"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Further evil

Apparently it isn't just Thomas Wolfe who can never come home again. 
Apparently it doesn't matter if the RCMP and CSIS say you aren't a terrorist, what matters is whether a regime - known to have imprisoned and tortured people for no good reason  - that is no longer in power once said you were a terrorist.
The George W. Bush administration = evil.
The Stephen Harper administration = evil's lil' helper.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon = unprintable, even on a blog.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stunned and stunning report

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has released a report in which it rules that the use of a taser by RCMP officers against a bed-ridden 82-year-old man who was infirm enough to require an oxygen tank was entirely justified. No, really. Apparently three mounties in body armor can't be relied upon to disarm an knife-wielding octogenarian invalid. That whirring sound you hear is Sam Steele spinning in his grave.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Horror, the HORROR!!

Nevermind the wars, the economic collapse or even the imminent (OMG) maybe-it's-a-satellite-maybe-it's-a-nuke (SHRIEK! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!) rocket launch by North Korea, Japan's largest national daily newspaper, the biggest newspaper in the world, knows horror and know what kind of information its 10 million readers crave:

School baseball player insulted rivals on blog
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A high school student who participated in the current National High School Invitational Baseball Tournament posted comments insulting one of his team's opponents on his blog, prompting complaints to be made to his school, it has been learned.
Though the student quickly deleted the comments, the manager of his baseball team said the school was considering apologizing to the rival team and reporting the matter to the Japan High School Baseball Federation.
According to the school and its baseball team, the student posted insulting comments about his opponents, such as: "They all look ugly. (Laugh out loud)." and "They look like they're from the Showa era [1926-1989]."
His school received several complaints by e-mail on the day of the game and afterward, one of which said the comments were inconsiderate.

Heavens to Mugatroid, someone is being mean on the Internets! We must alert the populace! Won't someone think of the children?

Ask not why the humble inkstained wretch drinks, ask why it doesn't drink more.

UPDATE: Stop the presses! We have a scoop! Breaking news! Read all about it! Extra! Extra! Knob says something mean and stupid on the Internet! Oh my stars and garters, will this unendurable horror never end? Someone push me toward the couch, I feel faint!

Asahi Shimbun employee posted offensive remarks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A 49-year-old male employee of The Asahi Shimbun's Tokyo headquarters posted discriminatory remarks about historically marginalized communities on an Internet bulletin board, the newspaper company said Tuesday.
According to the company, the employee, from the editorial bureau's proofreading department, repeatedly posted messages seen as encouraging discrimination against marginalized communities and people with mental disorders on the popular online bulletin board "2 channel." All of his messages were composed and posted using a company computer during working hours.
A spokesperson for the company said the man had admitted to writing the messages after his postings had drawn attention from readers of the bulletin board.
"[The tone of the postings] intensified during an exchange with another person. I've done something bad," the man was quoted as saying during an internal investigation.

(Sniff, sniff) Can you smell that? It smells like ......Pulitzer!

And we wonder why circulation is dropping. I've checked the gauges and the dipstick and I think I'm down a quart -- pass the scotch.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"Thanks for having me, Chris"

Shorter Stephen Harper: "When I said we couldn't win in Afghanistan, I meant that as long as its just Afghans blowing up each other, we win. And all that stuff that Paul Martin did to regulate the banks, stuff I wouldn't have done in a million years? Well I'm happy to take credit for it now."

Ol' Dead Eyes never even mentioned his own defence ministers call for an explanation of Fox News' Greg Gutfeld's ridiculing of Canada's contribution in Afghanistan. He probably thought it might hurt his chances of going out for falafel with Bill O'Reilly while he was in town.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The newspaper is dead, long live the newspaper

The industry I work in is dying, but it is also poised to take a massive leap forward. Paradigms are shifting and technology is dragging the newspaper industry into the future kicking and screaming, and leaving a trail of bodies in its wake. The last few months have seen the demise of the Rocky Mountain News,  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News and papers like the San Francisco Chronicle and Atlanta Constitution-Journal are losing a million dollars a week. Tribune Co. publishers of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune filed for bankruptcy in December.  In financial terms, many newspapers simply are literally not worth the paper they are printed on  and need to find a new model, whether it is advertising supported internet publishing or paid subscription via some off-web device such as the Amazon Kindle.

