Media Beat: October 08, 2020

The only surprise was the fly

Call me cruel but last night’s debate was about as exciting as shopping for a face mask and the only surprise was the uninvited fly that stuck to Mike Pence’s thatch as if it were at home in the swamp.  

Pence was calm, deliberate, ice-cool and lacquered down. A caricature of every smooth-talking, back-slapping, oily politician on The Hill. Prepped, preened and put on display with his Colgate smile, steely eyes and smartly packaged in an expensive cookie-cutter suit.  

Kamala Harris was a letdown for me because I expected her prosecutorial skills to dazzle us; instead, her body language was weak, her charisma lacking and her civility undercut her opportunity to slay the dragon.

Maybe she’s a heavyweight in her element, but Wednesday night she was a lightweight who failed to strike the thunderbolt so many in America and around the world wanted to witness. A once-great nation that is now awash in fear and loathing and reaching a tipping point where the unthinkable can happen. This is a time when greatness needs to show itself and instead, we had two opposing candidates playing it safe as the the fabric that once bound the nation becomes dangerously frayed in every direction.

Oh, sure, Kamala promised change. But all politicians promise change. What she failed to do was to thrust the sword of Excalibur into the heart of the beast, and dazzle us with a fiery condemnation of the pervasive ills that are more virulent in America today than the virus that has the White House caged.

Pubcaster cuts 130 people due to budgetary shortfalls

The impact to the news division, current affairs and local news affects 58 positions, but most were dealt with by retirement and attrition. The new budgetary measures also curtail its previously announced expanded branded content and promotional podcast initiative pending further review.

Broadcasters unify with ‘HireBIPOC’ initiative

Canada's broadcasters and industry leaders have a plan to “eradicate systemic racism in the media and entertainment industries” with HireBIPOC, an industry-wide initiative to change hiring practices and enhance opportunity for an inclusive workforce. With 500 members registered, the online roster includes 20+ Canadian media organizations. – Media release

Quebec announces $50M bailout plan for theatres, other venues

On Friday, the provincial government announced that it will give the cultural promoters 75 percent of the revenue from tickets the venues would have sold if the lockdown hadn’t happened. In other words, they’ll pay out 75 percent of the revenue from ticket sales in the year-earlier period. The program will run for six months, from Oct. 1 to March 31, 2021. – Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette

Google expands news content with Village Media, Narcity on board

Google has announced the forthcoming launch in Canada of Google News Showcase, a new “news experience” that will see the digital giant partner with online publishers like Village Media and Narcity. Launching in partnership with 200 publications across Brazil, Germany, the UK, Argentina and Australia, it will allow participants to package stories that appear in readers’ news feeds incorporating timelines, bullet points, and eventually video, audio, and daily briefings. In the first three years alone, Google says it will pay more than $1 billion USD globally to publishers creating and curating content for the new product, “with plans to extend beyond that as part of our long-term commitment to supporting the news industry.” “Our new service will give readers in Canada more context and perspective on important stories in the news and drive high value traffic to a publisher’s site,” promised Google in its product announcement–  Broadcast Dialogue

Levi’s buying back your old jeans

Used clothing is a hot market and Levi’s has cottoned on to the idea of buying back pairs of old jeans for re-sale. It’s also an ecologically sound thing to do, which fits in with the brand’s corporate ethos. Basically how it works is you return the frayed cottons to any Levi store, they give you anywhere between $35 and a $5 credit, depending on the whether the item is re-sellable. – Sarah Mahoney, Media Post

Shopper preferences swinging toward austerity

Shoppers have been primarily driven to make purchases based on health and safety concerns throughout the pandemic. However, a second layer of consumption behavior has been emerging from those experiencing (and anticipating) financial restraint. A new Nielsen survey of US shopping trends breaks down the numbers. – Nielsen Insights

Brands shifting big dollars into influencer marketing

Influencer marketing agency Takumi, which surveyed 3,500 consumers, brands, and creators in August. Per The Drum, Takumi’s findings indicated that 73% of businesses are putting more financial resources into influencer marketing now than they were before the pandemic. – James Hale, Tubefilter

Facebook’s Portal adds support for other platforms

Facebook has announced it’s bringing a number of new features and services to its family of Portal devices, including support for Netflix and Zoom. The company will also introduce easier ways to launch Netflix and other video streaming apps with one-touch buttons on its new remote. – Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Intentional deep fake US election ads

Two political ads will broadcast on social media today, featuring deepfake versions of Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Both deepfake leaders will be giving the same message: that America doesn’t need any election interference from them; it will ruin its democracy by itself.

What are they for?

Yes, the ads sound creepy, but they’re meant for a good cause. They’re part of a campaign from the nonpartisan advocacy group RepresentUs to protect voting rights during the upcoming US presidential election, amid president Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting and suggestions that he may refuse a peaceful transition. The goal is to shock Americans into understanding the fragility of democracy as well as provoke them to take various actions, including checking their voter registration and volunteering for the polls. It flips the script on the typical narrative of political deepfakes, which experts often worry could be abused to confuse voters and disrupt elections. –Karen Hao, MIT Technology Review.

Mainstream media the top amplifier of White House disinformation

Mail-in voting is being unfairly undermined—and researchers say it's the US media, not social platforms or foreign powers, doing the most damage. – Patrick Howell-O’Neill, MIT Technology Review

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