(Late this week because I survived the Great Steve Faguy Man Cold of 2017)
News about news
There was a Class A shitstorm in Quebec media this week about a piece by Andrew Potter (former Ottawa Citizen editor and current McGill professor) tying the clustertruck on Highway 13 during last week’s snowstorm to some greater social malaise in Quebec. It includes statistics suggesting Quebecers are more socially distant than the rest of Canada, but also had some head-scratching generalizations about restaurants offering two bills and bank machines dispensing $50 bills.
Reaction was swift, with columnists (almost all from francophone Quebec-based media) piling on to condemn it: Jérémie Bédard-Wien, Denise Bombardier, Dan Delmar, Bernard Drainville, Sophie Durocher, Sophie Durocher again, Joseph Facal, Patrick Lagacé, Patrick Lagacé in English, Josée Legault, Mylène Moisan, Michèle Ouimet, Nathalie Petrowski and Lise Ravary.
Le Soleil even did a fact-check, as did La Presse’s science blog, and even Maclean’s, all finding that Potter’s statistics about Quebec society were accurate, though his conclusion of a “pathological” problem was exaggerated (they say nothing about the anecdotal stuff like restaurant bills).
Potter finally apologized and distanced himself from his own story (earning at least some praise for that rare move). That wasn’t enough, though. McGill, after publicly throwing him under the bus, “accepted his resignation” from his job as head of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (a Maclean’s story says the resignation was not voluntary, citing anonymous sources who also say “numerous high-profile figures have contacted McGill since Monday to express their personal displeasure with the column”, which prompted figures as high as the prime minister’s office to deny involvement). McGill says academic freedom is not at stake, which convinced precisely no one.
The response prompted another wave of hot takes, this time mainly from anglo media (Paul Adams, Frédéric Bérard, Ann Brocklehurst, Michael Byers, Lucinda Chodan, Colby Cosh, Andrew Coyne, Raymond J. de Souza, Michael Friscolanti, Lysiane Gagnon, Matt Gurney, Allison Hanes, Trevor Hanna, Michael Harris, Joseph Heath, Chantal Hébert, Barbara Kay, Jonathan Kay, Philippe Labrecque, Josée Legault again, Peter Loewen, Emmett Macfarlane, Don Macpherson, Candice Malcolm, Éric Montpetit, Brian Myles, Joseph Quesnel, Aaron Rand, Chris Selley, Michel Seymour, Evan Solomon, Michael Taube, William Watson, Daniel Weinstock, Ira Wells, Margaret Wente, Suzanne Wexler, Peter Wheeland, Barry Wilson, three professors in Maclean’s, a discussion on CBC’s The Current, podcasts at Canadaland and Ricochet, and editorials from the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Maclean’s and Winnipeg Free Press, plus an untold number of letters to the editor and discussions on social media). The hot takes get even hotter, comparing this scandal to everything from a corrupt third-world government to the Rwandan genocide. And that awful episode of Canadaland was rightfully blasted by its own supporters on Facebook.
- Nominations for the National Newspaper Awards and Canadian Association of Journalists awards were announced this week. The Montreal Gazette is nominated for one NNA, for a photo by Dario Ayala, who has since been laid off by the paper. This isn’t the first time this has happened — Viktor Pivovarov, of the Moncton Times & Transcript won a National Newspaper Award for a photo of Moncton shooter Justin Bourque, but was laid off by the newspaper along with the rest of the photographers.
- Vice Canada journalist Ben Makuch has lost an appeal of an order to turn information about a source over to police. The judge found that the balance of needs favoured allowing police to compel him to turn over records of communications between him and accused terrorist Farah Shirdon.
- A man has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon: a GIF. The GIF was a strobe animation intentionally sent to Washington Post journalist Kurt Eichenwald to trigger a seizure, which it did. The accused is apologetic, as most trolls become when they realize there are real-world consequences to their actions.
- Facing criticism about a recent report about the chicken content in Subway chicken, including a big lawsuit from the chain, CBC’s Marketplace has published its entire correspondence with them.
- Meanwhile, another Marketplace story, this one involving people selling white power T-shirts in front of hidden cameras to test people’s reactions, was the subject of a report from the ombudsman, who found the stunt was “not journalistically justified”.
- The Quebec Press Council has released its latest round of decisions. Two involve Richard Martineau, and he went 1-1.
- The FPJQ is proposing a new international journalism fund, to finance staff and freelance journalists working around the world contributing to Quebec media.
