Most insensitive PR since 9/11

From Gawker.com, and Tyler McMurchy, an example of how cringe-inducingly bad judgement makes every ethical, responsible communicator want to shoot, or at least exile, the perpetrator:  a PR person taking advantage of a reporter’s death to push a story. The worse happened in the UK on 9/11: one of Tony Blair’s communications staff thought the death of over 3,000 people would be a wonderful opportunity to bury some potentially bad news. She was gleeful about it, at  least until she got fired.

Gawker.com, March 13 2009

State of the media: bleakest report yet

The Project for Excellence in Journalism (US) put out its sixth — and admittedly  bleakest — report today. Newspapers in particular are suffering from the double whammy of technology change and a crippling economic recession (ad rates actually fell last year despite it being an election year, typically a good time for advertisers.) Oddly, the report notes that giants like the New York Times have bigger audiences than ever, if you add 0n-line.  Two links,  summary story from AP, and the complete document itself.

“This is not an industry that is dying,” Rosenstiel said. “This is an industry that is in disorientation.”

AP/Canoe, March 16 2009

Project for Excellence in Journalism, March 16 2009

Backlash against Facebook and other New Media

Well, it had to happen. CTV takes a good whack at Facebook, essentially calling it boring and a time-waster. This is after Doonesbury spent a week taking the mickey out of Twitter, through its all too callow reporter Roland Hedley (who lost major money on the  “new” technology of the Internet in 1999 with his online presence Yap.com). Anyway, I wonder whether this is just the ongoing theological argument between MSM and NM, or in fact the reality that too much of the New Media is untested and unproven, and heavily fad-driven. Yes, Ipods and Blackberries have made significant cultural differences, but often on the bones of other new technologies that just didn’t find a market.

CTV, March 15 2009

Funding the CBC

Nice thoughtful feature from the Toronto Star today on funding the CBC, looking at options from other countries which have publicly funded broadcasters (Canada has the second worst level of public funding for the public broadcaster, after New Zealand.) Still, it puts the cart before the horse: shouldn’t we have a discussion about the roles of the 26 channels of broadcasting the CBC does, then figure out how much financial support it needs to fulfill its role? Among other things: what is the role of the CBC main English network, particularly since it now shows American drek like Wheel of Fortune? Why has CBC 2 radio alienated its traditional audience? Is it time to kill off Radio 3 (as is being rumored) which has failed to use new technology to bring a new youth audience to CBC? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater though. Radio 1 provides a decent service, and the north and rural Canada in particular rely on CBC for information and a window to the larger world.

Toronto Star, March 15 2009

Globe summarizes crisis of newspapers

Lenfthy two page feature in yesterday’s Globe that summarizes the ills facing North American newspapers, but unfortunately not providing any solution, or even suggestion, for newspapers to get out of this mess. Focusing on the upcoming demise of the San Francisco chronicle (which today announced major cutbacks to its collective agreement and staff to try to cling to existence), it does provide a neat summary of the dilemma today’s newspapers are in, focusing on their inability to understand the web. They still don’t get it. Most newspapers put their web stuff up once a day, adhering to traditional newspaper deadlines, while the broadcast guys are updating their sites through the day, adhering to their traditional schedule of frequent updates. There are some lame attempts to have reporters and columnists do blogs, but reflexively they save their best stuff for the “real” media and most of their blogs wouldn’t get past their editors’ desk. Some discussion of options for new business models (foundations, e-papers) but they are still unproven.

Globe and Mail, March 14 2009

Cramer versus non-Cramer

It is a bit sad that it took a professional comedian, as opposed to a journalist, to express the international angst and frustration at the financial mess we’re all in thanks to to the Masters of the Universe. It raises a question why Cramer even exposed himself to Stewart, who has a reputation of doing thoughtful, passionate interviews (as opposed to Colbert, who just tries to yuck it up in his interviews.) Crisis communications advice to Cramer: if someone is firing at you, don’t stand up. The links and commentary are all over the web and MSM, including the Daily Show’s which has the complete interview.

Television for the dead: the ultimate demographic

Both the Globe and National Post reported yesterday a new channel approved by the CRTC: an all-obituary channel from Quebec. Who would watch this? I thought the 24-hour fishing channel was the height of narrowcasting absurdity. It would be like hanging out a funeral home to take notes as to how different people do funerals. And CRTC has time on its hands to do this while over the air broadcasters are going broke and cutting back programming: our tax dollars at work.

Sun/Quebecor media to leave CP

Canadian Press, which is desperately seeking a new business model/ownership after CanWest bailed out a few years ago, is facing another crisis, as Pierre Karl Peladeau gave notice that it will leave CP next year. The story, from CP, notes that Peladeau is imploring its staff that times are tough and people need to be mindful of costs, much as the Aspers did a while ago with their staff. I’ve always predicted that the Sun chain would die before the former Southam chain (which would prosper from the Sun’s collapse gaining monopoly rights in most media markets). The Sun would at least go under and die; CanWest would likely go bankrupt and seek protection under new management. Grim days ahead for newspaper readers.

Canadian Press/Canoe, March 12 2009

CanWest’s new strategy: “We’ll just PR our way out of this.”

President Richard Nixon, in talking with his closest aide, H.R. (Bob) Haldeman, had this to say of the ongoing Watergate crisis: “Don’t worry, Bob. We’ll just PR our way out of this. ” A year later, Bob was in jail, along with a dozen other Nixon aides, on charges relating to perjury, breakin, bribery, blackmailing and generally behaving like a lunatic. And Richard Nixon was in such disgrace he had to resign the presidency before being impeached.

This all came to mind when I came across this story yesterday from CanWest (link below). Basically, their PR department is putting out the line that everything’s just jake at CanWest, but it’s their rivals at CTV that are in trouble (in fact, they’re both in trouble: CTV is laying off its Canada AM staff, and CanWest continues to buy time from its creditors.) Kind of sad when you’re reduced to interviewing your own PR staff to try to convince the world (and those pesky creditors) that you’re really solvent (when in fact you’re not.)
CanWest news service, March 11 2009

Ottawa announces “new” funding for media

Actually, it just seems to be a re-announcement of funding for new media, combining two existing programs into one. What I find interesting about this though is how it conflicts with the federal comments two posts down, in which the Finance Minister says the government is not going into the business of subsidizing media. And I thought these guys had a centralized, c0-ordinated communications system set up just so Cabinet Ministers wouldn’t conflict with each other publicly.

CTV, March 9 2009

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