CONVERGENCE The Humber School of Media Studies and Information Technology
Inside cfb wainwright
A new generation of war reporters earns its stripes
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
Responsible journalism: The right to be wrong PR experts weigh in on how to manage a crisis Crowdsourcing: Dream or nightmare?
Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). With the operation of the network as the centrepiece of its work, CJFE has since become a major player in the field of international advocacy in the area of free expression. Having a strong membership base is crucial to CJFE. Your finanacial support is needed to help the organization carry out its press freedom and freedom of expression initiatives, both in Canada and internationally. Membership is open to journlaists and all who believe in the right to free expression.
Convergence | Spring 09
CANADIAN JOURNALISTS FOR FREE EXPRESSION
CJFE is a Canadian non-governmental organization supported by Canadian journalists and advocates of free expression. The purpose of the organization is to defend the rights of journalists and contribute to the development of media freedom throughout the world. CJFE recognizes these rights are not confined to journalists and strongly supports and defends the broader objective of freedom of expression in Canada and around the world. One of the principal activities of CJFE is the management of the worldâ€™s only freedom of expression clearinghouse, the International
TRUTH OVER FEAR
Message from the Dean
s day dawned on a new year and a new decade, Canadians were in mourning: Four more soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and with them, a young Canadian journalist – Michelle Lang – the first casualty in the civilian press corps. Calgary Herald staffer Lang was embedded with the Canadian Forces in Kandahar province, and was on a routine patrol outside the city when the vehicle struck an explosive device. She had been in the war zone only 20 days and was reportedly eager to send stories back of the reconstructive work of the Canadian mission. The cover of this issue of Convergence draws a parallel with other young journalists learning to report from a war zone in an innovative course offered by the Department of National Defence and Athabasca University. Five young Humber journalists were among the first grads. Editor and reporter Teri Pecoskie tells the tale on page 51. War coverage is not the only reporting to put journalists in danger. On page 32, Joana Draghici tells of Novaya Gazeta, an award winning newspaper in Russia fighting for free expression despite the deaths of five reporters in recent years. The centre spread on press predators (p 30) highlights some global hotspots for unbridled violence against journalists and free expression. The last word on page 66 is a brief memorial to 31 Philippine journalists killed on their journey to a political rally. Convergence goes further however, bringing readers insight and comment on battles being fought closer to home. Under extreme economic pressures, all aspects of the media struggle to maintain professionalism, accountability and accuracy in a climate where citizen journalists contend that anyone can write (p 36), crowdsourcing opens graphic design competitions to the masses (p 15) and the Frankencamera is expected to make any shooter’s pictures masterpieces (p 23). And, while documentaries are moving increasingly online, the industry struggles with
CONVERGENCE STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Teri Pecoskie EXECUTIVE EDITOR Leslie Wilks MANAGING EDITOR Kristen Smith ONLINE EDITOR John Evans ART DIRECTOR John Nicholson ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR Elizabeth Zahur
Cecily Van Horn
a way to make this platform profitable (p 47). With emerging technologies come new challenges for media. Teri Pecoskie examines the loss of truth and accuracy when online media fail to publicly correct mistakes (p 8) and joins colleagues Ronda Collins and Graeme Steel in studying the move to outsourcing advertising and editorial functions at Canadian newspapers (p 24). The new year also brought good news for journalists attempting to cover the tough stories. In an effort to dispel libel chill, the Supreme Court expanded the defences in libel cases to include responsible communication in matters of public interest. This too is poised to change the way the media does business in the months ahead.
William Hanna, Dean School of Media Studies and Information Technology
SMS PROGRAM CO-ORDINATORS Andrew Ainsworth/Jane Bongers/Jerry Chomyn/James Cullin/Barbara Elliott Carey French/Lorne Frohman/Michael Glassbourg/Greg Henderson/Mike Karapita Noni Kaur/Vass Klymenko/Heather Lowry/Paul Minstrel/Bernie Monette Robert O’Meara/Terry Posthumus/Chitra Reddin/Robert Richardson/Rob Robson Michael Rosen/Jamie Sheridan/Ken Wyman/Eva Ziemsen Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning School of Media Studies and Information Technology 205 Humber College Blvd. Toronto, Ontario, Canada M9W 5L7 Phone: 416-675-6622 ext. 4111 Fax: 416-675-9730 email@example.com http://magazines.humber.ca
SECTION EDITORS Lauren Brunetti Joana Draghici David White Claude Saravia Alicea Knott Kaveh Khazra COPY CHIEF Maggie Cameron COPY EDITORS Tanisha Du Verney Melissa Hayes RESEARCH CHIEF Holly West RESEARCHERS Katelyn McCallion Ronda Collins R.J. Riley PHOTO EDITORS Juan Antonio Sison David White ILLUSTRATIONS Kyla Sergejew unless otherwise attributed COVER PHOTO Teri Pecoskie FACULTY ADVISERS Terri Arnott Carey French PUBLISHER William Hanna
CONVERGENCE In this issue 8
The error of their ways by Teri Pecoskie
lifting libel chill
Tipping the scales for journalism
WInner takes all
social media sells
a futile battle
Restructuring and Resistance
morals and the media
ratings on the roam
Citizens step up
fighting for freedom
a war of words
by Kristen Smith
by Melissa Hayes
by John Evans
by Leslie Wilks
by Lauren Brunetti
by R.J. Riley
by Ronda Collins, Graeme Steel and Teri Pecoskie
by Elizabeth Zahur
by Joana Draghici
by Tanisha Du Verney
by Kaveh Khazra
by David White
by Juan Antonio Sison
WINTER 2009 42
docs take off
in the hot zone
by Katelyn McCallion
by Alicea Knott
by Maggie Cameron
by Claude Saravia
by Teri Pecoskie
by David White and Kristen Smith
In every issue
news briefs AIR CANADA
lorida’s Miami Herald is making a plea to its online readers for donations. In a bid to generate revenue from its free web edition, the newspaper is asking for voluntary contributions via a link at the bottom of each online story. “If you value The Miami Herald’s local news reporting and investigating, but prefer the convenience of the Internet, please consider a voluntary payment for the web news that matters to you,” reads the Herald’s donation page. Readers can make donations in any amount, using most major credit cards. Many newspapers have flirted with paid Internet content over the years but most have given up on that route. The idea of voluntary payment is new for newspapers, although some free magazines and community newspapers have employed this strategy in the past. The Miami Herald cut 24 jobs globally in December and has reduced production-working hours in an effort to cut costs. Last March, the paper reduced its staff by 19 per cent cutting 175 jobs.
new service from Air Canada is keeping passengers up to date through text messages. Information about delays, cancellations or mechanical problems can be sent to passengers’ cell phones, and give them an option to rebook without contacting an agent. The service is part of a push to improve communication between the airline and its customers. It comes in the wake of an earlier announcement that Air Canada will be the first airline in the country to offer in-flight Internet service.
Courtesy Air Canada
TORONTO CITIZEN LAB
project based at the University of Toronto is helping to turn the tables on nations that monitor Internet access. Citizen Lab, located at U of Tâ€™s Munk Centre for International Studies, is involved in real-time investigations into the technology used by governments to restrict the flow of information to their citizens. The project, known as the OpenNet Initiative, is a collaborative effort with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, which tracks the blocking and filtering
of Internet traffic around the world. By shining the spotlight on these actions, the researchers at Citizen Lab are working to raise awareness about Internet censorship in nations such as China, Burma and Cuba. The data they collect is also being used to help bloggers and journalists sidestep the restrictions placed on their work; with the development of technology that channels data through a network of proxies, Internet users are increasingly able to circumvent government censorship.
he latest offering from YouTube is bringing large news organizations and citizen journalists together by making content easier to submit and navigate. Called YouTube Direct, the service allows professional editors and news sites to endorse the content of citizen journalists, giving them greater visibility and credibility. Organizations like The Huffington Post, National Public Radio and the San Francisco Chronicle have already signed up for the feature. Submission guidelines can be tailored for each organization to include the phone number of the video poster to gather more information. The new feature will further entrench YouTube in the up-to-the-minute video posting that is synonymous with the site while giving citizen journalists a greater platform to display their work.
the error of their ways As Canada’s newspapers push to provide fast, free and frequently updated news on the Internet, Convergence investigates whether online correction policies can keep up with the pace by Teri Pecoskie Mistakes happen. Even Craig Silverman, a Montreal-based freelance journalist who takes people to task for their errors as editor of regrettheerror.com, associate editor for PBS MediaShift and as a columnist for the Columbia Journalism Review, is not immune to the odd slip-up. “I once reviewed a hip hop album for a weekly in Halifax and I made a mistake about some of the people involved in the production and some of the MCs on the album. It actually resulted in one of the guys involved with this album coming to the office and being very intimidating to our receptionist at the time, to make it clear that he was not pleased with the sloppiness,” he remembers. “I don’t ever want to go through that again.” For reporters, editors and publishers alike, errors are an unfortunate, yet unavoidable part of the journalism business. In an industry that prides itself on truth and accuracy, blunders are a big deal. Over the years, newspapers established a fairly standardized system for dealing with
errors in copy. But with more and more resources poured into the online medium, critics such as Silverman say many online corrections policies are not up to par. The standard for dealing with online errors, “is something that is not really evolving at the same pace that, frankly, our online reporting is,” says Silverman. Some media organizations, including the Washington Post, The New York Times and Slate, an online news magazine, are setting a strong precedent, he says. Their policies require posting a correction within the article where the error originated and posting that correction on a frequently updated online corrections page. The problem, Silverman laments, is that this standard is not being implemented across the board. Even on sites where the standard has been put in place, it is often not being met. This, he says, poses a serious threat for the integrity of the news industry as a whole. In Canada, the cracks are already visible. “The Sun papers and the Canwest papers have basically put little or no thought or effort
into online corrections,” Silverman says. One exception, he notes, is Canwest’s National Post, “because they actually have an online corrections page.” The Montreal Gazette, he says, sets a particularly poor example. It used to have an online corrections page, but during a recent redesign of the website, it was eliminated. It’s not just implementing and adhering to the standard that poses a challenge. Innovations in content sharing and the growing frequency with which papers are outsourcing copy editing contributes to the problem, Silverman says. “As more media organizations try to turn themselves into their own internal news service – like Canwest is trying to do – they’re probably going to struggle with how they send out corrections. The truth is, it’s difficult, because people won’t always notice them even if you’re sending them out.” Kathy English, public editor at the Toronto Star, has similar concerns. “My fear,” she says, “is that things fall be-
tween the cracks. There is the risk that we’ve corrected in one place and not in the other and that has legal implications as well.”
he good news is that the forced marriage beween traditional newspapers and cyberspace has created new opportunities for boosting accuracy, Silverman says. The Internet offers an improvement over traditional newspaper corrections because it allows editors to append corrections directly to the original article – an option that was never available in the print format, he notes. Stephen Ward, director of the Centre for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also salutes the opportunity for added rigour offered by the Internet. The former Canadian Press foreign correspondent and author of The Invention of Journalism Ethics: The Path to Objectivity and Beyond, says the online medium has made it increasingly difficult to plagiarize, to fabricate, or to simply make up claims without somebody picking up on it. English agrees. “One of the realities of the Internet world is that everyone has become a fact checker,” she says. It’s also easier for readers with a critical eye to contact papers about errors. At the Star, a link to the public editor accompanies each article. The bad news, according to Silverman, is that reporters and editors, facing demands to generate more content under real-time deadlines, have less time to spot and fix gaffes. Silverman can see an even bigger problem, however. The stakes, he says, “are higher today than ever before because of how fast information spreads online and the fact that it becomes permanent. We used to be able to throw away a newspaper and that day’s news would for the most part disappear from our minds.” Greg Brock, the New York Times senior editor tasked with overseeing accuracy and corrections, agrees. “While we move quickly to correct an online article, the incorrect article has already spread across the Internet universe,” he told Convergence in an email. “There’s no putting that cat back in the bag.” UW-M’s Ward reiterates these concerns. “If, in fact, a rumor or an unverified report gets out there onto the Internet, there’s this echo chamber, where other news organizations feel compelled to do something on the story. So various rumors and inaccuracies get moved around at the speed of light,” he says. “So I think there’s pressure; I also think parts of the Internet are a perfect vehicle for distributing unverified information.” And while there are economic and credibility-based arguments for halting the slide, Silverman, Brock and Ward are unanimous in their opinion that newspapers have a moral duty to strive for accuracy. “We tell the public as professional journalists that we do everything we can to get things right and when we make a mistake, we will do our best to correct it, clearly and with as much prominence as we can and that is neces-
sary as soon as we can,” says Silverman. This “contract of corrections” doesn’t go away just because a story hits the web. “We are responsible for updating it, for correcting it, for managing that massive archive that we’re building online, because it really can have an effect on society,” he says. “If you’re going to be a provider of important information, you have to have a sense of accountability. So when we push online and we don’t rewrite and update this contract of corrections, we are failing in one of the fundamental missions of what we’re supposed to be doing.” At The New York Times, Brock says living up to the obligation to accuracy is the only way to gain a reader’s trust. “Accuracy is the foundation of a paper. Without accuracy, we have no credibility. Without credibility, we have no readers,” he notes. “I can’t tell you how many emails I receive from readers who say, ‘you misspelled a name in this article. If I can’t trust you to get that basic fact right, how can I trust you to get the more complicated parts of an article correct?’ It’s a common refrain.” This is not Pie-In-the-Sky idealism, says Ward, a former CP bureau chief and self-described pragmatist. “In the real world,” he says, “economics, the pressures under which you work, fight against truth and are an opposition or obstacle to it.” But good newsrooms, he says, are not going to let these factors play too great a part in distorting a report. “As a pragmatist, you see the human condition as struggling to know as much about the world as it can through fallible methods. You have to live with that. It doesn’t mean that you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater, it just simply means a little humility for journalists, it means it motivates them to verify, correct and check what they do.” Jumping over the accuracy bar is a labor intensive exercise made even more difficult by the attrition in editorial staff. English, for instance, says she receives between 50 and 100 complaints every day at the Star, and each has to be independently investigated and corrected, where it’s merited. Errors are frequent and widespread and fixing them is arduous and time consuming. But, Silverman says, it ought to be a priority. There are several changes that papers can implement that will help them live up to their obligation to provide the public with accurate information. Silverman, English and Ward agree that the first thing papers ought to do is follow the example set by The New York Times and Slate, and establish both a static online corrections page and append corrections directly to the articles in question. For Silverman and Ward, this also applies to breaking news items, something that papers often overlook when they post and continually replace developing stories. In Ward’s opinion, “just about all errors, from misspellings of titles and names, up to the really egregious ones should be considered for a correction
Correcting errors isn’t always a grim business – here’s how a few clever editors used humour to make up for their mistakes: From the Daily Telegraph, U.K.: In Friday’s article on Liz Hurley’s wedding it was wrongly stated that the actress is holding a pheasant shoot on the Sunday after the ceremony. Game shooting is of course illegal on Sundays and the pheasant season ended on Feb 1. We apologise for the error and accept that if any shooting is to be done it will be by the paparazzi, who have no season and do not observe the Sabbath. From the Miami Herald: In yesterday’s column about badminton, I misspelled the name of Guatemalan player Kevin Cordon. I apologize. In my defense, I want to note that in the same column I correctly spelled Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarak, Poompat Sapkulchananart and Porntip Buranapraseatsuk. So by the time I got to Kevin Cordon, my fingers were exhausted. From the New York Post: The source who told us last week about Michelle Obama getting lobster and caviar delivered to her room at the Waldorf-Astoria must have been under the influence of a mind-altering drug. She was not even staying at the Waldorf. We regret the mistake, and our former source is going to regret it, too. Bread and water would be too good for such disinformation. From the Daily Star, U.K.: In previous issues of this newspaper, we may have given the impression that the people of France were snail swallowing garlic munching surrender-monkeys whose women never bother to shave their armpits. We now realise that the French football team can stop the Portuguese – and in particular their cheating whingeing winger Cristiano Ronaldo – from getting to the World Cup Final which we so richly deserved to do. We apologise profusely to France and its sporting heroes like Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane who we now accept are skilful, brave and the most wonderful neighbours we could ever wish for. Vive La France! Courtesy of regrettheerror.com
One of history’s most famous errors comes courtesy of the Chicago Daily Tribune. On Nov. 3, 1948 the paper prematurely proclaimed Republican frontrunner, Thomas E. Dewey, victorious in the U.S. presidential election. In this photo, the actual winner, Harry S. Truman, beams as he holds up the incorrect copy at St. Louis Union Station in St. Louis, Missouri.
Craig Silverman says newspapers have traditionally been held to a higher standard for accuracy than broadcast news. Here he tells Covergence how he thinks the discrepancy originated: “Because newspapers are printed, they have evolved a really different standard of corrections than something that is more ephemeral like radio or TV. The perception of people who are in broadcast news has often been that once they’ve reported it, it’s out there and they can’t just put it on a page the next day the way that newspapers can . . . It stems from a perception borne from the medium and in terms of newspaper history, going back to the news books of England and Europe that were the precursors to newspapers, people talked about truth and accuracy, and even would correct factual errors in these really primitive forms of newspapers. So it’s something that was in the DNA of newspapers from the beginning.”
