The TVA mosque debacle
Their info was iffy and scant,
So TVA chose to recant,
For pushing the story
And feeding La Meute and Levant.
— Limericking (@Limericking) December 15, 2017
It took almost three days, but TVA Nouvelles has finally apologized and retracted a story it published Tuesday about a Côte-des-Neiges mosque demanding a city construction crew not have women working on Fridays — and getting that request enshrined “noir sur blanc” in their contract, and several women being reassigned as a result.
The Parti Québécois and influencers like Marie-France Bazzo and Bernard Drainville were quick to denounce the mosque, and right-wing anti-immigrant group La Meute announced a protest at the mosque (it has since cancelled).
The story started smelling fishy almost immediately. The Journal de Montréal posted the TVA story to its website on Tuesday and assigned a reporter to cover it, but pulled the story quickly after discovering facts that contradicted TVA’s report. (The paper has yet to publish a single story about the whole affair.) The mosque issued a statement denying everything and expressing anger that TVA didn’t try to contact them for comment. La Presse summarizes the denials here.
The Quebec Press Council has received at least two complaints about the story.
On Thursday evening, TVA Nouvelles issued a “mise au point” in which it said the facts have “evolved” (you know, from true to false). It was instantly criticized for not including an apology. On Friday morning, another mise-au-point which included an apology and promises of an internal investigation.
Still, many groups still believe the story is true, and many stories published by other media, like The Rebel (which used the term “no-go zone”, suggesting irresponsibly that the area is dangerous), haven’t been corrected. In some cases, wild and nonsensical conspiracy theories have been concocted to save face.
Among the things the investigation should look at:
- Why did the journalist not attempt to contact the mosque before going with this story?
- Were any attempts made to verify what the contractor told her?
- Why did she insist on describing the demand as “noir-sur-blanc” despite never having seen it herself?
- Was she lying when she told the mosque’s representatives that she had “filmed” their written demand that women be excluded? Was her confrontational attitude during this exchange justified?
- Why did TVA broadcast and publish the story before seeking comment from the mosque?
- Why did TVA Nouvelles take so long to retract the story and even longer to apologize?
I’m also not too optimistic that the results of this investigation will be made public.
Other news about news
- The Chamberland Commission, which investigated police spying of journalists, has filed its report, recommending better procedures for investigations that involve journalists and a better separation of politics and the police. It also found that the actions that sparked the inquiry, warrants issued that allowed police to monitor journalists’ phones, were justified. The Quebec government wasted no time saying it would implement the recommendations. You can read the full report here.
- Another mistake — or maybe not? — this time in a report about NDP leader Jagmeet Singh supposedly launching a byelection campaign in the wrong riding. The Canadian Press ran a story that way, with the words “wrong riding” in the headline, but updated it later to say that Singh denied the event was a byelection campaign launch. That didn’t stop at least one editorial cartoonist from making fun of the story. (It’s unclear if there’s a policy at the Globe and Mail about editorial cartoons based on inaccurate stories.)
- The town of Chambly has made it illegal to record video of its council meetings, and threatens fines for people who contravene the regulation. Audio recordings and photography are still allowed. The FPJQ is unsurprisingly strongly against this move.
- The Niagara Region has apologized after seizing a St. Catharines Standard journalist’s equipment and forcing him to leave during a council meeting because of a misunderstanding over an allegation that someone was secretly recording an in camera meeting.
- The CBC has fired a reporter covering politics in B.C., Richard Zussman, for reasons that are still unclear but appear to be related to work he did preparing a book about the recent B.C. election. A Globe and Mail column made the move public, resulting in comments from the B.C. premier. The CMG union is backing Zussman, but other than vague references to conflict of interest, and codes of conduct, neither the CBC nor Zussman are giving details on what exactly he’s being accused of.
- Argentinian newspaper La Nueva Domingo wrote about Quebec City but included a photo of the CN Tower. Oops.
- The Canadian Press has finally ditched referring to the Coalition Avenir Québec as the “Coalition for Quebec’s Future.” Though it isn’t willing to accept CAQ unless absolutely necessary.
- CP writes about various media outlets’ policies about “unpublishing” content, usually at the demands of people mentioned in stories who don’t want information about them found when their name is searched on Google.
- The Washington Post has a new video series on how to be a reporter, in an effort to demystify the journalism process. They start by talking to the journalists who uncovered the allegations about Roy Moore.
- Montreal police has re-hired Ian Lafrenière as its head of communications.
- Mélanie Joly was in town last week to give a speech to the local board of trade. She proceeded to say nothing new about help for print media or taxing Netflix. I wrote about it for Cartt.ca.
