Some media stories of note for Tuesday, April 30, 2013:
Rick Edmonds, writing for Poynter,
examines new approaches to measuring circulation in the U.S. newspaper industry. The measurement has helped set advertising rates and determined revenue for the business, but several new rules have altered the results (mostly for the better, he says, in providing day-by-day data) and made it difficult to look at year-over-year patterns. The results today
indicate The New York Times has surpassed USA Today.
Taylor Miller Thomas, also writing for Poynter
, looks at 11 digital tools that can help journalists improve their reporting. She identifies crowdsourcing, freedom of information, census data and other sites that provide opportunities for journalists to develop evidence-based material and engage the audience.
Twitter is not interested
in an Initial Public Offering, says CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter is now valued at about $9 billion. One thing it is doing is creating a Canadian operation and it has dipped into Canadian broadcasting
for its first leader in the country. Kirstine Stewart, formerly the executive vice president of English Services at CBC, has joined them.
Some media stories of note for Monday, April 22, 2013:
There is a thread of commentary in recent days about the intersection of social media with last week's events in Massachusetts.
Ali Velshi, the recently departed CNN anchor for Al Jazeera, writes about the pain
that comes with making a mistake in this environment of merciless social media criticism. His former employer was often criticized last week for its hasty coverage, and as David Carr notes in his latest Media Equation column,
the impact left some nasty marks. Velshi notes the pressure to be first, or at least not to be last, but also that reporters understand the importance of being correct. CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge notes the same in his recent column,
but stresses the need for accuracy over speed.
Andy Carvin, the National Public Radio journalist who has been at the forefront of using social media, reflects on the value of the new platforms in a speech to the International Symposium for Online Journalism
. He calls on journalists to use social media in a different way, in particular to slow down in their breathlessness about reporting and to be transparent with the audience about what is known and not.
Felix Salmon's latest blog for Reuters
examines the phenomenon last week of how mainstream media integrated social media's coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the manhunt. Salmon notes the indiscretion of many mainstream outlets in reporting whatever information appeared to surface without verification. He worries the social media tail is wagging the mainstream dog. Media transparency is good, he notes, but: "Just because your readers can peer behind the curtain, doesn't mean you have any responsibility to yank it open yourself."
It is far from the dozens of links I have on other pages, but I hope that the new Ethics page
added to this blog will grow over time to be a strong resource. I've started to add links, but there are many more to come.I'd like it crowdsourced, so please send along link suggestions.Many of the posts here now will focus on some ethical issues involving journalism, partly representative of my new work as CBC's Ombudsman and also representative of my ongoing work at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of British Columbia.
I've started the blog at CBC in my new role as Ombudsman
with an introductory note that sets out a few thoughts on the position. But these are very early days and I'll get my footing in the time ahead.
The blog is part of a larger site that contains the many reviews from the Office over the years on an array of issues brought to it. It's my intention to post them as they're completed and blog on relevant matters to the work.
Meantime, this blog will reflect those posts and add other material from time to time that discusses the relationship between the public and journalistic organizations. I want the two places to neither clash nor overlap, so I expect this will be a work in progress for some time. Your suggestions are welcome.
I've halted posting for a few weeks in order to settle in to a new role as the Ombudsman at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It is fascinating, challenging work in an environment of ambition for excellence and I want to share some of my early work very soon.
I will be rolling out a new blog there
in early December that will deal with my work in assessing public concerns about news and information programming. All of the Office's reviews will be on the site, as will regular writing about issues intersecting with my position. I hope, too, to post material about journalism ethics and the relationship media have with the public. And I will welcome and expect comments.Meantime, I have to figure out what to do about this blog, because it no longer makes sense to chronicle every step in the transformation of the news business.
I am not in a newsroom any longer.While a number of ombudsmen and public editors carry out some functions in newsrooms, mine is independent of CBC News.
It's the last position of its kind in Canada. When I was at The Vancouver Sun, and the newsroom was contending with the challenges of the Internet, people could correctly infer that what I was posting was about a direction (transformation into a digital-first culture) I supported. I don't want to leave any perceptions of preference now, nor do I want to post anything that might distract from the work CBC News managers are performing, so I'm going to shift themediamanager.com into a role as a mirror for the Ombudsman blog and as a home for regular readings (very briefly described).
Today it became official
: I have accepted the role as Ombudsman of the CBC.
It means I am leaving the newsroom and my colleagues as The Vancouver Sun after seven years as Managing Editor. I have been managing 25 years this month.
I want to thank Editor-in-Chief Patricia Graham for bringing me to Vancouver and investing trust and generous boundaries in my work. I have worked closely with an excellent team of managers, reporters, editors and contributors who care about high-quality journalism and the community we serve. The newsroom comprises a committed local conscience.
My new role starts November 1. I'll be based in Vancouver but travel to Toronto and elsewhere to help CBC's news and information team and the general public understand each other and resolve differences. I am grateful to CBC President Hubert T. Lacroix for his faith in my ability to extend the excellence of the Ombudsman's office. I am excited and privileged by the challenge.
This is a dynamic time for journalists. Techniques and technology are changing ways of eliciting, sharing and distributing. Change has brought about challenges to protect credibility, ensure transparency and provide accountability to uphold public trust. I hope to help meet those challenges.
There is some housekeeping to do in the days ahead as I leave the Sun and my colleagues at Postmedia. I have been Canadian chair of international committee within the U.S.-based Online News Association and have been nominated for the board this year. I will withdraw from the ONA and the election, just as I will withdraw from my involvement in the ethics committee of the Canadian Association of Journalists.
A direct association with a journalism organization complicates my position's need to represent the public interest. I want to avoid any appearance of a conflict in my new duties and provide the best possible service to the CBC by providing the best possible service to the public.
