Megalomedia - Wake up to your news

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Well, we all knew this time would come. It's time for this little blog to spread its wings and fly. But fear not, this is more beginning than end. Megalomedia has moved to its new home. And the Canadian Society for a Responsible Press is born. The site is still under development but keep checking back in the coming weeks as more content is rolled out. And of course, the Megalomedializing rage will continue at the shiny new address. So update your bookmarks, Megalomedia has moved on. Thanks Blogger, it's been a slice. I'll never forget my roots.

You know what I like? Context.

By now I'm sure you've heard about the ethics commissioner wanting to investigate Prime Minister Harper (still getting used to that) and Harper's reluctance to participate. If you haven't, catch yourself up here. The matter is being debated a fair bit in the mainstream papers. For an example, check out this editorial in the Globe, which ran across from this opinion piece. What hasn't been discussed, at least not as far as I've seen, is what Harper said about the Office of the Ethics Commissioner during the election campaign. According to the highly-touted Federal Accountability Act, Prime Minsiter Steve wants to strengthen the Office, not weaken it. Allow me to quote, at length, from the section entitled "Strengthen the Role of the Ethics Commissioner:"

In 1993, Paul Martin and the Liberals promised the appointment of an independent Ethics Commissioner. For over ten years, Paul Martin and the Liberals failed to fulfill that promise, and Martin voted against his own Red Book words in the House of Commons. Finally, under the pressure of the Sponsorship Scandal, the Liberals partially fulfilled their promise. But many problems remain with the role of the Ethics Commissioner, including the special exemptions Paul Martin created for his own business dealings. The plan Stephen Harper will:
  • Give the Ethics Commissioner the power to fine violators.
  • Prevent the Prime Minister from overruling the Ethics Commissioner on whether the Prime Minister, a minister, or an official is in violation of the Conflict of Interest Code.
  • Enshrine the Conflict of Interest Code into law.
  • Close the loopholes that allow ministers to vote on matters connected with their business interests.
  • End “venetian blind” trusts that allow ministers to remain informed about their business interests, and require all ministerial assets to be placed in truly blind trusts.
  • Allow members of the public – not just politicians – to make complaints to the Ethics Commissioner.
  • Make part-time or non-remunerated ministerial advisers subject to the Ethics Code.
Now, there are legitimate reasons to question Bernard Shapiro himself, but the fact remains that his appointment was ratified by Parliament as a whole - a chief request of the then-opposition Tories. I'm in no way suggesting the media is giving Harper a free ride on this one, I just think people might be interested in knowing what Harper has said about the role of the Ethics Commissioner. After all, the accountability act is his biggest priority.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

If it's libellous to paste the Olsen twins' heads on porn star bodies, we're all in trouble

An interesting story popped up on CBC Ottawa's website today.

A landlord is threatening to evict a Kingston woman from her apartment for criticizing him on her blog, raising questions about how libel laws apply to the internet. ... Dawe argues the landlord has no right to evict her since there's no existing law preventing her from posting negative comments online. ... Art Cockfield, a law professor at Queen's University, cautions that while libel laws don't specifically mention blogs, people must be careful about what they post. "There's some legal uncertainty about whether [Ontario's] Libel and Slander Act applies to internet defamation," said Cockfield. "But having said that, the common libel law would apply and you've got to be careful."
While I don't think eviction is the right course of action I'm glad to see that we might finally get a test of Canada's libel laws vis-a-vis the Internet. A whole slew of people and media outlets libelled the shit out of Wayne and Janet Gretzky not too long ago, and while I can't imagine the Great One taking the time and energy to sue someone over it, having a precedent I can turn to when I'm bitching about it online would be stellar. The whole article is here. Update - I just re-read the article while checking the link in this post and it's also a great example of how to write a libel-related article without repeating the libel. They resist the temptation to quote the blog or the site and they don't link to it or give the URL. Nicely done, anonymous CBC News scribe.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Scene here first

Every day I open my mailbox, hoping to be invited the next music reporters convention when they decide where the next "scene" is going to be. Every day I am disappointed. Yesterday's New York Times Magazine uses a profile of Broken Social Scene to describe how Toronto is North America's newest "scene." To wit: Musically, you could say that Toronto has become a nicer but less aesthetically coherent version of Seattle in the early days of grunge. Broken Social Scene is Toronto's Nirvana, without — so far — the troubled-rock-star antics or the anomie and with a social agenda that puts collective music making above individual success. The second album, "You Forgot It in People," is dedicated to "friends, families and loves." Really? Seattle? I mean, I agree with that Toronto's music scene is lacking "troubled-rock-star antics or the anomie" but the music coming out of that city is also lacking any resemblance to grunge music. Last year, the NYT pissed off Montrealers by "outing" their scene to the world (thereby killing the scene, according to idiot scenesters). Now they've moved on to Toronto. In reality, this isn't a terribly important story. But it kind of gets to me because 1) Broken Social Scene has been making music for years, has been noticed for years and therefore isn't news and 2) nothing is new is happening in Toronto's music scene. Music reporters love music. So when they hear two good bands from one city, they buy a first-class ticket, a suite in a downtown penthouse and pretentiously pencil in the news. There's good music being made everywhere, independently of a recognized scene. Write about the music. Ditch the crap about the scene. I mean, what's the next "scene" going to be? Calgary? Update: Apparently the Globe and Mail read my comments and wishes to correct my last sentence. The next scene is actually going to be in Edmonton.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

You can lead a scribe to water. . .

