Tag Archives: Toronto

Bixi in Toronto

Bixi station in Toronto (photo: Kenny D)

Fagstein reader Kenny D sent in this photo from Toronto, which is the latest city to be assimilated into the Bixi empire.

The official launch is Tuesday, May 3, with an official “first ride”.

The rate is higher than in Montreal, at $95 a season or $40 a month, but that didn’t stop 1,000 people from already signing up. More details are at Bixi’s Toronto website, or the usual Toronto blogs.

I’ve just recently gotten a chance to regain my regular Bixi habits, lugging my helmet around with me wherever I go. It’s still a bit cold, but it’s nice to be able to spend some energy on a regular basis.

Not much has changed on the Montreal side this season, except that subscribers now get 45 minutes free per trip instead of 30, and there’s a new three-day rate of $12.

No word on whether either city will get a tandem Bixi similar to what was given to William and Kate.

Why I don’t believe anything I’m told about G20 protests

(Updated with more myths)

I’ve been following the fallout from this G20 summit through Twitter, YouTube and other media over the past few days. I wasn’t there myself, but I have some experience as an observer during protests, so a lot of what I saw and heard was familiar.

The first thing you have to know about large protests – and the police action that comes with it – is that it’s all more of a public relations war than anything else. Neither side is interested in harming the other (permanently), nor do they seriously expect that the other side will listen to reason and compromise. Instead, their shared goal is to convince the court of public opinion that the opposing side is an evil, heartless monster menace and they are the innocent victims (it’s a battle the police tend to win, by the way – as a post-G20 poll shows).

And that wouldn’t be so difficult. All either side has to do to get on the public’s good side is behave. Don’t antagonize, don’t attack, don’t resist, don’t break the law.

The problem with large protests (just about anything large enough to bring out the riot squad) is that while the majority – even the vast majority – do behave during these events, a minority of both sides doesn’t. And those are the ones people focus on. The ones who let their frustrations get the better of them, the ones who think the ends justify the means, or the ones who are just straight-up assholes.

And so, in the days after the G20, both sides have been screaming out half-truths to anyone who will listen, trying their best to exaggerate the extreme actions of the other side while dismissing or rationalizing their own excesses.

Here are a few of those outrageous claims. Some might be true, others not. I don’t know, because it seems everyone who does know the truth is too clouded by their political agendas to speak it properly. But I’m willing to guess the truth lies somewhere between the two sides.

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Google Street View coverage maps

I won’t bother reporting that Google Street View launched in Montreal and other Canadian cities today, since everyone else is already doing that.

But I’ll add this map so you can see what areas are covered (sorry Châteauguay, Vaudreuil-Dorion and St. Bruno, it seems you’ve been left out):

Google Street View coverage map for Montreal

Google Street View coverage map for Montreal

To check it out, we’ll start you off in true Gazette style, at the corner of Peel and Ste. Catherine. Now go and find all those embarrassing or quirky photos hidden in the city.

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Can you feel the love, t.o.night?

t.o.night, the new free Toronto evening newspaper, launched on Tuesday.

Reaction has been mixed:

  • blogTO, which is a content partner with t.o.night (the paper has a page devoted to content from the blog), has a blog post with pictures of Day 1.
  • Torontoist, which is blogTO’s main competitor in the Toronto alt-blog scene, has a much more critical post which picks out all of t.o.night’s flaws (making the blog look a bit like sour grapes in the process).
  • Eye Weekly is also highly critical of t.o.night, predicting it won’t last because of its many flaws (like misspelling a word on the front page).

CBC and the Doon Valley Journal have previews of the new paper.

The Bluffer’s Guide this week in The Gazette looks at t.o.night and evening newspapers in general. It also debunks one of the arguments used by t.o.night’s backers that this concept worked in London (England) by pointing out that the free evening daily there probably won’t last another month.

Astral strikes again

The same month that it made major cuts at CJAD, Astral Media has done the same at its sister station CFRB in Toronto, including a husband-and-wife hosting team (sound familiar?)