. . . I don’t think, for example, that we should worry that this will undermine people’s confidence in journalism. I don’t think people have much confidence in journalism anyway. One of the reasons they don’t is because they don’t trust it.” Ward says if newspapers are more transparent about their mistakes, readers will appreciate their efforts. “They will understand,” he says, if papers just admit to people, “look, we did this story under great pressure, we blew it, we made some great mistakes. But here – we’re ‘fessing up to it.” Another way to combat errors in newsrooms with shrinking editorial teams is to give reporters more power to correct their own mistakes. English thinks turning this responsibility over is a risky option, but Silverman says it would allow papers to make more timely and widespread corrections. “If an organization does not ever give reporters the ability, the tools and the procedures to affect that correction quickly, then absolutely it’s going to have an effect on that reporter’s reputation,” he says. “It would be nice if some of the responsibility and the ability to make those corrections could be given to the reporters, because if they can go in and fix their stories and they know the right way to correct it . . . we could actually start fixing things faster.” Silverman also suggests newspapers expand their corrections policies to include new media. “News organizations are doing so many new things online. They’re doing live
blogs, they’re doing podcasts, they’re doing videos, they’re doing discussions,” he says. “Unfortunately corrections and accuracy are not part of the general conversation about all of these new innovative things we’re doing online, and so it’s not a surprise that basically they’re stuck years in the past – or decades in the past for some news organizations.” Dreaming up new online standards that encompass all of these suggestions is the easy part, Silverman admits. “The reality is that a lot of media organizations have really well-written corrections policies and they aspire to meeting the highest standards. “But when it comes to what actually happens on a day-to-day basis, they’re nowhere close to meeting the actual letter of the policy that they have. We make very loud protestations about how important accuracy is and how much we value corrections. But in terms of what we actually do, we’re falling way, way short of that.”
Found an error in our magazine? We’d be happy to set the record straight. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure that our wrongs are made right in our next issue and on our online site.
lifting libel chill by Kristen Smith
anadian journalists have been given “the right to be wrong.” If they meet the criteria of a newly created libel defense. Responsible journalism or responsible communication is a libel defence approved by the Supreme Court of Canada for cases of public interest where the reporter takes responsible steps to gather information, but ends up making a mistake of fact. The defence is “potentially the most significant development of libel law in a century or more,” says Paul Schabas, president of the Canadian Media Lawyers Association. Journalists and bloggers have gained the right to be wrong if the court finds they have acted responsibly publishing stories in the public’s interest. “It’s not an unfettered right. It’s not a wide-open right,” says Schabas. Brian M. Rogers, counsel for the intervening media coalition in the Cusson appeals, a case rooted in the 9-11 terrorist attacks, says the defence is not so much about a right to blunder as it is “about protecting the ability of journalists to rely on their best efforts to get it right.” A multitude of decisions are made dur-
ing the process of publishing or broadcasting a story, says Toronto media lawyer, Alan Shanoff. The sources interviewed, questions asked and quotes chosen, the documents obtained and checked, the way the story is edited or broadcast, the photographs and the headlines all contribute to the fairness of a story. All these decisions will be scrutinized when invoking the responsible communication defence. The Supreme Court of Canada deliberated on two judgments that could overturn libel awards totalling $1.6 million in damages in the name of responsible journalism. A new trial has been ordered for both cases in light of the new defence. The Ontario Court of Appeal originally recognized the defence during the Cusson v. Quan et al (Ottawa Citizen) appeal in November 2008, in which a law enforcement officer argued that reports of his actions at Ground Zero were defamatory. However, the Citizen lost this appeal on the grounds that the defence of responsible journalism, which didn’t officially exist in Ontario until that ruling, wasn’t sufficiently argued. The Supreme Court heard two appeals last year – Cusson v. Quan et al (Ottawa Citizen)
and Grant v. Torstar Corporation – arguing the responsible journalism defence. On Dec. 22 the Supreme Court solidified this as a defence and set guidelines for its use in Canada. Expanding the defence to include “anyone who publishes material of public interest in any medium,” the Supreme Court named the defence responsible communication on matters of public interest. The Supreme Court listed 7 non-exhaustive factors to be taken into consideration when deciding whether the defamatory publication was responsible. These include the seriousness of the allegation, the public importance of the matter, the urgency of the matter, the reliability of the source, whether the plaintiff’s side was sought and accurately reported, whether inclusion of the defamatory statement was justifiable and whether the defamatory statement’s public interest lies in the fact that it was made rather than in its truth (or reportage). The decisions follow rulings in Britain and other Commonwealth countries which included responsible journalism as a defence against libel lawsuits within the last decade. Britain’s House of Lords set guidelines for the defence in the 2001 Reynolds v. Times NewsCONVERGENCE
papers Ltd. ruling, in which former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds sued after the Sunday Times reported claims that he had deliberately misled Parliament. The British courts listed 10 factors in the Reynolds case that are to be taken into account when determining responsible journalism. (See The Reynolds Factors, p. 14) “You could call them flexible factors – or I prefer to call them somewhat vague factors – because you never know until the end of a case whether or not a jury or a judge is going to find that the journalist did act responsibly; that there was a sufficient public interest in getting the story out and that the media should win even though it made a mistake of fact,” says Shanoff. Dean Jobb, associate professor of journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, says the responsible journalism defence is a reasonableness test and compares the Reynolds factors to the standards faced by a doctor: it isn’t malpractice every time a pa-
tient dies, only when negligence is involved. Peter Jacobsen, who was co-counsel for the interveners in the Cusson appeals, says if a step is missed the courts will have to decide whether, on the whole, the journalist did or did not act responsibly. The defence is limited to stories of important public interest, which the Supreme Court argues, “is not synonymous with what interests the public.” It doesn’t provide journalists with an excuse to publish celebrity gossip or conspiracy theories. “It doesn’t apply to reckless journalism by definition,” says Jobb. The Ottawa Citizen case involves an OPP officer’s actions at Ground Zero in the wake of the 9-11 attacks. The Toronto Star case involves a friend of former Ontario premier Mike Harris and major political contributor Peter Grant’s development plans in Northern Ontario. “This is a defence to be used in matters of high public interest involving public officials
Tipping the scales for journalism by Melissa Hayes
he role journalism plays as a public forum constantly changes, so it stands to reason that to function properly, the legal rules by which it is governed must always be clearly defined and reflective of the times. Stuart Robertson, a Toronto based media lawyer, says there is a lack of political will in Canada to define and challenge media laws to effect change. “It is very disappointing in Canada that politicians and attorneys general and crown attorneys and others, none of them are prepared to speak openly and take strong positions in support of freedom of the press and the freedom of speech.” Two areas under scrutiny are the practice of protecting confidential sources and publication bans on bail hearings and ongoing trials. The legal standards for both journalistic issues have been set in stone for some time, but as media continues to evolve, change will likely be inevitable. Protecting Sources In 2001, the National Post reported on what would later become known as the Shawinigate scandal. Post reporter, Andrew McIntosh, broke the story after he claimed to have received documents saying federal loans had been paid to businesses in Shawinigan, the federal riding held by former Prime Minister Jean
Chretien. Believing the documents were forged, the RCMP wanted to test them to determine where they had come from, but the Post refused on the grounds that McIntosh’s source was confidential. McIntosh was served with a warrant. The case went to trial and in 2004 the National Post was victorious in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. However, in 2008 the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered the documents be handed over to the RCMP. The case is now being decided by the Supreme Court of Canada. “He didn’t ask for it, he didn’t solicit the information, it came to him,” Robertson, who has worked as legal counsel to the National Post, says of McIntosh. “He knows his source and he handled it in the most responsible way you can imagine. So there’s something wrong if he’s a criminal for not revealing a source in that particular circumstance.” Alan Shanoff, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in media law, sides with the Superior Court. “The Court of Appeal thought a little bit differently. They said that yes, in appropriate circumstances, a claim for privilege could succeed, but they said that whenever there’s a law enforcement interest, then claim of privilege could not succeed and I think that was much, much too broad.” Robertson says the Supreme Court will
not likely issue a very broad ruling; it’s more likely its decision will define how protecting sources will be allowed on a case-by-case basis. However, he hopes the ruling is enough to protect responsible, ethical journalists. “I think the Court should look very much to . . . the conduct of the media concerned and should be sure not to penalize those who have acted responsibly in the circumstances.” The Globe and Mail is also involved in a legal tangle stemming from the Federal Liberal Party – the sponsorship scandal. The Globe ran a series of articles by Daniel Leblanc alleging the Liberal government paid millions of dollars to Liberal-friendly advertising firms who in turn produced little or no work for the government. A Montreal firm, Le Groupe Polygone, is defending itself in a lawsuit launched by the Federal government, which is seeking to get back some of its money. Le Groupe Polygone has insisted that Leblanc’s contact, known only as MaChouette, be at least partly identified. They have argued that the documents she gave to Leblanc were forgeries and if she was a company insider, her position within the company would be sufficient. To date, neither Leblanc nor the Globe and Mail have provided any information on MaChouette. The Quebec Superior
in matters of significance,” says Shanoff. “Up until the Reynolds case, if a media representative or journalist made a mistake of fact in an item published or broadcast then the mistake of fact would lead to a finding of liability,” says Shanoff.
ibel defences were limited to truth, fair comment and reporting on allegations made in privileged forums or documents. There are instances in which qualified privilege extends to include information which the reporter has a duty to report – such as a public health threat – but these instances of duty to report make for a very narrow defence, says Shanoff. If truth cannot be established at the time of trial – whether it be because of confidential sources, because witnesses are abroad, or because it turns out that the journalist didn’t get it quite right – and qualified privilege and fair comment don’t apply, then there was no defence in a libel lawsuit, says Rogers.
The cases under consideration: CUSSON v. QUAN ET AL
GRANT v. TORSTAR CORPORATION
The Ottawa Citizen published three articles about an OPP officer who travelled to New York City after 9-11 to help search for survivors. The articles called into question the actions and qualifications of officer Cusson who wore an RCMP uniform and led New York City police into thinking his dog had formal civilian search and rescue training. The articles cast Cusson in a negative light and suggested he “may have compromised” search and rescue efforts. Cusson sued for defamation. He won at trial and appeal. The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada where a new trial was been ordered in light of the development of the responsible communication on matters of public interest defense.
The Toronto Star published a front page article about developer Peter Grant’s golf course expansion. The project would require the acquisition of 10.5 hectares of Crown land and needed certain governmental approvals. Cottagers and residents of Northern Ontario had concerns about the project’s environmental effects. The article included the statement “Everyone thinks it’s a done deal because of Grant’s influence – but most of all his Mike Harris ties.” Grant was a major political contributor and friend of then Ontario premier Mike Harris. Grant sued for libel. He won at trial, but the Toronto Star won the Ontario Court appeal. Grant appealled to the Supreme Court of Canada who created the responsible communication defence and order a new trial.
of cases as they are tried. Brian Greenspan, attorney for Nishanthan Yogakrishnan, one of the alleged terrorists, argued published accounts of his client’s role in the plot would hinder his rehabilitation and his eventual return to society. “I think that in those cases . . . publication bans should not have been granted,” says Shanoff. “I think that those were clear cases where it would have been appropriate to provide information to the public.” Bruser says it will be interesting to see how the cases play out. The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing a case this year regarding publication bans. Canada Broadcasting Corporation et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen et al. is challenging the court’s current system for issuing them. The case stems from a bail hearing in the 2006 Michael White murder trial. White had been charged with murdering his wife. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder. The hearing in question led to White’s release on bail. The Edmonton Journal tried to report on the details of the hearing, however, White’s lawyer requested a publication ban. Under section 517 of the Criminal Code, a publication ban must be granted at a bail hearing if requested by the defendant. The Journal argues that it would be in the best interest of the public to know why bail was granted in the case. Bruser says the Journal is questioning whether section 517 is just. “What the media is arguing is that that’s . . . an unconstitutional infringement of the public’s right to know what’s happening in the bail hearing. And it’s really the first time that the Supreme Court of Canada is consid-
ering that kind of mandatory prohibition in the Criminal Code . . . It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Supreme Court decides.” “In my view, there’s really only one thing that causes a real issue and that is admissions of guilt,” Robertson says. “But the Criminal Code deals with that in any event.” “You’re not able to publish the facts of a confession until trial,” he adds, “we already have that law in place . . . I think, just get rid of 517.” Shanoff says it’s surprising section 517 still exists in its present form. “That section is extraordinarily broad. It covers all reasons, representations and information . . . The section should be either struck down, or it should be modified in such a matter so that the judge always has discretion.” The constitutionality of that section of the Code was argued in the Supreme Court on Nov. 16. A decision has not yet been announced. If the Supreme Court changes the Code it could have a big impact on journalism in Canada, Bruser says. “It could have a profound effect. If the court rules that the mandatory ban is unconstitutional, then that will mean that . . . things that are now subject to publication bans would be no longer subject to those bans and the media could report on things it can’t now report on.” Shanoff says he believes a ruling will be issued which will allow judges to use discretion when issuing publication bans. “I think we need to turn on the lights in bail hearing courts and let the public in and let the public know what’s going on.”
continued on pg. 14
Court has sided with Le Groupe Polygone, and the Globe and Mail has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. Bert Bruser, another Toronto media lawyer, believes journalists must ultimately have the right to protect sources. “My view is that if a journalist makes a promise to the confidential source and on the basis of that he receives information on a story that’s in the public interest, he can’t break that promise. What the law says is that a judge can order him to break that promise if it’s important and necessary for the administration of justice.” “I think what will happen is that Supreme Court of Canada will state that journalists may enjoy a privilege in limited circumstances where the interests of justice permit,” says Shanoff, “and we’ll be left as we were in the past, not knowing exactly when we might or might not have that privilege, it will be dealt with on a case by case basis.” The National Post case was argued in the Supreme Court of Canada on May 22 and the Globe and Mail case came up on Oct. 21. The Court has reserved its decision in both cases and has yet to issue a ruling. Publication Bans On June 2, 2008, a series of police raids in the Greater Toronto Area resulted in the arrests of 18 members of an alleged Islamist terrorist group – the Toronto 18. After the arrests, a publication ban was announced, preventing the media from reporting details regarding the trials. However, in September, the Ontario Court of Appeal rescinded the ban, making it legal for the media to publish details
The Reynolds Factors A non-exhaustive list of 10 factors to be taken into consideration when deciding whether a defendant has conducted himself in accordance with Responsible Journalism put forth by Lord Nicholls in the 2001 Reynolds v. Times Newspaper Ltd. case in the House of Lords. The seriousness of the allegation. The more serious the charge, the more the public is misinformed and the individual harmed, if the allegation is not true. The nature of the information, and the extent to which the subject-matter is a matter of public concern. The source of the information. Some informants have no direct knowledge of the events. Some have their own axes to grind or are being paid for their stories. The steps taken to verify the information. The status of the information. The allegation may have already been the subject of an investigation which commands respect. The urgency of the matter. News is often a perishable commodity. Whether comment was sought from the plaintiff. He may have information others do not possess or have not disclosed. An approach to the plaintiff will not always be necessary. Whether the article contained the gist of the plaintiff’s side of the story. The tone of the article. A newspaper can raise queries or call for an investigation. It need not adopt allegations as statements of fact. The circumstances of the publication, including the timing.
The Supreme Court of Canada reviewed these factors and offered their own madein-Canada perspective.
“It’s finally a recognition that freedom of expression is at least as important as protection of reputation.” - Paul Schabas “It’s just a question of how much you have to pay.” “For a long time, all of us in the field have struggled with the fact that there’s no defence except truth for publication in the media. Even about a matter of public interest. Even when you’ve made every effort to get it right,” says Rogers. What the courts were “grappling with is whether it’s fair to say that if there’s a mistake of fact then the media has to lose,” says Shanoff, who thinks the previous law put too much emphasis on protection of reputation and not enough on freedom of the press. “We need a way to protect the media when it makes an honest mistake of fact,” he says. The responsible communication defence will alter the balance between reputation and freedom of speech in libel lawsuits, says Schabas, who was counsel for the Toronto Star in the Grant case. “It certainly goes some distance to correcting the imbalance in traditional libel law that was weighted too heavily in favour of reputation,” he adds. “It’s finally a recognition that freedom of expression is at least as important as protection of reputation.” Jobb, who is also the author of the widely used textbook, Media Law for Canadian Journalists, agrees. He says the defence,“seems to be consistent with Charter values.” The Cusson and Grant cases follow the Supreme Court decision in WIC Radio v. Simpson in which libel law evolved to be more consistent with the Canadian Charter. In June 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada expanded the defence of fair comment to include the opinion of others or an opinion that a reasonable person could honestly hold.
eter Downard, counsel for the plaintiff in the Grant case and intervener in the Cusson appeal to the Supreme Court, says he thinks the responsible journalism defence requires the proper theoretical foundation. “The doctrine to date had tended to be skewed in favour of the values on one side of the ledger, the media’s side,” says Downard. On the media’s side are the values of freedom of expression, freedom of speech and the right of the public to be informed on matters of public interest. On the individual’s side is the value of reputation, and sometimes – with the exclusion of public officials – the value of privacy, says Downard. “The most important thing is that the courts develop an approach that provides guidance based on a fair and equal weighing of the values on both sides,” says Downard.