Alternative title: Why Joe won't get accreditation for the next budget lockup I wrote about this for the MediaScout earlier this week but it continues to frustrate me, so all you Megalomedialites get to read about it now. As many of you likely know, Stephen Harper replaced his director of communications on Monday. You can read about it here, or if you prefer a knob-pollishingly ass kissing recap, read this. That in and of itself isn't big news, though it did prompt some analysis about the less-than-ideal job security in the PMO. What IS news, at least in my opinion, is that new director of communications Sandra Buckler is a former lobbyist. Harper et al. didn't try to hide that fact; it was apparently included in the press release (though I can't find a copy of it. Hey, who writes a press release to announce a new director of communications? Weird). But for some reason, nobody did much digging into her background, save for a couple of journos who took the time to list some of her former clients. Odd. I seem to remember a lot of coverage of Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's lobbying history. In fact, wasn't a crack down on the Liberal lobby culture a major part of Harper's campaign? Granted, there's nothing illegal about lobbying, nor is there anything illegal about hiring a lobbyist to be your communications director. But when you've made a crack down on the lobby culture a major theme of your campaign, shouldn't someone take the time to run a few Google searches just to see what the aforementioned lobbyist was up to between stints with the Conservative party? Here's a good place to start. Or, if that gives you an error message, go here and enter Sandra Buckler's name. Now, does everyone have their list of Buckler's clients? Good, let's start Googling! Of course, before we engage in this little exercise, let me make it perfectly clear that I am NOT connecting Buckler to any kind of wrongdoing. She registered her lobbying activities and deregistered (unregistered?) before going to work on the Tory campaign. Now that we've cleared that up, let's have a looksy at that client list. Royal LePage Relocation Services. If that name doesn't ring a bell, you probably didn't work as a media monitor on a DND contract. There were some concerns raised a few years ago that Royal LePage acted less than scrupilously in their dealings with the government. Since everyone else gets to hide behind Parliamentary privilege, I will too. Check out this Hansard entry and Google more yourself if you want. Canadian Payday Loans Association. This is the association that represents, obviously, the payday loans companies. MoneyMart and the like. Recently there were concerns raised about the levels of interest charged by these companies. There was talk of federal legislation but to my memory, nothing came of it. I stand to be corrected on that. CCFDA. What the heck is the CCFDA? Oh, the Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access! Well, digital copyright issues and the recordable media levy haven't been in the news or anything. Once again, let me reiterate - there's no reason to believe Buckler did anything wrong. She registered properly and deregistered before working (officially at least) with the Tories. That said, she lobbied on behalf of companies/groups that do work with the government. In the last two cases listed above, she was working with groups with a vested (in the case of CCFDA, stated) interested in changing or affecting legislation. Now she has the ear of the PM. Is it illegal? No. Is it unethical? Maybe. Is it slightly hypocritical on Harper's part? I think so. Is it worth coverage in the mainstream press? Abso-fuckin-lutely.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Why the new look?

I hate when people change for the sake of change, so I suppose it's time for some self loathing. Actually, I'd had a few people tell me the greenish-grey on green writing was hard to read sometimes, especially on laptop screens. Plus, it' s coming up on the first anniversary of Megalomedia (I believe the traditional gift is a tin of Green Giant corn) and what better way to ring in a New Year of media seethe? Lemme know what you think.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Memo to journalists

The gambling ring will only be a question for Gretzky in Turin if you ask questions. Please stop pretending it's not something you have total control over.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's a good news, bad news kind of thing

So, it appears CBC has decided to keep their "Reality Check" segment. I suppose that's a 'yay,' though I reiterate my belief that reality checks should be part of every story. There is a 'boo' here, however. Check out this "Reality Check" on Gordon O'Connor's sketchy history as a lobbyist. Silly me, I though the "Reality Check" was where the CBC got beyond the sound bites and spin and tried to shed light in an objective way. This, to me, seems more like an opinion piece or a somewhat biased analysis piece. There's any number of excerpts from this piece that strike me as decidely un-reality-checkesque, but this one is especially good:

But asking the right questions in a parliamentary committee is not the same as making the final judgment on multimillion or multibillion-dollar contracts that are being sold by former colleagues and, one assumes, friends.
One assumes, does one? See, this one would have assumed that assumptions don't belong in a "Reality Check." But this one would also have assumed that the irony of having one of Paul Martin's biographers write a piece examing conflict of interest in Martin's rival's government would send warning signs to the CBC crew. Shows what I know. Post Script: In the interest of shameless self promotion and providing convenient links to coverage, check out my MediaScout post on O'Connor.