Category Archives: Blogosphere

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal

Midnight Poutine on indefinite hiatus, podcast finds new home

The Midnight Poutine podcast crew, from left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle LeFort, Gregory Bouchard

The Midnight Poutine podcast crew last summer. From left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle LeFort, Greg Bouchard

Midnight Poutine, the local culture/lifestyle/other stuff blog, has been shut down. But it’s coming back, someday. Hopefully.

The website stopped posting updates just before new year’s, and its homepage has been replaced by a page announcing a “new and improved” version launching “soon”.

The website, whose archives go back to September 2005, is owned by Toronto-based Fresh Daily, and is published by Tim Shore. Its sister site is the more popular Blogto, which continues running as normal. (A third Fresh Daily blog, Vancouver’s Beyond Robson, went dark in 2011.)

“We’re planning some big changes to the site — both in respect to the site design and content strategy — so we thought it would be best to put it on hiatus for a short time period,” Shore told me.

He wouldn’t elaborate on what those changes would be or what the focus of the new site would be. He also wouldn’t say when it’s coming back. “We’re not releasing either of these details to the public just yet,” he said. “Sorry.”

One thing that definitely won’t be back is the Midnight Poutine Weekend Playlist podcast, which passed the 300-episode mark in June. The last episode posted to Midnight Poutine’s website, No. 318, was dated Dec. 19, and featured the hosts saying goodbye and alerting listeners that they would be moving to a new site.

Greg Bouchard, who managed the podcast and acted as Midnight Poutine’s main editor, stepped down last month because he moved to Toronto for work. He insists there’s no animosity either way in his departure, but the podcast is being moved.

The new site is called Radio Cannon, and it’s owned by Bouchard. He describes it as a website devoted to helping people discover music through personal recommendations, and a complement to more automatic ways of recommending music used by sites like Rdio or Pandora.

“It was never the intention for the site to focus primarily on music,” Bouchard said of Midnight Poutine. “It was supposed to be a more balanced culture blog.”

But as a site that didn’t offer much (if any) money to contributors, it was a slave to what those people wished to contribute. More newsy elements of the site would come and go in waves, as new eager contributors came in and eventually got bored and stopped. In Bouchard’s case, his interest was mainly music, which meant the site had a strong music focus.

Bouchard wouldn’t get into much detail about his reasons for leaving, beyond the obvious one of having moved to Toronto. But he said he wanted to focus on music, and expand the podcast’s concept nationally, and Midnight Poutine did not seem to be the proper outlet for it.

Joining Bouchard at Radio Cannon are his podcast co-hosts Theo Mathien, Amie Watson and Emily Hill (Gabrielle LeFort, who was one of the podcast co-hosts last summer, left in September to take on a job with Evenko).

The Radio Cannon Montreal Podcast is basically identical to the Midnight Poutine one, right down to the “Hello Internet, salut cyberspace” introduction (though now enhanced with the sound of a cannon firing). Still about an hour a week of indie or underground music from bands that are playing at smaller venues in the city over the coming week, interspersed with some chatter about them (and details of their upcoming concerts) by the hosts.

Bouchard says he plans to start a similar one for Toronto in the next couple of weeks (he’s looking for a co-host) and eventually Vancouver as well. “As long as we can find the personnel, we’ll expand to other cities,” he said during the last Midnight Poutine podcast.

He notes that there’s a romanticized notion that Montreal’s music scene is more diverse or bigger than other cities, but at least in the case of Toronto “it’s just not true.”

He also wants to set up streaming music channels (some playlists are already up).

Will this turn into a business?

“It’s still a hobby, but we’d like to try to make a go at making it bigger,” Bouchard said. They’d be looking at getting sponsors, having audio ads incorporated into the podcasts, or finding other ways to generate revenue.

As for Midnight Poutine, its future is unclear. The rumour is that the relaunch would be more focused on food than music, but officially we don’t know anything. Will it be days, weeks, months? Who knows.

One thing is for sure: Without the podcast and its associated talent, it’s going to have to work much harder to build an audience. And to be successful, that work won’t come free.

UPDATE (March 13): Radio Cannon’s Toronto podcast has launched.

