asking journalists to support each other.
- Facebook is “partnering” with Agence France-Presse to limit the spread of fake news on its platform in Canada. Though some might see a Liberal conspiracy afoot, the bigger question for me is whether AFP has the resources or the interest to stamp out every Canadian fake news story out there.
- Politico is coming to Canada. Not to cover Canadian politics per se, but more to cover how the Canada-U.S. relationship affects U.S. politics. It has hired Alex Panetta, former Washington bureau chief for The Canadian Press, to join the project.
- The Toronto Star’s Kathy English points to a study that shows western media is not paying enough attention to the developing world.
News about news
- Rogers and Village Media have teamed up for another local news website, KitchenerToday.com. Like HalifaxToday.ca and OttawaMatters.com, the site will be fed by a Rogers-owned all-news radio station and Rogers TV community TV channel on a Village Media platform.
- The Globe and Mail has a new feature online that adds helpful process info on, for example, how it uses anonymous sources, right in the stories.
- The Professional Hockey Writers Association, for the first time, is publishing the individual ballot selections of its members that led to the choosing of NHL Awards recipients. The Gazette’s Pat Hickey and TVA’s Renaud Lavoie are among those listed as having submitted ineligible all-star team votes.
- A consortium of broadcasters denies that there was any threat from them to cut coverage of the Ontario election results after a concession speech by Kathleen Wynne was delayed too long.
- The Link has some more details about Concordia University’s new institute for investigative journalism.
- Charges have been laid against a man alleged to have led a right-wing group’s storming of Vice’s Montreal offices last month.
At the CRTC
- The commission held a hearing this week where four radio stations begged for their lives, err, I mean explained their chronic issues with licence compliance — CKMN-FM Rimouski, CHOC-FM Saint-Rémi, CKWR-FM Kitchener and CKUN-FM Christian Island. The transcript is here.
- A commission letter to the Bell Fund, an independent production fund set up by Bell to dole out some of its mandatory contributions to Canadian content, says that its board makeup appears to be insufficiently independent of Bell. This is part of a complaint by several broadcasting groups that a new program set up by the fund unfairly discriminates against smaller broadcasters.
- RNC Media has asked the CRTC to maintain its Independent Local News Fund allocation despite having shut down TV station CKRN-DT in Abitibi. RNC says it has moved all CKRN’s news resources to CFVS (its V affiliate) and produces the same amount of local news in the market as before.
- Colba.Net has thrown in the towel on a TV distribution service in Ontario, and handed its licence back to the commission.
- Native radio station CKOK-FM Nain, N.L., has been told it can’t be exempt from the national public alerting system, despite the argument that such a regulation is at odds with UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
- Licence renewals for Pattison-owned radio stations CKWD-FM (Wild 95.3) Calgary and CKNO-FM (102.3 NOW!) Edmonton
- Canadian Broadcast Standards Council: A Doc Mailloux broadcast was not discriminatory against old people nor overly sexually explicit.
- Toronto Star Public Editor: When is it appropriate to use the term “elderly“?
- CBC ombudsman: CBC can’t delete an article about the former mayor of St. Albert, Alta. violating the Municipal Government Act, even though the judge in the case found the mayor was acting in “good faith”.
- Roseanne is coming back, but without Roseanne. The producers of the hit revived sitcom are going ahead with a “spinoff” that does not star or have any financial links to Roseanne Barr.
- Sportsnet has announced its national NHL broadcast schedule for 2018-19. The schedule includes national broadcasts for the seven Canadian teams, but since Rogers also has regional broadcast rights to the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, and shares those rights with Bell for the Toronto Maple Leafs, some additional regional broadcasts could be upgraded to national for those teams. Here’s how it breaks down per team so far out of 82 regular-season games each (of the Canadiens broadcasts, 22 are on Saturday, 5 on Wednesday and 5 on Sunday, including a Super Bowl matinee game):
- Toronto: 40
- Montreal: 32
- Ottawa: 27
- Vancouver: 24
- Winnipeg: 22
- Calgary: 22
- Edmonton: 22
- CBC has cancelled the daily business news show On the Money with Peter Armstrong, leaving CBC News Network without a regular business show.