Although this balance is important, Jacobsen says, “look outside that,” and ask, “what’s the best thing for society? I think that what we’ve seen over the years is transparency is better than lack of and really the people who bring us most of our information is the news media, the investigative journalist.” The responsible communication defence shouldn’t substantially change the practices of journalists, says Shanoff. But it could lessen the degree of libel chill in cases involving high public interest, which is exactly what it’s designed to do, says Schabas. “Libel is the greatest restraint, legal restriction, on freedom of expression in this country and our libel law is amongst the most plaintiff-friendly in the world and I think that aspects of stories and sometimes whole stories themselves just don’t get tackled,” says Rogers, counsel in the Cusson appeals, prior to the ruling. He says there are instances when it is too difficult to find the evidence to prove truth and the risk and cost of a potential lawsuit outweigh the advantages of publishing the story. Shanoff agrees. “There are certain stories that I would think are very dangerous for the media and if they can establish that they have done everything within their power to get the story right, but they still got it wrong, then they’ll be able to mount a successful defence,” he says. The Shawinigate and sponsorship scandals are examples of stories that may have been covered differently if the press had not been as wary of libel lawsuits. “With this defence I think the media may be bolder,” says Shanoff. Requiring provable truth as the only defence against libel comes with a penalty. It inhibits free public speech and the free flow of information. The chilling effect occurs not only when the publication is false, but also when it’s true and can’t be proven true, says Rogers. In England, says Rogers, it appears to have had a positive effect on the media. Not only does it embolden the media to publish stories it wouldn’t have otherwise been able to, but it has also led journalists and editors to be more thoughtful and careful in order to meet the criteria of the responsible journalism defence. Jobb says that good journalists already meet this criteria and points out that investigative stories of this sort would be vetted by lawyers. “I don’t think it it’ll make journalists bolder,” he says, “but it might make their bosses a little bolder.”
by John Evans
rowdsourcing may be the hot buzzword these days, but mentioning it within earshot of a professional graphic designer is likely to get you burned. Internet forums and blog comment lists are full of vitriol from two deadlocked factions. Proponents of a fast-growing, contest-like business model say crowdsourcing favours students and small design companies and accuse the traditional graphic design industry of arrogance and elitism. Critics compare crowdsourcing design websites to third-world sweatshops, with workers churning out substandard work for little or no pay for greedy employers. Crowdsourcing, which involves making an open call to a large pool of labour and talent to complete a task instead of doing it inhouse or outsourcing overseas, is cropping up all over the Internet. CrowdSpring has been in business for less than two years. Along with other companies including 99designs, DesignOutpost and gfxcontests.com, CrowdSpring connects businesses requiring graphic design work with a
large pool of “creatives”, industryspeak for designers and graphic artists drawn from the Internet. Buyers provide specifications for a design project such as a logo or web page and put some prize money on the table. Then anyone can submit designs, and the buyer will choose one – winner take all. “In about 15 months we have grown to over 40,000 designers,” says Mike Samson, co-founder of Chicago-based CrowdSpring. “They come from over 170 countries currently. They’re here to participate, to compete, to learn, to communicate and, as important as anything, to have the opportunity to earn some money and gain some clients.” Rod Roodenburg, national president of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, says he thinks the contest model is harmful to both the buyer and the creators. “Crowdsourcing is kind of a euphemism for spec work,” Roodenburg says. “You lump crowdsourcing in with spec work, design contests, that type of thing. And the kind of work that ends up getting offered tends to be more
derivative. Knock offs, rip offs – there is really no protection for the consumer or business that is seemingly benefiting from this kind of work. So it ends up being a kind of lose-lose situation.” Roodenburg also says the society considers spec work to be unethical – that any work that is not done on a volunteer basis should be paid for. Yet Samson says CrowdSpring’s model provides more than just money. “What CrowdSpring allows young designers to do,” he says, “is to come in to cut their teeth, to build their portfolio, to learn how to interact with clients, to learn how to compete with the others in the marketplace, to learn from one another because they have the opportunity to watch each other and learn and grow stylistically and improve their technical abilities and their communication skills. And CrowdSpring provides, even though it is virtual, a real-world environment where they can do that.” Roodenburg remains unconvinced.
Innocentive: Technology and science research site with prizes as high as $1 million.
“You are getting a whole bunch of work from people who don’t really have the knowledge, skills, expertise, to necessarily be working on the kinds of projects – I don’t think that they are really being valued. You have a whole pile of students all doing work for free.” Both Roodenburg and Samson say they don’t expect this model to hurt established design houses. Roodenburg says he does not see the good companies in Canada being affected, and Samson doesn’t even think they are in the same market. “I really believe we are market expanders,” he says. “We’re not cannibalizing the existing market, we’re really increasing the size of the pie . . . Graphic design, historically, has been a fairly expensive process and lots of smaller businesses, particularly, were really shut out of the industry.”
Philoptima: Philanthropists and foundations offering grants for solutions to social problems.
Any kind of knowledge work can be crowdsourced. Here’s a list of the most common models: Contests – A call for submissions with one big winner. CrowdSpring, 99designs, Design Outpost and others: The crowd provides graphic design work.
Challengepost: Not only crowdsources solutions, but also problems and prizes. Post your own wish, or back someone else’s with your money. Piecework – Big jobs broken into individual tasks, with workers paid for each task they complete. Mechanical Turk: Amazon’s clerical crowdsourcing site. Workers are paid for every line of data entered into a database, page proofread, or any other job a client wants done. iStockphoto: The world’s third-largest stock photography site. Anyone can upload photos and earn money every time someone pays to download them. Volunteer – The crowd is not paid, but may be rewarded intangibly. Fold.it: A free video game that helps the medical community understand protein folding as the game is played. Galaxy zoo – Volunteers help astronomers classify galaxies. reCaptcha: Those squiggly words on many websites you must identify to prove you are not a computer are actually helping digitize the New York Times print archives. The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing or BOINC: Donate your idle computer time to help solve problems in biology, physics, earth sciences and mathematics. Be part of a virtual supercomputer.
rowdSpring’s Samson provides an impressive statistic from the Kauffman foundation – a U.S. organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship: in 2008, more than half a million new businesses started up in the United States every month. He says these businesses need logos, business cards and other marketing materials, but may not have enough money to hire a traditional design company. “On our site a logo project averages $325,” Samson explains. “Now in a traditional model you would have a very difficult time finding a designer who would be willing to do your logo for $325. If you picked up the Yellow Pages and started looking and offered these designers that much money you’d get a lot of them saying thanks but no thanks.” But this is part of what infuriates Roodenburg. “What you are doing as a designer is not just creating something and throwing ideas on a table and having your client pick them,” he says, “you are actually an editor and that is where a lot of the high value of design is. It is not just about choosing, but it is also about deleting. So to just throw a bunch of ideas on the wall and have your client pick one is doing them a tremendous disservice.” Roodenburg says that crowdsourcing “is disrupting the creative industry and is not doing much to foster the growth of design talent. In essence . . . they are creating a whole culture around devaluing design. So that’s not going to encourage young designers to get into the marketplace. It is not going to create an environment where schools are going to survive and actually foster talent and grow the kinds of creative that we want and the kind of creative that develops studios like Disney that we hold aloft as being part of our culture.” Samson is unapologetic about how his business model works. He compares CrowdSpring to a large market tent where buyers and creatives can drift in, meet, and if they find the model works for them, do a little business before drifting off to other things. “We are not for every designer, we are not for every buyer,” he says. “For many companies we are not the right solution, nor do we
claim to be. It is the same for designers. Many designers choose not to work in the speculative model, and ours is a speculative model. But many do choose to work in a speculative model and our relatively rapid adoption curve sort of points to that. We’ve built a base of over 40,000 designers in a short time, because there are really a lot of people who will choose to work in this model.” Samson says most of CrowdSpring’s buyers are small to mid-sized businesses that are just starting out and that many of the designers move on to more traditional work once they have established a relationship with businesses. To Roodenburg, though, a business model where work is done with the promise of payment but no guarantee is unethical even if the creatives participate willingly. That, he says, reflects on any client that buys design work from non-professionals in this way. “It is kind of saying to the business community and the design community and the general public overall – it is saying that being good enough is good for business. So this doesn’t really say much about the businesses that are seeking this kind of speculative work,” he says. “I think that by virtue of participating, a business’s brand is marginalized. It says you don’t care about design, you don’t care about the designers, in fact you don’t really care about your customers. I would suggest that the morality of business and ethical practices rank fairly high these days in branding. “ “Participating in spec work and crowdsourcing essentially is brand suicide,” Roodenburg adds. “I can’t really put it any other way.” Idea Bounty, a spin off of South Africa’s largest online marketing company Quirk, applies the contest business model to an ephemeral product – ideas. Clients host briefs on the site – problems for which they need solutions – and post a bounty. In September, the World Wildlife Fund paid $1,500 through Idea Bounty for an idea on how to make living a green lifestyle more cool. “We have tried to stay away from spec work,” says Daniel Neville, the brand co-ordinator and captain at Idea Bounty. He says Idea Bounty’s creatives do not provide finished products such as logos or website layouts, only brief outlines of ideas, so non-winning entrants aren’t working for free. Neville says he would like to see the Idea Bounty platform being used as a social think tank in the future. “I would love to have the UN host a brief on eliminating world hunger,” he says. Whichever model of crowdsourced business ends up being successful in the long term, the genie is out of the bottle. The tools to spread knowledge work over the Internet exist. Yet when asked to predict the future of crowdsourcing, Neville isn’t certain of its longevity. “What remains to be seen is if consumers get bored of contributing.”
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Social media sells by Leslie Wilks
“Be a fan” “Join our online network” “Follow us on Twitter”
“Write a product review” T
hese are just a few of the ways companies are incorporating social media into their marketing plans. While social media marketing isn’t a new phenomenon, the experts agree it’s poised to intensify. “It’s really on an upward tick,” says Robert Kozinets, an associate professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. There was a time when selling a product was as simple as creating cartoon characters to voice catchy sales pitches in the passive environment of television. But evolving marketing strategies now have to take into account interactivity, which means that social networking is becoming the advertiser’s new best friend, says Kozinets. He attributes social media marketing’s growing popularity to the declining draw of traditional marketing channels. “It’s not drawing attention, it’s not drawing targets, it’s not drawing numbers, it’s not drawing ratings, so they’re looking for alternatives,” says Kozinets. “Let’s say you’ve got the average 15-yearold who used to spend nine hours a week watching TV. You went to them on the television and you tried to get the shows they were
watching. Now they’re not watching as much television or at least they’re not watching it by itself. Now they’re spending a lot more time online and doing other things while they watch TV,” explains Kozinets. So how can advertisers attract and retain the attention of the elusive 15-year-old, or anybody for that matter? Livia Grujich, co-founder and managing director of On-Q Communications Inc., says it’s about strategizing; knowing your audience, where they are online, what they are doing and how to build relationships with your target market. Grujich’s Toronto-based company helps businesses do just that. It’s wise, she adds, for companies to get on board, since social media marketing is definitely more than a passing trend. But first, companies need to figure out how social media fits into their marketing strategy. “There’s no point to say we’ll put up a Facebook page just because that’s what your competitors are doing,” says Grujich. “It’s not necessarily about the latest tool; it’s understanding how your audience is using them.” A good social media campaign has to be relevant to the product and to the client, says
Jeromy Lloyd, a staff writer at Toronto-based Marketing Magazine. “Usually what that means is there’s already an existing group of people, a community, that already kind of likes the brand and talks about it on its own,” says Lloyd. “In that context a social media campaign just kind of provides another platform for that communication.” But finding your audience online can prove to be quite the nightmare, as the applications that are popular now may not be in a few years, or even a few months, says Kozinets. “I mean when was the last time you heard somebody talk about MySpace? It used to be everyone used it,” says Kozinets. He cites Facebook and Twitter as examples of the more popular applications out there now. He says he believes social networking sites will continue to play a role in the lives of the generation who grew up with them. “Whether they continue to use Facebook or not, that’s a whole other question.” Kozinets, who has been studying social media and marketing since 1995, before the term social media was even coined, started teaching a social media and marketing course
at York last September. “Everybody is on social media in some way now, especially in marketing and advertising,” says Marketing Magazine’s Lloyd. Contests are one of the more effective strategies, he says, citing Nissan’s launch of the Nissan Cube as an example. “They launched in Canada with this contest. Basically the idea was submit a video and tell us why you should have a new Cube.” The company also gave contestants room to be creative with their own web spaces and the top 50 finalists all became owners of the new vehicle. “The Cube contest was seen as a success because it got a lot of media pick-up,” says Lloyd and “a lot of engagement . . . they had a lot of people talking about the contest.” Not only was the campaign innovative, but it was brave, he says. “There were no TV spots, there were no radio ads, there were no billboards to announce the Cube,” says Lloyd. David MacDonald, vice-president of consumer customs for Environics Research Group, one of Canada’s leading market and social research companies, says people, as consumers, are involved in social media to varying degrees, whether they’re reading blogs, writing comments or uploading content. While some consumers look for how to become more savvy, others are just on the lookout for the latest trends. Instead of analyzing people from traditional demographics, Environics separates consumers into “tribes” based on psychographics and social values, says MacDonald.
“Tribes are the segmentation of Canadians based on their shared values and beliefs,” explains MacDonald “An effective marketer will say, ‘okay, I understand that I’ve got this new product or concept or brand and it’s meant to appeal to this kind of buyer, not just a demographic slice’,” says MacDonald. “You have to position the product in a certain language to attract a tribe in terms that they would find appealing.” Despite social media marketing’s growing popularity businesses and marketers alike are still trying to figure out how it works. On-Q’s Grujich, who also teaches a course entitled Leveraging Social Media and Online Marketing Networks at York’s Schulich Executive Education Centre, says marketers are stll confused about what they should be doing online. MacDonald agrees. “I think the research world is just scratching the tip of the iceberg on understanding the relationship between blogs and (demographic) segments.” Citing a growing scepticism and mistrust towards traditional marketing messages, he says the entire value make-up of Canada is changing and people are more concerned with self-identity and finding companies that reflect their own values. Social media could be the answer to those concerns as it allows companies to reach and communicate with their audience in new ways, says Grujich. “Social media really is about people and about creating relationships with people better than we were able to before.”
She says clients often tell her they’re afraid to go online in case they lose control of the message. The question she asks them: when did we ever have control? And there are instances of social media campaigns going awry. “Skittles did a thing recently where they set up a website . . . with words from Twitter that were hash-tagged,” says Lloyd. “The strategy behind that was just to show what people were saying about Skittles on the website. But once people figured out that’s what was happening they started playing the system. So you got swear words and really inappropriate stuff. People were criticizing the company on the website.” Another example that comes to mind for Lloyd is a campaign launched by GM for its Chevy Tahoe. In that case, people were allowed to create their own ads which would post automatically to the car’s website. “There was no oversight,” says Lloyd. “Once that got out, people started designing ads that were critical of Tahoe and the company.” Grujich is not surprised. “Once you put a message out to the audience it’s really up to them what they think about it,” she says, comparing online networking to conversations by the water cooler. “Before, we weren’t privileged enough to be part of these conversations. Now if we do our job right and we listen and use the proper tools that are available to us online, we’re actually welcomed into the conversation.” Grujich sees this two-way communication
David White CONVERGENCE
as a major perk for companies who are creating an online community. “You can’t stop people from talking about whatever it is they’re going to want to talk about, positive or negative,” says Grujich. Lloyd agrees. “The whole point of social media advertising is to let your customers talk to you about you. You don’t want to be the warden in the prison, you just want to be there to see what they are saying.” That doesn’t mean the environment will remain rule-free.
ew guidelines by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which took effect Dec. 1, state that a blogger being paid or otherwise compensated to promote a product must reveal the nature of their relationship with the advertiser. Under this rubric, a blogger, given free merchandise to promote a product, would have to divulge this information in the blog. Kozinets says it’s only a matter of time before Canadian businesses start following these guidelines as well. He predicts businesses will try to form closer partnerships and communities with the public such as the blogging, Facebook group-
only have an online marketing campaign that speaks to their own and their customers’ values, says Kozinets. Rather, it should be part of an integrated marketing package. “It means that your television, your print, your newspaper, your locale, your packaging, your Internet communications, your social media communications all sort of have a similar look, message. They hit particular targets in a similar way,” says Kozinets. He cites the Dove Evolution Campaign for Real Beauty as an example of how to multitask. In addition to TV ads and billboards, the campaign went online with a website where consumers were encouraged to join the conversation, and a YouTube video that’s had nearly 10 million viewers. As with all marketing, the best way to reach your audience is to know your audience, says Grujich. “I think it’s really important for companies and for organizations to understand that the most important thing first and foremost is to listen,” says Grujich. “By listen, I mean understand what your audience is doing . . . it’s just a matter of doing your research properly and understanding where they’re communicating online.”
creating, Twilight fan – just as an example. “Fly them down to the set of the latest movie and have them hang around and meet people and blog about it and write about it and create memories. It’s stuff like that,” says Kozinets. “Rather than buying it you know, it will be more co-created. It’ll be more coaxed out. “That’s the dance part. Working with them, not just projecting something. It’s not like some sort of arrow you shoot at somebody.” Companies should have marketing goals and strategies in place to reflect not only their own values but the values of their target audiences as well, says Grujich. Social media can be a very effective tool for this. “When we’re looking at specific tools with social media it is very cost effective and has relatively low barriers to entry,” says Grujich. “You can use it as just sort of your experimental marketing if you’re just starting out and we’ve seen companies that have great results that started out just using social media.” And despite popular belief, social networking is not just for young people, Grujich says. “The fastest growing demographic on Facebook now really is the 45 and over.” However it’s not enough for a company to
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Cable companies and local TV:
A Futile battle by Lauren Brunetti
teve Faguy turns away from his television, taking in a commercial break from the CRTC hearings that are being aired on his local news station in Montreal. “Canadians don’t realize the main points in this debate, people don’t really care. If anything, they are just following the catchy advertisements and the marketing blitz. Canadians are literally caught in the middle,” he says. Faguy, a media blogger and freelance journalist at the Montreal Gazette, is referring to “fee for carriage,” the ongoing battle between local television stations and cable providers. In early November, the networks and cable firms began to debate the future of Canadian television in front of the CRTC in Gatineau, Quebec. Faguy says he thought they were barking up the wrong utility pole. When CTV threatened to black out popular television shows if no negotiation could be made, Faguy scoffed. “The funny thing is, they can go ahead and do that. People could still watch their Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives online. Young people are watching more things online these days and let’s face it, the CRTC doesn’t control the Internet.” But the debate continued. On one side, the
cable and satellite companies such as Rogers Communications, Bell Canada and Telus oppose the idea of fee for carriage entirely. Networks such as CBC, CTV Globemedia Inc. and Canwest Television argue they are in financial distress and need the extra money to keep local television alive. In the end, this debate could force cable companies to pay local television stations for the right to carry their signals. Denis McGrath, television screenwriter and industry blogger says this debate is, “a classic old Canadian mess with no solution in sight.” “It’s the CRTC’s fault. They have always given both sides what they wanted and now they have to choose between their two children. They are really in a pickle that’s for sure,” he says. McGrath says this debate is also like a nuclear deterrent. “If you’re going to talk about pressing a button then you better be prepared.” For instance, if a network like CTV decides to block out channels, consumers will take action, he explains. The cable companies made $2.3 billion last year, he says, and as a result they exist in a
protective environment created by the CRTC. “We live in a heavily marketed television environment. To sit there and say the only option is to charge consumers more is ludicrous,” says McGrath. “The cable companies always want to pass things on to the consumers. It’s a lie on both sides. Even if people don’t know how much of a lie it is, trust me, consumers know something just isn’t right.” McGrath agrees that the real issue for local television is that more and more people are watching TV online. “Canada is swimming against the tide. Because the Internet is at a point where you can get anything from around the world, it makes something local even more attractive. We tend to overstate the Internet,” he says. “If you go up in age groups however, not everyone uses the Internet. It is true for people in their 20s or 30s. When new media comes along, they don’t replace old media they sort of stand beside them, they don’t kill it. When television came along, the radio never died.” McGrath says the reason local TV might die is not necessarily because of the Internet, but because of a faulty business model. Local stations, he says, “had an easy business model CONVERGENCE
Images from online advertising campaigns for cable companies and the television networks representing local stations.
