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2 posts from July 2007

July 17, 2007

The Media Concentration Clock is Ticking....

NewspaperDoes it concern you that the key media outlets in Canada are owned by a handful of very powerful media companies? If so, you've got exactly one day left to tell the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission why.

One of the issues you might consider raising, if you take the time to write (and I hope you will), is how much less interesting and less diverse our media become when the same story gets sent out over the wire and then sliced and diced and repackaged in local papers or at the local radio or TV station -- as opposed to having that local media outlet covering genuinely local news.

There's also the increased risk of bias when fewer people are covering the news. My involvement in a local political campaign this past year gave me a real education into what does -- and what determines which stories do and do not get covered. (It often has nothing to do with the objective merits of the news story.)

I think most Canadians still buy into the myth of media objectivity -- at least on some level, which is why they aren't particularly alarmed by media concentration. But once you've seen how media power can be misused -- how those with the dollars can buy up smaller media outlets in order to maintain market dominance iand then dictate the rules of that not-so-fun game of Monopoly to everyone involved with that publication (readers, writers, advertisers, employees) -- you begin to question this a little more.

I also have additional concerns when I put on my writer's hat. It's a tough time to be a writer in Canada -- if you're interested in making a living as opposed to writing for exposure. (And as many a writer has noted, people die of exposure in this country.) The contract terms have gone from bad to ugly -- the much-loathed all-rights grab has morphed into the truly evil all-rights and indemnity grab -- while pay rates have been stagnant for over 25 years.

While there are countless people (writers, editors, artists, designers, broadcasters, producers, filmmakers, etc.) doing excellent work in the Canadian media, they are doing so despite the system, not because of it. You have to be a survivor -- and possibly a bit of a masochist -- to make a career for yourself in Canadian media. It's definitely something you do for love, not money. If the money comes, you should consider yourself lucky as well as talented. You need both -- luck and talent -- to thrive as a Canadian creator.

It's also a rather depressing time to be a mainstream media consumer. Advertorial passes as editorial in many media outlets (because you can hook a sponsor into paying for advertorial content); user-generated content rules pretty much everywhere (because it's free or cheap to create); and dumb (or at least dumbed down) is very much in vogue.

I'm still starry-eyed enough to think that the CRTC listens to Canadians, so I'm off to have my say. Hope you'll send them some feedback, too.

CBC Archives: Media Ownership in Canada
NDP Challenges CRTC Over Media Concentration
Media Concentration Starves Freelancers, Senate told
Professional Writers Association of Canada
Canadian Freelance Union
The Writers Union of Canada

July 11, 2007

Making Change

BloghersactcanadaThe way women are pulling together online to try to change the world reminds me of the maternal feminism movement of 100 years ago (the sensible bits -- not the "women are the purer sex and therefore should be the moral guardians of society" and the "stay away from the Chardonnay" philosophies, which made me gag, even back when I was a young, idealistic university student). It's an old idea made new and accessible thanks to technology -- Nellie McClung meets Mothers Acting Up meets Mothers Rising in whatever five-minute snippet of time a particular mom can seize for herself in front of a computer screen on a particular day.

Of course, it goes without saying that not every mom has a computer. That's always a barrier. But at least it's a start to pull together the women who are online and engaged in wanting to work for change.

I'd also like to have dads/men included in some way -- maybe in a parallel stream? -- but that's outside the mandate of BlogHer. I guess someone needs to toss the baton to the BlogHims.

BlogHers Act Canada: Main Discussion
BlogHers Canada
BlogHers Act
My post about BlogHers Act @ The Mother of All Blogs