Monthly Archives: April 2007

Free transit this weekend

For those of you confused (and you should be, the media hasn’t been very clear on this), public transit is free throughout the STM and STL networks, including the metro and its three new stations.

Little mentioned so far is that the AMT will be running special free trains from the De la Concorde metro to Saint-Jerome to celebrate its new intermodal station. The line, which normally only runs on weekdays, will have four special round trips during the day Saturday and Sunday.

Wrong place, wrong time: Is it news?

Just when Jean Charest and company were worried about protests as they “opened” the Laval metro stations today, a sad event transpired with piss-poor timing: a transit worker died of a heart attack.

Heart attacks aren’t usually news, even when they happen on the job site. But the media was already there, so should they cover it? I imagine it was a dilemma for a few local agencies. Here’s what they did:

  • packaged the three events (opening, heart attack, protest) together.
  • The Gazette covered the opening but made no mention of either the protest or heart attack.
  • CTV also made no mention of the heart attack, but did briefly mention the protest.
  • Global TV talked about the heart attack over B-roll of a stretcher passing an ambulance.

It’s at best a footnote to two more important stories. But how would you have covered it?

So what does management do, anyway?

The locked-out workers at the Journal de Québec have started their own newspaper, MédiaMatinQuébec, using the talents of the temporarily unemployed journalists and other staff to create 40,000 copies a day and distribute them freely, while the Journal tries to run its paper with a skeleton management staff.

I must say, it’s hard not to be impressed by this. Continuing to report is one thing, but actually printing and distributing another newspaper isn’t an easy task.

The group hasn’t yet setup a website, though the domain has been reserved. If this lockout goes on longer we might see something similar to the CBC lockout campaign that workers put on, with podcasts and other special reporting from all over the country.

Perhaps the thing this demonstrates most, though, is that these people are probably worth the $50-100,000 their paid to do their jobs (even though I’d kill for such a salary), and that the people who seem most dispensable in all of this are the managers left behind.

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Flicking brilliant

So apparently the NDP in Ontario is all lit up about the provincial government’s light use campaign called “flick off”, in which a Richard Branson campaign uses a rounded font and tight tracking to encourage teenagers’ dirty minds (kind of like what FCUK has been doing since … well, ever). This is their logo:

Flick Off

Tabs on the website include “Who needs to flick off?” and “Go flick yourself”.

Here’s the NDP’s response to the juvenile innuendo of the campaign:

The slogan’s font is clearly designed to make flick look like a four-letter-word. New Democrat Peter Kormos reacted by saying it “blows his flicking mind” how Broten could be involved with the campaign, which includes stickers and T-shirts. “I think it’s a flicking embarrassment.”

Maybe I’m being silly about this, but does it make sense to criticize juvenile wordplay with the same juvenile wordplay?

Everyone wants to get rid of ad trucks

The latest petition being circulated online is for the removal of “ad trucks” from downtown roads. Its 142 signatures so far is nothing compared to the signatures on petitions such as putting more Habs games on Hockey Night in Canada (3690), stop the renaming of Avenue du Parc (5353), save the Fraser Hickson library (1441) and the whopping 24,279 on the Save the Expos petition, which I guess wasn’t quite enough.

The problem with the ad trucks, as the politicians would tell us, is what kind of appropriate legislation there is to curb their use. Should they be banned outright, or just downtown? How do you define what an “ad truck” is, exactly? Is a plumber’s van with lettering on the side also something we should ban? What if that lettering was with lights? What if it was spinning?

If you’re interested in supporting other Montreal petitions online, here are some others to check out:

And, of course, the most important one: Bring Guns N Roses back to Montreal on their next tour (a paltry 14 signatures).

CJNT: America is a culture, right?

It seems Global’s second network of stations they don’t know what else to do with is being rebranded. Starting in September, CH stations (including Montreal’s CJNT-62) will become E! Yes, that E! Only it’s E! in Canada.

This is significant for a number of reasons, the most distressing of which is that CJNT is supposed to be Montreal’s ethnic station, but because ethnic programming isn’t a money-maker, the station was bought out by a company which was in turn bought out by CanWest/Global. They petitioned the CRTC to agree to only 50% ethnic programming during prime time, and though they were denied that request, they still have quite a bit of U.S. network programming in their prime time schedule.

So what was once a struggling 100% ethnic programming station (albeit one that only broadcast for about 12 hours a day) will now include programming that Canadians clearly need on an over-the-air channel: Celebrity gossip and second-rate U.S. network TV shows.

