Last week, I got a request to help an Ottawa-based charitable organization by being one of several ‘celebrity ambassadors’ for an event they’ll have in the spring. The event is a 10K run. The organizers asked me to raise awareness about the event through my Twitter account, Facebook page, and this blog. There was no “ask” to mention the event in any newspaper copy or on my television program. The event’s sponsors include a national sporting goods retailer and a sporting goods manufacturer. Event Ambassadors are offered the chance to get a new pair of running shoes, a new pair shorts and socks, and a shirt from this manufacturer. There was no request to endorse either the retailer or the manufacturer.
Sun Media and Sun News Network did not boycott the PM’s speech. While I, along with other reporters, was denied entry to the caucus room where Harper spoke, TV camera operators and one pool reporter were permitted by the PMO to attend and film his speech. Some news organizations found those conditions unacceptable and decided that if all reporters could not attend (as has been the usual practice) then no camera operators from CBC, CTV, Global and other networks would attend, neither would a pool reporter, and they would simply not cover his morning speech.
I firmly believe that every news organization should always do what it believes is best for its viewers and readers but, as we decided our viewers and readers were best served by trying to cover the PM’s speech, our camera operator recorded the speech (and we broadcast it) even though I could not be in the room to watch it. And so, in the end, one camera — ours — and no reporter, not even a pool reporter, saw the speech.
One other reason I preferred to avoid participating in a boycott was because I believed the PMO was looking to pick a fight with the Parliamentary Press Gallery to help with fundraising and to rally the Conservative base. In my view, it’s probably not a helpful thing for a group of journalists to be any party’s fundraising foil. Make no mistake: The PMO picked this fight. But I, for one, would rather find other ways to fight for more access and transparency than provide a politician with an excuse to mobilize a political party’s base.
At a press conference Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave on Friday in northern Quebec, a journalist who is an accredited member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery but who works for the Chinese state-owned China’s People Daily, shoved a member of Harper’s communications staff. He was upset that he was being denied a chance to ask the PM a question. The RCMP were forced to intervene.
As a result of this incident, my social networks have filled up with people talking about how things work between the press and the PMO. And a lot of people — including some who ought to know better — have allowed a lot of myths to fester. So let’s set the record straight starting with this canard advanced on Twitter by former Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish:
There are no ‘surpise’ questions at any Harper pressers. There’s a draw for reporters to get postions. All questions are submitted in adv.
It’s tougher, I would argue, for those trying to make a career as a journalist in the U.S. than it has been in Canada. Why, you ask? Well, newspapers, for one thing, rely heavily on ads from the real estate sector and from financial institutions. Compared to the U.S. over the last five years, Canada’s housing market and banks have done much better than American’s housing market and banks. Canada had no real estate bubble which burst and Canada, along among G7 countries, never had to bail out its country’s banks by taking an equity/ownership position in those banks. Which means firms in those sectors in Canada kept buying advertising in newspapers in Canada while their U.S. cousins cut ad budgets and, in doing so, helped kill newspapers there. Still, this exchange of e-mails, on a listserv for investigative reporters, is a bit sad for those in my biz: Continue reading Want to be a journalist? You'll make more walking dogs
As Antoinette Siu writes in her first post for the excellent Online Journalism Blog, “Transcribing audio is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a journalist’s job. Switching between the audio player and the text editor, rewinding every 20 seconds in, typing frantically to catch every syllable—repeating these steps back and forth, and back and forth… in an age of so much automation, something isn’t quite right.”
I think most journalists — myself included — are small-l liberals. That’s not to say we’re small-l liberals in the political sense. Indeed, I’ve long held that journalists are like any other group: A bunch probably voted Conservative in the last election; a bunch voted New Democrat and a bunch voted Liberal. (In Quebec, some may even have voted for the BQ). But I and, I think, many journalists, like to conceptualize themselves as free thinkers who resist dogma, power, authority, arbitrariness, etc. and that would make us small-l liberals in a philosophical sense. For proof, I offer up the following 10 commandments, put forth by big-l Liberal philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1951 as 10 guides for teachers but I think they are all likely philosophical touch points for most Western (small-l liberal) journalists: Continue reading Why are most journalists small-l liberals? Russell might have some answers
We’ve been doing our darndest to cover the NDP leadership contest on the Daily Brief because we think it’s important. Whoever wins will get the keys to Stornoway (a more comfortable home than 24 Sussex Drive, if you ask some who’ve lived in both). That person will also be the Leader of the Official Opposition. And, throughout Canada’s political history, leaders of the official opposition have tended to be the chief combatant for the job of prime minister. So this is a big deal. Continue reading Enough of the candidates, let's hear from some NDP voters!