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.
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.
La Presse is giving more detail about its restructuring plan, including that it has asked the Quebec bar for the names of three retired judges, from which it will choose its trustee to ensure the non-profit it establishes respects its mandate. It will also name the chair of its board without consulting Power Corp.
Canadaland has a story about CBC News matching competing news organizations’ scoops without credit. This is a common problem in the industry and a pet peeve of mine as well, but it goes far beyond the CBC. Many, maybe even most mainstream news organizations with decades of experience work under the guideline that you only need to credit a competitor until you’ve independently confirmed the news yourself. If news organizations had to disclose where they first heard about all the stories they published, news would read a lot differently. (Also Frank magazine points out it has been scooped by Canadaland without credit in the past.)
Nominations have been announced for the Michener Award for public service journalism (considered the most prestigious because it involves the governor-general and because only one award is given out every year). They are:
In 1975, 79% of homes received a daily newspaper. Now it’s 2%.
La Presse did three studies in recent years about a paid subscription model. The most generous on showed it could get 50-100,000 subs paying $5 a month. But up to $6 million in revenue would be offset by “tens of millions” in lost ad revenue.
Since 2010, the two largest newspaper chains in Canada (Postmedia and Torstar, I’m presuming) held on to only 35% and 42% of ad revenue. La Presse managed to keep 66% despite the fact that it no longer has a print edition.
Evanov Radio resubmits new joint #CRTC technical plan for Toronto radio stations CIDC-FM (Z103) and CIRR-FM (Proud FM): CIDC-FM moves to 103.7, increases from 30.7kW to 45kW, points NW CIRR-FM to 103.5, from 0.2kW to 20kW and doubles antenna height. Will also add HD. pic.twitter.com/6Njy76hm4t
Evanov Radio is trying again with its plan to reconfigure its two Toronto-area radio stations to turn at least one into a bona fide Toronto station. Like its last attempt, this new one involves converting CIDC-FM (Z103.5) into a station serving Orangeville (as it was licensed to do) and clearing the way for CIRR-FM (Proud FM 103.9) to increase power to cover all of downtown Toronto. But after the last attempt was deemed technically unacceptable by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (which regulates radio spectrum) because of interference it would cause to other stations, this one tries another option: move CIDC to 103.7, with a signal pointed entirely northwest away from Toronto, and move CIRR to 103.5, allowing it to increase power 100-fold. Evanov also proposed to add an HD transmitter for CIRR, with up to four channels. The first will simulcast the analog signal, but it hasn’t decided what the other three will carry yet.
Kanesatake’s community radio station CKHQ-FM 101.7 is fighting against a proposed new Christian radio station in Lachute on the same frequency. Under Canadian broadcasting regulations, CKHQ is a low-power station and is unprotected, so if another station gets a licence to operate that would cause interference, CKHQ would have to move to another frequency. The problem is that Kanesatake is close enough to Montreal that there aren’t many frequencies available, even for a tiny 11-watt station. Legally it doesn’t have much to go on, but it’s hoping political pressure will push the CRTC to act in its favour. The station, which can’t be heard outside the immediate area of Kanesatake, has been off the air since last July.
A LaPresse.ca story about an assault suspect being sought by police, that was later updated after the suspect was found, should not have included a description of the suspect as “Indigenous” as that was not relevant. La Presse argued the ethnic description was an “artifact” of the previous story as a physical description of a man being sought by police.
Mario Dumont is leaving Montreal’s 98.5FM in June, where he was a collaborator to the morning show, citing a lack of available time. His replacement, Denis Coderre, will stay on, despite saying last fall that a media job is not what we should expect him to go into.
In 1975, Jim, who lived down the street, asked me to prom. We had a blast and he moved away. 40 years later we reconnected, fell in love, and last night he proposed! #ISaidYes ? pic.twitter.com/tad1aRpTX3
After TVA and every other French media, it looks like there might be a televised debate in English between the four main parties ahead of the provincial election in October. All four have agreed to participate, though these agreements are through scrum answers and tweets so not the most official. CBC, CTV, Global, CJAD and the Montreal Gazette form the consortium that would broadcast it.