- A controversial Supreme Court ruling has found that a man had a reasonable expectation of privacy for text messages he had sent. This could have significant precedent for how police deal with investigations that require access to texts.
At the CRTC
- The CRTC has pulled the licence of Bloomberg TV Canada at licensee Channel Zero’s request. The application does not say it plans to continue as a licence-exempt service. Instead, it looks like Canadians will just get the U.S. Bloomberg TV instead. Channel Zero dropped Canadian programming for the channel in August.
- Canal Savoir, the educational TV station in Montreal, has gotten a short-term extension on its licence, since the CRTC apparently does not believe it will get a chance to deal with its renewal before it expires in September.
- CTV finally has an original New Year’s Eve offering for the first time in forever: a year-end special of satirical news show The Beaverton, at 10pm.
- CBC pulled a British documentary about gender from the schedule of its Documentary channel after it prompted controversy being denounced as transphobic.
- The Radio-Canada drama Faits Divers has been renewed for a second season. The creators have said a second season would involve a new case but the same police officers, which means some of the best characters from the first season would probably not return.
- BBC and ITV are bringing their Britbox subscription streaming service to Canada in 2018, so we can watch British series on demand.
- Encore Plus has declared its first month of having classic CanCon on YouTube a success, with 10,000 subscribers and 272,000 views. The first three episodes of La Petite Vie are the most-viewed. Among English content, the top-rated episode is the pilot for Due South.
- V’s Occupation Double didn’t win the ratings war, but was apparently good enough to be renewed for another season. Jay Du Temple will return as host, he announced on air.
- Patrick Lagacé appreciates the Stingray fireplace channel, and gets a bit into how it’s made.
- Radio-Canada has signed deals with international distributors and will invest money in internationalization for its content.
- Winter schedules announced for:
- Tommy Schnurmacher is officially retired after doing his final show at CJAD. The station’s website has compiled highlights from its final show, which is available online and will be aired again this weekend. Schnurmacher was also added to the CJAD Wall of Fame, becoming the fifth person so enshrined.
- CHOM has apparently buried the hatchet with Pete Marier, who will do some fill-in shifts for the station. His first shift back is Saturday.
- Rouge FM 107.3 Montreal has added Kim Rusk and Julie St-Pierre to its roster.
- Bill Brownstein talks with Lezlie Robinson and Catherine Wood, reporters for Canadian Traffic Network, which provides traffic reports to Bell Media’s Montreal radio stations.
- Ottawa Life has a story about Rebel 101.7 FM, the indie rock station (formerly Dawg 101.9) owned by Torres Media.
- Corus has rebranded its western Canadian stations — Calgary’s 770 CHQR, Winnipeg’s CJOB 680 and Vancouver’s 980 CKNW — as Global News Radio stations, joining the previously rebranded Ontario stations. That leaves Edmonton, which has both 630 CHED and iNews 880 under Corus’s control. Presumably the latter would be a better fit for the Global brand.
- The town of Amqui is upset that Bell Media has laid off its only journalist for its radio stations there, and decided to cover the community out of Rimouski instead. Rimouski is 80 kilometres west (100km using roads) of Amqui. The FPJQ has also weighed in.
- Norway has completed the shutdown of its FM transmitters (at least for its national networks), which began at the beginning of the year. It is the first country to abandon FM.
yikes. bye westender. pic.twitter.com/k459kIRKVC
— michael mann (@mmann) December 13, 2017
- Glacier Media is shutting down the Vancouver alt-weekly The Westender. Its staff will be reassigned to other jobs within the company.
- Meanwhile, the same company is starting a new marijuana business magazine, Cannabiz.
- Transcontinental has sold another 12 newspapers, this time to Groupe Lexis Média. Affected papers are in the Abitibi, Outaouais and Lanaudière regions. That makes 55 community papers in Quebec sold to new owners out of the 93 put on the block last spring. The company hasn’t set a deadline, and has said it would continue publishing newspapers that aren’t sold, though it’s clear it wants to get out of the business. Among the papers it hasn’t sold yet are Métro in Montreal and the on-island community weeklies.
- The Quebec government is offering Groupe Capitales Médias, owner of Le Soleil, Le Droit, La Tribune and other former Gesca dailies, a $10-million loan to help it transition to a new business model. The fact that GCM is owned by a former politician, Martin Cauchon, has led to talk of collusion. Among those raising flags is another former politician, Pierre Karl Péladeau.
- Star News Publishing, the company that bought Transcontinental’s Saskatchewan newspapers a year ago, has already given up on them and will shut them down if they’re not sold. One paper, the Prince Albert Daily Herald, will be sold to its employees.
- The Saskatoon StarPhoenix writes about the demise of the Moose Jaw Times Herald.
