Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Canwest Corpse Watch

I thought the rumors of a bailout would push Canwest's stock up. (Then, when I reported on it, Jahnny Kay could call me a "pro-Canwest activist".) But even the hint of a bailout isn't enough to move Canwest stock, even at a time when the market has been on a bit of a rebound. Today, it's still stuck at around 30 cents.

In Montreal, there's a rumour circulating that the Greenburg brothers, who own Astral Media., might make a move for the Gazette. That's precisely the type of local ownership that could save that great old title and reverse the decay of the post-Southam years.

Meanwhile, a US Congressman has come up with an idea I hadn't heard of: re-incorporate papers as non-profits, with generous tax breaks in return for non-partisanship. It's an intriguing idea for the business, once the de-leveraging process is finished.
HT www.Drudgereport.com


Anonymous said...

I read the comments section on Kay's blog. My lord, I didn't realize you were part of the revolutionary left in this country. You may want to check your phone for bugs.

Ottawa Watch said...

Yea, that's quite a group of winged monkeys that post on Kay's site. Pretty hard to take it seriously. I really don't think the Post will be able to bully anyone into giving it any NNAs that it hasn't earned.

Anonymous said...

oh stop it, kinsella. you really slay me with this blog front!

JA Goneaux said...

This might explain the new "journalism accounting"


h/t: Jim Henshaw at The Legion of Decency


Anonymous said...

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." - Thomas Jefferson, 1787

Anonymous said...

Geeeez...even the Monitor has bit the bye-bye bullet?!?



Ralph Nader fondly recalls his days at the Monitor
By Ralph Nader

from the March 27, 2009 edition

Washington - I received the news about the end of the printed Christian
Science Monitor daily with a special sadness beyond being deprived of
the excellent nonprofit physical newspaper. For it was the Monitor that
helped launch my freelance writing career as a young graduate of Harvard
Law School.

In the early '60s, I found that the Monitor was receptive to submissions
by unknown freelance writers who met its journalistic standards. Wishing
to see the world and put my language skills to the test, I traveled to
South America, the Soviet Union, countries in Asia, and Africa sending
regular dispatches along the way. To my surprise my articles were accorded
a high acceptance rate.

The $75 the Monitor paid me per article were quickly applied to hostel,
bus, and airline expenses. I wrote for the business page, edited by David
Francis, and the foreign affairs and tourist sections.

Because I would often drop by Christian Science Reading Rooms in the
Boston area during my law school years, I was quite familiar with the kind
of unique reporting favored by the various editors.

It always intrigued me that such a modest number of Christian Scientists
around the country created and supported a newspaper that overcame the
skepticism of the mainstream media and earned the respect of their larger
peers. This was especially the case in the hardened media environment of
Washington. Then, as now, members of the media flock to the enduring
Monitor breakfasts with noted political and other public figures.

What impresses me is the Monitor's authentic search for the real stories,
not the conventional stereotypes that countries and regions were given by
the big-time media.

For example, I recall when major news media began to hype the northeastern
Brazilian peasant leader Francisco Juliao as the next Fidel Castro. The
heavily populated, desperately poor region around Recife was seen as
explosive territory for a revolutionary Marxist-Soviet upheaval. But the
situation, as I wrote in my dispatches, was quite different. It was more
nuanced and solicited more pathos for its passive impoverishment than the
alarmist, exaggerated reports that readers of the big commercial mass
media were receiving.

Later, as I proposed my writings to other outlets, there was little doubt
that the receptivity of other newspapers and magazines was enhanced by my
portfolio of articles written for the prestigious Christian Science
Monitor. Such is its integrity and professionalism.

Someday, when enough people tire of the novelty of spending endless hours
squinting at ever-smaller screens to catch up with current events, readers
may return to printed newspapers (using recycled paper) for their many
tangible and intangible advantages.

I'll always remember the Monitor as a liberator, a polite agitator, an
open-minded newspaper that gave voice to many writers in many places
around the world. It is only a small stretch to describe this newspaper as
an early successful experiment in "open-source" journalism long before
the Internet and Linux.

All of the editors and reporters who worked and stayed with the newspaper
through increasingly constrained budgetary times will have the online
world to explore as the Monitor embarks on a new century. But forgive me
when I say that "it's just not the same."

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, author, and founder of
public-interest groups. He was an independent candidate for president in

Anonymous said...

The real hole left by departing physical newspapers is the missing voices of progressives and our friends on the left. Guess thats why its sooo easy to dislike the scripted right eh?