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal

Adams family

Alston Adams at a Yulblog meeting in 2008

Alston Adams was a character.

I didn’t know him very well, but he was a hard guy to forget, and not only because he’d usually be the only black guy at a meeting of Montreal bloggers.

Adams had been fighting cancer for years, and blogging about it. Even though it was a serious medical condition with a depressing prognosis and no cure, he still kept going, showing up at the monthly YULblog meetings with his razor-sharp wit in tow. It could catch you off-guard, but it was endearing. With the energy and arrogance he showed, you’d think cancer wouldn’t stand a chance.

It took a long time, but cancer won the battle. Adams died yesterday, according to his friends, who have been flooding his Facebook wall. He was 35.

Since they knew him better than I did, I’ll point to the eulogies from his fellow bloggers:

A while ago, Adams participated in a documentary called Wrong Way to Hope, about young adults with cancer. The trailer (released almost a year ago) doesn’t do justice to his personality, which was far more animated (this bit from the deleted scenes is much more representative).

There’s some ironic timing here: His death comes just as the film is coming out. The premiere was two weeks ago, and the Canadian premiere is next week.

The monthly YULblog meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 6, 8pm at La Quincaillerie, 980 Rachel East. Expect Adams to be on the tips of tongues of those present.

UPDATE: Here’s daily mugshots of Adams until Sept. 13, three weeks before he died.

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal

Montreal City Weblog redesigns (change your RSS feeds)

After threatening to do so for what seemed like forever, Kate McDonnell has changed the almost decade-old Montreal City Weblog from Blogger to WordPress, and given it a redesign:

Montreal City Weblog: http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/

The new version is a big change from the 90s-era design that has gone virtually unchanged since 2001.

One of the side-effects of the change is that the old RSS feeds have disappeared, and those (like me) who subscribed via Google Reader haven’t seen any new posts since Feb. 19. So you should pick up the new feed at http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/?feed=rss2

The new site also allows her to enable comments, though for now the plan is to use it sparingly.

Posted in Blogosphere, Media, Montreal

Bird’s blogging

Ted Bird (if I have to explain who he is you clearly haven’t been reading this blog) has begun blogging in addition to his Twitter activity.

The blog is essentially an extension of his popular “Bird Droppings” radio thing, and features comments on stuff, particularly sports.

The baby Hitler front and centre on the blog’s homepage should give you an idea of how little self-censorship is involved here.

I must say, though, it’s just not the same without the voice…

Gazette West Island columnist Huntley Addie also talks about Bird this week.

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal, On the Net

Burgermongers

The Gazette’s casual dining critic Sarah Musgrave interviews Chris (Zeke) Hand (formerly of the Zeke’s Gallery craziness) and Ed Hawco (of Blork Blog) about their current project, the Montreal Burger Report, a radio show for CKUT, audio podcast and blog, all about reviewing local restaurants for their burgers.

The article, which was apparently written from the mythical “casual dining headquarters”, includes an absolutely adorable picture of Hand taken by Hawco.

You can subscribe to the Montreal Burger Report podcast here.

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal

Go support our local Blogathon bloggers

The annual Blogathon 24-hour blogging-for-charity fundraiser stunt-thing begins at 9am Saturday. Two local bloggers who have done this before are back: Sherry Osborne (UNHCR) and Stephen David Wark (Montreal Children’s Hospital Autism Clinic). I wrote about Wark last year and Osborne the year before.

Go show them some love, especially at 4am when they don’t think anyone’s listening anymore.

You can see a full list of blogs taking part here. The idea is to post at least once every half hour from 9am Saturday (6pm PT) to 9am Sunday.

Posted in Blogosphere, Video

Maxime Bernier has new technologies

There’s no way I can make this better than it already is. (via @mediabeat)

It occured to me I’ve never actually heard Maxime Bernier speak in English before (my attention must have been focused elsewhere). Now the new Conservative minister of nothing is putting it in practice with a new blog.

Don’t expect him to be too honest or outrageous though, the Tories don’t like honesty on their members’ blogs.

