Humboldt the untouchable: L’affaire Nora Loreto and the uselessness of hate

It is, unquestionably, a catastrophe, and the worst nightmare for dozens of families. A bus carrying a men’s junior hockey team, travelling to a game in small-town Saskatchewan, collides with a large truck carrying cargo, and the resulting crash leads to 14 people suddenly dying. Of the 15 survivors, two will later die from their injuries, and most of the others are still in serious condition — some have permanent paralysis, some are so injured as to be unrecognizable, to the point where one survivor and one deceased were mistaken for one another.

The response to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash has been overwhelming and heartwarming: coast to coast media coverage, statements of support from public figures in Canada and abroad, even a campaign by regular people to leave hockey sticks on their porches overnight as a show of moral and spiritual support. And a fundraising campaign that has raised more than $9 million to help the victims and families affected.

It’s a nice reminder, in the face of such horror, that we are one big family.

But $9 million is a lot of money. It works out to more than $300,000 for each person on that bus. When the campaign passed the $7 million mark, it prompted a question in me: is that enough?

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Sportsnet keeps Jets playoff games off CBC

The Toronto Maple Leafs are Canada’s team. Or at least the CBC’s.

That much has been made abundantly clear this season. Every Saturday night, if the Leafs are playing, they’re on CBC (except when CBC was broadcasting the Olympics). With a market that encompasses a third of Canada’s population, it makes sense that this team would get more attention, but the one-sidedness has been particularly striking.

Habs fans too cheap to pay for Sportsnet have been complaining the past couple of seasons that Canadiens games on Hockey Night in Canada have been punted to Sportsnet rather than broadcast on free TV channels CBC or City. Sportsnet has admitted this was done mainly to drive subscriptions to Sportsnet.

And as the NHL playoffs begin tonight, and CBC devoting its entire primetime schedule to hockey, it seems they’re doing it again, this time to the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets and Leafs are the only two Canadian teams to make the playoffs, and even though their games both start at 7pm ET (6pm in Winnipeg, but in the playoffs you need to be either an early game or a late game), not a single one of the up to 14 games involving the two teams overlap — they’re all scheduled on different nights.

But there won’t be any Jets games on CBC, at least not until Game 5 and likely not until next round at the earliest. Instead, all Leafs games will be broadcast on CBC but all Jets games are on Sportsnet. And while the Jets are on Sportsnet, CBC viewers will get to watch the all-American Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series instead. Even those in Winnipeg.

I asked Sportsnet about the decision, and this was the response I got:

As you can imagine, there are numerous factors taken into consideration when coordinating the broadcast schedule for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In this case, with two series featuring Canadian teams in the first round, the decision was made that Sportsnet and CBC would each have the opportunity to broadcast one of those two series. Winnipeg is a key priority for Sportsnet and Sportsnet is thrilled to be broadcasting the entire Jets series to Canadians from coast-to-coast.

In other words, the Jets are on Sportsnet because Sportsnet wanted a Canadian series. Which sounds reasonable (similar to how CBC and TSN split playoff series before the Sportsnet/NHL deal) until you remember that Sportsnet controls the CBC broadcast as well.

So why keep the Jets off CBC during a time when lots of casual fans might tune in, and Sportsnet is looking to maximize ratings?

Because of money. Of the 82 regular-season Jets games, 60 are on TSN3. Casual Jets fans in Manitoba don’t have much incentive to subscribe to Sportsnet if they’re not otherwise interested in sports. So Sportsnet is hoping to drive subscriptions from those potential fans, even if it means many fans just won’t watch the games and they’ll lose potential ad revenue.

But, of course, that logic doesn’t apply to the Leafs. The Leafs are so popular that ad revenue is more important than subscription revenue. So the Leafs get CBC.

On one hand, Manitoba Jets fans should just subscribe to Sportsnet (it’s available over-the-top for $25 a month). On the other hand, this definitely does feel like a middle finger to a market that has had to suffer for a long time, and hasn’t seen a playoff game win in more than 20 years.