They even have a video with Ryan Seacresty good ness (he even mentions our country’s name!)

Wild weekend

Friday Thursday, 8 p.m.: Capture the Flag at Westmount Park.

Saturday, 5:24 a.m.: First metro train departs Montmorency station for Montreal. Various meetups throughout the morning.

Saturday, 9 a.m.: City of Montreal abandoned bicycle sale. 969 de Louvain St. E., near St. Hubert St. The doors open at 8 a.m.

Saturday, 9:30 a.m.: BarCamp at SAT. Continues all day.

Saturday, 5 p.m.: Manhunt at UQAM.

And that’s just the stuff I know of so far.

The Zeke saga continues

Apparently it wasn’t so much of a happy ending for Zeke’s Gallery’s blog and the gallery owner with the big ego and lawyer friend. After apparently being reassured that a simple pronoun confusion was at fault for a misunderstanding, it turns out he wasn’t satisfied.

Now other blogs are taking notice and calling on the world to blog about how this guy sucks and bloggers are under attack from evil lawyers.

The lesson in all this is that in the eyes of the law, blogs are no different from major newspapers. Both are responsible for their words and subject to libel law. Of course, the main reason bloggers don’t tend to get sued as much (besides the relative lack of readership) is that they don’t have very deep pockets. I learned that as editor of The Link.

The flip side is that for these small bloggers, it’s cheaper to give in to demands than hire a lawyer to fight even the most frivolous charges.

It’s not so much a blogging issue. It’s a problem with the justice system.

The new Globe: smaller, more full of itself

The Globe and Mail’s redesigned paper is out. Editor Edward Greenspon lists the changes, which also include adding a life section.

The new paper is slimmer (though someone forgot to tell that to the web guys, who are stretching the front page images to fit the old proportions), and has horizontal lines everywhere.

Greenspon talks a lot about “Web-paper integration” (He’s not scared of the Internet’s free information culture cutting into his bottom line, honest!), though the only example he gives is rearranging the desks in his newsroom so Web people and paper people sit next to each other. Hopefully his plan involves more than that.

It’s YouTube, therefore it’s news

I’m sorry, maybe my mad newz ski11z are lacking, but how is this newsworthy? A guy puts a video on YouTube inviting people to call him, yak and run up his cellphone minutes. The point? Who knows! The impact on society? None! The news value? Tremendous!

The thing that gets me about these stories is that they aren’t interesting, but because aging baby-boomer editors are too scared to admit they don’t understand blogging and the Internet, they jump at these non-stories to hide their online illiteracy. Nobody wants to be the one news outlet not to cover the story, so it spreads like crazy, and suddenly everyone is talking about this guy like he’s doing something important.

He’s not. In fact, what he’s doing isn’t even new. Someone else did the exact same thing last fall.

So why all the attention?

Ségolène who?

I admit it, I haven’t been following the French presidential election as closely as I should be. Replacing Jacques Chirac after 12 years is a tall order, especially after all the country has been through recently.

So yesterday, as I followed a group of local French ex-pat bloggers (who knew there were so many of them here?) for a story in today’s Gazette (Page A3), I had to quickly familiarize myself with the playing field: Royal, Sarkozy, Le Pen, Bayrou.

The result came in the moment the polls closed. An online stream from France 24 (they had originally planned to watch it on TV5, but Café Méliès had cable problems) showed a countdown to polls closing, and they immediately called the election for the two expected front-runners.

Making the situation even more anti-climactic was that non-French news sources (Belgian and Swiss news websites and blogs) were posting exit polls hours earlier (and seeing their servers melt with the traffic). Everyone knew the result before the TV announced it.

So without anything interesting happening, I had to come up with a story. I talked to Laurent and Philippe, both of whom voted despite not having lived in France for quite a while, and both of whom had plenty to say about the election. (One thing I like about interviewing bloggers is they always have something to say.)

At 4 p.m. Montreal time, two hours after everything was decided, the group began packing it in, only to get a waiter walking over to say CTV was on its way to interview them. They stuck around for another 15 minutes while reporter Tania Krywiak asked them what they thought of the election.

Consensus seems to be that Sarkozy will take a narrow victory on May 6. But some (like Philippe) think Royal can take enough of centrist Bayrou’s supporters to steal the election, if Bayrou decides to support her.

In 15 days, we’ll know who was right.