- The Boston Herald has been sold to Gatehouse Media, and filed for bankruptcy as part of the deal to try to shake off some of its debt.
- The Globe and Mail has made some minor changes after audience reaction to its print redesign. Though most of the big disasters came out of production issues that had horrible timing. J-Source reviews some of the changes here.
- The Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee writes about the death of the Orilla Packet and Times by listing off local stories it won’t be covering anymore. (The community has another paper, Orilla Today.)
- Meanwhile, Susan Krashinsky Robertson has the story of the similarly closed Kanata Kourier, which was started by a 14-year-old.
- CBC’s Day Six has a story about the couple behind the Thorold News, which is relaunching after the Postmedia/Star deal shut down the Thorold Niagara News.
- Postmedia papers including the Montreal Gazette updated their smartphone apps this week. Instead of having a separate feed for smartphone stories (requiring editors to copy and paste stories), it’s fed with the same content as the website. The new app means breaking news notifications are working again.
- The number of print journalist jobs in Quebec has shrunk 8% in a year.
- Patreon, a popular crowdfunding website meant for artists and others that want to draw regular income through direct audience support, got into a lot of hot water after announcing it would change its fee structure — instead of having the artists pay money transfer fees (in addition to Patreon’s 5% cut), it would charge those fees to the contributor, at a rate of 2.9% plus 35 cents for each donation. For large contributions that’s not much, but a lot of users were contributing $1 or $2 a month, and those fees make those contributions much larger. Artists rebelled, predicting that they would lose a lot of support. Patreon finally relented, promising to back off on the changes and come up with a new plan to solve the problem of minimizing fees. Giving artists the choice of how to charge people seems to be a first step.
- A Radio-Canada investigation into websites with names like the Sherbrooke Times and Quebec Times, which showed a network that took French-language articles from major Quebec media, ran them through Google Translate, slapped on fake bylines and posted them, has resulted in their Google AdSense accounts being closed. They appear to be based in Ukraine.
- Former Gawker staff are trying to crowdfund to buy the website out of Hulk-Hogan-forced bankruptcy and relaunch it as a nonprofit news source.
- Cracked has laid off 25 people after learning the “pivot to video” thing doesn’t work.
- Sportsnet is launching a new podcast in January, 31 Thoughts: The Podcast, hosted by Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman. It’s based off Friedman’s 31 Thoughts news/opinion column.
- The Financial Post writes about net neutrality in Canada, including quotes from former CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein, as the U.S. FCC abandons the idea.
- Radio-Canada has announced the winners of its latest idea accelerator contest.
- Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has agreed to acquire the Toronto Argonauts. The transaction doesn’t change much since two of the three biggest partners in MLSE already owned the Argos. But now Rogers gets a partial ownership stake in the team. It also means the Toronto Blue Jays (owned directly by Rogers) is the only Toronto major-league team not owned by MLSE.
- Disney is buying Fox for $52 billion. The deal includes the 21st Century Fox movie studio, Fox Sports regional networks, FX and National Geographic Channel. But the Fox network, Fox News, Fox Business and Fox Sports 1 will be spun off into a new company.
- The CBC Museum in Toronto is being closed to make way for a new CBC Kids studio.
- The New York Times writes about how Ridley Scott managed to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in an already-shot movie, All the Money in the World, in a matter of weeks.
News about people
- Stephen LeDrew has been fired from Bell Media after having been suspended for appearing on Fox News without permission. LeDrew tells the Toronto Star the entire case is ridiculous.
- Dave Hodge is leaving TSN after 25 years. He said the end of The Reporters has prompted him to move on to other things.
- The Globe has a long feature story about Ruth Kelly, the publisher of Alberta Venture magazine who took her life when the magazine went under and took her down with it.
- Some people were dicks to Amanda Stein on Twitter. Those people are dicks and should discontinue being dicks.
- The human created by Sonali Karnick is allegedly a fan of CBC Daybreak, but hasn’t directly confirmed the rumour yet.
- Elizabeth Thompson has been formally hired by CBC’s investigative bureau at Parliament Hill after being a temporary hire for a year. She had previously worked at iPolitics, and before that at Sun Media and the Montreal Gazette, all covering the federal government.
- BJ Siekierski is leaving iPolitics for Bloomberg.
- Bob McCown has signed a contract extension with Sportsnet 590.
- The New Yorker has fired star political reporter Ryan Lizza for the usual reason a high-profile man gets fired these days. (He denies the relationship in question was in any way inappropriate.)
- Robin Edgar, who has been harassing Sue Montgomery for years about a beef with the Unitarian church, was finally arrested for criminal harassment after showing up outside her house, La Presse reports.