TVA Sports, by the way, is also not giving priority to the Jets. Of the first four matches, three will be broadcast on TVA Sports 2 because of conflicts with Flyers-Penguins or Capitals-Blue Jackets.

The NHL playoffs begin Wednesday with the Jets and Wild playing at 7pm on Sportsnet. The Leafs and Bruins play Game 1 on Thursday at 7pm on CBC. For channel assignments for these and other series, see sportsnet.ca/schedule.

Media News Digest: CBC’s new CEO, Workopolis sold, Michèle Ouimet’s final column

News about news

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Toronto Star rebranding Metro newspapers to form pseudo national chain

Metro is dead. Long live StarMetro.

Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star and the remaining Metro newspapers in English Canada, announced Monday that it will be rebranding the Metro papers to StarMetro and bringing them closer to the Star fold, moving their websites to thestar.com and sharing stories between the two. At the same time it is adding 20 journalists to three of the Metro newspapers — Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

The Star’s story on the announcement, as well as nearly identical insert-city-name-here stories in each of the Metro papers (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax), don’t give much details beyond that, but expect to see more Metro content in the Toronto Star, and more Toronto Star content in the Metro papers.

Despite the this-is-good-news nature of the announcement, there are no plans to resurrect Metro papers that have been killed recently. Metro Ottawa and Winnipeg were sold to Postmedia in November to be shut down. Metro also previously had papers in London, Regina and Saskatoon, plus digital-only editions in four other cities.

Métro Montréal, Canada’s only French-language version of the paper, is owned by Transcontinental, which has put it up for sale.

The Torstar changes take effect on April 10. At that point, the Metro app will also be shut down, and visitors to the metronews.ca websites redirected to The Star’s new pages for each city.

Radio station program director admits son’s all-fart-sounds show probably wasn’t the best idea

Radio station 107.5 Le Poisson in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade is ending its Saturday evening show made up entirely of fart sounds after its program director admitted that it wasn’t the kind of success he was hoping for.

“My son’s proposal sounded so innovative,” said Paul Natrillé, who has been at the helm of the station’s programming for seven years. “When we launched it last fall, he was really excited about the possibilities. But since then his interest has waned a bit, and we don’t think it’s the best fit for the station anymore.”

Natrillé’s son Thomas said he had fond memories of the show, but it was time to move on anyway. He has several interviews with morning shows in Quebec City.

107.5 will fill the discontinued hour’s time slot with its usual music programming of classical and easy listening music.

CRTC staffer can’t understand why colleagues aren’t also freaking out about how lit the next notice of consultation will be

Saying she’s hyperventilating at even the thought of it, CRTC junior legal affairs staffer Janet Phehknaim just can’t bring herself to comprehend why her colleagues aren’t jumping over themselves about how exciting the notice of consultation to be issued next Tuesday is going to be.

The notice, related to an application received for a new low-power radio station in Dryden, Ontario, and a corporate reorganization at Vista Radio, will be posted to the commission’s website at 11am on Tuesday. Phehknaim said she assumed the announcement would be pushed back to 4pm to avoid any market impact, and that media advisories would be issued on Monday to invite journalists to a press conference.

“The CRTC is an exciting place to work and there are announcements almost every day that affect people’s lives, so you can imagine what this will mean to the people at Dryden and the accountants at Vista,” Phehknaim said.

“Personally, I’m planning a viewing party at work for when the application goes live. It’ll be a potluck, but my colleagues are being slow in getting back to me with what they’re going to bring.”

Quebec talk show guest sues after learning that “merci infiniment” did not mean infinite thanks

Saying he felt humiliated and distraught, Quebec talk show guest Fanny Nonspavré has filed a lawsuit in Quebec superior court against the producers of Tout le monde en parle saying she is owed the infinite thanks she was promised by host Guy A. Lepage at the end of her recent interview, and not the very finite thanks she says she was actually given.