Those who threatened to switch to a Corus station after the CJAD cuts, and then threatened to switch to an Astral station after the CFQR cuts, can now threaten to switch back to a Corus station, I guess.

Or you could switch to the CBC. Until they make cuts again.

UPDATE (Aug. 29): CFRB Program Director Steve Kowch has also been relieved of his duties. He will be replaced by Mike Bendixen, who leaves the program director job at CJAD.

Angie Coss is also leaving CJAD, it was announced. It’s unclear why.

I can feel it coming in the air: t.o.night (UPDATED)

Note: This post has been updated with clarifications and a correction from a blogTO comment below.

t.o.night newspaper mockup from Blog.TO

t.o.night newspaper mockup from BlogTO

It’s being compared to Dose because it’s new, hip and aimed at a younger audience. The comparison is perhaps more apt because it’s a cheap junk rag in an over-saturated market that’s doomed to inevitable failure within two years.

It’s called “t.o.night“, it’s a free, advertising-supported newspaper which will be distributed in Toronto in the fall. It will contain mostly wire copy and wire images with a minimum of local content and no original journalism, and will be handed out to transit users.

Now, you ask, how is this different from Metro or 24 Hours, which have that exact same business model (ditto for Dose)? Well, t.o.night will be an afternoon paper, and will be printed on glossy paper. Ta-Da!

The brainchild behind this newspaper launch in quite possibly the worst market for newspaper launches ever is a 24-year-old business school graduate who saw a similar thing in Melbourne, Australia, and thought it could work here.

Of course, there are differences between Melbourne and Toronto. Melbourne only has two major dailies, and no freesheet competition. Toronto is home to two major local dailies (the Star and Sun), two freesheets (Metro and 24 Hours) and two “national” newspapers that obsess about everything Toronto (the National Post and Globe and Mail). Metro, the Globe reports, has tried afternoon papers and failed for various logistical reasons.

Part of me kind of likes the idea of an afternoon paper which can set itself apart by at least having different news than the morning papers. But afternoon papers died off for good reasons, and coming out at a different time isn’t going to be enough for t.o.night to separate itself from the other freesheets.

One thing that t.o.night is doing different is getting content from blogs. It has reached a “partnership” with blogTO (the sister publication of Montreal’s Midnight Poutine) to use its content, similar I suppose to the deal its competitor Torontoist has with the Globe and Mail (UPDATE: Except as blogTO’s Tim clarified below, that the Torontoist/Globe deal involves website links, and the blogTO deal involves actual syndication of content in the printed paper).

The hitch, of course, is that blogTO doesn’t pay its contributors (UPDATE: Though it does pay its regular editorial staff). So t.o.night is trying to take the blog’s idea of making money off the free work of others (oh but don’t worry, they’ll get a byline!) Tim says that unpaid “community contributions” won’t appear in t.o.night, only the work of paid writers. He wouldn’t say how much blogTO’s writers are paid.

As much as I like seeing a new voice in the newspaper scene, I have to agree with Torontoist’s skepticism here (even though it can’t really criticize blogTO without being hypocritical): the paper will offer little of value (basically anything that breaks after the morning papers go to press and that Canadian Press can publish before 11am), and will only serve to dilute the market for advertising at a time when the other papers can least handle a drop in ad revenue.

Then again, maybe it will finally make commuters realize that a free newspaper with nothing but wire copy and advertising isn’t worth even that price.

UPDATE: A quick hit from the New York Times’ media blog.

The Toronto/B.C. Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is being all proud of its new Toronto section, which includes a content-sharing deal with the Torontoist blog.

In a chat with readers, Toronto editor Kelly Grant took a few minutes from being so gosh-darn adorable to counter a complaint that I was about to make: Isn’t this supposed to be a national newspaper? Here’s what she said:

I think you underestimate The Globe’s ability to do more than one thing at a time. We  have always been and always will be a national paper — in print and online. We have more resources in more parts of  Canada and around the world than any other newspaper in the country. This new initiative won’t diminsh our superb national and international coverage.

