CWA Canada condemns outrageous sentence against Egyptian-Canadian journalist

OTTAWA (June 23, 2014) – CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, is outraged at the sentences handed down against three journalists in Egypt today and demands their immediate release.
Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian serving as Al-Jazeera’s Cairo bureau chief, and two of his colleagues were each sentenced to seven years in prison on trumped-up, terrorism-related charges.
CWA Canada joins other journalist groups and human rights organizations in condemning the action.
“We cannot allow the Egyptian government to get away with this,” said CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon.
“We cannot allow journalists to be punished or imprisoned for doing their jobs.

“Democratic countries and organizations must stand up to defend freedom of the press or this sort of injustice will spread. As journalism goes, so goes democracy.”
Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were accused of supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which the authorities have declared a terrorist organization.
In fact, they were simply doing their duty as journalists, covering protests against the military-backed government.
For more information contact:
Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA/SCA Canada
(613) 820-8460

Hassan Yussuff elected new head of Canadian Labour Congress

Source:  cbc.ca

The Canadian Labour Congress elected a new president for the first time in 15 years at its convention in Montreal on Thursday.

Hassan Yussuff defeated incumbent Ken Georgetti by 40 votes — 2,318 compared with 2,278 for Georgetti.

There were 29 spoiled ballots in the hotly contested election.

Georgetti, who was born in Trail, B.C., was first elected in 1999 and went on to become the labour group’s longest-serving president.

read entire story here

Associated Press polices story length

Source: washingtonpost.com

Citing a “sea of bloated mid-level copy,” Associated Press Managing Editor for U.S. News Brian Carovillano last week instructed fellow editors at the wire service to limit most “daily, bylined digest stories” to a length of between 300 and 500 words. Top stories from each state, Carovillano directed, should hit the 500 to 700-word range, and the “top global stories” may exceed 700 words but must still be “tightly written and edited.”

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Toronto Star’s digital journalists and the market devalue of journalism

Source: rabble.ca

Last week the Toronto Starannounced a couple of things. First, they laid off 11 full-time page editors. Second, they announced the creation of a new department, torstar.ca and its intention to hire 17 new digital staff including video editors, digital producers and social media assistants. This is the first time folks in the torstar.ca wing of the company have actually been journalists. Historically torstar.ca been staffed by production folks and was, for a few years, jobbed out to another company completely.

The odd thing is, the new hires will be paid a good deal less than their compatriots in the print newsroom. According to a memo sent by the paper’s editor-in-chief Michael Cooke and its managing editor, Jane Davenport, the Star will pay the new hires the same kind of money they could make at Bell Media, Huffpo or Facebook. They called the lower salaries (over $200 per week lower, in some cases) “market-based rates.” The memo states: “… new digital jobs cannot be rated on print business legacy rates of pay.”

This is an odd position, especially in a unionized shop that is in the print business. A digital journalist is still a journalist and must be doing the same work as a print journalist. So why is one employee paid less just because his or her work doesn’t end up as ink on cellulose?

And, the new positions are in a different department from the main newsroom, which means that although they are unionized jobs, the new hires won’t be bumped, if there are layoffs. And, of course, that means that print journalists don’t roll into the torstar.ca positions. They could, of course, apply for the 17 new slots, but they’d have to take a cut in pay.

According to Unifor unit chair for the Star, Liz Marzari, the union is worried that the digital journalists are getting substantially lower pay for the same work. And, since, in the near future almost all journalism work will be digital, that means the new hires will set a new low bar for journalists working at the Star. “We object to the company trying to take an end-run around hard-won seniority,” says Marzari. “We understand that if there were lay-offs the new digital journalist hires would be vulnerable, but let’s have a conversation about it, not just isolate them.”

She says Unifor can take legal action and wants to continue discussing the situation withStar management.

Of course, in an ideal world Star staff would have already acquired the digital skills they need to be capable online journalists. And, in that same ideal world, they would be paid the same no matter what kind of journalism they practiced. But clearly, that’s not the case. TheStar has historically treated online work as production work, not journalism.

Back in the late ’90s I visited the Toronto Star to see how they tackled online news. My hosts directed me to a sprawling space full of eager young faces, all illuminated by monitors that still gave off the nerd-attracting pheromones of fresh packaging. But this was not the newsroom of the Toronto Star. This was a whole other team, the web team. They were not journalists, not part of the Guild and they were not paid on the same wage scale as the ink-stained folks nearby. In fact, they weren’t even allowed to alter copy from the newsroom. What went in the paper went on the site, no rewritten headlines, no new subheads, no grabber quotes. Certainly no video or new photos. Nothing. The people in the room were just web jockeys, there only to shovel the print edition online. The Toronto Star wanted to keep these young people as far away from journalism and as far away from the Guild as they could.

But now, even though the new torstar.ca team will be doing journalism, the old ideas of the print view of the worth of digital journalism seem to prevail. It is devalued. And the Starseems to want it both ways. They want the cachet of being an elder statesman of print journalism in Toronto, but when it suits them, they expect to behave like a nimble, digital native, despite having far more overhead, legacy equipment and legacy union agreements.