Posted in Blogosphere, Media, Opinion

Nelson Dumais and Cyberpresse need to stand up for integrity

A few weeks ago, Cyberpresse technology blogger Nelson Dumais had a curious post on his blog attacking the Quebec Press Council. It seems the Conseil de presse du Québec had issued a decision which blamed him for accepting free trips, a violation of the council’s code of ethics.

The situation is somewhat nuanced, so let me explain:

The council only acts based on complaints. In this case, a reader who has a beef with Dumais accused him of being biased in favour of corporate software and against free software, because of these free junkets he went on. The complainant also accuses Dumais of censoring his comments on Dumais’s blog. The council rejected both of these complaints, failing to find any bias in Dumais’s work and ruling that Dumais has the authority to moderate his blog as he sees fit.

But the council did give Dumais a slap on the wrist for accepting free travel sponsored by the companies he writes about, without fully disclosing the trips to his readers. He hasn’t hidden the fact that he gets these trips for free, he even wrote a blog post about it in 2006, but since not all readers will have seen that post, he should disclose it whenever there might be a conflict of interest.

Paid travel is listed as an example in the council’s section on responsibilities of the press to avoid conflicts of interest:

Preventing Conflicts of Interest

The Press Council recommends that media enterprises develop clear policies to prevent and deal with conflict of interest situations. Those policies should apply both to reporters and opinion writers. All situations that risk compromising the independence and impartiality of journalists should be addressed. Examples include paid travel, privileges and gifts, as well as awards and prizes offered by any group whose main purpose is to promote something other than journalism.

It acknowledges that there might be exceptions (reporting from war zones or other far-off places where commercial travel is unfeasible), but that there must be full disclosure in those situations.

Of course, these are all guidelines. The council has no official power. It cannot fine or discipline journalists for violations, and participation in the council is optional.

So a body with no power has mostly cleared Dumais of wrongdoing, only saying that he should disclose where the companies he writes about give him free travel to their junkets. Simple, right?

Obviously not, because Dumais is pissed. And I must be missing something, because most of his readers are too, and even fellow journalists.

Dumais’s argument is also nuanced. First of all, he’s not on staff at La Presse or Cyberpresse. He’s a freelancer, which means he basically has to look after his own expenses.

He also trots out that well-worn of excuses that everybody else does it, so that makes it okay.

Finally, he adds that in no way have these junkets affected how he reports, and requiring disclosure on every piece he writes would give people the false impression that these companies are paying him for his opinion.

But none of these excuses justifies accepting all-expenses-paid trips from software companies, much less deciding not to disclose them fully.

First of all, as any ethics expert will tell you, it’s not just about conflict of interest. It’s about the appearance of conflict.

Second, if these junkets truly had absolutely no effect on how journalists report, they would not exist. These giant software companies aren’t morons. They know if they give you free food and free travel, you’re a lot more likely to talk about their product. There might not be any direct quid pro quo, but they know you’re a lot more likely to say something positive about them. And if you have a reputation as someone who bashes the products promoted on these junkets, you won’t be invited to them in the future.

Finally, Cyberpresse should not be exploiting freelancers as a way of getting around paying expenses. Dumais is right that if he billed Gesca for all these trips, he wouldn’t be allowed to go on them anymore (an argument that makes it clear these trips are of value to him). But if we accept that journalists should not get free travel, then even freelancers should have their expenses paid for, no questions asked. This judgment is as much a stain on Gesca as it is on Dumais.

Dumais says he doesn’t have a choice in this matter. That’s bullshit. He can refuse these junkets. He just doesn’t want to, and neither does Cyberpresse, because they both (indirectly) profit financially from them.

Dumais and Cyberpresse must put an immediate stop to this, and stand up for journalistic integrity. These junkets should be outright banned, Dumais’s previous articles online should be edited to add disclosure statements to them, and a policy should be setup to ensure that freelancers do not feel they have to deal with their own expenses when they write original pieces for Gesca-owned properties. Other media organizations should follow suit with similar policies, including full disclosure of any gifts, sponsorships, favours or expenses paid for by companies seeking favourable coverage.

Someone must stand up for ethics, even if that means he stands alone.

If Frank Zampino is getting raked over the coals for accepting a yacht trip that he paid for, why should Nelson Dumais be allowed to accept trips that were provided for free? Do we expect stronger ethics in politicians than journalists?