- Worse for CBCNN, the network is moving to a format during the day where the first half of each hour will be live and the second half a repeat of the first.
- V is working on a new talk show in which Phil Roy interviews celebrities in their homes.
- Workers at TVA have voted 97% in favour of a strike mandate. But the union has no immediate plans for a strike.
- TSN will broadcast the home opener of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, which was devastated when many of its players died in a bus crash during last season’s playoffs.
- Serinda Swan has been cast in the lead role in a new Toronto-set CBC original drama Coroner (8 episodes), set for broadcast this fall.
- ABC pulled an episode of reality series The Proposal after an accusation against one of its contestants related to a previous case of sexual assault surfaced online.
- Community station CIBL-FM Montreal appears to have made its crowdfunding goal of $35,000, with 91 contributions. One of the station’s recent radiothons was streamed by MAtv.
- Toronto’s CHUM-FM 104.5 went through a rebranding on Friday, and though it built up a lot of hype for the change, it’s unclear what exactly is different, beyond a lot more pink in their logo.
- The Quebec Community Newspaper Association awards winners list has been posted. In the overall newspaper category, first place goes to Kahnawake’s Eastern Door, and second and third place to two editions of The Suburban.
- Sony’s Crackle, the free video streaming service, is shutting down access in Canada as of June 28.
- Paid subscription services YouTube Music and YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red) are now available in Canada.
- MUCH has published a five-episode series of videos on LGBTQ issues.
- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can require retailers who don’t have a physical presence in their state to collect and remit sales taxes.
- Quebecor has officially bought out the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s stake in Quebecor Media, and is now the sole owner of that subsidiary. But the Caisse still has a stake in Quebecor Inc. itself, and some of that payement is in the form of a convertible debenture.
- The union representing CBC/Radio-Canada employees in Quebec and Moncton have once again rejected a contract offer.
- Disney upped its bid for 21st Century Fox in response to an offer by Comcast. It’s almost $15 billion higher than its previous bid.
News about people
— Global Halifax (@globalhalifax) June 18, 2018
- Marie-Andrée Chouinard has been named the new editor-in-chief of Le Devoir. She replaces Luce Julien, who was poached by Radio-Canada.
- Irene Gentle has been named the new editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star. She is the first woman to hold the role.
- Luc Bellemare has been named the new permanent primary host of RDS’s l’Antichambre. He replaces Stéphane Langdeau, who left RDS because he shares initials with someone else.
- Emmanuelle Latraverse has decided to leave Radio-Canada, where she was the host of its weekly political talk show until she was mysteriously demoted amid rumours about her behaviour.
- Alain Dubuc is leaving La Presse for a teaching job, and going out with some reflective columns.
- Jane Gerster, formerly health reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, is now the national features reporter for Global News.
- Radio-Canada reporter Véronique Prince has been named president of the Quebec Press Gallery.
- Emilie Perreault had her last day at 98.5 FM.
- La Presse’s Yves Boisvert talks to cartoonist Serge Chapleau
- Netflix has dropped its head of PR, Jonathan Friedland, after he apparently used the N word.
- FPJQ’s Trente magazine on Radio-Canada’s spotty acceptance of non-Quebec accents.
- The Columbia Journalism Review looks at Consumer Reports magazine and its plan to stay viable in the future.
- The Toronto Star fact-checked a week’s worth of Question Period at the House of Commons, and rates questions and answers as true, false, dodge and stretch.
- A look at Toronto’s high school newspapers
That’s it, it’s done. After almost 52 years, the last train of the model that launched the Montreal métro system — including the first cars ever built and delivered — were pulled out of service at 6:51pm on Thursday, June 21, 2018, at the Saint-Michel station on the blue line, to applause from chairperson Philippe Schnobb and a few dozen transit enthusiasts. The video above shows its last in-service stop.