and made tons of money with no strategic planning. They didn’t plan how the business was going to survive. So now they want to take more money out of people’s pockets.” Both sides launched multi-million dollar ad campaigns, which included full-page newspaper ads, commercials, YouTube videos and campaign websites, all urging Canadians to either “Stop the TV tax!” or “Save Local Television!” “These campaigns are run by marketers and they are stretching the truth to the point where we don’t know what is going on anymore or what to believe,” Faguy says. He’s particularly bothered by the continuation of the campaigns while the CRTC holds hearings. “They want Canadians to harass their MPs,” says Faguy. “It’s a public relations campaign. They are pushing it down our throats and it’s annoying.” Bart Testa, senior lecturer in the cinema studies department at the University of Toronto says both of these marketing campaigns are purposely designed to be this way. “They are designed strategically. They are political campaigns for crying out loud. Political campaigns don’t give you truthful information; they give you a particular view point. I personally don’t think that anyone fully believes either side,” he says. Testa says both campaigns are guilty of stretching the truth and misleading Canadians. “Local television stations are gold mines, and now they want to be diamond mines. Millions of dollars have been poured into these campaigns. I see full-page color print ads in The Globe and Mail every morning. They are
extravagant full-page ads that probably cost a ridiculous amount of money,” he says. According to McGrath, both sides have used classic political advertising. “They have framed it as ‘saving local TV,’ but what they haven’t told you is that they killed it in the first place. Global has never cared about local programming. It doesn’t take very long to look at a schedule and realize all the programming they have is from the United States. They are telling us there is no money but meanwhile what about the money for these ads that they could have used to promote local programming. They have been on life support for so long and all they know how to do is ask for more,” he says. Jeff Keay, head of media relations at CBC in Toronto, defends the network’s stance. “Our position is value for signal. Historically, conventional broadcasters have not received any compensation for the signals; the satellite company is compensated for cable channels and for the American channels and they don’t pay for ours.” Keay says fee for carriage should not be passed onto consumers, since they shouldn’t be forced to suffer. “There are enough resources to compensate on a fair market basis without passing it on to consumers. The consumers have already paid for this with their basic cable fees. If you’re calling something a tax, which is a fee, of course it is misleading. It’s a cost of doing business. To describe this as a tax is simply misinforming the public.” Keay says the economic model in television is unsustainable and local television stations are in a financial crisis.
“With a 500-plus channel universe, the advertising pie is divided into smaller pieces and costs have gone up. The current economic circumstances are important here and, basically, advertising revenues have gone down. We think that we need to look at how the economics work,” he says. Keay says the CRTC needs to take into consideration what Canadians want and how they really feel. “The most consistent response is ‘I don’t want to pay more,’ and we agree with that. We really think that the CRTC needs to take a good hard look at regulating this and take into consideration what the public is saying. “ Jan Innes, Rogers vice-president communications, has a different view. She says cable and satellite providers should not pay for something that is already free. “The way the system has worked for over 40 years is cable companies are required to carry these signals by the CRTC. We have increased the value of their advertising and for many years we have provided the Canadian version of U.S. programming with Canadian ads and that has been a fairly advantageous practice. There has been compensation for these services already.” Innes also says the networks have misinformed consumers by saying this issue is about local TV. “Local TV has been used as a pawn in this discussion and argument. They [the cable networks] are looking for a revenue source to profit from. For example, they have the TSN channel and that is the most profitable specialty service,” she says. “Everything just doesn’t add up.”
innovative images Convergence caught up with the creators of the Frankencamera to see how open source technology could help shape photography’s future by R.J. Riley
Marc Levoy and Andrew Adams pose with their invention.
hotographers could soon get their hands on a new invention that will give them greater control over the way they snap stills. The “Frankencamera” is a completely customizable camera with open software. It was created by a group of researchers at Stanford University for anyone with the right skills to get under the skin of the camera and alter the way it operates. Users can even write their own software to create new ways of altering images without the restrictions of brand name manufacturers' software, something that had long been a frustration for Andrew Adams, one of the Frankencamera’s inventors. “It’s a camera where you can open the hood and mess with how it works. You can change the metering algorithm, the focusing algorithm. You can make it take two pictures very quickly and combine them in some weird way,” Adams says. “You can change everything about how the camera operates, from the centre all the way to the user interface.” Researchers at Stanford and Nokia's California-based facility, partners in this project,
are experimenting with new functions and applications for the camera. “We’ve been playing games using online photo collections to help improve photos,” Adams explains. “Presumably you only upload the photos that come out well, so you’ve got a database of known good photos. So if the camera recognizes someone’s face, it knows what the white balance of its skin should be.” Casey Lessard, a photographer and Humber College journalism professor, understands the practicality of the invention. “With all the metadata for a caption it makes it a lot easier for a reporter, especially for a community journalist,” says Lessard, who is also the publisher of community newspaper, The Grand Bend Strip. The camera’s creators have also developed a way to generate high dynamic range images right inside the camera; a task that could previously only be done in post-production by combining several pictures of the same image, taken at different exposures, into one photo. The camera can even bring every part of an image into focus by attaching a micro-lenserray into the camera. This gives it the ability to
actually change the focus of an image after it was taken, says inventor Adams. Even though the technology isn’t widely available yet, Lessard can see the benefit of combining all these features under one camera hood. “Taking a picture that’s properly exposed every time and to also be able to analyze it, make it a high dynamic range image and then if it’s not perfectly in focus, being able to make it in focus automatically or tweak it. Then being able to deliver it in real time to the office, without having to do any Photoshop or any sort of photo correction, it’s the whole package,” Lessard says. “It makes it a lot easier for people who aren’t necessarily professional photographers, but professional journalists who need a tool to make their photography easier.” Put simply, the Frankencamera aims to cut out the lab middleman. “We want to put complicated algorithms inside the camera, but make the interface easy so that you don’t have to be an expert to benefit from these algorithms,” says Kari Pulli, Nokia’s lead researcher on the project. The Frankencamera, Pulli adds, also has the ability to create, download and run applications, similar to an iPhone. The camera has received mixed reactions from both photographers and journalists. “We’ve gotten very positive feedback about this,” says Natasha Gelfand, a researcher for Nokia. “There hasn’t really been a sort of open source camera software up until now.” That doesn't mean that all pros buy the hype. Greg Henderson, a photography professor at Humber College says he thinks “camera manufacturers will stay ahead of open source technology.” Researchers at Stanford are confident, however, that the photography industry is about to enter a new era. They say the focus may shift to the additional features and camera applications, something that the Frankencamera has introduced. Having a camera platform that is completely customizable will fundamentaly change the industry, says Adams. In newsrooms with a small staff, the Frankencamera could save both time and money, says Antoine Tedesco, managing editor of the North York Mirror. “It would probably be able to streamline many aspects of the newsroom,” he says. CONVERGENCE
Restructuring and resistance by Ronda Collins, Graeme Steel and Teri Pecoskie
Its conception was an act of defiance. A group of locked out newspaper employees, mired in the dregs of a labour dispute, decided that Toronto needed a paper that could better reflect the concerns of working people. So on Nov. 3, 1892, the workers took their message of social responsibility to the public in a four-page paper called the Toronto Evening Star. When Joseph E. Atkinson was appointed editor on Dec. 13, 1899, the paperâ€™s fortunes improved markedly. By 1913, the Star had the largest circulation of any newspaper in Toronto and Atkinson had established the values that would provide the intellectual foundation on which the Toronto Star operated for generations.
When Star publisher John Cruickshank informed the newspaper’s staff of the restructuring project in this Nov. 3 letter, an anonymous editor got the last word. Despite the efforts of that editor and the union, the Star is reportedly moving forward with its plan to outsource around 100 jobs and save the paper $4 million annually.
These are fine principles, but in the teeth of a technological and economic hurricane, the newspaper’s managers and unionized workers now find themselves on opposite sides of a struggle that could affect the way journalism is conducted at Canada’s largest newspaper. In an inter-company memo released on the paper’s 117th birthday, the Star announced a massive restructuring project, which would involve transforming the newspaper into a multi-platform news and content organization. The paper was in negotiations to outsource around 100 jobs in its pre-publishing and editorial divisions. Buyouts and early retirement packages were also on the table for its entire workforce. As news of the restructuring project reached Star employees, questions were raised about how the proposed changes would affect the quality of the paper. “It’s the height of foolishness because we see it all as one integral piece, especially a paper that is editor-driven like the Star,” says Dan Smith, the paper’s book editor and Star Guild unit vice-chair. “We’re part of a team. We share a mission. We believe in those Atkinson values.” In Smith’s opinion, administrators at the
Star are determined to cut costs regardless of the effect it will have on the newspaper’s credibility, image and brand. “How a story is pursued, how it’s written, how it’s packaged – all that page design, layout and editing – it’s part and parcel of what we do to make a good newspaper. So to rip the guts out of that is just beneath us. We just don’t buy it.” In fact, he likens the proposed changes to grease on the skids of a downhill sled. “We feel that in the long-term, it’s the wrong agenda and it’s risking the future of the Star instead of ensuring it.” The Star’s agenda, Smith adds, could be similar to that of Canwest Editorial Services, a little shop in Hamilton with only a few dozen people that handles copy editing for about 160 newspapers around the world. Strictly speaking, it’s not outsourcing, but “centralizing”, with page layout, copy editing, headline writing, story cutting and photo cropping all done in one centralized location. Toronto Star publisher, John Cruickshank, says the proposed changes, particularly outsourcing all the elements of pagination and the work done to cut stories to length, are not revolutionary. In fact, he says these tasks used to be completed outside the newsroom with-
out having an adverse effect on the integrity of the paper. Pagination, for instance, used to be done by compositors in a separate room down the hall or even in the basement. “We’ve seen lots of technological change over the years, which has redistributed jobs from one place to another,” he says. “It doesn’t always have to be part of the newsroom and wasn’t always part of the newsroom.” “The opportunity presents itself in contracting to take those jobs back out of the newsroom at significantly less cost,” Cruickshank adds. “So that’s why we’re looking at that.” Kirk Lapointe, managing editor of the Vancouver Sun, sees where Cruickshank is coming from. Like other Canwest papers, the Sun outsources pagination of non-local content to the in-company central editing unit in Hamilton. Lapointe says he can’t differentiate between the work coming out of the Hamilton unit and the in-house pagination that used to be done in Vancouver. “We don’t lose quality in having them help us with our pages and we don’t relinquish any local decision making,” he says. “So we have our cake and eat it too.” CONVERGENCE
Smith, however, isn’t sold on the idea. He says the paper’s reputation hinges on keeping these jobs together. “It’s difficult for the public to really understand,” he says, “because to them, the paper is just a product. But to someone who understands what these functions mean, it’s like cannibalism.” Brad Honywill, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union and the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, echoes Smith’s concerns. He says the Star’s proposed changes will damage communication in the newsroom, a place where the constant exchange of ideas at different stages of the production process has always played a central role. “You get into situations,” Honywill says, “where the reporters might be communicating information as it breaks. They give verbal updates and the pace of those updates becomes more urgent as you get closer to deadlines.” A reporter may word something in a very specific way for a reason, he adds, and if the stories are being trimmed to fit outside the newsroom, critical information could unknowingly be cut. “They might make an agreement with someone not to reveal certain information. They may have acquired something off the record, information they can’t say explicitly but they might hint at in some way,” he says. If people aren’t in the same space on deadline, “there will be less communication and that spells trouble. It spells mistakes. It spells misinterpretations and bad copy.” Maureen Dawson, SONG vice-president and Star Guild unit chair, says changes at the paper are already generating problems, despite claims by the Star’s top brass that the transition would be seamless. The Star recently outsourced its circulation call centre to Halifax and Dawson says there’s been nothing but trouble since. She says it has also moved a piece of that business to India where two managers have had to go help smooth a rocky beginning. Another concern is that the paper’s relationship with the community is on the line. In October, the Star moved its classified call centre – including the hugely profitable death notices section – to Buffalo, where Dawson says mistakes by this outside party have done grievous damage to the Star brand. Bob Hepburn, Toronto Star spokesman and former assistant managing editor, says Dawson’s claims are exaggerated. Any complaints, he says, were “allegations made by a union official.” Dawson disagrees. She says before the call centre was moved, Toronto funeral homes protested, sent letters and even went to see the publisher. Dawson expects the situation will get even worse when the only Star employee, entrusted to vet all text, leaves the Buffalo office at the end of the year. Despite any reported protestations, editorin-chief, Michael Cooke, confirmed the Star’s intent to contract out work in an email sent
out to Star employees on Nov. 23. “At a time of unprecedented business nightmares facing the Star and our industry and despite the many operational challenges associated with outsourcing we believe there are sound business reasons for this proposal,” Cooke wrote. “The business case provides for a reduction in newsroom expenses of more than $4 million annually, after the cost of the outsourced services.” The email also stated the union would have 30 days to propose alternatives to avoid or alter either the contracting-out or the eventual layoffs. Within days, reports began flooding in from several major news outlets and business blogs that said the Star had struck a deal with Pagemasters North America, a Canadian Press-owned copy editing operation. Star publisher Cruickshank has repeatedly denied the company’s commitment to the editing firm, but union reps say they think the deal is done and their right to propose alternatives is not being respected. Dawson says her team is busy working on a proposal that will outline an economical way to minimize job loss and keep work in house, but she’s not sure the Star is willing to actually listen. She also says if the union can prove the Star already had a deal in place while listening to the proposals, it will take legal action. “If they’ve made up their mind and we can prove they’ve made up their mind, then we’ll be taking them to court,” Dawson says. The Sun’s Lapointe understands the tension between the two sides, but the challenge for newsrooms, he says, “is to try to manage a profound transformation both in how technology is having an impact on us and on the business models and on newsgathering,” he says. “It’s going to be necessary to find economical ways to preserve the quality you’ve got and you’re also going to have to find resources with technology in order to make sure that you can develop yourself in new platforms.” In Lapointe’s opinion, outsourcing is a viable option that can minimize a paper’s costs without compromising quality. For Cruickshank, however, it’s not that simple. His responsibility is to create a business plan that will help ensure the future of journalism at the paper, a task that he describes as “very, very difficult,” particularly when it comes at the expense of some of the Star’s valued employees. “There’s a real sense of loss that I think everybody has when colleagues go out the door. You lose a sense of history and you lose a sense of camaraderie,” he says. But the changes, he says are “of enormous importance” and he’s confident the Star’s plan will not only help the paper financially, but dramatically reshape the way journalism is done at the paper today. “If I didn’t have that sense of optimism,” says Cruickshank, “then I wouldn’t think it worthwhile to do any of the things we’ve done.”
A summary of Atkinson’s central principles: A Strong, United and Independent Canada: Atkinson argued for a strong central government and the development of distinctive social, economic and cultural policies appropriate to an independent country. Social Justice: Atkinson was relentless in pressing for social and economic programs to help those less advantaged and showed particular concern for the least advantaged among us. Individual and Civil Liberties: Atkinson always pressed for equal treatment of all citizens under the law, particularly minorities, and was dedicated to the fundamental freedoms of belief, thought, opinion and expression and freedom of the press. Community and Civic Engagement: Atkinson continually advocated the importance of proper city planning, the development of strong communities with their vibrant local fabrics and the active involvement of citizens in civic affairs. The Rights of Working People: The Star was born out of a strike in 1892 and Atkinson was committed to the rights of working people including freedom of association and the safety and dignity of the workplace. The Necessary Role of Government: When Atkinson believed the public need was not met by the private sector and market forces alone, he argued strongly for government intervention. From the Toronto Star training manual
Former Star editor, Joseph E. Atkinson, courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives
MOrals and the media The controversial coverage of Caster Semenya by Elizabeth Zahur
reaking away from the pack in the 800 metre race at the 2009 world track and field championships in Berlin, a rising 18-year-old superstar from South Africa, Caster Semenya, glances back before coasting to an easy victory. The win grabs attention. But not as much as her muscular physique. When eyebrows were raised about her gender before that competition, she was ordered by the International Association of Athletics Federation to take tests. She was sent to Germany to compete in the world championships without knowing the results. Australian reporter Mike Hurst, however, did. He discovered the alleged results of the test from an unnamed source and chose to go public. “South African runner Semenya is a hermaphrodite.” And the world followed. Variations of this headline were splashed across newspapers, websites and televisions around the globe in early September. The coverage of Semenya’s case provoked a number of questions about ethics and privacy among the public and journalists alike. Some called it a gross invasion of privacy, while others argued Hurst had a duty to report and the public, a right to know. Hurst, a sports reporter for the Sydneybased Daily Telegraph, admits to feeling bad for the global embarrassment and scrutiny his story provoked for the vulnerable youngster. But exposing her sexuality was not the primary reason he broke the story, he says. “I tried to look beyond the screaming headlines and I tried to think about the actual ramifications for women’s sport if this coverup was allowed to be sustained,” Hurst told Convergence. “If you allow intersexes to dominate women’s athletics in any sport, that’s the end of women’s athletics.” Though Hurst believes Semenya must have been aware of the controversy surrounding her, he says it was individuals in Athletics South Africa who attempted to deceive the world and wrongly thrust Semenya into the global spotlight – despite mounting concerns and advice against it – all for a gold medal. “When you hear things that make you suspicious it hardens you and you think, ‘do we allow this problem to persist or do we shine a big spotlight on what’s going on down there in South Africa and see where the cockroaches run?’” Hurst broke the story based on information from an unnamed source. Canadian ethicist Nick Russell, a former reporter-turnededucator, has problems with unidentified
Semenya attends a press conference.