“This is a show that is watched by a million people every week, and the host has a reputation as an honourable man, so when he says ‘merci infiniment d’être parmi nous ce soir’ I take him at his word that his thanks will be infinite,” the statement of claim says. “To later discover, when the cameras were turned off, that Lepage’s thanks were severely limited seems to be a blatant contract breach to me.”

Nonspavré said she didn’t expect Lepage to follow her until the end of days repeating the word “merci” over and over again until one of them dies, but the least he could do if he was serious about offering unlimited thanks is to do her a favour once in a while on demand.

“I don’t want to be greedy about this,” she said. “I’m not doing this for me, but for the next person who will be told one thing on the air and another when the cameras aren’t looking. Mr. Lepage needs to stay true to his word when he says something, and if he doesn’t want to be locked into limitless commitments, he should choose his words more carefully.”

Carlos Leitão asking journalists what they think of chapter of his novel he included in budget

Quebec finance minister Carlos Leitão says he is ready to begin receiving feedback from the province’s political and economic journalists who have by now had plenty of time to read the draft of the first chapter of his new novel, which he included at the back of the 800-page budget plan.

Titled “Prosperity of the heart,” Leitão’s novel, about an economist by day who spends his nights fighting crime and making the world a better place while finding love in an unexpected way, is not quite ready for mass publication, the finance minister said, and he’s still looking for a publisher for it, but he thinks the story is very original and he has an outline for a dozen chapters, each one better than the last.

“There definitely will be an accumulated surplus of warm feelings after finishing this novel,” Leitão joked on Saturday. “And though I plan to keep my day job for now, I can’t discount the possibility that I’ll turn full-time to fiction writing if this takes off as well as I hope it does.”

Global News saves costs by covering only prescheduled breaking news events

Saying it will keep looking for ways to innovate in the production and presentation of local news, Global announced in a message to its staff this week that it will further streamline its operations by only covering local breaking news events that are scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.

“Our efficiency experts found that in newsrooms across the country we have reporters and videojournalists who are just sitting in the office waiting for things to happen, and that’s incredibly inefficient,” explained Global News vice-president May Didupp. “So starting April 1, we’ll only cover fires, car crashes, natural disasters and surprise announcements where the newsroom has been informed at least 24 hours in advance of the event to take place.”

Didupp said she expected that competitors’ newsrooms would follow in that policy, and that once everyone else is on board breaking news will have no choice but to play ball. She reminded police departments that information can be provided under embargo.

RDS documentary chronicles Canadiens’ 25th Stanley Cup they would have won if they just put Alex Galchenyuk at centre

Route vers la victoire, the RDS documentary showing how the Canadiens would have won their 25th Stanley Cup this season if they’d only moved Alex Galchenyuk from the wing to centre last year like you told them to, is set to air just before the first game of the NHL playoffs later this month.

The hour-long documentary, which includes player interviews and simulated game footage showing the projected run to the sacred chalice, presents “as accurate a projection as our best experts could create of the path taken if only Michel Therrien and Claude Julien had listened to common sense and moved Chucky to centre where he belongs,” RDS said in a statement.

RDS expects the documentary to have higher ratings in Quebec than the Maple Leafs or Jets or whichever other English Canada team makes it to the playoffs.

Man yelling obscenity behind TV reporter during standup disappointed after being cut in editing

A man who yelled an obscenity behind a TV reporter while she was filming a standup shot for a report on gun violence in schools says he is profoundly disappointed after seeing the finished report on the 6pm newscast and finding he was cut during the editing process.

“I waited five minutes to get the perfect timing for it,” said Todd Aldushbaig. “And her delivery during that shot was perfect. I feel like she chose another more mediocre version just so she could cut me out of the story.”

The reporter apologized for having to cut the man out of the story. “Unfortunately, as journalists we must often make tough decisions on what to keep in our reports to meet the time constraints of a television newscast,” she said. “But I will keep Mr. Aldushbaig in mind for the next time I need a source about women’s reproductive health.”