Two Canadian television networks have appointed female anchors in recent days. Today Global announced Dawna Friesen would return to Canada
from London, where she has been NBC's European correspondent, to replace founding anchor Kevin Newman on Global National, who earlier this year announced he was stepping down. Last week CTV announced Lisa LaFlamme
as the replacement for Lloyd Robertson, who is stepping aside gradually over the next year (he'll have 35 years in the chair once he shifts into semi-retirement to host special events).
Both terms for the anchors have been extraordinary. Newman essentially built the infrastructure for Global National
and made it the largest overall national newscast. Robertson essentially defined anchoring in Canada over a 50-year career and made CTV's the largest late-night newscast through a longer-term creation of infrastructure. Each changed the operating culture of his news division and both redefined the newscasts under them, just as competitor Peter Mansbridge
has in winning the most industry awards at CBC
(My statements of several conflicts in this post: Newman is a longtime friend and colleague, I have worked at CBC and been part of Mansbridge's newscast political panel at times, and I was Robertson's boss for two years at CTV News
. I appointed LaFlamme to be host of Canada AM, and on her second day, 9/11 happened. She and co-appointee Rod Black handled the challenge very well (they won a Gemini for it) until Robertson arrived and anchored for most of the next day and beyond. While these comments seem tepid, I happen to think we're served exceptionally by our national newscasts for a country our size. Their perspectives are ambitious and their storytelling distinct from each other to create good consumer choice. End of conflict statement.)
The Canadian television newscasts are not unlike the Canadian newspapers, in that they haven't been battered by audience departures the way their counterparts below the border have been. If you include the digital audiences, more people consume the content now than any time in the last decade and a half. Still, they recognize the need for constant change, accelerated in the digital era.
What will be interesting in the time ahead under these three anchors will be the evolution of the dinner-hour and late-night newscasts. Some commentators suggest the day is past for the evening newscast, but the audience indicates otherwise. A large contingent still makes an appointment to be in front of the television set at a particular hour, just as they set aside time for the paper.
As many media find themselves increasingly focusing on their local relevance in an age of choice for non-local media, though, how will national/international newscasts create an event worthy of making an appointment? The same challenge exists for newspapers. Canadians have so far been highly tolerant and supportive as they redefine themselves.
What is also interesting is that the networks continue to lean heavily toward journalists and not news readers. Friesen is an accomplished reporter, as is LaFlamme. Mansbridge, Newman and Robertson all have been involved extensively in field reporting and long-form anchoring of specials, election coverage and events. All three anchors --- one in the supper hour, when there are more viewers, and two at night when there are fewer --- possess a strong grasp of the always-on digital imperatives for their operations. What is in store should be exciting.
I am writing this as Don Newman completes his last Politics program for CBC Newsworld. Any minute now he'll sign off and a storied career will end its most significant chapter.
I was fortunate enough to be hired as a host 20 years ago next week in Ottawa at the largest-ever journalistic experiment in Canadian history this generation, the all-news cable channel that complemented CBC's extensive conventional channel news material.
Don was brought aboard in a much larger role as the anchor of daily material in Ottawa, and given the amount he had to front, we fellow employees immediately renamed the channel Newsmansworld. In the early days it was Don's job to stickhandle the network's coverage of the House of Commons and much of its parliamentary and political material. His role only expanded; one thing about a national capital that's certain is its endless supply of politicians to interview, and Don was relentlessly present and consistent.
It is no exaggeration to say he would be on the air at times for hours day and night anchoring or bookending events, and it is also no exaggeration to say he was able at times to summon some sort of encyclopedic memory to --- well, let's be frank --- kill time when it was necessary to bridge to a live event. Don could cite statistics, round it into shape, keep a coherent narrative and move to the event better than anyone under such circumstances I've ever seen on TV.
Truth be told, the CBC culture of that early time made Newsworld feel a little lesser-than, mainly because it consumed a lot of CBC News' resources without paying for everything at first.
But because Newman was out of its fold --- he hosted This Week In Parliament and was a reporter in the CBC News Ottawa bureau --- he was able to push back and demand that the place be taken more and more seriously. As more and more funding issues hit the public broadcaster, the cable revenue stream for Newsworld made it more and more economically important --- and thus more and more journalistically supportive of the overall CBC News enterprise.
Some of the top talent at CBC found its way to Newsworld and a lot had to do with Don's own credibility that built an audience and reinforced the business model of a cable news channel (CTV later launched a rival). I believe he is the lone remaining anchor of that start-up still in place, but the start-up would not be the fortified Canadian channel were it not for his continuity.
Along the way he earned the Order of Canada and interviewed everyone in Canadian politics, always with a reasonable tone of reverence and an underlying accountability. He knew his files as well as anyone and the politicians knew they weren't going to slip assertions by him, so they came and dealt honestly or didn't come so as not to be embarrassed by their hubris.
His retirement really signals an end to a particular brand of programming and a real loss for . (Disclosure: I've done the show a couple of dozen times over the years.) I'm not sure who or what replaces him, but it won't be the same.
I'm an occasional participant in the weekly At Issue panel on CBC's The National. It's a real privilege. I've worked as a host on CBC Newsworld with Chantal Hebert and as a colleague at Southam News and National Post with Andrew Coyne, who now makes his home as national editor at Macleans.
This week, as our live discussion on political accountability was starting, construction drilling began at CBC Vancouver. It's not quite like having firecrackers let off in the studio, but it was loud enough that Peter Mansbridge was scarcely audible.
Friends tell me I wasn't rattled by it, but I seem to recall jettisoning my best lines to simply answer coherently. Apologies for the seeming brevity.
Watch for yourself.