sources. The Australian probably should have sat on the story until there was a response from the IAAF, he says. Hurst agrees that comment from the IAAF would have been preferable, but asserts they were unwilling to talk. He trusted his source and felt the story had legs. “I’ve known my source for more than 20 years,” he says. “I think that’s the basis for trust and that’s the most important thing. “I’m sure if I hadn’t written it, my source would have gone elsewhere and it would have popped up in a London paper or a South African paper or an American paper,” he adds. However, Russell says it’s not uncommon for news organizations to push stories to press, sometimes without all of the requisite
sources and facts. “I think people tend to jump the gun. They think they need to rush the story when there is no real need to rush,” he says. Stephen Stockwell, associate professor of journalism at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, says the push to get a story out is part of a toxic environment found in many newsrooms. “When you go in the newsroom as a young person, one of the first things other journalists will often tell you – even your chief of staff – is ‘don’t be too worried about the ethical sensitivities of things. The important thing is that we get the story first’,” Stockwell says. Sometimes, such as in Semenya’s case, all it takes is one large news organization to run a story before the rest of the world CONVERGENCE
follows, Stockwell says. In this case, the single unnamed source got it right. But at the time, the only people who had any cause to feel comfortable with the conclusion were Hurst and his editors. CBC sports ran a version of the Hurst article on its website on the same day the Daily Telegraph ran the story. Keay says the CBC has no qualms making corrections as they come up, but speed is pertinent in the news industry and getting the story out as quickly as possible was the editorial choice that was made. Even Hurst admits to being queasy at first. He says he sat on the story for 48 hours because he had hesitations about running it. He talked it over with his editors and the story was looked over by the newspaper’s lawyers before it was printed. But critics say while the facts were proven correct, little consideration was given to the effect that the revelation would have on a young peson who, then and now, was widely regarded as an innocent bystander. Paul Schabas, president of the Canadian Media Lawyers Association, says this was a story that had to be told. “It’s hard to say there’s a privacy issue
because it was very public that questions were being raised and tests were being done, so ultimately, it’s a matter of public interest what her status was,” says Schabas, who is also a partner at Toronto law firm, Blake, Cassels & Graydon. “The problem that I would see for the media potentially in publishing this is that she might argue that it’s defamatory for her for it to be suggested that she hasn’t been competing legitimately,” he adds. “Or there’s an argument that it’s just not a nice thing to say about somebody, but I don’t know about that.” The ethical questions surrounding the right to privacy continue to swirl around the publication of Semenya’s test results (before she had them herself), in the same way that water cooler groups still debate the infamous “falling man” image, published after the 9-11 attacks. Critics charged that running the image of the victim plunging to his death from the burning World Trade Centre, stripped the man of his final dignity. Many media outlets responded to the initial public outcry by promptly removing the image. But Russell, while worried about the initial acceptance of a mystery source, says
Semenya chose to become a public figure and is therefore subject to public discussion. “You can’t really say, ‘Oh wait, I’m a private person. You can’t delve into anything other than what I do out there on the field’,” he says. “We lose privacy by putting ourselves out in the spotlight that way, just as politicians do, just as performers do. Because she is competing in a public place with others, it is not illegitimate to question whether that is a fair competition.” Keay agrees, adding, “Once a story is out there the confidentiality and the privacy issues are kind of moot at that point because if the story is getting wide coverage all over the world, it becomes a legitimate news story for our purposes.” From Australia, Stockwell says public discussion over controversial publications is healthy for the media. “I think it’s good and important when there’s controversial images and stories like that that we have an argument over it,” he says. “That’s how we actually work out what’s right and wrong . . . sometimes you have to actually cross that moral line to see what the community does really think.”
Semenya’s storied victory at the world championships in Berlin.
kama 2010 at the Park Hyatt Toronto
Margaret Atwood Graeme Gibson Bonnie Burnard Michael Winter Lauren Kirshner Lyman MacInnis Rashi Khilnani Wayne Grady
Peter Mansbridge Eleanor Wachtel Anthony De Sa Joy Fielding Marjorie Harris Jonathan Vance H Nigel Thomas Christopher Dewdney Sarah Elton
5 evenings of readings, conversation and book signings Complimentary cocktails and hors dâ€™oeuvres A charitable tax receipt for $125
Enemies of the press 2009 Columbia
In early 2009, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia declared Columbian media a â€œmilitary target,â€? and threatened journalists who provide critical coverage of the group. Herbin Hoyos Medina, director and host of the radio show Voces del Sesuestro (Voices of the Kidnapped) fled the country on Oct. 12. This is the seventh time Hoyos Medina has left the country after receiving death threats.
The Burmese government suppresses and detains bloggers and Internet reporters through censorship, tight monitoring and brutal punishment. Twenty-four-year-old blogger, Win Zaw Naing, was arrested in October and now faces as many as 15 years in jail for posting reports and photos of the 2007 anti-government protests known as the Saffron Revolution.
On Nov. 23, 57 people were dragged off a political campaign bus by armed men and murdered on the island of Mindanao. It has been reported that at least 30 of those killed were journalists covering the campaign of Ismael Mangudadatu, local vice mayor, who had announced he was running for governor of the province of Maguindanao.
China has long been notorious for its restriction of information, a practice that intensified during this year’s National Day celebrations. Reports of increased Internet content monitoring, website closures and the blocking of social networking sites are widespread, as local journalists are under extreme pressure to cover only positive stories. With nearly 40,000 employees of the state monitoring Internet files, the nation remains one of the biggest suppressors of free speech.
On Nov. 2, Jose Bladimir Antuna García, a reporter for El Tiempo de Durango was murdered. Antuna was known for his bold crime reporting and his criticism of police corruption and organized crime. Antuna’s death appears to be a direct result of his reporting. A note was found beside his body that read: “This happened to me for giving information to soldiers and for writing too much.”
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has earned its name by being one of the only independent news sources in Russia, and has gained international attention for having five of its journalists murdered. Natalya Estemirova was the most recent victim, when she was shot to death in July. Estemirova, who reported on human rights violations in Chechnya, had been writing under a pseudonym after receiving threats from Chechen authorities.
At least three journalists were killed in a Dec. 3 suicide bombing at a Benadir University graduation ceremony which took the lives of at least 22 people. Hassan Zubeyr of Al-Arabiya television network, Mohamed Amin, reporter for Radio Shabelle and Yasir Mairo, a freelance journalist, died in the blast, while six other journalists were injured. Amin is the fourth Radio Shabelle journalist killed this year.
Since the presidential elections on June 12, Iranian authorities have censored the media, closed media outlets, blocked websites and arrested at least 70 journalists in an effort to stifle critical reporting. At least 25 journalists remain in prison today and the country lost three reformist newspapers when Iran’s Association for the Supervision of Publications revoked their licenses in early October.
Sources: Committee to Protect Journalists Reporters Without Borders International Freedom of Expression Exchange
Illustration by Graeme Steel
russian roulette In a country plagued with corruption, Novaya Gazeta’s courageous journalists gamble their lives in pursuit of the truth by Joana Draghici
mitry Muratov is almost archetypically Muscovite, a little larger than life, a tad overheated, marginally tipsy and majorly uncomfortable tethered to a translator in the company of admiring strangers. He keeps it brief. Rumbling in his native tongue to about 400 Canadian journalists gathered in Toronto to honour his Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Muratov’s bear-like presence dominates the stage. Your average Russian hero. Except the crusading newspaper ’s editor-in-chief, doesn’t really see it that way.
“I don’t want to talk about the award,” he says in a telephone interview with Convergence before leaving for Canada, where Novaya Gazeta was to receive the International Press Freedom Award from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. The award recognizes journalists in the field who display courage under difficult or dangerous circumstances. Something to which Muratov is no stranger. “What I want to talk about is the murder of our journalists,” he explains through an interpreter over the scratchy phone line from Moscow. “I have been feeling numb about it for a long time.”
In total five journalists from Novaya Gazeta have been murdered since 2000. In Russia “an issue since the early 90s has been that journalists who uncover embarrassing things about prominent people, not even necessarily powerful politicians, but powerful people in business have been killed,” says Matthew Light, an assistant professor of law enforcement at the University of Toronto. Novaya Gazeta is known for taking on government corruption, reporting on human rights abuses in Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus, and the work of the FSB, Russia’s post-KGB secret service.
Novaya Gazeta’s reporters gather in the Moscow newsroom. On opposite page, Dmitry Muratov holds the International Press Freedom Award he accepted on behalf of his newspaper at the Dec. 9 awards ceremony in Toronto.
“Russia is still more open than it was during the Soviet Union; the state does not necessarily engage in censorship,” says Light, whose studies focus on corruption in Russia. Rather than total state control, there is partial state control through implicit threats, Light explains. “Novaya Gazeta walks a fine line,” he says. The privately-owned newspaper was founded in 1993 by journalists who formerly worked for the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. The paper’s working journalists own 51 per cent of its shares and the remaining shares are split between wealthy businessman Alexander Lebedev at 39 per cent and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev at 10 per cent. Gorbachev used part of his Nobel Peace prize money to help the paper get its start. Survival was never guaranteed and Muratov – the reluctant hero – admits to coming close to pulling the plug after the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. “After Anna Politkovskaya was killed I thought there was no future for the paper, but the 150 other journalists at the paper didn’t agree with this decision. They decided to continue writing about such confidential issues,” he says. The price was two more lives: Anastasiya Baburova, 25, in January, and Natalya Estemirova, 50, in July. Light says this does not mean Russian Prime Minister and chief-puller-of-strings Vladimir Putin is ordering journalists to be killed. He says the problem is lawlessness and impunity that comes from the mutual involvement of the official and criminal world. Light says the important question is: “What does the government need from the media?” “There is a space in Putin’s Russia for a small independent press, not the News Hour
on the main television station that everyone watches at dinner time, but to expose a certain type of corruption,” says Light. In his new book, Murder Without Borders, investigative reporter Terry Gould writes that 80 per cent of Russia’s population gets its news from state controlled television. “The rise to power is always accompanied with the return of favours, but there’s a twist here, because in nations that run according to the principle of organized crime [such as Russia] these favours are returned in the currency of impunity,” Gould says in an interview. What holds the structure together in Russia is the system of “ krysha,” translated as having a “roof,” he adds. “Krysha is essentially a metaphor for protection, influence and impunity.” This code of exchange of favours explains why, “Russia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists because reporters understand that if they expose the excesses of krysha they are going to be murdered with impunity by the people who possess that krysha,” says Gould. It is against this mafia-like backdrop, and the concomitant death threats, that the editorial staff members of Novaya Gazeta continue to go about their craft. Instead of being cowed, the newspaper has stepped up the tempo this year, increasing production from two to three issues a week. Circulation now runs between a quarter to half a million, says Muratov. Novaya Gazeta launched its website in 1996, resulting in increased readership worldwide. Millions now read it, said Muratov during a talk to Toronto Star interns and reporters. “The Internet has played a huge role. It is true there is no freedom of speech in Russia when it comes to electronic media, state media. But there is freedom to get the informa-
tion that you need through the Internet,” Muratov told reporter Carol Off in an interview aired on CBC’s As it Happens on the night before the award. Measures have been taken to ensure the safety for both journalists and their sources. Many have started publishing under pseudonyms or with no bylines at all. Muratov says in stories that expose corruption, sources are never identified by Novaya Gazeta. Minority shareholder Lebedev has even asked the government to allow some of the journalists to carry guns. In only one of the Novaya Gazeta murders – that of Igor Dominikov, who was bludgeoned outside his apartment in 2000 – has the killer been convicted. “All they found supposedly was the actual killer, the person who pulled the trigger, but the people who ordered it have not been uncovered,” Muratov told Off on As It Happens. “I think the reason is because they are highlyplaced officials.” Why continue in the face of such an implacable danger? “No one will ever be able to talk us out of writing something,” Muratov told Covergence. “I like Louis Armstrong’s music. Once when he explained playing his instrument he said, ‘you just have to close your eyes and play.’ That’s what we do, close our eyes and play.” In the meantime, there’s no shortage of courageous trumpet players. “We hire a lot of young people who would like to change something in the country,” says Muratov, explaining that every year the paper is flooded with journalism students applying to work for the Novaya Gazeta. “I tell them, ‘you will be famous. But I can’t promise you that you will be alive’.” CONVERGENCE
Ratings on the roam by Tanisha Du Verney Canadians sporting the Portable People Meter may soon be listening in on what you are listening to. That’s the theory behind the pagersized device used to measure radio audiences and commercial radio ratings. Worn by randomly selected participants, the device detects which radio stations they are exposed to throughout the day. Arbitron, a United States media research company, developed PPM technology in 1992. It is designed to measure multiple types of media using an encoding and decoding system. The PPM automatically detects inaudible codes that have been embedded in the audio portion of broadcast programming. Each broadcast outlet has its own identification code. The Canadian Bureau of Broadcast Measurement, which provides radio and television ratings for Canada, purchased the technology in 2004. Initially, BBM used the device in Quebec for television and extended the use of the technology to measure radio ratings in Montreal in 2008, says Jim MacLeod, president of BBM. In September, it began using PPM to measure radio ratings nationally as well as regionally in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal. It is
being carried daily by about 9,000 people in Canada. “Virtually all radio stations are using PPM; every radio station in Canada is encoded,” says MacLeod. Before this technology, broadcast outlets used a diary system to measure ratings, relying on people to record accurately what they listened to that week. MacLeod says the PPM technology is perceived to be more precise, measuring a person’s consumption with to-the-minute accuracy. The new system also gives radio stations more data. PPM measures audiences 52 weeks a year compared to eightweek paper diaries. “It wasn’t that the diary was false,“says Kathy Biegel, research director for Hot 97, a New York-based radio station using PPM measurements. “But the human mind can only remember so many things and the passionate things are more top of mind.” MacLeod anticipates PPM will show people tune in to about twice as many stations as reported in the diary method and they listen to those stations for about half as long as they claim. According to Biegel, data has shown more listeners tune in for a shorter duration than reported in the past.
PPMs are being used in 33 U.S. markets and Arbitron plans to boost that number to 50 by the end of 2010. “We ask folks to carry it from rise to retire,” says Jessica Benbow, Arbitron’s media relations manager. “This allows us to track media exposure throughout the day.” “Panellists carry the meters and at the end of the day the meter is docked at the bedside table where it sends the data back to Arbitron,” says Benbow. “There are many radio stations who are finding their programming has improved since they began using PPM data.” MacLeod agrees. “Radio stations can respond much more quickly to the needs of the listeners; they will know almost immediately whether any changes they have made in music or announcers are finding favour with the audience.” Hot 97’s Biegel says PPM is pretty much on the money when it comes to accuracy, but it does not necessarily reflect individual taste in music since there are situations when a listener is not in complete control of incoming material. “PPM records everything; if it is close enough to hear it, PPM records it,” says Biegel.
citizens step up by Kaveh Khazra
After a controversial presidential election, Iranians took to the streets in protest. When the regime cracked down on the media, the countryâ€™s citizens rose to the challenge, channeling news of the events to the Western world. 36
t was the shot seen around the world. Muffled by startled and outraged voices, a young woman gently collapses in her own blood on the streets of Tehran. Two men soften her fall; one covers the wound and the other mutters words of comfort. Voices become louder as blood pours out of her eyes, mouth and nose. “Don’t be afraid, Neda dear. Don’t be afraid,” says an older man later identified as her music teacher. The cameraman jostles around her while recording her final breath, making sure her face is visible. Her death gave birth to a digital martyr, galvanizing the protests and feeding the media frenzy. Within hours, the video is posted on YouTube with the following comment, which has been reproduced verbatim: Basij shots to death a young woman June 20th: June 20, 2009 At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight (at) her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The protests were sparked by allegations that the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Iranian elite had rigged the June 12 presidential election. All the digital delicacies that followed those protests – including the graphic murder of Neda Agha-Soltan – were spit out by news outlets around the world. As the unrest escalated, Iran’s authoritarian theocracy tried to silence the press, hoping that it wouldn’t add fuel to the fire. It didn’t work. The action on the ground was filtered into the homes of billions through social media networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter; not because it was fast or easy, but because it was the only way to get it out. In Toronto, CBC senior producer David Millan says he saw the footage of AghaSoltan’s death near the end of one of his shifts. He says the YouTube footage had to be reviewed by senior management before CBC ran the story since it was hard to verify the video’s content and the credibility of the sources. “We really had no way of confirming what we were seeing. We couldn’t even know for sure that they were from Iran, never mind be sure who the person was and what the circumstances were. So we had to get more information on that before we could run the pictures,” says Millan. That didn’t stop other networks from
A still image of the YouTube video of Neda Agha-Soltan’s death is put on a placard during protests in Oslo, Norway. On opposite page, Iranians rally in support of the opposition movement during June protests in Tehran.
running the images. CNN.com ran a pixelated version of the video and an article that sourced Twitter feeds from around the world. Shrine-like statues of the dead protestor were bronzed, while Jon Bon Jovi and Iranian-born singer Andy Madadian sang Stand By Me in solidarity with Iranian protesters. Doug Saunders, chief of The Globe and Mail’s London-based European Bureau, calls the 40-second clip “the Rodney King video of the Eastern world,” which he says has “changed the way relations between citizens and police occurred in the Middle East and to some extent throughout the western world because it became possible for a citizen to capture video.” Saunders, who last visited Iran in 2007, reporting from the city of Qom among others, compares the news gathering tactics from the
recent unrest in Iran to the ’79 Iranian revolution. He says that information from the “predigital age moved a lot faster than we think it did . . . inter-human networks were highly developed.” But Saunders argues that Iran’s increasing restrictions on foreign press reporting have affected how mainstream media gathers its news in that country. “Canadian reporters have been banned [from Iran] for quite some time – six years officially. They let some of us in for the election this year but generally speaking, since the killing of [Iranian-Canadian journalist in July of 2003] Zahra Kazemi in Evin prison, Canadians have not been allowed in. So that makes a difference because you have to source it from somewhere else,” says Saunders. Saunders says it’s not new for journalists to use citizens as a means of gathering inforCONVERGENCE
mation. “These are techniques that journalists have been using all along, which is getting ordinary people on the street to assemble what was then videotape and is now SMS [Short Message Service] messages,” he says. The person who filmed Neda’s death and posted it on YouTube has not been identified, but in a PBS Frontline report called A Death in Tehran produced by Monica Garnsby, every other character in the video has been named, including the two men by her side – her music teacher and a doctor – and the alleged killer. Once the BBC confirmed the information through a source, CBC linked the YouTube stream to a June 22 article on cbc.ca. CBC spokesperson Jeff Keay says Newsworld followed its usual journalistic standards when choosing whether to run controversial images or videos and that decision was based on more than just verification. On one level the murder, and the problems surrounding the authentication of facts, is an all too familiar refrain in the coverage of breaking news in hard-to-cover troublespots. What was different was the questions it posed about the role of amateurs as journalists and social networks as news outlets, and how these should function alongside professionals. Nikahang Kowsar, an Iranian cartoonist, journalist and blogger living in Canada, says citizen journalists are here to stay. He created “Professor Crocodile,” a cartoon which depicts Ayatolla Mohammed Taqi MesbahYazdi – a hard-line Iranian cleric who has been known to oppose democratic rule – as shedding crocodile tears while strangling a journalist. The cartoon landed Kowsar a six-day sentence in Sector 209 of Evin prison, which,
according to Kowsar, is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. “We want to create a medium for people to be able to say what they want to say,” Kowsar told Convergence. “Citizen journalists can work in a place where professional journalists can’t report anything.” Kowsar has just launched a website that will help other citizen journalists in Iran share their stories with the world. He says he and his unnamed partners in Toronto and Washington plan to use their Iranian contacts to help citizen journalists in Iran, following the pattern set by the Tehran Bureau, a virtual bureau in an editorial partnership with PBS. “The platform is for people to post whatever they want and we will act as the monitors,” Kowsar says. The organization will rely on contacts built over 19 years to double check posted material, he says. In 2006, Digital Journal, a Toronto-based online news website, began to transform into a participatory news website that pays citizens to report. Managing editor David Silverberg says that while there is no objectivity in either mainstream media or citizen journalism, the latter is gaining trust throughout the world. “It’s definitely grown in leaps and bounds. As media conglomerates have more of a stranglehold, the audience wants to take part in the news gathering process. They want their voices heard, saying: ‘This is my story that I want to be known. Let me know if you’re interested’,” says Silverberg. Silverberg and Saunders agree credibility is the main issue surrounding citizen journalism. They both say there is a risk in publishing news from anonymous or unnamed sources.
