Media Beat, Sept. 20, 2021
Paul Anka: The Bob Lefsetz podcast
Will the pandemic become endemic?
During the pandemic, because of measures such as mask-wearing and physical distancing, the flu virtually disappeared. But when we return to “normal” (or whatever the new normal becomes), the confluence of Covid-19 and influenza each fall and winter could become a major public-health challenge.
The question becomes, crassly: How much illness and death are we willing to accept as “normal”? – André Picard, The Globe and Mail
B.C. blogger ordered to pay $30K for online complaints in doctor defamation suit
A Kelowna blogger who was unhappy with a breast augmentation surgery that offered uneven results learned that sounding off online can have costly consequences, according to a Supreme Court of B.C. decision posted Aug. 25.
“While internet postings in the nature of reviews of restaurants and services are the norm in today’s world, defamatory comments dressed up as reviews that are not factual or do not qualify as fair comment are subject to the laws of defamation,” Justice Gary Weatherill wrote. – Kathy Michaels, Global News
China’s shadow play supports Liberal re-election
The Liberals are counting on voters not to notice that what distinguishes their own foreign policy is the thing that has caused the Chinese government and its network of diplomats and well-connected friends in Canada to be rather too obvious in their enthusiasm for a Liberal re-election. So enthusiastic, in fact, that they’re already coming close to violating Canadian laws intended to safeguard federal elections from foreign interference.
It began on Aug. 25, when Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu, without explicitly naming him, insinuated that Erin O’Toole was placing his party’s “political interests” ahead of fruitful Canada-China relations. After an obligatory throat-clearing to the effect that it was not his intent to comment on or interfere in the election, Cong said China would oppose anyone “hyping up issues related to China or smearing China.” – Terry Glavin, Ottawa Citizen
Working class Canadians are fed up and fighting back
Inequality has been rising for decades, but during the stress test of the pandemic, the imbalance became grotesque. While grocery workers were battling to get within scraping distance of a living wage, Loblaws saw its 2021 first-quarter profits grow by 30 per cent over the previous year, to $313 million. Empire Co Ltd., which owns Sobeys, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo and IGA, saw its net earnings swell 47 per cent in the first quarter, to $191.9 million. Amazon’s first-quarter profits were more than triple its 2020 margins, at $8.1 billion, even as COVID-19 chewed through its warehouse workers and its delivery drivers urinated in bottles so they wouldn’t miss their targets.
Last fall, the Brookings Institution produced a report contrasting the corporate and shareholder windfalls of the biggest U.S. companies with the crumbs they begrudgingly offered their frontline workers. The report noted that the two behemoths—Amazon and Walmart—took in an average of $10.7 billion in extra profit and their stock prices surged 65 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively, but their workers received an average of just $0.95 per hour and $0.63 per hour in extra pandemic pay. – Shannon Proudfoot, Maclean’s
StatsCan Q2 data: Employment strengthens in the wake of third-wave restrictions
Employment rose by 90,000 in August, the third consecutive monthly increase. Gains in August were concentrated in full-time work and among women. Employment in accommodation and food services increased by 75,000. The national unemployment rate fell to 7.1%, the lowest rate since the onset of the pandemic.
Total employment has risen by 415,000 from May to August as third wave restrictions eased. All of the net gains during this three-month period were in service industries, led by cumulative gains of 211,000 in accommodation and food services. Sixty percent of net employment gains from May to August were among 15- to 24-year-olds, as the employment rate among youth by August had essentially returned to pre-pandemic levels.
With August’s headline increase, total employment has rebounded to within 1% of its pre-pandemic level (cumulative losses since February 2020 stood at 156,000 or -0.8%). The employment rate in August was 60.5%, down 1.3 percentage points from the rate in February 2020. The number of employed people who worked less than half of their usual hours in August remained elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels (+29.9%), while total hours worked remained 2.6% below. Among workers who worked at least half their usual hours in August, 24% worked from home, the lowest share since the onset of the pandemic.
Australian media companies can be liable for defamation posted on Facebook pages
Some of Australia’s biggest media companies have lost a bid in the high court to escape liability for defamatory third-party comments on their social media posts.
The majority found that merely facilitating and encouraging comments amounted to “participation” in the communication of defamatory material, even if the original poster was not aware of the content of later comments.
The decision is expected to have ramifications for Australian media companies, making them likely to ban comments on more posts or discouraging them from posting stories to social media. – Paul Karp, The Guardian
Wall Street influencers are making $500K, topping even bankers
At first no one could explain why business was picking up at Betterment, a robo adviser aimed at newbie investors. There were about 10,000 signups in one day.
Then came the answer: A 25-year-old TikToker from Tennessee was posting videos describing how to retire a millionaire by using the platform.
His name is Austin Hankwitz, and he’s managed to land one of the hottest new gigs: full-time “finfluencer.” – Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou, Bloomberg
Facebook troll farms reached 140M Americans monthly before 2020 election
An internal report, written in October 2019, shows that in the run-up to the 2020 election, Facebook’s most popular pages for Christian and Black American content were being run by Eastern European troll farms.
These pages were part of a larger network that collectively reached nearly half of all Americans, according to the report. They achieved that reach not through user choice but primarily as a result of Facebook’s own platform design and engagement-hungry algorithm. – Karen Hao, MIT Technology Review
Top US newspapers losing print sales since pandemic started
America’s biggest three newspapers – the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today – together lost more than 500,000 of print circulation between the first quarter of 2020 and the latest reported period, which covers the six months to March 2021. – William Turvill, Press Gazette
The saga to serve papers on Prince Andrew
To serve a member of the Royal Family once meant to do one's duty for Queen and country.
But a month-long chase by US lawyers to find Prince Andrew and in the legalese, serve him with allegations of abuse, has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase. – Dominic Casciani, BBC News
Inside film talent deals in the streaming era: ‘It’s the Wild, Wild West’
Late last year, it quickly became evident that Hollywood’s dealmaking machine of the past 30 years was broken. The pandemic had changed the way people watched feature films — with some debuting on streaming services and some in theatres — and a new approach to contracts for talent would be needed, particularly for A-listers accustomed to significant backend bonuses based on box office returns that may be diminished or eliminated altogether.
Fast-forward to September 2021: What does dealmaking actually look like? – Beatrice Verhoeven, The Wrap
The Absurdity of the Marketing Industry
For decades, the marketing industry has been notable for its addiction to bullshit and sophistry. We have now entered new territory -- an era in which marketing can truly be described as dabbling in absurdism.
Welcome to "Generation Alpha", the newest idiotic generational hustle of marketing researchers.
Generation Alpha are people born between 2010 and 2024. I just checked my calendar and it seems 2024 hasn't happened yet. But that doesn't bother researchers. Understanding the values of people who can't speak yet and some who are not born yet is the disruptive innovation that makes the insights into Gen Alpha so powerful!
Listen to this horseshit about Generation Alpha from Ad Age... "they care about issues such as sustainability and social equality—but unlike previous generations, they have embraced activism from a very young age and expect brand change as a result." Are you fucking kidding me? Five-year-olds expect brand change? Fetuses care about sustainability?
There is no word to describe the idiocy of these experts. These kids are still crapping their pants and they have "embraced activism?"
Go ahead. Try to tell me you could make this shit up. Is it any wonder marketing is viewed as the clown show of the business world? – Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian