Rex Murphy pic courtesy of CBC
Rex Murphy pic courtesy of CBC

Media Beat: June 25, 2020

Tiny Foundation invests in Canadaland

The BC-based Foundation linked to Tiny Capital and uber-successful design engineering tech company MetaLab has invested $1M over three years in Jesse Brown’s news site and podcast network. It is the first funding from the Tiny Journalism Foundation which aims to nurture next-gen independent news platforms. An earlier Tiny Foundation grant went to Carole Cadwalladr, a journalist for The Guardian and Observer in the UK, to fund an open-source journalism project focused on uncovering corruption.

    Canadaland also benefits from as much as $40K in monthly subscription pledges through Patreon, although the dollar amount varies throughout the year.

   Tiny is not the first non-traditional investor to acquire an interest in alt and emerging media in Canada. Media Central recently acquired Now Magazine and The Georgia Straight separately for a combined $3.5M, and St. Joseph Communications funds Marc Weisblott’s lunchtime tabloid newsletter 12:36.

   St. Joseph, Canada's largest privately held print company, also owns a fleet of mainstream publications that include Maclean's, Canadian BusinessChatelaine (English and French), FASHION Magazine, Flare, HELLO! Canada, Quill & Quire, Today’s Parent and Toronto Life.

   Another newsprint company quietly making a go of it is Black Press Media, a BC-based firm controlled by David Holmes Black (no relation to Conrad Black). Founded in 1975, Black Press now publishes 170 titles in British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and Washington state, as well as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Juneau (Alaska) Empire and San Francisco Examiner daily newspapers.

    The Walrus magazine is another oddity on Canada's print journalism landscape. Published 10 times a year, the magazine survives thanks to a community of well-heeled donors and other readers who support its progressive work through subscriptions and pledges. In its last annual report, the non-profit posted revenue of close to $6.5M.

   And then there’s Gary Slaight who, for 10 years, has underwritten this news website and the FYIMusicNews newsletter.

   Meantime, newsprint companies controlling the majority of Canada's legacy newspapers are grappling with sinking subscription and advertising revenues, cantankerous unions and high labour costs  and now the covid crisis. Postmedia's sizeable debt is owned by Canso Investment Counsel and US-based Chatham Asset Management, and Torstar is hoping to consummate a deal with Canso that in the short-term is being funded through NordStar Capital. Quarterly cutbacks are almost de rigour for both companies that have gone from profitable enterprises to listing ships that employ a large number of editorial staff working on shaky ground in turbulent times.

   Aside from these two newspaper companies, the Irving family owns a fleet of daily and weekly newspapers in New Brunswick and the Thomson family's Woodbridge Company owns The Globe and Mail. As both companies are privately held there are no financial reports in the public purview.

Rex Murphy fights back

The sour-faced media pundit, whose spouts can be read in the National Post, has taken a drubbing recently for an opinion piece he wrote for the Conservative-leaning Postmedia broadsheet, and this week fired back at poison-penned detractors with a defence for the right to speak in this new era of historical revisionism and public pillorying. As well-intentioned as the great orator’s The right to speak your own opinion is a keystone of a true democracy might be, Rex was obviously livid when he pounded out his word salad and the result is more a confusion of ideas than a sharply pointed rebuttal to the Venus flytraps that flower on social media.

   The wild-eyed commentator gained prominence as a regular guest of Peter Mansbridge on The National where he played a sort of court jester to a panel of self-anointed Ottawa insiders that included Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hebert, and Allan Gregg. It was a segment typified by a great deal of glib tittering as the panel teased a dwindling audience with failed promises of insider dirt.  With the sole exception of Gregg, who typically provided a clear picture of what the issues of the day were, the big-ticket segment was a somniferous snorfest.

Danko Jones body slams Indie 88 Toronto on Twitter

Central Ontario Broadcasting’s jewel in the crown took a broadside from Jones (born Rishi James Ganjoo) on Twitter this week for an apparent lack of diversity in its playlist and in its on-air staff. Well, that all seems to have changed now as Indie88 has added NoName and Anderson .Paak to its “discovery” list – alongside Moscow Apartment, Hannah Georgas, and The Dirty Nil.

   Responding to Jones’ allegations, Indie responded on Twitter, stating: “We recently shifted the focus of our content online and on-air, in order to listen, share resources, and learn. We have learned that we can and should do better. As we learn and grow, we feel that it’s important to use our voice to share those resources so that others can learn and grow, too.

   “This is not something we just became aware of three weeks ago, but rather something we’ve been slowly working to correct over time.

   “We recognize that Alternative radio in Canada lacks diversity in on-air and behind the scenes talent, so we’ve been working with and mentoring younger broadcasters to help launch their careers - a younger cohort that is itself more-and-more reflective of the city.

   “Being there for the next generation of broadcasters is going to help our whole industry look and sound like the communities we serve. Our company has also, for many years, meaningfully supported Indigenous radio; we’ve given financial, technical, and regulatory assistance to launch three Indigenous radio stations in Ontario, and we continue to provide mentorship.

   "Admittedly, there is a gulf between our words and our actions. We are obviously not where we want or need to be, but know that it’s important to us and we’re only going to work harder at it.”

   That wasn’t quite good enough for music publisher Vivian @bulletproof soul who fired back" “Maybe if you had just built on what was already on 88.1 you would not have to write this thread. it was hella diverse already .. you could have helped elevate that.. lots of diversity in front and behind.”

   Jones, a sometime broadcaster/podcaster and media pundit, responded to Indie’s thread, ungraciously lamenting that (reading) “it gave me a migraine.”

Leave a comment