“There’s another thing you can do and that some people have done in the West which is to try to . . . crowdsource things, which is to [cover] what is coming off of social media,“ Saunders says. “It’s very, very risky to do because a lot of that is rumour . . . But to say that ‘this occurred at this time and this place because I saw a tweet about it,’ you have to be careful of that. Half of the time those things turn out not to be true at all.” Silverberg says Digital Journal has an instructional aspect where participants can learn reporting skills through live blog workshops that teach profile-writing, ethical reporting and interviewing. “We call each source that the person lists and we verify that the person said this. We want to add that layer of fact checking,” he says. Last November, YouTube launched YouTube Direct, a platform where citizens and the mainstream media can share footage. Both CNN and YouTube claim their platforms go through a layer of authentication. But media organizations interested in broadcasting the reports must then filter them to their editorial standards. Millan understood this immediately when Neda’s 40-second death crossed his desk. “We aren’t always going to be there but will have access to it through the new media, through the Internet, through what people are posting,” Millan says. “And tough decisions have to be made about what we accept, what we put on air and what we won’t and how we are going to sort through this stuff. The verdict right now? It’s a work in progress.”
Iranian cartoonist, Nikahang Kowsar published this image on his blog on June 22, only ten days after the disputed presidential election. The image draws a comparison between the Iranian protests and the famously photographed Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
fighting for freedom by David White
t was midnight on June 20, 2009 when six men arrived at the home of Jila Baniyaghoub and her husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amouie. No identification was shown as the men entered the house; a warrant was presented, but the intruders refused to allow a close examination. For two and a half hours the uninvited men remained. The husband and wife were questioned about their activities. Rooms were searched, notebooks were read, CDs and photo albums were confiscated. In the end the couple was taken, placed in separate cars, and driven to the infamous Evin Prison. Ward number 29. Tehran. It is a familiar story for many journalists working in Iran. Following the disputed presidential election last June, a crackdown was implemented against journalists who attempted to cover the resulting protests.
Dozens of reporters were arrested and held without charge. Some, including Baniyaghoub, were eventually released. Her husband was not so lucky. “The Islamic republic does not tolerate independent journalists or journalists who want to investigate and tell the truth,” explains Morteza Abdolalian, an Iranian blogger and activist now living in Ontario. “But it’s not only the [lack of] tolerance; it’s also the misconception about the journalist community that grew between the government and journalists. The government has always thought that journalists are activists, thinking ‘how can we overthrow the government?’” This attitude, he says, has led Iran to become one of the most difficult places in the world to be a journalist. “The situation is dreadful,” says Arnold Amber, president of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression board of directors. “After
the demonstrations because of the election results, scores and scores of journalists were put in prison.” Despite these inherent dangers, Baniyaghoub has continued to work for change in Iran. “She was one of those reporters who didn’t care how she looked, but she cared for what she was going to give to her audience,” says Nikahang Kowsar, an Iranian cartoonist and former colleague of Baniyaghoub. “She was a very serious reporter. I came to know her better from her work rather than her own self.” While Baniyaghoub’s work has made her a target of the state in Iran, the situation is very different in the West. Her commitment to human rights and free speech has not only earned her the respect of fellow journalists, but also numerous awards from organizations in Europe and North America, the latest being CONVERGENCE
“In Iran we have a saying; things get better, but it takes a hundred years.” Nikahang Kowsar an International Press Freedom Award from the CJFE. “I personally had strong feelings that Jila is a person who really deserves this award,” says Abdolalian, who is also a member of the CJFE’s board of directors. “I know Jila as a brave woman. I’ve followed her work for many years. She is a true journalist.” Kowsar, who accepted the CJFE award on Baniyaghoub’s behalf, recalls how marriage to Ahmadi Amouie affected Baniyaghoub’s work. “They became a very powerful team, following up different issues, especially women’s issues,” he says. “We used to call him the only male feminist in the newsroom.”
oth Baniyaghoub and her husband are among a growing class of reporters in Iran who are willing to challenge the government line. “Independent journalism is growing in my country,” says Abdolalian. “Human rights
journalism is growing. There is no class, there is no workshop, but it’s growing.” Inevitably, the trend has prompted a fierce backlash from the Iranian government. “We hoped that after the June elections, things would change,” says Kowsar. “But now, anybody who tries to make a change is in trouble, because [President] Ahmadinejad’s government does not accept any opinion that is not [on] the same frequency as their own. In the past, they could say what they wanted to say, but now things have gotten worse.” Amber agrees that Iran is becoming an increasingly hostile environment for journalists. “Every year papers are smashed out, reporters are thrown in prison,” he says. “The situation is beyond belief and it continually goes on.” For Kowsar, optimism is the only longterm option. “In Iran we have a saying; things get better, but it takes a hundred years,” he says. “I’m
not very optimistic about seeing changes in the near future, but I’m hopeful that in a few years something might happen.” For Baniyaghoub, the danger continues. “For Jila, it’s still very dangerous,” says Abdolalian. “She’s an outspoken person, she writes continuously. In her latest letter, she wrote to her husband in a very political, dramatic way, filled with passion.” The letter, published on her website, illustrates the level of commitment Baniyaghoub has for the causes she supports; “Bahman! Why did the interrogator let me go, but not you?” she writes in her native Farsi. “What mistake did I make, that the interrogator let me go sooner? These days I envy you. You must have been stronger. You must have made fewer mistakes.” For Abdolalian, it is words like these that truly illustrate the character of both Baniyaghoub and her husband. “They are not only journalists,” he says. “They put their life on their profession.”
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a war of words by Juan Antonio Sison
ournalists, counterterrorism experts and lawyers joined forces in Vienna, Austria last fall to create the Vienna Declaration on Terrorism, Media and the Law, the most significant outcome of the War on Words Conference. The two-day event, hosted by the International Press Institute, aimed to renew efforts to bring freedom of expression to all corners of the world and included talks on press freedom, editorial independence and the right to report on human rights violations. The Vienna Declaration, which was released on Nov. 30 and endorsed by 32 mem-
bers of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, addresses why protecting the rights of journalists is so essential. “Journalists reporting on terrorism sometimes risk being attacked, taken hostage, or even killed. To respond to terror by unduly restricting rights, including the right to freedom of expression, would be to play into the hands of terrorists,” states the declaration’s preamble. “We believe that effective security and respect for freedom of expression are not incompatible but, rather, complementary. Indeed, it is our view that the free flow of in-
IPI / Anna Blau
formation and ideas is an important antidote to terrorist ideologies and that a free media is indispensable to achieving this.” IPI Director, David Dadge says the creation of the Vienna Declaration has given the Western world a forum for discussing freedom of expression. The declaration recognizes that the free media is indespensible to the free, unobstructed flow of information, something that Dadge says is an effective counterfoil to terrorism. “The idea is to take the documents to governments and particularly the European Union and perhaps the U.S. government and have this discussion and get them to enforce freedom of expression within functioning democracies,” he says. Joseph Steinfield, a Boston-based lawyer who specializes in U.S. First Amendment law, says the conference addressed the fact that there is a “yearning in the world for freedom of expression. I have no doubt about that. I am only reaffirmed in that belief by what I heard and saw there.” Steinfield says the organizers did not want a biased or narrow perspective on that issue. “It is always useful if you bring in different viewpoints to talk about a subject such as freedom of the press. When you have people from Al-Jazeera, the Associated Press and the BBC all sitting around the room together, from far-flung places, I think what they discover is they have more in common than they have differences,” he says. Dadge says the idea for the conference was raised after the 9-11 attacks, but the IPI decided to wait until the subject could be broached with sober second thought and an analytical eye. “You need some time to settle back, to look back and to bring the experts together to have the debates more dispassionately,” says Dadge. “I don’t think the period after Sept. 11 was probably the appropriate time for this debate.” Joanne Mariner, director of the terrorism and counterterrorism program for New Yorkbased Human Rights Watch agrees. “I think this is a good time to take stock of where we are. It’s something of a transitional moment. The Bush administration has left office. The international context is changing. It may be an opportune moment to improve the media’s coverage of these issues and the situations of journalists,” she says.
Boston-based lawyer Joseph Steinfield speaks at the War on Words Conference.
crisis control by Katelyn McCallion
The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz
Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, attends a media briefing.
olf Superstar Tiger Woods, made headlines across the world when an early morning car crash led to rumours of an extramarital affair or two. Woods admitted his guilt only after an incriminating voicemail he left for one woman was made public. Bad move, says Ed Wright. The public relations veteran and head of the media studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber, says time is the enemy when it comes to putting the best face on a public blunder. “It took him far too long to acknowledge it.” Faced with a similar high-stakes situation,
Late Show host David Letterman pre-empted public approbrium when he went on national television and ‘fessed up to affairs with female staffers. Within a matter of days the incident blew over. “It was a very bold move and the reason we’re still talking about it now is that it was so unusual,” says Wright. Effective crisis management is partly timing, partly accepting responsibility and partly moving forward quickly with a plan to limit damage. Dr. Terry Flynn, director of the masters of communication management program at McMaster University’s Degroote School of Busi-
ness, studied one of the more familiar cases of crisis management handled properly; the Maple Leaf Foods listeria outbreak. In 2008, Maple Leaf Foods was at the center of a massive recall after listeria bacteria was found in some of its meat products. President and CEO of the company, Michael McCain, promptly sent out a public service announcement apologizing and taking full responsibility for the incident. The outbreak was linked to the deaths of 22 people and caused severe illness for many others. Flynn did an eight-month case study on how Maple Leaf handled the listeria outbreak and interviewed 7,700 people.
“The Maple Leaf case clearly indicates that effective communication in public relations, at the immediate start of it, minimizes the reputation lost and, in their case, rebuilds the reputation lost,” says Flynn, who is also the president of the Canadian Public Relations Society. Wright adds that an important aspect of the Maple Leaf case was that information was not withheld. “You need to (be seen to) represent the public’s interest,” he says.
ormer Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant was also thrust into the spotlight recently after a collision between Bryant’s car and 33-year-old cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard. Sheppard died in the accident and Bryant was charged with criminal negligence causing death. Sheppard’s death sparked an outcry from the public and before Bryant had even left police custody, he had hired Toronto-based crisis management firm Navigator Ltd. to stickhandle the media faceoff. Experts agree he did the right thing. “I think it was a smart move. I think it was a responsible move and pertinent on his part and those who don’t like it are looking at it through a political lens rather than a reputation lens,” says Flynn. Jaime Watt, senior partner and chair of Navigator Ltd., was hired to represent Bryant with Robin Sears, another senior partner from the firm. While Watt was not able to comment on Bryant’s case specifically, he stressed that situations like this are complicated. “It’s really understanding the client’s situation and understanding what the client needs,” says Watt. “You don’t have to be aggressive, but you’re always looking for an opportunity to help.” Some clients are not eager to follow the advice of their hired representatives. Watt says Navigator recognizes every client has different needs and tactics in mind. His job is to try to accommodate those as best he can. “We give our best advice and are respectful of what the client wants,” he says. “We recognize the client is under pressure – that makes things difficult.” Flynn says Bryant’s high profile is responsible for the intense media attention his case attracted. “Because of his stature and his role as a former attorney general and because of the severity of the incident, he not only had a proper right to legal representation but also to communication representation,” says Flynn. Wright agrees that people in the public eye will worry about how they are perceived. Those at the centre of a scandal can find both their career and personal life being disrupted, says Wright. He says often they’re not in the right frame of mind to represent themselves. Degroote’s Dr. Flynn says a company that was ill-prepared to cope with a crisis was Streetsville, Ont.-based Menu Foods Income Fund, a pet food manufacturer.
In March 2007, Menu Foods issued a recall after melamine was found in some of the pet foods distributed by the company. The first complaint came in December 2006, but the tainted food had already caused illness and even death, in thousands of cats and dogs. According to a press release on the manufacturer’s website, more than 100 class action lawsuits have been filed since. Flynn says the company didn’t immediately recognize the need to make a public statement, since the pet food was being sold through other vendors. But when news of the contamination reached the public, Menu Foods was thrust into the spotlight and the company was ill-prepared to cope with the
backlash. “They didn’t cause it themselves, but their process and their vendors caused it,” explains Dr. Flynn. “They were a third party manufacturer of pet food so they didn’t have their own brand, they weren’t a marketing organization.” Experts say it’s important for companies and high profile individuals to have a crisis management plan ahead of time. “The best approach is one that is constructive. Some people become defensive and combative; they deny the problem and deflect the responsibility,” says UGH’s Ed Wright. “Admit and acknowledge what has happened and accept the consequences.”
The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese
Michael Bryant is captured on press cameras outside a Toronto police station. CONVERGENCE
Making soundwaves The struggle to create sustainable media in Southern Africa by Alicea Knott
rom his Namibian eyrie, Reagan Malumo is faced with a conundrum. Looking west, he sees South Africa, an economic powerhouse where press freedom is an established part of sophisticated post-apartheid culture. To the north, he looks at a continent that, faced with economic, environmental and political turmoil, increasingly dismisses free expression as a liability and a threat. The question is which value system will survive. For Malumo, working at his desk on a cloudy day in Windhoek, the answer lies in the success of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Radio Free Africa, and a handful of other media rights organizations, supporting the struggle for press freedom in the region. The program officer for media freedom monitoring and research at MISA’s head office, is clear on the problem. Some governments in southern Africa, such as Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland and Zambia, do not recognize the need for the media. “They don’t regard the media as a vehicle for development, or a partner in develop-
ment. They regard the media as a threat,” says Malumo. That’s where organizations such as MISA step in. MISA arose from the 1991 Windhoek Declaration which was the result of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization media seminar entitled, Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press. When MISA was founded in 1992, its mandate was to uphold media diversity, pluralism, self-sufficiency and independence. Not an easy task. “What we are fighting for is for every country to have the laws that allow the media to operate freely,” says Malumo. “In such a way, the media will grow.” The answer, he says, is establishing a strong community media owned, not by individuals, but by the local community and presented in the local language. Malumo says community radio is particularly promising as a vehicle for the development of other independent media in the region. To help raise money for the construction of this bedrock local radio, MISA has teamed up with UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme and other international NGOs committed to free expression. Luckson Chipare, a free expression and
independent media consultant in Namibia, knows the difficulties in creating strategies for media development in Africa. He was the regional director of MISA from 2000 to 2006, and convener of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange – an intelligence network of NGOs monitoring world press freedom – from 2004 to 2006. “It is commonly agreed that media is very important,” he says. Chipare says African countries need public media, free from government interference and corruption. “The media in Africa is lagging behind other continents due to the unfavourable legal and policy environment,” he says. “For example, some of the countries have not liberalized their broadcasting sector, resulting in the state being the only broadcaster. Some have not even opened up to allow community broadcasting, thereby depriving citizens opportunities to engage in communication at a local level.” He says the media is potentially a major player in the bid to improve the lives of Africans. “Better governance will result in better
lives,” he says. “Newspapers play a great role in determining better governance.” While there are new printing presses opening up in southern African nations such as Botswana and Mozambique, Chipare says these may be futile if the population has no chance of accessing the information. Newspapers are usually published in the official language, and many locals are not fully literate in these languages, he says. And while community radio stations can help by providing quality journalism in the local dialects, many are still mouthpieces for the governments that control the message. Language is not the only barrier preventing African citizens from accessing the media. Rampant unemployment in places such as Zimbabwe also hinders media literacy, where the cost of newsprint is just too high. In Zimbabwe, where unemployment is rampant at more than 90 per cent, few can afford to buy newspapers, Chipare says. And even if they could, most of the local media is slavishly state controlled. Chipare says economics and the inability of citizens to access the media is a major impediment for media development in the country. Chipare, a Zimbabwe national, left Harare in 1996 to work for MISA. He says Zimbabwe is one of the worst countries in southern Africa for media development, because of government interference and continuous roadblocks. In 2002, the Zimbabwe government enacted a law, requiring all newspapers to register with the government, to be allowed to publish their content. Chipare says this created dis-
trust between the government and the media, which is still present. “Governments have no rights in publishing newspapers,” says Chipare. Dave Goodman, co-founder of Radio Free Africa agrees that the situation in Zimbabwe is one of the worst. “In Zimbabwe, the only daily allowed is a government mouthpiece,” says Goodman. In fact, among African countries Zimbabwe ranks among the lowest on the International Research and Exchanges Board’s media sustainability index, which scores the independence of the media, in categories such as free speech, professional journalism and the plurality of news sources. Radio Free Africa was created in 2008, when Goodman and fellow African intellectual, Dr. George Ayittey wanted to find a way to give a voice back to the African people. Ayittey himself is no newcomer to the scene, as his 2004 book, Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s Future pulls no punches in demanding accountability from the continent’s political masters. With a staff of seven volunteers, Goodman says the New York City-based organization will soon start broadcasting its interviews with African journalists and scholars over the Internet. Much of Radio Free Africa’s programming will include discussions on African media and the restrictions journalists on the continent can face. Goodman says many African governments are corrupt and oppressive, and there are fewer than 10 African countries which tip their hats in the direction of an independent media.
“The only independent media in African countries, according to Freedom House, would be South Africa, Namibia, Mali and Ghana. Another handful are partially free,” says Goodman. “It is a bad situation, getting worse.” Goodman says this need for a free media is part of the development process for Africa. “Media is a central tenet to a free society,” he says. “In general, what’s most important is that there are institutions to protect pluralistic and independent voices from persecution in African countries. If free, there are a number of great programs to amplify and train African reporters.” Goodman says African media organizations such as Netherlands-based Voices of Africa and Belgium-based Radio for PeaceBuilding Africa are just two organizations striving to achieve this goal. They work to develop media programs and train African journalists in countries all across Africa, including Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa. No one is under any illusion that the battle to train the next generation of journalists will be easy. Chipare says many young people – fatigued by years of corrupt media and bad government – have become invested in entertainment, and are less interested in pursuing a career in the media field. The change can only come from policy shifts within the region, says Chipare, and for African governments to finally recognize the importance of a stable media infrastructure for Africa’s growth and development.
Journalists broadcast their message of free speech from community radio stations in rural Zambia. CONVERGENCE
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humber.ca/action STORYTELLING FOR THE DIGITAL AGE.
Docs take off
Courtesy Maxwell Lander
Documentary filmmakers can face a multitude of marketing challenges, but some of the industry’s entrepreneurial auteurs are fighting back Convergence found out how some producers are taking their work to the Web and beyond to appeal to a more diverse, technologically savvy audience by Maggie Cameron
he loud rippling of excited chatter softens and the directors, bands, staff and guests turn to the producer. A cool breeze from the open patio door of the glass enclosed bar weaves through the clusters of people, temporarily relieving the heat in a way that the flow of free beer doesn’t seem to. The City Sonic wrap party is at its peak; the place is full and drink tickets are quickly being exchanged. Robert Lang, City Sonic producer and an internationally-recognized Canadian documentary filmmaker, looks out at the faces that made City Sonic, a multiplatform documentary project, possible. As the world undergoes a digital transformation and the consumption of film shifts from the big screen to the very smallest of screens, Canadian documentary filmmakers such as Lang are taking their projects online, making them increasingly web-based, interactive, mobile and user-generated.
Lang’s innovative City Sonic package does all these things as it showcases 20 musicians in short documentary films. Award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker, Michael Glassbourg, says it’s an interesting time for the documentary film industry, but also a time of uncertainty. Glassbourg’s office is a delicious disaster of eye candy. Asian-inspired art hangs above his desk and on the wall, a giant Audrey Hepburn grins down. He clears a seat on the yellow leather couch and talks about shooting a Bravo series in Vancouver the weekend before. “I think that documentary films are doing better than ever, in terms of audience and in terms of revenue,” he says. Glassbourg says that 10 years ago, the CBC was the primary broadcaster of television documentaries, but now there are a dozen streams that independent producers can go to. He also points out that a decade ago, there
were no theatrical releases of feature documentary films. Now there are plenty. “I actually feel that documentary film – bona fide inquiries into the world around us – is a booming business,” he says. When it comes to multiplatform documentary film projects, Glassbourg can’t say the same. A number of unanswered questions and uncertainties loom above the new frontier. “Nobody has a complete handle on where [documentary film] is going and what to do and how to make money out of it, so everyone acknowledges that it’s really important to create content for various platforms, from regular television to iPhones, iPods, things that have webisodes,” he says. And that’s a good thing. “There is clearly a migration of the Canadian consumer to online video,” says Deborah Drisdell, the National Film Board’s director general of accessibility and digital enterprises. Canada leads the world in Internet penetraCONVERGENCE
An iPhone application developed by City Sonic, a multi-platform documentary film project. On previous page, director Anita Doron captures footage of Great Lake Swimmer’s Tony Dekker for City Sonic.
tion according to U.S. based digital market research company ComScore’s Digital Year In Review which looks at trends in digital marketing, says Drisdell. While some people in the industry see this change as a threat, she says, the NFB, Canada’s public film producer and distributor, sees this digital transformation as a way to reach at least part of its audience directly. Drisdell says that virtually every project that comes in is assessed for multi-platform potential. “A project could come in with the primary platform being an interactive web production and then we would look at it in the reverse and say, ‘Could this eventually become a documentary? Is this something that should have a photo log?’ So no matter what the primary access, we would always ask what are the other platforms, because you need to think of those things from the start,” she says. In January 2009, the NFB began distributing films via an online screening room. Viewers have free access to more than 1,000 documentaries, animations and alternative dramas on the web. “The public response has been phenomenal. We’ve had a great deal of support. There have been over three million screenings of films online this year,” says Drisdell. The NFB also recently launched an iPhone application, which “gives users access to our films on their mobile. They can download the films and watch them throughout the day,” she says. “That’s fine,” says Glassbourg, “except some projects don’t lend themselves to being seen on a one-and-a-quarter inch by oneand-a-quarter inch screen, so the challenge becomes who’s going to buy it, because every project costs money. How’s it going to be distributed? What formats should I be thinking about?” But, says Drisdell, “as people’s consumption is changing, they want to see film but be much less restricted by schedule and more able to find these films online.” Glassbourg points out that it can be diffi-
cult to explore new media platforms and earn a living doing it. “It does not make sense to provide free to iPhone users a great melodrama to watch on their phone if it doesn’t pay the bills,” he says. “That’s what people forget, but the public just goes, ‘why should I pay for that? I’m already paying for my iPhone.’ So the platforms that people are delivering on, it’s very complicated. I don’t think it’s been sorted out very well yet, which is sort of exciting. It’s one of the few frontiers still around.” Adding to the cyber challenge is the lack of a set business model, Drisdell points out. “It’s really an emerging market place. There’s not a sustained business model like there is in broadcast. There is still a lot of trial and error.” City Sonic’s Lang has successfully explored the frontiers. His latest project reaches multiple media platforms. It was created by Lang’s Kensington Communications, in collaboration with White Pine Pictures. Lang wanted to create a self-sustaining project that stemmed from his fondness for Toronto’s contemporary indie music. City Sonic features 20 short documentary films about Canadian musicians such as Geddy Lee and Serena Ryder, at venues such as The Dakota Tavern and the Cameron House. “That might be more of a wish that [City Sonic] will become self-sustaining in future iterations both in Toronto and other cities across Canada,”says Lang. The first version of City Sonic was underwritten by many public and private entities such as BellFund and Telus Innovation Fund, and some distribution to broadcasters, airline and cell phone companies, Lang says. The films are all available online and are divided into episodes, packaged in four halfhour segments hosted by music journalist Liisa Ladoucer, for AUX TV. City Sonic videos can be viewed on YouTube and people can follow it on Twitter for updates or join a Facebook group to connect with other viewers. Music by the bands can even be listened to on MySpace.
“People are getting their media content on many non-conventional platforms, not just TV, so we’ve been exploring that,” Lang says. City Sonic can also be accessed on a mobile phone. Users can also download a free iPhone application that gives them access to an interactive map showing the venues where the videos were shot. Using the iPhone’s GPS system, the application tracks where users are. When they come close to the venue or answer a trivia question, extra video content is unlocked. “The iPhone app has just been released, so we don’t know yet what the response is, but I imagine it will be exciting. A GPS guided tour of the indie music scene in Toronto – I don’t think anyone is going to have a problem with that,” Lang says with a chuckle. “And it’s free! That’s the best of it.” Although Lang says he felt no need to make City Sonic a multi-platform experience, he says there was a huge advantage in doing so. “I don’t think you can exist purely on TV without having to be severely restricted in the content you can produce because of the needs and expectations of broadcasters. If you want to get away from the editorial restrictiveness, you need to exist on YouTube or various kinds of social media sites,” says Lang. “Hopefully some of the new digitals that are out there will play a part in that too.” An all-access pass means both less personal responsibility as well as less credibility for documentary films found online, cautions Glassbourg. “No one should ever take the Internet as truth, not that there isn’t truth on the Internet. It does serve, in some ways, a very good function. But you really have to understand the bigger picture,” he says. “We don’t know who has posted a threeminute clip of something or other, but we do know that certain actions and certain events taken out of context can be very misleading,” Glassbourg says. “Or they can be exactly what they are, but we just don’t know. It’s so chaotic on the Net.”
Comic coverage by Claude Saravia Josh Neufeld never expected his Hurricane Katrina heroes to wind up in the graphic novel section of his favourite bookstore, alongside spandex-clad defenders of virtue such as Spiderman, Batman and Wolverine. Nor did he see himself in the vanguard of a movement tasked with bringing the nitty gritty of daily life into a world hitherto associated with make-believe. Comics that were traditionally viewed simply as sources of entertainment are making a move into the realm of journalism. Neufeld, an illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York, turned to graphic novels as a way of telling stories typically reserved for newscasts, magazines and newspapers. His novel, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, follows seven families in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
“I volunteered for the Red Cross after the hurricane,” he says. “I was very moved and upset by . . . the lack of response by my government and the desperate situation people were in. So I signed up as a volunteer and got trained in disaster response and got deployed there.” “I wrote about those experiences in my blog and ended up collecting all of my blog entries into a ‘zine,” he recalls. These he distributed “basically for free to people who also wrote for the blog and I published their comments.” The ‘zine eventually ended up in the hands of Larry Smith, editor of SMITH magazine, an online story-telling site. Smith convinced Neufeld to use his work to inspire a non-fiction graphic novel. “He basically gave me carte blanche to tell
On a routine trip to the comic book store, a young reader stumbles across something astounding. Nestled among the typical fare lies a graphic novel not based in surreality or super-heroics. Our young reader has discovered something uncanny . . .
the story how I wanted to. I came up with the idea of telling the story of Katrina from the perspective of six or seven people who survived it.” Neufeld is not alone in exploring the potential contribution of graphic novels to journalism. “As the definition of journalism expands, so do all the different ways that you can practice it,” says Brooke Gladstone, host and managing editor of On the Media, a radio show and online news site produced by U.S. National Public Radio. “Non-fiction narratives that aren’t memoirs are kind of like journalism,” says Gladstone. “If you are reporting something people don’t know anything about and that falls generally in the news area, people call it journalism.”
Photo illustration by John Nicholson and David White
Gladstone, who is also an award-winning journalist specializing in press trends, recently began to work on her own graphic novel, The Influencing Machine, in collaboration with Neufeld, who will be illustrating the book. It’s scheduled to hit bookstores next fall. Although Gladstone and Neufeld both regard non-fiction graphic novels as a relatively new trend, George Walker, a professor at the Ontario College of Art & Design, argues the phenomenon is not that innovative. Graphic novels have long been telling stories in a journalistic form and it is just now becoming more mainstream. “The history of visual narratives as a way of conducting social commentary against oppressive policies extends back to the early part of the last century and you could make an argument that it goes back even farther,” Walker says. In fact, the trend may even go back as far as the 18th century, he adds. Walker says this phenomenon grew significantly in the early 1900s, with artists such as Frans Masereel, who criticized the First World War through “wordless novels” such as Die Passion Eines Menschen and Mon Livre d’Heures. “There is a long history in the visual arts of social criticism, and the marriage between that and the comic book is what we are seeing,” says Walker. “That is an important development. “The comic book generation has rediscovered this underground way of providing communication to the masses, who otherwise are tired of the dogma they are encountering in other mass-media technologies like television, radio and the Internet.”
Our wide-eyed young reader has discovered a genre unlike anything he’s experienced before . . . news stories delivered through a format he has come to love so dearly.
ut can graphic novels win respect as serious journalism? Scott Chantler, professor at the Max the Mutt Animation School, a Toronto institution with an enrolment of about 150 students, thinks so. “The comic medium,” he says, “is a good medium for telling any type of story or conveying any type of information. It has to do largely with the diversity of material being done in comics today.” Chantler, a graphic novelist himself, is currently working on Two Generals, a graphic novel revolving around his grandfather’s experiences in the Second World War and Three Thieves, a fantasy adventure graphic novel. For Neufeld, though, there are advantages and disadvantages to doing journalism in comic-book form. “It is not something that you can do on a deadline, “ he says. “That’s not really feasible. It is more of a long-form type of journalism, more in the mould of a book that comes out a year after an event happens or even a couple of years.” The advantage, he says, “is that you are able to maybe gain some kind of feeling of intimacy and closeness to the events with the characters.” In A.D., Neufeld tells the story of the deluge through the voices of regular people who were both the victims and the survivors. He
says they were just regular people who wanted the right to live. “I think that it is something that this form really lends itself to,” Neufeld says. “I think there is also an immersive quality to telling a journalistic story this way, where readers really have a sense of being there on the ground and sharing in those experiences rather than sort of seeing it from a distance and a remove, which maybe makes you less able to really connect with those experiences.” Walker agrees that when journalists are constrained to narratives, stories are unnecessarily limited. Pictures and other symbols “offer a deeper analysis and a deeper insight into the human condition.” In Walker’s opinion, people look to graphic novels as ways to gain information they believe is unavailable in other media. “We as a society have lost faith in mass me-
dia,” he asserts. “We have lost faith in television to tell us the truth. We have lost faith in the government to tell us the truth. I would argue that the graphic novel is a generation’s attempt to grasp what truth is through a medium that they know cannot be undermined by those who control the means of production.” In the eyes of those disenchanted with traditional media, “the people who are writing these graphic novels have more integrity than those who claim to represent our interests,” says Walker. “It is like the punk movement of the 1970s. It is a rejection of traditional media,” he adds. “The graphic novel validates a new perspective on our own history . . . Never before in our history have we been inundated with so many visuals and I think that is what informs our language.”
In May 2009, ten students from across the country took part in the inaugural session of Journalism in Conflict Zones, a course designed to train the next generation of military reporters. Convergence went behind the scenes to see how this sort of training can help war correspondents keep their cool
in the hot zone by Teri Pecoskie
Blaise MacMullin CONVERGENCE
“This is the only opportunity for students in Canada to take this kind of course . . . In fact, in all of North America, this is really unique.” Dr. Evelyn Ellerman
he night is as quiet and dark as a windowless room. It’s 3 a.m. and I’m dozing, warm, in my musty green sleeping
bag. A wailing siren breaks the silence. Gunfire. A soldier grabs me by the shoulder as I struggle to disentangle myself from the downfilled sack. “Get your flak jacket on!” he yells. “Where’s your helmet?” I grope for my gear in the darkness, finally locating the cold hard helmet and damp waxy vest. I wipe the dust off my camera lens with my dirty fingers and check my side pocket for a notepad. Another day at school has begun. Last spring, Athabasca University, in cooperation with the Department of National Defence, launched Communications Studies 451: Journalism in Conflict Zones, a six-month course designed to teach journalism students the basics of war reporting and train the military in media relations. In addition to participating in online lectures, blogging and assignments, the 10 students in the inaugural session, five of whom were from Toronto’s Humber College, traveled from all corners of the country to the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright in Alberta to complete the three-week long practical component of the class. “This is the only opportunity for students in Canada to take this kind of course,” says
Dr. Evelyn Ellerman, communications studies co-ordinator at Athabasca University. “In fact, in all of North America, this is really unique.” Administrator of the military side of the practicum, Tom St. Denis says the CMTC has used journalism students in military exercises since May 2006 when the centre began operating. Two years ago, St. Denis contacted Ellerman to see if the university would be interested in helping the military recruit participants. “We went to Athabasca primarily as a single doorway for people to come into the program,” says St. Denis. “At that point, all we offered was a work experience.” Ellerman jumped at the opportunity. “What he needed was to have journalists who would come in and ask really hard-hitting questions, the kind of questions that professionals would ask. So, knowing that we had a national reach at the university and that our demographic was a little different than that of traditional university journalism schools, he asked us to get involved.” It took Ellerman a year to establish contact and another six weeks to develop a course curriculum and cut through the red tape. Last May, after a quick online meet and greet, the first group of students and two professional mentors were on their way to Wainwright. After a week spent studying military terminology, structure and procedure, the students were sent into the field to cover exercise Maple Guardian as embedded journalists with the Canadian troops or as members of the international or Afghan media. “The reason we set it up this way is that
when there is an incident, the only reporters the army controls to any extent are the Canadians, the embedded journalists. They have no control over the Afghan or the international media and it’s something soldiers have to learn to deal with,” says St. Denis. “We want the soldiers to see that their mission and their actions are being interpreted by people other than fellow Canadians. They’re being interpreted by the local people who have a different perspective on what they’re doing.” In harsh conditions and with little sleep, the students conducted interviews, shot and edited video, penned stories and snapped photographs in order to produce a daily newscast and newsletter. Each morning, the material was distributed to the military training audience, so they could see first hand how soldiers were interacting with the media. Overall, the experience is quite realistic for both the students and the military, says Mike Vernon, one of the course mentors who has years of experience covering foreign conflicts in places as far away as Croatia and Afghanistan. “Sometimes we push it a little more than we would overseas,” says Vernon, who is also Commanding Officer of the Calgary Highlanders reserve unit. “Part of that is to make it a good experience for the students and part of that is to make it interesting for the soldiers, so that they get the range of encounters with the media. If all they get is compliant media who do exactly as they’re told, then they don’t get to practice the appropriate response when someone steps out of line.”