Those of you who don’t read the paper in the GTA and Ontario may not realize that we usually dedicate roughly two pages of space in the A-section to Toronto news. We have different editions across the country. (In B.C., for example, we have  a large bureau and a section front full of news you won’t see in other parts of Canada.) Yet online we buried the work of our expanded B.C. and Toronto bureaus until recently. I see no reason to shortchange our loyal online readers in two of  Canada’s largest and most important cities, especially when I know it won’t hurt our coverage of other parts of Canada.

She’s got a point, and the B.C. website is also impressive. But considering how little attention other places get (like, say, the entire province of Quebec) compared to Toronto City Hall, I still find myself wondering if the Globe is too focused on the few streets outside its two homes instead of the rest of us.

Let’s hope Canada’s national newspaper slowly moves to cover every city like it does the country’s largest.

CHUM-AM: TV on the radio

CHUM AM in Toronto, apparently concluding that an oldies format doesn’t work, has decided to kill almost all of what little programming remains and just replace it with audio from CP24, starting Thursday as CP24 launches a new morning show (among the show’s hosts is Steve Anthony, a former morning man at CHOM and who has since worked at The Mix 99.9 in Toronto).

While I understand there’s some value to listening to audio from television on radio (just this evening I listened to part of CBC News at Six on 87.7 FM while I was on the train), this strikes me as a let’s-not-even-bother-trying move, turning a radio station into nothing more than an audio rebroadcaster.

Can nothing more interesting be done with an AM transmitter than that?

UPDATE (April 15): The Toronto Star looks at CHUM AM’s history.

Live Toronto fire info on Twitter

In my suggestions for 2009 in Hour, I included a request for emergency services and public transit to have live information online, which would democratize police-blotter reporting and free reporters to write about more important stories:

[…That] Montreal police and other emergency services post their breaking news about car accidents, fires and murders online so that curious Montrealers can check for themselves what’s going on instead of having to wait for one of the media outlets to take dictation from the PR guy

Just recently I’ve learned that the Toronto Fire Department is doing exactly that, and this guy has already turned that into a Twitter feed.

When is Montreal going to follow in its footsteps?

Was that supposed to be French?

To the public announcer at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto,

You should be fired. Like, immediately.

Or am I being too demanding in suggesting that someone who works as a public announcer at a hockey game should be able to speak both of Canada’s official languages?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that there were bilingual announcements tonight, but that mockery of the langue de Molière brings shame upon a city that you’d think couldn’t look worse in the eyes of the rest of the country.

P.S. For those watching tonight’s Habs/Leafs matchup, Mike Boone has his liveblog at Habs Inside/Out.

Français go home, says Toronto

RadCan’s Sur le Web makes an interesting point (I’d link to the post directly, but I can’t) today about the Tourism Toronto website (which should probably be called the Toronto Tourism site considering its URL, but who am I to judge?) that was featured in a recent Globe and Mail article about the increase in domestic tourism to the city.

Tourism Toronto doesn’t have a French version.

It took me about five minutes to find the links to different language versions (they’re on the bottom of the page), in the form of flags for different countries under the banner “international sites.” There’s a Chinese version, a Korean version, a Japanese version and a Spanish version. But no French. (Incidentally, there are flags for Spain and Argentina which link to TorontoTourismMexico.com, which I’m sure isn’t going to offend anyone, right?).

I haven’t asked the site’s creators what their motives are, because that’s no fun. So let’s speculate about them here. Did they forget? Are Korean tourists more valuable than French ones? Is there some other website for francophone Canadian tourists? Are they trying to get back at us for winning the bagel war?

Toronto bus transfers: fascist?

At French School Confidential: A comparison of Montreal and Toronto bus transfers.

I would only add that the main difference between the two is that Montreal transfers are designed to be read by machine (and bus drivers who understand their codes), while Toronto transfers are designed to be read by people.

I’ve always liked our punch-card transfer system. It just works, and has so far resisted modernization efforts that have changed just about everything from mechanical to electronic: Parking meters, thermostats, car windows/ignition/steering/locks, radio tuners… How long before the transfer goes too?