Supreme Court ruling helps bloggers

The Supreme Court of Canada has just made a major ruling on defamation. Up to now, the law said that not only was the source of a defamatory comment liable to prosecution, so was anyone who transmitted the defamation. Thus, not only was Don Cherry at risk for his “pukes” comments of late, so was the CBC for broadcasting them, and any other media for further broadcasting them (and hence the apology, once the CBC lawyers put a legal gun to Cherry’s head, I presume). Anyway, the Supremes announced in a unanimous ruling that people who hyperlink in digital media are not liable to prosecution if they link to a defamatory statement. This is a wonderful admission of reality by the SCOC. There’s so much going on it’s impossible to track all the hyperlinking. Now, if they’d do the same and waive copyright permission for every quote used on the web…

“The internet cannot, in short, provide access to information without hyperlinks. Limiting their usefulness by subjecting them to the traditional publication rule would have the effect of seriously restricting the flow of information and, as a result, freedom of expression,” the ruling said. “The potential ‘chill’ in how the internet functions could be devastating, since primary article authors would unlikely want to risk liability for linking to another article over whose changeable content they have no control. “

CBC, Oct. 19 2011

Steve Jobs on Mainstream media and the blogosphere

Steve Jobs is getting the kind of adulation that Bill Gates can only dream of. Anyway, in all the chat with his unfortunate demise, some comments from him on the importance of mainstream media versus the blogosphere, and of an intervening force between brain and keyboard:

 

Traditional media remains vital.

“I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers. I think we need editorial oversight now more than ever. Anything we can do to help newspapers find new ways of expression that will help them get paid, I am all for.”

[D8 conference, via All Things Digital, June 2010]

NADbank: newspaper circulation up for all dailies

The Globe reported yesterday (B2) that it’s readership was up significantly. After piercing through the self-congratulatory rhetoric, it turns out every major daily, even the lowly Suns, are up, as well as the National Post. The numbers:

Average weekday readership grew by 10.8 per cent to 709,000 in seven largest English language markets

National Post showed a 27.4 per cent increase to 361,500

On line readership at Globe (102. per cent, combined print and net) and Post (8 per cent) increased.

In vital Toronto market, Star inched ahead 0.3 per cent, Sun by 5.4 per cent, Globe by 16.9 per cent and Post 51.4 per cent! (is it possible that PostMedia’s strategy is working?) Final comment: Star is most boring newspaper in Canada; suits its suburban readers nicely. The new Globe is actually a great improvement; forget about keeping up with net and electronic media; concentrate more on opinion, backgrounders and features.

Governments still avoiding FOI requests: study

The guru of Freedom of Information requests, Prof. Fred Vallance Jones of King’s College, sicced his journalism students on three levels of government,  for the third year in a row, and found them mostly noncompliant. Having been on the receiving end of FOI requests in my career, I will point out that some of them I’ve seen have been strange to the point of incomprehensible; there’s some responsibility to be shared by the requestor to make a clean, comprehensible request.

TORONTO, ONTARIO, Sep 27, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — A total refusal to release contracts in Winnipeg, Quebec’s denial of basic accountability information about top officials’ spending, passenger manifests for Ontario’s executive aircraft on which names deleted after six months and the federal government’s stubborn refusal to release data in a useful form are just some of the findings of the Newspapers Canada sixth annual National Freedom of Information Audit, which tests the openness of governments across the country.

DND losing media officers due to political micromanaging

The Ottawa Citizen has obtained a report from DND citing high turnover in its public affairs officers, resulting in more junior officers having to assume senior duties, with reduced effectiveness. If so, it’s a shame. Through personal experience I’m met a few of the Army public affairs officers three years ago, and they were doing an extremely good job in an extremely difficult situation: maintaining a good reputation for the army in the midst of a complex, unpopular war.

 

Kevin Carle, a former senior public affairs officer, said he isn’t surprised by the exodus and reports of poor morale. “With this particular government there is micromanagement,” said Carle, who retired as a navy captain in 2008. “It is absolute control of information so public affairs officers are really frustrated.”

Sept. 25 2011

Canadian magazines recover from tough 2009

Masthead reports that most Canadian magazines recovered from their 2008–9 doldrums, with most showing an increase in revenue in 2010. The magazine business is still growing strong, but Masthead recognizes it is still only looking at print revenue, and does not include online revenue. Full report at Masthead.

 

Quebec wrestles with professional designation of journalists

In a bid to distinguish between amateur bloggers and professional journalists working for MSM, Quebec is pondering a licensing system that will give “professional” journalists that designation, and greater access to gov’t information than non-professionals. The National Post has come out against it, almost reflexively, and today the Globe and Mail takes its turn. One of the intriguing questions to come up with is whether the ability to speak French will be part of the licensing process. There are anglophone and ethnic media whose reporters may or may not speak French. Is this going to start another language war?

And the free flow of information would be subject to state control. Government advertising would be restricted (under one proposal) to those news organizations that meet accepted proportions of “professional” journalists. News organizations that don’t could be destroyed – including Internet start-ups that could one day become as large and powerful as the Huffington Post.

Aug. 27 2011

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.