- CTV Montreal won best media entry at last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Parade. Probably on the strength of the very energetic pronouncements from float announcers Lori Graham and Mose Persico.
- Bell and Rogers are requiring business TV customers with liquor licences (i.e. bars) to pay extra to get sports channels as part of their packages. And most bars, who rely on live sports events to draw crowds, will pay up.
- HGTV Canada is launching two new Canadian home improvement series
- W Network is bringing back Hockey Wives, and Maripier Morin is still one of them (even though technically she’s not yet married to Brandon Prust)
- Canadians who watched Last Week Tonight videos on YouTube aren’t getting that luxury anymore, it seems. Clip videos posted as of March 1 are now restricted in Canada. To watch it legally online, they’ll need to use the official TMN GO app.
- The Leafs are getting good enough that Sportsnet is bragging about their ratings again.
- Videotron finally added MLB Network to its lineup, Channel 791 with a free preview until May 2. FXX and Sky News are also coming, according to illicotech.com.
- Saturday Night Live is going to be live on the west coast starting April 15. NBC has come to realize that a three-hour tape delay cuts the west out of the social media chatter, so might as well have them watch it at 8:30 with the rest of us.
- Mario Girard analyzes Alain Gravel’s morning show on Radio-Canada.
- Toronto Sports Media criticizes Sportsnet’s The Fan 590 for having no female on-air personalities.
- Le Devoir and Le Soleil have stories about the Globe and Mail moving out of the Quebec press gallery, three years after its last Quebec City reporter, Rhéal Séguin, retired.
- The Montreal Gazette has dropped its weekly visual arts column by freelancer John Pohl.
- La Presse finally took down the old logo off the side of its building.
- Applications are open for the FPJQ’s student newspaper of the year award. Any student paper in Quebec is eligible (in French or English or both).
- Vancouver Sun and Province journalists got care packages of alcohol and donuts from fellow Vancouver-area journalists as they prepared to find out who among them is being laid off.
- The finalists for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing have been announced. They include Christie Blatchford and Noah Richler.
- YouTube had to extricate itself from some hot water after its “Restricted Mode” meant to keep children safe from more adult videos started blocking access to any video with an LGBTQ theme. It learned you don’t want to piss off Tegan and Sara.
- Sellers of “Free TV” Android devices lost an appeal to overturn an injunction against them by major TV distributors who argue the devices de facto promote piracy of TV content.
News about people
- Bernard St-Laurent, CBC’s former Quebec political columnist who retired two years ago, is back.
- Robert Dépatie, the former CEO of Quebecor, is going to be a board member at Rogers Communications
- Philippe Orfali, journalist with Le Devoir, is joining the business team at the Journal de Montréal
- Michel Viens is retiring from Radio-Canada this summer
- Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail is starting a new assignment in Washington
- Mia Rabson is leaving the Winnipeg Free Press to join The Canadian Press in Ottawa
- Peter O’Neil, former Vancouver Sun parliamentary reporter, is joining the government
- CTV’s Kelsey McEwen is pregnant
- FM93’s Éric Duhaime is gay
- Paul Adams at iPolitics on how regional newspapers need reporters at Parliament Hill
- Vice News on right-wing pundit Lauren Southern
- The New Yorker on what’s happening in the White House press corps
- Denis McGrath, Canadian television writer (and vocal Twitter critic of the CRTC and other bodies affecting Canadian television). Tributes from Bill Brioux and Diane Wild, plus many others on social media.
- Normand Grenier, founder of Grenier aux Nouvelles
- Richard Gosselin, Voix de l’Est journalist
- Laurent Laplante, essayist and former editorialist at Le Devoir and other papers — he wrote about his experience getting medical aid to die posthumously in Le Devoir
- Bob Robertson, comedian and co-host of Double Exposure
- Betty Kennedy, journalist, broadcaster and Front Page Challenge panelist
- Richard Wagamese, Canadian author
- Chuck Barris, creator of The Newlywed Game and other game shows
- Jimmy Breslin, New York City columnist (also from the New York Times)
- Bill Walsh, copy editor and author of the blog The Slot (tribute from the Baltimore Sun)
- Tenure track professor in data journalism at Concordia University (deadline: March 24)
- Videojournalist, CBC Saskatoon (deadline: March 27)
- Business reporter, Montreal Gazette (deadline: March 27)
- Head of special publications, Le Devoir (deadline: March 31)
- Assistant general manager, FPJQ (deadline: April 2)
- Two reporters for Report on Business (Globe and Mail)
- Journalists, Journal de Montréal (deadline: May 2)