The MR-63, the model number reflecting the year in which they were designed and ordered from Canadian Vickers in advance of the 1966 opening of the system, wasn’t the world’s best-designed vehicle. It had a lot of faults that were quickly rectified after the opening, most famously a problem with temperature control. Engineers greatly underestimated how hot the cars would get, and built a heating system that was never used. The driver’s cabin got so hot that a driver fainted, so the motor cars were retrofitted with an air conditioning unit replacing one of the seats in the passenger cabin. New fans were also installed in the ceiling, and one door in each car had its glass window replaced with a grill.
News about news
— Ric Ernst (@RicErnst) June 16, 2018
- The Michener Award, the journalism award given out by the governor general, was awarded to the Globe and Mail and journalist Robyn Doolittle for their Unfounded project looking at how police departments across the country handle investigations of sexual assault.
- Bill 400, which allows La Presse to be converted into a nonprofit, passed through the National Assembly just before it broke for the summer. The bill was rushed through the legislative process (though, at two paragraphs, it doesn’t take long to study), and MNA Martine Ouellet tried to propose seven amendments in committee and two others in the National Assembly, designed to establish rules for how the non-profit’s board should be formed (such as that employees should control a third of the board) and ensure the company is not sold to a corporation with a headquarters outside Quebec. All were rejected. The final vote passed 76-24.
- The National Assembly also adopted a law offering more protection to journalists who wish to protect the identity of confidential sources.
- La Presse published an investigative report this week about Influence Communication, the Quebec news media analysis firm famous for quantifying the weight of topics in the news media. The report questions the company’s methods, particularly when it comes to broadcast media, and quotes former employees saying that president Jean-François Dumas, the firm’s public face, applies a multiplier, whose source is unclear even within the firm, to determine how much a news story is trending on media they cannot directly analyze. Dumas went into immediate damage control, issuing a 4am press release, and appearing on Radio-Canada and 98.5 FM morning shows to denounce the reporter and the story. Dumas says the former employees (who are unnamed in the story) were fired or left on bad terms, and suggests the reporter refused two offers to see how the company works in person. (The reporter, Isabelle Hachey, says both those statements are false.) Influence’s press release does not single out any specific fact in the story as being incorrect.
- Former Toronto Star digital editor David Skok has launched a new online subscription news outlet called The Logic, covering “the innovation economy.”
- The Guardian looks at the issue of journalists in the United States facing danger for reporting on radical right-wing political groups.
- Concordia University has launched a new institute for investigative journalism, with several media and university partners.
- An online survey done for the international Digital News Report shows only 18% of Canadians would be willing to donate to a news outlet “if they were unable to cover their costs in other ways.” More details on the report’s findings about Canada are here.
- Another report shows that news consumers are not very well informed about how journalism works, and that they believe news has veered too far toward opinion (I agree). Details are here.
- Rob Rogers was fired as the editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette because he refused to stop making fun of Donald Trump. The newspaper’s publisher counters that he was “too angry” and obsessed with Trump. The paper itself covered the firing.
- The Boston Globe has suspended columnist Kevin Cullen after learning he allegedly fabricated anecdotes related to the Boston bombing. He’ll be busted down to general assignment reporter temporarily when he returns.
- Former employees of the Denver Post have started a new publication called the Colorado Sun that is being bankrolled by the founder of the Ethereum cryptocurrency. The Sun’s business model is something-something-blockchain but appears to be some sort of crowdfunding model.
- The Ahuntsic-Cartierville community publication Journal des Voisins has hired some student reporters thanks to a government grant.
- La Presse is launching a new webinar series featuring photojournalist Martin Tremblay.
Numeris released its quarterly ratings for the Montreal market last week, covering the period of Feb. 26 to May 27. There isn’t much new among the anglophone or francophone markets in terms of market share, but the numbers give us another data point to look at some longer-term trends.
Canada’s English-language private TV broadcasters announced their fall schedules this week. In case you couldn’t keep up with all the press releases, here’s what was sent out.