Media Beat
Media Beat

Media Beat, Dec. 13, 2021

Postmedia buckles to pro-Israel lobby

Postmedia issued an apology to a pro-Israel pressure group called 'HonestReporting Canada' for running an Amnesty International ad in the Montreal Gazette. – Taylor C. Noakes, The Maple

Canadian media’s Palestine taboo

There is more freedom of speech regarding Palestine in Israel than there is in the Canadian press.

For years, Canadian journalists reporting on international affairs have had a heavy cross to bear, with the question hanging over every story pitch – what’s the Canadian angle? – Hadani Ditmars, TRTWorld

CBC journalists told they can’t cover Israel-Palestine after demanding fairer coverage

More than 2,000 people signed an open letter saying Canadian media outlets “tiptoe around coverage of Israel and Palestinians.” – Manisha Krishnan, Vice

Why is the CBC denying Palestine’s existence?

“I referred to the Palestinian territories as ‘Palestine,’ we apologize.”

This surreal on-air apology was broadcast last week on the CBC’s The Current after guest host Duncan McCue referenced Palestine during an interview with cartoonist, journalist and war correspondent Joe Sacco on “the themes of colonialism and resource extraction.”

The pro-Israel lobby group Honest Reporting Canada (HRC)—an “independent grass-roots organization promoting fairness and accuracy in Canadian media coverage of Israel and the Middle East,” according to its website—quickly spun into action to ‘inform’ the national broadcaster that, in fact, the use of the word Palestine goes against the CBC’s own language policies.

In a post published by HRC, the organization gloated about how it keeps news agencies in check regarding the ‘non-existence’ of the state of Palestine. In the same post, the HRC cites “CBC’s own language policies” by linking to a 2019 article in which the following addendum was inserted:

CBC language policy states there is no modern country of Palestine, although there’s a movement to establish one as part of a two-state peace agreement with Israel. Areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority are considered Palestinian territories: Fatah-run West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza Strip. – Marion Kawas, Canadian Dimension

Radio Ratings: CBC Radio One climbs to #3 in Montreal

Numeris has released its quarterly radio ratings report for metered markets including Montreal, and the new data show a surprising change in order for the city’s English-language radio stations, with CBC Radio One climbing above both CHOM and Virgin 95.9 in average minute audience for the first time. – Steve Faguy, Fagstein

Spotify #1 for podcasts in the U.S., according to Cumulus/Signal Hill report

Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights have released their Podcast Download – Fall 2021 Report, which finds Spotify is now the number one listening source for podcasts in the U.S.

The study, fielded online between Sept. 30 and Oct. 29, was executed from a nationally representative sample of 600 weekly podcast listeners, 18+, who spent at least one hour listening to podcasts in the past week. The report also looked at heavy podcast listeners (those who listen 6+ hours per week) as well as podcast pioneers (those who started listening 4+ years ago) and podcast newcomers (those who listened to their first podcast in the past 12 months). – Connie Thiessen, Broadcast Dialogue

Media barons rank high in Canada’s richest billionaires

A team at Forbes does the math and comes up with the A-List, ranked in ascending order.

A guide to the ruling class’s domination of Canadian media

“News coverage and the opinion journalism of the largest newspapers in Canada has now been weaponized and monetized by the owners.” – Sam Smart, The Maple

Facebook opens virtual reality app Horizon Worlds to U.S. and Canadian adults

Facebook opened Horizon Worlds -- a virtual reality world of avatars -- to adults ages 18 and older in the United States and Canada last Thursday. – UPI

Birds aren’t real, or are they? Inside a Gen Z conspiracy theory

In Pittsburgh, Memphis and Los Angeles, massive billboards recently popped up declaring, “Birds Aren’t Real.”

On Instagram and TikTok, Birds Aren’t Real accounts have racked up hundreds of thousands of followers, and YouTube videos about it have gone viral.

Last month, Birds Aren’t Real adherents even protested outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco to demand that the company change its bird logo.

The events were all connected by a Gen Z-fueled conspiracy theory, which posits that birds don’t exist and are really drone replicas installed by the U.S. government to spy on Americans. – Taylor Lorenz, The New York Times

Can Jimmy Buffett take on Royal Caribbean and Carnival?

The former Bahamas Paradise cruise line will be rebranded to the singer's Margaritaville brand. – Michael Tedder, The Street

Google’s Year-End bonus

Don’t spend it all at once! Google, one of the richest companies in the world, is going all out with a year-end bonus for all its workers—of US$1,600. That’s according to a Reuters story, which noted that earlier this year it had announced a $500 “well-being” cash bonus after a survey showed a drop in employee well-being.

The median employee at Google’s parent, Alphabet, had total compensation last year of $273,493, so the year-end bonus isn’t likely to do much for many employees (although some lower-paid people will surely appreciate the gesture). In the context of tech companies doing more to keep people happy and not leave—The Information reported about Microsoft’s efforts in that direction—the bonus seems a trifle small. 

For the record, Alphabet said it had 150,000 employees at Sept. 30, so the bonus will cost it $240 million. That’s about what Alphabet generates in free cash flow every day and a half. – Martin Peers, The Information

The vulture is hungry again: Alden Global Capital wants to buy a few hundred more newspapers

In 2011, MediaNews, like every other American newspaper company, was struggling to recover from the 1-2 of the Internet and the Great Recession, and Singleton was being pushed out of power by investors.

But Martin was smart enough to see what was going on underneath. Now only was Singleton being bumped from the CEO’s office to a figurehead role; board members who’d supported him were also getting the boot — “replaced by new directors representing the stockholders' group led by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund firm which has acquired a large, though not controlling, stake. Several interim executive positions were also filled by people related to Alden or its parent, Smith Management LLC.”

Ah, Alden Global Capital. It’s now known far and wide as the news industry’s ever-more-engorged leech, a cost-cutting omnivore that makes every newsroom it touches worse, King Midas in reverse. – Joshua Benton, NiemanLab

Sorry, but Covid’s not over

Here’s a sobering fact. More Americans have died in the last two days of Covid than died on 9/11. The last two days.

Sorry, America. But Covid isn’t over.

I say that for a reason. Americans are acting, by and large, like Covid’s over. It isn’t. If anything, a brutal, bitter pandemic winter lies ahead. Like the last one — perhaps not as bad, but still very bad. If 9/11, the greatest tragedy in modern American history is a barometer, then we should all be chilled, because multiple 9/11s are still happening…every week…due to Covid. – Umair Haque, Eudaimonia

The last person receiving a US Civil War pension died last year

In the early 1860s, a man named Mose Triplett fought during the US Civil War — and on both sides, in fact. Despite beginning the war on the Confederate side, he had the good sense to defect in 1863, while his unit was on its way to Gettysburg. His defection was a smart choice; of the 800 men in his regiment, 734 were killed, wounded, or captured at the famous battle. He then enlisted in the Union Army in 1864.

His move to the Union army was wise in another way: it made him eligible for a federal pension after the war. It seems likely that nobody could have predicted back then how much that pension would turn out to be worth. – Cailian Savage, Medium

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