Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Future Tense Is that your tense, or are you just tense? - Denyse O'Leary

Here are links to the posts I put up recently at Future Tense, a blog operated by The Word Guild, an organization of Canadian writers who are Christian.

Its purpose is to provide information and help to all interested writers during this historic transition to new media.

Death of newspapers: Dying from self-inflicted wounds?

Dan Gainor, predicting the death of newspapers, writes,

Based on history, it’s highly unlikely newspapers will be savvy enough to save themselves. When the Internet gained popularity, news outlets were slow to cooperate and even slower to make money. Job ads moved online to places like Monster because new Web sites could react faster and better than stodgy news outlets. Classified pages were unable to compete against Craigslist, which does their job for free.

Instead of trying to revolutionize the news business, owners milked their cash cows until the cows died. Instead of embracing new tech, unions battled changing job rules and entrepreneurs launched competitors instead of dealing with such bureaucracy. That was poison in a good economy. With a major downturn, it is likely fatal.

My own sense is that Gainor is right. The old media never got how the new media work: cheap, informal, and highly focused. The proposed bailouts would be money wasted.

Control over the Internet? Ontario Human Rights czar's controversial suggestion

Civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant reports,

More eye-opening reporting from Joseph Brean, the MSM's most prolific HRC-watcher:

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is calling for Parliament to force all Canadian magazines, newspapers and "media services" Web sites to join a national press council with the power to adjudicate breaches of professional standards and complaints of discrimination.

The council would have the power to order the publication of its decisions and "would help bring about more consistency across all jurisdictions in Canada," reads an OHRC report to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Human rights commissions are obsolete; the battles for equality of the sexes and races were won decades ago; the number of HRC complaints in Ontario has actually fallen year over year, despite that province's population growth. Think about that: the most ethnically diverse province in Canada has a declining number of human rights complainers, according to their own annual reports. That's good news to normal people -- but to those who need to stimulate and manufacture grievances in order to maintain and grow their bureaucratic empires, that's very bad news indeed.

Levant thinks that Hall's proposed system would provide endless opportunities for bitching and complaining about other people's opinions, with no social good in sight..

Politicians attacking media? Bad idea!

Legacy mainstream media may be dying, but attacking them is not a good idea for politicians, according to pundit Roger Simon,

Barring reporters is rarely done by campaigns. In 1988, when televangelist Pat Robertson ran for president, he banned T.R. Reid of The Washington Post from his plane after Reid wrote a profile of Robertson containing numerous embarrassing revelations. Reid continued to follow the campaign on commercial flights, and, of course, his being barred from the plane became a story.

Which is the problem with barring reporters. Smart campaigns know that it's a waste of time to attack and ban the media. Seducing the media is much more productive.

Attacking the media is a waste because it is not an issue voters care about. Many voters already have a low opinion of the media, and it is unlikely that a campaign can lower it further. All it does is make the campaign look petulant.

Torstar replaces union staff members with unpaid interns

Rick McGinnis, one of the most interesting film critics in Canada, has been let go by TorStar from their free newspaper Metro, in the continuing decline of newspapering, and he talks about the weird experience here:

We ended up waiting in the lobby for the longest time - me and John and Steph, the union reps. They'd apparently known since last week - the company has an obligation to tell the union - and had tried to talk them out of it, but they were in earnest. I can only imagine how bad things have to be if they're axing all of the reporters - all three of us, one still on maternity leave. It occurs to me that I'd been talking to Steph about stories and deadlines the whole time, and that she'd had to pretend she didn't know anything. I start wondering who else knew, and my mind starts a little paranoid spider dance of speculation.

I notice a hired security guard, his barrel chest stuffed into his shiny bomber jacket with big silver shield patches at each shoulder, sitting in the corner. We never have security in the office, and it suddenly strikes me that he's here for me. I'm imagining him prying himself out of the waiting room chair and sprinting after me heavily, pinning me in a flying tackle by the lunchroom as I try to make it back to the newsroom to holler "You're all doomed - get out while you can!" He mostly just sits in his chair, his eyes intent on his magazine.

As we wait for Ruth to bring me my things - my laptop bag (now empty as the company owns the laptop), my daytimer and reporter's notebook, my phone and the framed picture of my daughters - I see Glen, the managing editor, with his jacket and briefcase, being escorted through the door to the stairs leading down to the parking garage. I turn to Steph and John, my eyes wide. Yeah, they whisper - Glen too.

McGinnis has been replaced by an unpaid intern. You know an industry is on the rocks when it is replacing paid staff with unpaid interns who hope for a job someday - a job that probably does not exist and never will.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

with your passion and expertise you provide a valuable service for others of us through endeavours such as Future Tense.
Thank you,

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