RTDNA Canada has announced its annual national and network award finalists. CBC Montreal, CBC Quebec City, CTV Montreal and CJAD are among the nominees in the national awards, having won regional awards in the same categories.
I spent the day reading messages, texts, tweets and emails. I’m in a puddle of tears, overwhelmed by your kindness. It’s been my privilege to have grown up with you the past 21 years. The love you have shown me is with me forever. xx pic.twitter.com/KIaaT488Bu
As Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a U.S. congressional committee, Craig Silverman points out that some of the Facebook features that allow companies to scrape data about people have also been used by journalists.
A case between the RCMP and Vice News reporter Ben Makuch about getting access to original source material of communications he had with an ISIS fighter will go to the Supreme Court. This despite the fact that the man Makuch interviewed has been reported dead.
A Vice/Motherboard story about Chinese techie Naomi Wu prompted backlash from its subject even before it was published for asking her about her personal life and rumours about her on Reddit. Wu alleges she made that stuff off limits and that Vice agreed, and is mad that they reneged on their word. Vice, meanwhile, says it did not agree to avoid asking specific questions. The conflict quickly degenerated into Wu accusing Vice of publishing personal details about her (it didn’t even publish her real name) and then publishing the home address of the writer of the story, which led to social media sites suspending her accounts. This Twitter thread provides a good summary (and argument) of how ridiculous Wu’s accusations and behaviour got.
ProPublica issued a long correction/mea culpa after incorrectly saying the woman who has since been named the new head of central intelligence in the United States had overseen waterboarding of infamous Al Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah.
The New York Times has decided to write obituaries for women who died long ago, as a make-up effort for ignoring them when they died. The “overlooked” series, which will continue, includes obits for people like Charlotte Brontë, Ada Lovelace and Sylvia Plath.
There was another school shooting in the United States. That’s not a media story, but there were a few problems with social media reaction to it. Poynter points out that people were creating fake tweets from real journalists to make them look bad (and reduce public confidence in professional journalism). Meanwhile, an oft-reported fact about there being 18 school shootings so far in 2018 was debunked by the Washington Post as an exaggeration based on overly broad criteria from an interest group about what constitutes a “school shooting.”
Require TQ to develop and publish a policy to reflect the full diversity of Quebec society,
Require TQ to develop and publish an action plan for creation of content that fulfils its diversity policy and a promotion policy to encourage viewership from members of Quebec society who have not traditionally felt reflected,
Require TQ to track the language of its viewers so that it knows which language groups are watching which programs,
Create a consultative committee that includes the diversity of Quebec society, which will advise the board of directors on issues concerning the broadcasters diversity of programming throughout the license period.
Place ads in English-language media when pertinent programming for the English- speaking minority is scheduled and when new programs are being developed,
Create an on-line playlist of Anglo-Que?be?cois reflective content (following the NFB’s example),
Require TQ to increase the production and programming of content reflecting the Quebec minorities, especially English-language, indigenous, and visible minority communities to at least 20% of the schedule, and at least 20% of the production budget; and
Require TQ to establish English-language programming for 10% of its schedule, and 10% of its production budget, to reflect the English-language community in Quebec.
The CRTC has dismissed a complaint by Electronic Box (aka EBOX) against Bell Media, which accused the company of refusing to make Bell’s specialty channels available for a TV distribution service EBOX plans to launch in Ontario and Quebec. Bell says it is willing to negotiate, and the CRTC agreed Bell was willing to act in good faith. If they can’t come to an agreement, they can come back to the commission for mediation or arbitration.
Le Soleil will stop printing a Sunday edition starting March 18, and instead publish a digital-only edition on Sundays. Groupe Capitales Médias’s other newspapers (which didn’t have Sunday editions) will also add Sunday digital editions. The move will leave only the Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec as Quebec newspapers printing seven days a week.
CBC has poached Vassy Kapelos from Global to host its Power & Politics show, finally replacing Rosie Barton, who left for The National. Kapelos had been host of Global’s weekly politics show The West Block.