That’s not fair. It’s not fair to long-time Star journalists who will be bought out, retire or move on without truly participating in digital journalism. It’s not fair to the new hires who will be blamed for setting a new low in journalism wages and who will lack the deep experience of the Star culture and maybe of serious journalism and still be expected to publish quality work. And, it’s not fair to the publication’s readers, who should expect both the best journalism and the most modern delivery of that news and not have to settle for one or other because the Star wants to cavort around as mutton dressed like lamb.

Wayne MacPhail has been a print and online journalist for 25 years, and is a long-time writer for rabble.ca on technology and the Internet.

Newspapers hire ex-Clark aide to oppose her new recycling scheme

Source: thetyee.ca

Look who’s lobbying for the struggling newspaper industry.

British Columbia biggest daily and weekly publishers have hired a key member of the BC Liberals’ 2013 re-election campaign in a last-ditch effort to change Environment Minister Mary Polak’s mind about the imposition of a hidden tax on newsprint.

Dimitri Pantazopoulos registered to lobby Polak on behalf of Pacific Newspaper Group, Black Press and Glacier Media from April 7 to May 7. The Maple Leaf Strategies partner’s registration with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists for B.C. says his objective is “recognition that newspapers are unique in relation to extended producer responsibility and finding a solution that reduces the cost of the (printed paper and packaging) regulation to newspaper producers.”

When Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals amended recycling regulations in May 2011, they did not include a requirement for producers to disclose the fees on printed paper and packaging to consumers. Multi Material B.C., which is overseen by executives of corporations like Walmart, Procter and Gamble and Tim Hortons, is scheduled to take over the province’s recycling system on May 19 and will charge producers a 20 cents-per-kilogram fee on newsprint.

Newspaper publishers estimate it will cost their industry $10 million a year. Newspapers Canada CEO John Hinds fears the fees will force more community newspaper closures and the loss of 300 to 500 jobs.

Toronto-based Postmedia, owner of B.C.’s biggest daily publisher PNG, donated $10,000 to the Liberals on Oct. 17, 2013, five months after its Province newspaper endorsed Clark over Adrian Dix and the NDP in the 2013 election. For the quarter ended Feb. 28, Postmedia reported a $25.3-million loss because of continuing declines in print advertising and circulation.

Pantazopoulos, a former Rob Ford and Stephen Harper advisor, moved to B.C. to be Clark’s principal secretary in April 2011. She promoted him to assistant deputy minister of intergovernmental relations before he took leave of absence to work on the BC Liberals’ re-election campaign. Pantazopoulos took credit for polls that predicted the surprise May 2013 win over the NDP, but has not published his detailed methodology or data. The week after the election, he resigned to become a lobbyist. His Maple Leaf office is on the fourth floor of the World Trade Centre at Canada Place, three floors down from Clark’s Vancouver cabinet office.

Pantazopoulos, however, will be competing for attention with two former Clark aides who are in MMBC’s corner.

Former Clark executive assistant Gabe Garfinkel quit government on Oct. 25, 2013 to join Fleishman Hillard where his lobbying clients include a mix of biopharma and energy corporations. Garfinkel’s MMBC lobbying undertaking began Dec. 2, 2013 and runs until Dec. 31, 2014. His stated plan is “ongoing discussions to provide program updates.”

Steve Kukucha, a partner in Liberal-allied Wazuku Advisory Group, has a more complex assignment with MMBC. Kukucha was the so-called “wagon master” of Clark’s campaign this time last year, managing her media plane and bus. His lobbyist registration lists Clark, deputy minister Neil Sweeney, Polak and aide Matt Mitschke as lobbying targets for “assisting with issues around implementation of MMBC mandate.”

Since the Liberals won, Kukucha has gained eight lobbying clients. Last month, he registered for Quebec alternative energy company Enerkem and tire recycler Crumb Rubber Manufacturers Co. In February, he effectively took over from ex-federal Tory cabinet minster Chuck Strahl as a key lobbyist for pipeline company Enbridge.

Strahl registered Dec. 6, 2013 to set-up meetings between Enbridge and deputy premier Rich Coleman through June 6, but quit prematurely on Feb. 12. The Vancouver Observer revealed the previous month that Strahl was lobbying for the Northern Gateway Pipeline proponent while serving as the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the watchdog for Canada’s federal spy service.

Kukucha began his Enbridge lobbying gig on Feb. 20, naming Clark, Coleman, Polak, Energy Minister Bill Bennett and Aboriginal Affairs minister John Rustad as his targets. Also named on his file are Sweeney, Clark’s chief-of-staff Dan Doyle and deputy chief of staff Michele Cadario.

Kukucha donated $9,915 to the Liberals since 2005, of which $6,100 was in his former role as an executive with Ballard Power. Wazuku donated $8,275 in 2012 and 2013 to the Liberals.

North Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin has reported for local, regional, national and international media outlets since he began as a journalist in 1990.

- See more at: http://www.thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2014/04/22/Clark-Recycling/#sthash.v9YDsprO.dpuf

INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP MISSION CONDEMNS THE VIOLENCE AGAINST JOURNALISTS

Source: rsf.org/

The International Partnership Mission on safety and protection of journalists and press freedom in Ukraine, currently in Kiev, strongly condemns the violence that today claimed the life of Vesticorrespondent Vyacheslav Veremyi and left at least 27 journalists injured.

The delegation of national and international freedom of expression and media support groups, which includes Reporters Without Borders, calls on the Ukrainian authorities to allow an immediate, independent, and transparent investigation and to bring those responsible to justice.

« Over 167 journalists have been injured since the beginning of the political crisis in Ukraine in late November 2013. Many of these journalists were deliberately targeted and none of their cases have been properly investigated. This state of impunity is unacceptable and fuels more violence. We call on all parties to facilitate de-escalation of the situation and show respect for the work and the physical integrity of media personnel, and we remind the Ukrainian authorities of their responsibility to ensure journalists’ safety. We call on the international community to use all leverage possible to facilitate these aims », said the mission members.
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33-year-old journalist Vyacheslav Veremyi died of gunshot wounds in a Kiev hospital today, in the early morning. He was dragged out of his taxi by unknown assailants in the city centre, while returning home from Maidan Square. The journalist was violently beaten up, and according to witness accounts, he was shot in the stomach after he showed his press card.

At least 27 journalists were injured while covering the violent clashes in Kiev on 18 and 19 February. Most of them were attacked by members of the « Berkut » special forces and unidentified assailants.

The International Partnership Mission is also very concerned by censorship attempts such as the blocking of Channel 5 broadcasts across the country since 18 February.

The International Partnership Mission on safety and protection of journalists and press freedom in Ukraine includes representatives of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTU), the Ukrainian Association of Press Publishers, the European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ), International Media Support (IMS), Open Society Foundation, WAN/IFRA, Article19, Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The delegation’s 19-20 February 2014 visit to Kiev aims to gather first-hand information about current press freedom violations in Ukraine, to show solidarity with journalists at risk, and to coordinate further responses.


Postmedia Decapitates Parliament Bureau: A Tipping Point?

The more investigative reporters sacked, the less incentive the rest have to probe.

Source : By Sean Holman, Yesterday, TheTyee.ca

Postmedia’s decision to torch its parliamentary bureau last week will inevitably compromise the newspaper chain’s ability to produce investigative public affairs reporting.

There will be fewer hands to file access to information requests, fewer eyes to read public records and fewer minds to think of questions that aren’t being asked.

That’s a blow to Canada’s democracy, given that Postmedia publishes the National Post, the Canada.com website and nine newspapers in major cities across the country.

Indeed, CTV Power Play host Don Martin has already eloquently made a similar point.

But I also wonder whether the now endemic level of such layoffs in the industry could compromise the willingness of still employed journalists to do critical investigative work without fear or favour.

Let me explain. In my experience, it’s not uncommon for reporters to end up working for or trying to influence the officials and institutions they once covered. For example, journalists on the politics beat have been known to eventually become government staffers and lobbyists.

So it’s reasonable to assume that, given the instability of the news industry, some journalists may increasingly come to see the subjects of their stories as potential employers. In doing so, those same journalists may come to wonder how their coverage will affect their chances of being hired if they are downsized.

True, most institutions and officials understand that journalists have to report on news releases and news events. They may even understand that journalists need to ask tough questions as part of that coverage. But how do those institutions and officials feel when a journalist initiates a story rather than

responds to what others are publicly doing and saying?

Do those institutions and officials think the journalist is just doing their job (true) or do they think the journalist is just making trouble (false)?

A changing job description?

In attempting to answer those questions, it’s worth remembering that as the news media’s ability to produce such investigative journalism declines, so too may the frequency of such reports. Hard-hitting reporting will likely become even more of an outlier on the nation’s news pages and broadcasts than it already is.

As a result of this rarity, some institutions and officials may increasingly come to see investigative reporting as not part of a journalist’s job — in practice, if not principle.

So how willing would those institutions and officials be to hire someone who has, in their opinion, just been making trouble? How many journalists — who are working under the threat of unemployment — are asking that same question?

And how might that affect the news media’s willingness to investigate the powerful, rather than just repeating what the powerful have to say?

Of course, I don’t necessarily have the answers to any of these questions — or the many others that may arise if journalists increasingly start thinking about their job futures rather than their present jobs. Moreover, it’s important to remember there are many reporters for whom the public trust will always come before any personal considerations.

But as the number of people guarding the bulwark of liberty continues to forcibly decline, these are important questions worth asking.

Despite all the doom and gloom about the print media industry, if there is only one paper in a metro market it will be profitable said newspaper analyst John Morton. “It just may not be as profitable as newspapers used to be.”