Globe/union get extension till Thursday midnight

Typically, once a final offer is on the table bargaining stops, and the next step when the final offer is refused is strike/lockout. The Globe and Mail and its union, though, have opted for mediation, to the above deadline. It doesn’t mean a deal is imminent though; a mediator first has to determine whether there’s room for negotiation (if not, the mediator then files a report that the two sides are deadlocked). Assuming there is, most mediators want both sides to give up some demands before filing a mediation report recommending a contract. Then both sides have to vote on that contract. At this point, I’m betting on lockout or strike. Since there’s a media ban on this (nice how the media exempt themselves from the usual coverage they provide) we likely won’t know till Friday morning what the result is.

CP/Canoe, June 29 2009

New Media from Iran troubles MSM

The tendency of mainstream media to simply quote from new media, without seeking a second source or other verification, is troubling enough. It’s even worse when the state clamps down on all media, new or traditional, and observers outside that state try to get a sense of what’s going on. As a result, blogs, posts, videos etc. on the current unrest in Iran are being cited frequently by MSM, but with the unease that they have no way of verifying that any of it is factual. A thoughtful piece from the New York Times.

New York Times, June 28 2009

Union rejects Globe final offer

A strike or lockout at the Globe as early as Thursday is possible as the CEP local at the Globe and Mail rejected what management described as its final offer. While there is some talk of the sides going back to the table on Tuesday, it’s difficult to do so after one side has tabled what it calls a final offer. There is some possibility of mediation/conciliation, in which a third party steps in to try to bring the two sides together. I’m not sure what the Globe’s strategy is on this; the National Post could make some gains if a Globe strike/lockout make it the only “national” newspaper left (I hesitate to call it a national newspaper when it doesn’t provide home delivery in six provinces — Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.)

Reuters, June 27 2009

Reader’s Digest goes right in the U.S.

Faced with too much debt (what is it about MSM that makes it go too far in debt?), the U.S. version of Reader’s Digest is going socially and religiously conservative. I doubt that it will mean much in Canada, whose social conservatives don’t constitute a large part of the population, but it is interesting that RD is moving this way, with the political right in the U.S. pretty much in disarray after eight years of George W. It’s also trying to slim down its circulation, from eight million to 5.5 million (and down from 17 million in the 70’s.) This is the same strategy that Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post tried to do to survive as mainstream heavyweights in the 1960’s and 70’s — they are just rump publications now. Could the same happen to RD?

New York Times, June 18 2009

Raitt-gate leads to new privacy law ruling

You have to dig a bit into this link to find the legal implications of the media’s right to use private information which comes their way accidentally, in this case, a tape recorder left behind after a media interview by a hapless aide. A Nova Scotia judge agreed the media had the right to use all the information on the tape and it landed a cabinet minister in deep political trouble. Of more interest though, than the scandal of the day, is some of the judge’s thinking. No doubt he was influenced by the fact the media outlet tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get the aide to recover her property. However, the quote below gives some legal definition around what constitutes a breach of privacy.

With no Nova Scotia precedents to guide him, he drew on a 2001 Ontario ruling for a definition of what amounts to a breach of privacy. Evidence of “harassing behaviour” could support a claim for damages, he noted, as would “an intentional invasion of privacy.”

J-source/Halifax Chronicle-Herald, June 23 2009

Globe gets strike vote

There are still a couple of bargaining dates to go, but the CEP local at the Globe has given the bargaining committee a 97 per cent majority vote to go on strike. Many rollbacks (at least according to the union; management isn’t talking) and a 7.2 per cent pay hike over 6 years. That would kill it for me; inflation is expected to roar back with a vengeance next year, as government money pumps it’s way into the world financial system. The current contract expires June 30, but under Canadian law the existing contract is in place after expiry until a new one is signed, so there’s no immediate fear of a strike.

Canadian Press, June 20 2009

New media fueling Iranian revolution

Youtube, Twitter et al are all being used by Iranian youth and protesters to get their side of the story out, given that Iranian MSM is all government-owned and controlled. The Iranian religious/political establishment has reason to be worried; this is the same type of protest that overthrew the Shah, despite his goons and guns. It’s also eerily reminiscent of the Tienanmen Square protests 20 years ago. Again, state media downplayed what was really happening, but students got their message out to the world through the new technology of the day — the fax machine, which the authorities hadn’t quite got their heads around (and the government learned its lesson, and now have extensive control over New Media in the Middle Kingdom.)

Counterpunch, June 19 – 21. It’s a long essay, but worth the time.

MP’s boot fee-for-carriage back to CRTC

CP reports that MP’s have been studying the fee-for-carriage issue, but decided to send it back to the CRTC, which has twice rejected it. They did offer a sweetener, uping a $60 million fund for programming to about $150 million. Don’t get too excited the increase would come out of your cable/satellite fees, as would fee-for-carriage, if it’s implemented.

Canadian Press, June 17 2009

New Archive for American newspapers

Want to find out what the media reaction to the Wright Brothers first flight was, or dig into the Teapot Dome scandal? It’s all available now on a new website: Wish we had something like this in Canada.

Story, AP/Canoe, June 16 2009

AP looks to new revenue streams

The Associated Press is lowering membership fees, as its media members face a serious cash crunch in the U.S., but trying to make deals with key Internet suppliers (Googol, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft). Canadian Press is facing the same crunch, particularly since CanWest dropped out a while ago. CP is looking at a new business model, but so far hasn’t announced anything.

Canoe/AP, June 17 2009