Separated at Birth?

Is it just me, or does Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall bear more than a passing resemblance to New Jersey Devil's goalie Martin Brodeur?

Finance Committee Update

Happened to glance at the decisions from today's Finance Committee meeting and thought I'd pass them on....

Looks like the requested taxi fare increase is being referred back to city administration who'll prepare a report for the April 7 meeting.

Also, the committee is recommending 5-year tax exemption status be granted to two condominium complexes in the Warehouse District -- one at 1708 8th Ave and the other at 1275 Broad Street. This decision will be considered at the March 9 city council meeting.

For the record, as I read it, the tax exemption program for condominiums in the Warehouse District is meant to encourage the development of residential units in that area and to encourage the preservation of heritage buildings.

Canadian Content Is Toooo Harrrrrd

Meanwhile, CanWest wants Canadian content regulations eased, if I read this correctly, so that they can invest in Canadian content. Hmm. (Globe And Mail)

Layoffs At CTV!

One-hundred eighteen jobs just got whacked at A-channel. (Globe And Mail)

Oh, Lawrence

Either Lawrence Welk had no idea what he was doing here...or he knew EXACTLY what he was doing.

Edit: I have now learned how to do The Embed with The Yootoob videos. So, that makes it a little easier, hey?

(Originally spotted on The Rumpus)

Stunned is Right

Apparently, the denouement to the latest installment of ABC's The Bachelor last night left a lot of viewer's stunned.

What happens ...

... when the local media doesn't have enough people to cover things such as police activities? The creator of two of the five most popular television shows in American history goes back to his old job -- a Baltimore sun crime reporter -- and in his opinion, it doesn't look good. Anyone think that blogs alone are going to do that kind of investigative journalism that's important in a democracy? Me neither.

Tip of the hat to Lawyers, Guns and Money

On The Walk To The Office

(Which is a pretty short walk since a co-worker picked me up today.)

Print media's implosion really came home to me last night, and it's still on my mind this a.m.

Yes, I'm aware of CanWest's well-documented problems and we've all seen the cost-cutting, streamlined redesign of the Leader-Post . And I've read about papers folding, like the Rocky Mountain News (Story on Salon, here. Four-hundred-plus thousand weekend subscribers and they can't stay in business? ) and preparing to fold, like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (AP story on Yahoo, here).

But last night, I read about layoffs at a regional U.S. newspaper I've been reading for coverage of my adopted NHL team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch announced the lay-off of 45 editorial staff. I don't know how big their newsroom is, but there's no doubt that's a savage slashing of jobs at a newspaper that seems to take a lot of pride in its journalism.

With rare exceptions (like during U.S. federal elections) I only read the sports pages and the people writing there are smart and witty. I don't know which, if any, of the writers I follow will be out of jobs in at the start of April, but I have no doubt the quality of the read will be affected.

Aside from being sad that sportswriters I like are having a nightmarish week, two thoughts come to mind.

First, newspapers rely on advertising to stay in business. Some of the biggest advertisers to reduce their buys, one assumes, are car manufacturers. The troubles in the automotive industry are well documented--badly-designed gas-guzzling vehicles and a lack of innovation. Which isn't surprising. You can't expect car CEOs to have vision when they're the sort of people who think global warming is make-believe. But if carmakers are suffering karmic comeuppance for the fact-phobic and delusional zeitgeist of the indulgent George W. Bush years, isn't it also at least a little fitting that they're sharing the pain with the media who championed this sh era? For almost a decade people like me had to listen to tripe about weapons of mass destruction, pre-emptive warfare and the need for more spying and torture; we had to read dutiful media reports on climate change skeptics (have to have both sides of the story!) and intelligent design and other fairy-tale anti-science bullshit.

Frankly, the establishment press--especially in the United States--are culpable in the current economic collapse. They didn't do enough to challenge the now- clearly wrongheaded direction of the Bush years. If you're going to be cheerleaders on what turns out to be the road to recession, don't be surprised when your own economic engine breaks down.

It's just crummy that front-line journalists are the ones losing their jobs.

A second thought: it's starting to look like for-profit media just can't perform the basic functions of journalism anymore. They don't have the budgets for writers, they don't have the pages for stories and they definitely don't have the institutional courage and insight you need to tell the truth. But good, factual reporting is, obviously, critical to the functioning of democracy.

Obviously, the media needs its own bailout.

There's a few ways you could go about this. The wrong way is what people like the Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith speculates is going to happen: Canadian politicians will finagle changes to foriegn ownership restrictions so a media company like Fox can buy CanWest. Putting aside the business wisdom of that hypothetical buy--does Rupert Murdoch want to buta debt-crushed media corporation?--such a move would probably be terrible for Canada, as anyone whose ever watch Fox news would know. This country does not need more hatred, xenophobia and far- right-wing ideology in its press.

The right way? Reinvest in the CBC. This Toronto Star story describes how the public broadcaster is struggling, trying to figure out how it's going to make it through this recession (layoffs? More ads on English radio? Noooo!) Rather than gutting one of the few media outlets that still functions somewhat coherently, It would be more sensible to ratchet up the CBC's funding so they are better equipped to report independently.

Besides, if they're running more ads then they'll be competing with private media, and I don't see why private media would want that; ad budgets are tight enough these days.

I'm not anti-private media. Prairie dog and our sister paper Planet S are privately owned (by a small and very silly cabal of employees, including yours truly), and we put a lot of effort into editorial independence. I read and like the Toronto Star and, to a lesser extent, the Globe and Mail (the quality of opinion is often much less than I'd like but their books coverage is heroic).

But this country needs a revitalized public broadcaster that doesn't have to bend itself into knots trying not to anger governments--whether Liberal OR Conservative--that often seem hostile.

It's time to start cutting the CBC bigger cheques.

And that's what I thought about this morning on my two-minute walk from Terry's parked car to the the office.