The MSM and Swimming Naked

By Robert Parry
March 28, 2009

There’s a Wall Street saying about what happens to traders who have taken too many chances, when the stock prices ebb: “When the tide goes out,” it’s said, “you see who’s been swimming naked” – what might be called the ultimate consequence of a bear (or bare) market.

But the same lesson may apply when the existing mainstream media fades out to sea. Today, even as many Americans rightfully disdain the MSM, its rapid contraction could inflict even more damage on an already battered American Republic.

That’s because the MSM has been providing information – albeit with many flaws – that has allowed others, including bloggers and independent Web sites like ours, to derive substantial information from working reporters who are sent off to cover a multitude of stories.

When those mainstream reporters dwindle in number amid endless budget cuts, the tide of basic facts will retreat and – metaphorically speaking – we’ll discover which political groupings have been swimming naked, relying too much on the work of the MSM.

The answer today seems clear. The conservatives, right-wingers and Republicans will be as well-covered as some of those bathers in the Victorian Era. The liberals, progressives and Democrats will be left trying to cover up.

The logical result of a fading MSM – combined with a robust right-wing news media and a miniscule progressive one – will be the relative strengthening of conservatives who already possess a vertically integrated media infrastructure for developing and disseminating information, from newspapers, magazines and books to radio, TV and the Internet.

Even now, we see the impact of this right-wing media on the budget debate over key issues such as national health care and a “green” economy. Though the Republicans are in a distinct minority and seem to have few constructive ideas, they are, in many ways, driving the debate by popularizing the notion that Obama is a socialist out to bankrupt the country.

That, in turn, emboldens Republicans and intimidates some Democrats, especially from states where the right-wing media is all-pervasive. So, while Republicans present a solid phalanx of opposition to President Barack Obama’s plans, a “centrist” Democratic caucus has emerged to split Democratic unity.

Many of these “centrists” oppose use of a parliamentary device, called “reconciliation,” to enact some of Obama’s agenda by majority vote rather than lose in the face of Republican filibusters. To get some Republican support, these “centrists” are signaling a readiness to water down the President’s proposals and possibly jettison key features, like a public entity that would offer national health insurance.

As the MSM grows weaker – and the right-wing media becomes relatively stronger – this ideological asymmetry is sure to become even more imbalanced. Just Thursday, for instance, the Washington Post announced a new round of staff buyouts and the New York Times underscored its financial difficulties by laying off 100 employees and imposing a 5 percent wage cut on everyone else.

Reversing the Tide

The only way to stop this rightward tilt of American media is to build a counterforce of independent and progressive news outlets. To address this challenge is why we created Consortiumnews.com in 1995. The early signs of today’s media crisis were already apparent.

The idea, then as now, was to pull together resources so we could hire and deploy quality journalists to gather news of national and international interest – and to use the Internet as the primary means of distributing this information, though we also intended to make stories available in other media forms, from print to radio to TV.

We felt, too, that it was important to support the journalists with solid editing and fact-checking, so the material was as reliable as possible. And we insisted that the operation be based in the Washington, D.C., area where most of the news is generated, rather than in cities such as San Francisco, far removed from the front lines of what the Right likes to call “the war of ideas.”

Over the past 13 years, though we’ve succeeded in demonstrating that good journalism can be produced and distributed at very low cost, we have fallen short in convincing concerned citizens with substantial financial resources to join the hundreds of small donors who have kept our operation alive.

Indeed, that may be one of the most remarkable differences between the American Right and the American Left. Right-wingers – from foundations like Olin, Smith-Richardson and Scaife to wealthy individuals such as Rupert Murdoch and Sun Myung Moon – spend billions of dollars subsidizing conservative media while wealthy liberals and progressives shy away financing media, especially news outlets with any kind of edge.

It’s like they don’t really want to engage in the battle. They prefer putting what little money they do spend into “safe” outlets – like NPR or PBS – or into “media reform,” i.e. organizing around media issues, rather than into building tough, honest, courageous news outlets that will take on the powers that be and will shake up the status quo.

Unless that pattern changes – unless people of means who care about the future of the nation – set aside their fears and join the fight, the likelihood is that the media imbalance will only get worse, that Republicans will be emboldened and that timid “centrist” Democrats will wilt under the pressure.

And as the tide flows out on the MSM, liberals and progressives will find themselves even more uncovered than before.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek.

Anonymous said...


CONSOLIDATION WON'T SAVE THE MEDIA How to support serious journalism
and local coverage in the new media landscape is a complicated
question that requires forward-looking policy ideas and lots of
experimentation. But the policies that got journalism into this
mess won't work. Media consolidation is the problem, not the answer.