I don't think newspapers will become extinct anytime soon, but the print editions may become something of a luxury. Some will survive in their present printed form for years to come, others will sink or swim on the tide of the internet and others may well end up going the Kindle/itunes paid subscription route. Others will fall by the wayside and be replaced by a new species of online journal, something part blog, part online forum, part viewer-driven local tv news station. Think of a cross between the Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, You Tube and a news-junkie chat group. 
Whatever happens, the journalism trade isn't likely to go away anytime soon. Someone has to do the primary legwork and interviewing and write that snappy pyramid lede for all the "citizen-journalists" in the blogosphere to disparage. I don't mean to say that bloggers don't do any original reporting, many do. But not on a daily basis and not within a central organizing framework that ensure the things that need to get covered have people assigned to them. Newsgathering organizations are as old as civilization, whether they've been wandering traders exchanging commercial gossip, military spies, wandering tinkers and minstrels  or what have you. 
Blogs tend to work from secondary sources, sifting through all the online media to find the information they want, cutting and pasting in raw data gathered by governments, universities, think tanks and NGOs and linking to published journalism. Which is great as far as it goes --there is a lot of information out there to be distilled down to the point where the signal-to-noise ratio is bearable and the information digestible and newspapers, along with television and radio and magazines have traditionally served that role with radio getting the info out first, followed by television giving the visuals, newspapers supplying the detailed information and news magazines trying to put things in perspective and show how the puzzle pieces fit -- obviously there is overlap and all four have also leaned heavily on news analysis and opinion to fill the empty spaces and try to tell their customers what it all means. Blogs can do all that but it is a hell of a lot of work for a single person or a even a small group. They may individually or as a group have the various types of expertise to write knowledgeably about all current events in their sphere of interest and a blog, as some newspapers and magazines are finally figuring out, can provide more immediate coverage than print. 
But it is a full time job. Someone has to go and sit through the town planning meetings, the press conferences, the board of directors meetings. Some one has to scan the police blotter, the committee minutes, the legislature's agenda. Someone has to go door to door canvassing for witnesses, someone has to call all the Smith's in the phone book to find the right guy, someone has to go do the work. So the world will still need trained journalists and investigative reporters, camera jockeys and assignment editors. It just needs to find a way to let them keep eating and living indoors. 
The old Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times" has settled around the news industry like a noose. In many ways this is a very exciting time to be in the news industry because everything is going to change in the decade or so. As the new paradigms shake out and separate the Pyjamas Medias from the Talking Points Memos, the yoyos  and dilettantes from the pros, there will be blood on the floor, empires worth millions of dollars  will fall overnight and a lot of people are going to be losing their jobs  - not just journalists, but studio technicians, printers, truck drivers and paper mill workers.  In the words of Chairman Mao: "There is chaos under heaven, and the situation is excellent."

Groovin' and gazing on a Sunday Afternoon

Well, Sunday for all you North American types at least -- I'm doing the Radio Woodshed show/Second Life dance party on my Monday morning, so excuse me if I'm a bit foggy at the start. We get started at 5 pm Pacific/SL time - 8 pm Eastern, with two hours of fine tuneage you can listen to via Radio Woodshed (broadcasting 24/7 through the magic of itunes shuffle - but properly DJ'd on Sunday nights!) just click on the big radio on the right or join us in SL at the Red Zeppelin. We have a bit of an old-timey/western theme this week in honor of this weeks selected presentation of the Glorious People's Cinema Project -- Destry Rides Again.