Rogers denies engaging in high-pressure sales tactics and you should really sign up for Rogers NHL Live and a family plan right now

Two months after whistleblowers came forward to complain about the environment in its customer sales department, Rogers is again denying it is pushing its agents into getting clients to sign up for services they don’t want, and also you should sign up for Rogers NHL Live before the playoffs start because for only $75 you can watch all of the NHL playoffs wherever you want, and they can totally put that order in for you right now if you’d like.

“We take our customer trust seriously and would never compromise that by selling our valued customers something they didn’t want,” Rogers VP of customer care Doan Gevakrapp. “And did you know that with a Share Everything plan with Rogers you get NHL Live for free? That’s a $75 savings! How about I make that change for you right now, you can cancel at any time, ok?”

Rogers says it has spoken with some rogue customer care agents who claim they were encouraged to sign people up for things they knew they’d never use, but you’re definitely going to use Rogers NHL Live to watch your favourite team in the upcoming playoffs, and it includes the rest of the regular season as well, so how about we just go ahead and add that to your account.

“You put your trust in Rogers, and we want to be worthy of that trust,” Gevakrapp said. “And did you know you can get a free no obligation subscription to Maclean’s and Chatelaine for three months? What do you have to lose? Let’s get that signed up as well, I’ll just need your credit card please.”

Federal aid package for print media to include requirement to have free donuts at all press conferences

Struggling print journalists won another concession from the federal government this week when it agreed to change Canada’s criminal code making it illegal to hold press conferences without offering free coffee and donuts.

“Journalism is a serious business and our time is valuable,” explained Guelph Sun editor A.P. Reelfuel. “We can’t have our journalists going to press conferences, especially early in the morning, and showing up to find there are no donuts, croissants or even crackers on a table for them to chew on.”

Reelfuel said he expects the move to be the first in a series of measures to regulate how journalists are treated during press conferences, eventually expanding into a full journalist’s bill of rights. Other rights that would be enshrined through changes to the criminal code or less severe regulatory changes would include free parking, a minimum amount of high-resolution (HD or better) B-roll, and always having little placards in front of people showing the proper spelling of their name and title.

“We expect to see most of these new rules in place within the next year,” Reelfuel said. “In the meantime we’re counting on voluntary early compliance among all the companies and institutions we do business with.”

Man files complaint after Canadian celebrity fails to like complimentary tweet

Ronald Nuttriel of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., says he regrets having to take the extreme step of reporting Canadian TV actor Erica Bryk’s Twitter account, but that he had no choice after noticing that she failed to like a complimentary tweet he sent her three days ago, even though she was clearly active on the social media platform since then and liked several other tweets from fans.

“I thought I was doing something nice,” Nuttriel said about sending a tweet on Thursday congratulating Bryk on her new Canadian cop drama and noting she “looked great today” in a TV interview. “But no retweets or likes, nothing. Meanwhile she likes seventeen tweets sent after mine, including four that are just links to news stories and one that’s just a thumbs up. What kind of message does that send?”

Nuttriel said the non-liking is affecting how he is viewing the award-winning actor as a person, and added that she may be overrated anyway. He said he is thinking of calling her a bitch.

Bryk did not respond to a tweet seeking comment. Which is so typical of her.

Quebec to require Netflix content be 50% louder in French

Besides imposing a sales tax on the streaming giant, Quebec is also making a demand of Netflix related to its content: It wants French-language movies, films and other videos to be at least 50% louder than their English counterparts.

Under new rules announced this week, Netflix content distributed in Quebec will be monitored by inspectors of the Office québécois de la langue française to ensure that, where content is available in both languages, the French version is predominantly louder.

“It’s an extension of our French-language charter and we expect the population will be in favour of it,” said Premier Philippe Couillard. “The preponderance of French is ingrained in who we are and we expect Netflix will recognize that and happily comply.”

Netflix has not said whether it would comply with the new order.