A Canadian soldier watched a light armoured vehicle pass by during exercise Maple Guardian. On previous page, Greg Sawisky, a student in the Journalism in Conflict Zones course, captures footage for a news broadcast.
Canadian Forces troops taking part in exercise Maple Guardian at CFB Wainwright in May, 2009.
Other seasoned journalists say the experience gained through this course would be useful for any young reporter heading to a conflict zone for the first time. Scott Taylor, a widely traveled war correspondent and publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine, says having a basic understanding of military structure and how it works is essential for success overseas. “If someone refers to a sailor as a soldier or an armed vehicle as a tank when it’s an armoured personnel carrier, they (the military) will almost go crazy,” he says. Christie Blatchford, a Globe and Mail columnist who has covered conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Israel and Afghanistan, says learning to speak the language of the military is an important tool for would-be war reporters. “You just listen to soldiers talk and you are suddenly learning a whole bunch about the
army. You learn the plethora of acronyms for everything from a dining facility, to rations, to what time you’ve got to get up. All that shit. You get the language, which is an important part of communicating with anybody, and it really is a very different language in many ways,” she says. For Taylor, a former soldier, it’s not all about picking up the terminology. The real advantage of the course, he says, is that students have the opportunity to form relationships with the troops. “I think anytime you have exposure between the media and the military, it’s mutually beneficial because there’s definitely an oil and water mix in the mentality,” he says. Blatchford agrees. “It exposes you to soldiers, which doesn’t happen often in this country . . . It’s useful for the military and for reporters.”
For St. Denis, having a media presence at CMTC has had a tangible effect on how the military interacts with the press in war zones. “We sort of created this thing and incorporated it into the training and now it’s being seen as a critical element of preparing soldiers for deployment overseas. It’s been accepted by the army as something that’s very important,” he says. But preparation isn’t just the key to military success – it’s essential for journalistic success as well, says Taylor. Through its work with the military, Athabasca is equipping young journalists with the skills essential for staying safe abroad. “You never just go in cold,” says Taylor. “You never just show up in some war zone with a pocket full of cash and look to hire somebody at the airport – you’d be dead in five minutes.” CONVERGENCE
portfolio Hidden corners of campus
Human-sized mucus blobs on the loose
Humber Et Cetera Nov. 26, 2009
Vol. 41 No. 9
Raise a glass after class
Brandon Graziano, 19, Stefano Sena, 20, Mike Bartolo, 21, cheer with their drinks on lunch break at the fully licensed campus pub on Tuesday, Nov. 24. LinX received its full licence on Friday, Nov. 20 after almost a full semester of operating dry. See story on page 4.
Campaign to peg tuition to inflation College Student Alliance says rival group’s pursuit of fee reductions unrealistic and will bring service cuts BRENT TENNANT NEWS REPORTER
Ontario’s current tuition fee framework will expire at the end of the 2009-2010 academic year, potentially signalling a change in how much you’ll have to pay. However, two different messages are being sent to the government by two prominent student advocacy groups. The College Student Alliance (CSA), which the Humber Students’ Federation (HSF) is a member of, wants to cap tuition fee increases at the rate of inflation. HSF paid $68,000 this year to the CSA for membership. The CSA is running the Tuition and You campaign, from Nov. 5 to Dec. 18, which seeks to inform students about “where tuition fees are now and where they potentially could go,” said Tyler Charlebois, CSA director of advocacy.
The campaign aims for students to sign petitions to be sent to the government. How the individual colleges approach the campaign is up to them. “We give them the information and then let them do the creative parts,” said Justin Fox, CSA president. The Tuition and You postcards went out on Nov. 9, with information and petition templates made available to CSA members prior to that. The HSF has the postcards and petitions available at all three campuses, as well as in Guelph-Humber. So far, the North petition has 152 signatures. The HSF is considering holding town hall meetings to discuss the campaign with students. “I definitely think it’s an urgent concern,” said Melissa Mendes, HSF vice-president of administration for the North campus, adding that the meeting would take place before winter break. The CSA is lobbying to cap tuition fees at the rate of inflation, which would effectively allow the government to increase fees by one to three
per cent per year. Charlebois said the current tu“Why is a student organization, in a recession, ition fee framework is “very convoluted.” campaigning for a tuition fee increase?” said However, the Canadian Federation of Stu- Duff. “We feel education should be more afforddents (CFS), which represents many colleges able rather than less affordable.” and universities, has taken a different stance. In It’s a position echoed by Humber students. 2004, the CFS convinced the provincial govern“Not all of us can pay back our loans,” said Chament to freeze tuition fees, nel Shaw, a first-year massage said Joel Duff, Ontario orgatherapy student. nizer for the CFS. However, In their submission to the that freeze was cancelled in Post-Secondary Education March 2006. Now the CFS Why is a student organization Secretariat at the Ministry is lobbying for the “govern- in a recession campaigning of Training, Colleges and ment to reduce tuition fees Universities, the CFS asked for a tuition fee increase? to the 2004 level,” said Duff. the ministry to “immediately Charlebois said the CSA Joel Duff reduce tuition fees to 2004 doesn’t see tuition fee cuts Canadian Federation of Students levels.” as realistic. He said the CSA The submission also asked views tuition fees as “an infor a “framework that both vestment in your future,” and that a cap tied to protects students from fee increases and prothe rate of inflation ensures “we’re not putting gressively reduces tuition fees by five percent students in a place where that investment be- annually.” comes too high or too expensive for students of However, Fox argues that the loss of revenue all socio-economic backgrounds to attend post- from tuition could lead schools to cut costs. secondary education.” Charlebois said when costs run too high, a Duff feels it would have an opposite effect. college has to look at cuts to programs and ser-
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Each year Convergence catches up with successful grads from Humber’s School of Media Studies and Information Technology. This issue’s impressive selection shows grads excelling everywhere from advertising to ‘zines.
Shortly after graduating from Humber’s accelerated journalism program in 2009, Porter began working for MSN.ca as an online editor. Though she has only been there a brief time, she says she has seen a lot. When she started, MSN and Sympatico were going separate ways, so she says she got to become a part of MSN’s online re-launch. A highlight for her so far: covering the Toronto International Film Festival. She hopes to have an opportunity to travel to L.A. one day and cover major award shows, television and film.
Scale graduated from Humber’s creative photography program in 1988 and began her career as an apprentice at Horvath Studios. In 1993 she opened her own studio in Nobleton and later moved the business to a quaint cottage studio in Bolton, Ontario. Scale has won numerous provincial and federal awards and has kept up her Humber connection by joining the program advisory board for photography in 2004 and teaching at both Humber and Gueph-Humber. Her latest project is a photo book called Focus on Heroes: Beyond the Uniform.
A graduate of Humber’s accelerated journalism program in 2009, Souch now works for EastLink, a telecommunications and entertainment company. Souch is a video journalist working for the local news where she gets to do it all – pitch the story, do interviews and edit. “From start to finish I get to be a part of the process, unlike if I was at a bigger news station,” she says. She’s thankful Humber taught her strong interviewing skills and gave her the skills to know what makes a great story and how to tell it.
Since graduating from Humber’s public relations post-grad program in 1980, Held has created an impressive body of work. At the age of 23, Held ran the national news conference when Terry Fox died. She was responsible for breaking the news of Fox’s death to executive directors of the Canadian Cancer Society. Held also wrote a book called How Not To Take It Personally, which deals with miscommunication in the workplace. Held recently had a poem published and hopes to continue publishing more poems in the future.
Leopold graduated from Humber’s public relations post-grad program in 1998 and is now the college’s associate director of public relations and communications. Leopold worked at National Public Relations and for PR agency Webershandwick after graduating. He decided he wanted to make a move to a more corporate setting and jumped on an opportunity at Humber when it arose. “It is a dream job,” he says. “I’m loving what I do.”
Facer graduated from the 3D production – broadcast design and animation post-grad program in 2007. Since then he has been busy working on a series of films, commercials and animated series. “I haven’t had any downtime,” he says. Most recently, Facer worked on a feature film in Vancouver with Prime Focus World, formerly Frantic Films, along with fellow Humber grad, Jason Labbe. Facer really enjoyed the post-graduate program. “We got to work on an animated short as a team and got a taste of what an actual production is like. That was awesome.”
Noronha graduated from the advertising media sales program in 2003. He secured a job as a sales co-ordinator at Toronto One Television before graduation and later joined Omni in 2005 as a sales representative. He now works in Omni’s programming department as a program analyst. “I’ve met a lot of people in the industry who have Humber connections and they all say the same thing – Humber has the best program in terms of advertising media skills,” he says. “I wouldn’t be working in the industry if it wasn’t for Humber.”
Sherwood has participated in several projects since graduating from Humber’s film and television production program in 2008. She has shot everything from corporate videos for Omni Media Productions to music videos, but the bulk of her time has been spent shooting concerts, she says. Last June, Sherwood took on her largest job, organizing a large, five-camera shoot of an Andrew Martin concert at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studios for New Century Productions. She is now busy editing the footage and putting it on DVD to be sold to the public.
Emirzian graduated from the 3D production – broadcast design and animation post-grad program in 2008. Emirzian is now creating 3D graphics for Webkinz producer, Ganz. He says what is great about his job is that he gets to create his own concepts for his work. He says he gets a description of a Webkinz character and then gets to draw it. Emirzian says he wouldn’t have been able to get this job without going to Humber. He credits professor Paul Neale with influencing his decision to stick with it.
Matthews completed his film and television production diploma in 2005 with honours. He credits his teachers at Humber with igniting his passion for film. Over the years, Matthews has worked as a production assistant, a grip, an assistant director and a camera operator. His most recent job was as a camera assistant for Sarah’s House on HGTV. Matthews says it was easy to learn the skills needed in his business, but keeping up with old Humber contacts has played an essential role in his success.
Major graduated with honours from Humber’s radio broadcast program in June 2009. Since then, he has gone on to host his own afternoon radio show on CJKL 101.5 FM in Kirkland Lake. His show features segments such as Classic Café and Top 4 at 4. Major hopes to follow his passion for hard rock and find a job at a rock station in southern Ontario. His goal is to become a program director. Major already has interviews with rock legends, Aerosmith, and new comers, The Arkells, under his belt.
After graduating from Humber’s post-grad copywriting program in 2007 Sheehan made the move east to Halifax. Since January she has been a copywriter for Chester and Company, a strategic brand advertising and design agency. “The best part of this job is writing for all mediums – T.V., radio and online,” Sheehan says. She says the skills she learned at Humber have really helped her. “Humber’s pairing up of copywriting students and designers improved my ability to collaborate and work in a team setting,” Sheehan says.
Buchanan graduated from Humber’s digital design for print and web program in 2008. She was unable to find a full-time position with a company so she opted to do freelance and contract work. Buchanan says that in order for students to find work after graduation, they need to promote themselves and make themselves known. Buchanan is now teaching Adobe Illustrator part-time at Humber for the digital design for print and web program and the interior decorating program.
Kuzyk graduated from Humber’s accelerated journalism program in 2009. Kuzyk interned at the CBC while still in school, an opportunity that led to a ninemonth contract working as an associate producer. She helps book interviews and assists reporters with interviews. Kuzyk credits Humber with helping to develop her self-esteem. “Working for a small paper like Et Cetera really helps build your confidence,” she says.
Hammer graduated from Humber’s public relations program in 2008. She credits Humber’s internship for helping her make a smooth transition from intern to permanent hire. “Because the internship program is so awesome I was hired right after I graduated,” she says. Hammer is now Molson Coors Canada’s community relations co-ordinator and heads the company’s social media team. “Humber’s hands-on-real life teaching made the difference,” she says.
Gamulin graduated from the accelerated journalism program in 2006 and is the editor-inchief of two community newspapers, the Annex Gleaner and the Liberty Gleaner. She started as a volunteer at the Gleaner community news but was soon hired as a staff writer and worked her way up. “I love my job right now,” she says. Gamulin says Humber prepared her well for her job. “With Humber, you learn how to work hard,” she says. “When you get into the work world, you’re not surprised when people ask you to stick around for a 12-hour day to put out a paper.”
Haberman is the brand manager for exploremusic.com with Alan Cross and works as the creative director for Corus Radio. The self-proclaimed “radio geek” graduated from Humber’s accelerated journalism program in 1998 and got his start in the newsroom at CFRB. He moved on to become the morning show producer at 640 as it changed into Mojo. Haberman also worked on Mojo magazine. “It’s a really great time right now for radio as we move into the digital age,” he says. “The skills I learnt at Humber were invaluable. To me this is a dream job.”
After graduating from Humber’s accelerated journalism program in 2008, Maloney worked as an associate editor at CLB Media. Last September she made the leap to editor-in-chief at Masthead online. Maloney says Humber’s internship component helped her learn a lot about managerial insights. Maloney says the highlight of her career is “working at Masthead where I get to participate and learn about the industry and work for a magazine that made me get into journalism.”
Police cover bodies with banana leaves near a mass grave in Ampatuan.
MEDIA MASSACRE by David White and Kristen Smith
n what is being called the world’s largest massacre of the media in known history, at least 31 journalists were killed on Nov. 23 in the Philippines. The journalists were among 57 victims when gunmen attacked a convoy in Ampatuan, a town in Maguindanao province on the Philippine island of Mindanao. The group was on its way to cover local politician Ismael Mangudadatu’s filing of his intention to run for governor. The alleged attackers, supporters of Mangudadatu’s political rival Andal Ampatuan Jr., abducted and killed the victims with close-range gunfire. Their bodies were
left in a nearby mass grave. Ampatuan Jr. has been charged in the murders and many reports indicate he played a key role in the massacre. His father, governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, had been grooming his son to replace him in office. The backhoe used to dig the mass grave was allegedly emblazoned with the Ampatuan name and was identified as belonging to the provincial government. The massacre drew widespread condemnation around the world. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression honoured the dead at its annual International Press Freedom
Awards, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon extended his condolences in a formal statement from the international organization. A demonstration in the Philippine capital, Manila, saw some 1,000 journalists march in protest against the massacre and rallies were held in front of Philippine embassies and government offices around the world in what was called a “global day of solidarity.” According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, dozens of journalists have been killed in the Philippines over the past decade, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the press.
The following journalists were killed in the Nov. 23 attack: Adolfo, Benjie Araneta, Henry Arriola, Mc Delbert “Mac-Mac” Bataluna, Rubello Betia, Arturo Cabillo, Romeo Jimmy Cablitas, Marites Cachuela, Hannibal Caniban, John Dalmacio, Lea Decina, Noel 66
Dela Cruz, Gina Duhay, Jhoy Evardo, Jolito Gatchalian, Santos Legarte, Bienvenido, Jr. Lupogan, Lindo Maravilla, Ernesto “Bart” Merisco, Rey Momay, Reynaldo “Bebot” Montano, Marife “Neneng” Morales, Rosell
Nunez, Victor Perante, Ronnie Parcon, Joel Razon, Fernando “Ranny” Reblando, Alejandro “Bong” Salaysay, Napoleon Subang, Francisco “Ian” Teodoro, Andres “Andy” Tiamson, Daniel
Are youâ€Ś ! Stressed? ! Angry? ! Depressed? ! In crisis? ! Feeling isolated or need emotional/ listening support? Call TELECARE DISTRESS CENTRE: free, anonymous, confidential telephone support and community referral service for Region of Peel. ENGLISH Crisis lines Available 24 hours of the day 905. 459.7777 HINDI, URDU, PUNJABI, SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE Crisis Lines open Monday to Friday from 10am to 10pm 905. 459.7777 For more information, please visit www.telecaredistresscentre.org
Born to Shoot
Maybe itâ€™s a gift. Maybe itâ€™s a talent youâ€™re in the process of developing. In either case, you have an eye for the unusual. Welcome to the club. At Vistek, we have been known to view things in a different way, too. Which is why when you shop here, youâ€™ll see photo and video gear youâ€™ll find no place else. For starters, the largest, most complete selection of DSLRs and HD camcorders from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic and JVC. Plus tripods, flash systems, grip equipment, lighting stands, backgrounds, carrying cases â€“ and thatâ€™s just a nibble. Because on top of all that gear, we carry the full line of Epson and Canon inkjet printers, Wacom tablets and displays, the leading imaging software programs, storage devices, scanners. Plus, an impressive range
of inks and inkjet papers. Much more than a camera store â€“ at Vistek youâ€™ll find the countryâ€™s largest rental department, and in-house tech support for your digital camera, Mac computer, software and printer. Still, for many, this is the biggest reason of all for shopping at Vistek: nowhere will you find greater passion than on our sales floor. So drop by and talk shop with pros who are as excited about the profession as you. ,OOKING FOR A PLACE TO HANG OUT At VISTEKCACOMMUNITY youâ€™ll find a listing for studios, printing labs, makeup artists and more. Check out the photo/video programs at other schools. Promote yourself online â€“ just upload your photos and set up a gallery. Itâ€™s FREE publicity! Photo courtesy of pro photographer Bill Drummond (billdrummond.com)
4O R O N T O s - I S S I S S A U G A s / T T A W A s # A L G A R Y s % D M O N T O N PHOTO | VIDEO | DIGITAL | SALES | RENTALS | SERVICE TORONTO 496 Queen St. E (416) 365-1777 1-888-365-1777 firstname.lastname@example.org
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11/13/09 11:15:24 AM
Fall 2009 issue of Convergence - The Humber College School of Technology and Advanced Learning's media news magazine
Published on Jan 20, 2010
Fall 2009 issue of Convergence - The Humber College School of Technology and Advanced Learning's media news magazine