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal, On the Net

Our honoured mothers

Sunday’s Gazette, in honour of mother’s day (Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!), features an article about Montreal’s mommy-bloggers, including of course the Mère Indigne. The article comes with a giant picture of Caroline Allard and kids, as well as a sidebar focusing on Quebec’s most famous mommyblogger.

I wrote about Allard and Mère Indigne in 2007 when her first book came out. The article isn’t online, but I just posted it here, along with questions I asked her back then via email. She screwed me over saddened her readers back then by announcing she was putting her blog on hiatus. Of course, like a bad drug she couldn’t stop with the blogging, posting stuff to a second blog. And she wrote another book. And created a web series for Radio-Canada.

All while raising two children.

Susan Semenak’s article also discusses other Quebec mommybloggers, whom we honour on this day:

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal

The Gazette’s new blog … about Montreal

The Gazette’s Andy Riga, apparently not content enough with his new transportation beat, has started up a new blog called Metropolitan News at communities.canada.com/montrealgazette/blogs/metropolitannews/default.aspx.

In its inaugural post, Riga promises the blog will “offer quirky looks at Montreal events, news and personalities; highlight the city’s vibrant online community, from bloggers to Twitterers to video posters; and tell you what is being said about our fair city in other parts of the blogosphere.”

I look forward to seeing what he’s got in store, and not just because I’m on his blogroll. Riga also has a Twitter account associated with this new project, which is worth a follow.

Posted in Blogosphere, TV, Video

Radio-Canada.ca launches Mère Indigne web series

Chroniques d'une Mère Indigne

Caroline Allard has been busy. The blogueuse-vedette known as the Mère Indigne who turned her blog about parenting into a book was on Tout le monde en parle Sunday night and Christianne Charette Monday morning talking about the sequel to the book and a new online video series on radio-canada.ca that launched Monday night starring Marie-Hélène Thibault. (The fact that these are all part of the Radio-Canada family is a coincidence, I’m sure.)

You can also see a video interview with Allard on the series website, as well as a short piece explaining the series.

Unfortunately, Radio-Canada is using Microsoft Silverlight for its video, which meant I had to install that software and then switch from Firefox to Safari in order to see it. Is Flash-based video still too difficult? Or Quicktime? Or YouTube?

Posted in Blogosphere, Canadiens, Media

Traffic up at Habs Inside/Out

Habs Inside/Out traffic

Habs Inside/Out, my newspaper’s most successful online venture so far, is seeing 100% traffic increases over last year, according to a recent post from Mike Boone. Those kinds of numbers put all of their other blogs (and mine) to shame, but they are well-deserved because of the efforts put into it by Boone, Dave Stubbs, Kevin Mio and Pat Hickey, who all contribute to bringing breaking news to the site in addition to their day jobs for the newspaper.

Posted in Blogosphere, Navel-gazing, Photos

My photo on a T-shirt

Dominic Arpin on a T-shirt (Bombe.tv)

Dominic Arpin on a T-shirt (Bombe.tv)

I was just reading a post on Dominic Arpin’s blog about how he noticed a picture of himself in a video on Bombe.tv (click on “Les infos”). It’s silly, but we bloggers are a vain group sometimes, we love talking about how other people are talking about us.

It’s cute, a picture of Arpin being made into a T-shirt. But something seemed familiar about the picture. It looked similar to one I’d taken of him at a YULblog meet last year.

The original photo from my blog

The original photo from my blog

In fact, it’s the same photo, apparently taken through a Google Image search. Needless to say, they’ll be hearing from my lawyers soon.

Oh wait, I don’t have any lawyers.

Well that’s ok. My outrage is tongue-in-cheek anyway. People can do what they want with my stuff for personal use (you know, build a shrine to me or something). So long as they’re not selling them I’m OK with it. But would some credit have hurt? At the very least they could have asked me for a high-resolution version instead of taking the 450-pixel wide one on my blog.

I could have even given them the non-cropped version:

The Dominic Arpin original

The Dominic Arpin original

Of course, it’s really Arpin that makes the photo with his adorable little smile there.

Maybe I should make some T-shirts out of it. I could make a career out of printing T-shirts of Quebec blogger celebrities.