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How to save newspapers/Magazines Update

Posted December 23rd, 2010 in International, pop culture, Technology, united states by MarkOttawa

Ditch the paper is the conclusion of this lengthy article in the London Review of Books. That would sadden me greatly; I can only read at length in hard copy, and find it much faster to, er, load and scan–an age thing I guess:

Let Us Pay
John Lanchester on the future of the newspaper industry

A large part of the decline in these figures is to do with classified advertising. This was for years the secret weapon of the newspaper business…

…in the US, the newspaper business is a local one, with a strong tendency towards de facto monopoly. Most of America’s cities have (or had) a dominant newspaper, and that paper had a monopoly of classified advertising. During the long years of the 20th century’s newspaper boom, that monopoly was the proverbial licence to print money. It was this gushing faucet of classified revenue which allowed the elaborate superstructure of American newspapers to develop. The well-staffed offices, the air of self-conscious seriousness shading into pomposity, the tendency to file what from a British point of view always seemed several hundred words too much – all these features of American papers were underpinned by the easy money of monopoly-based classified advertising. It is one reason lessons from the US are not instantly generalisable to the UK, where the newspaper market is national, and as competitive as any equivalent business anywhere in the world. It is also the reason US newspapers are for the most part more fundamentally serious than British ones. In Britain, the papers have never been able to forget for long their close proximity to the entertainment industry [emphasis added, how very true]…

Would it matter if it [the daily press] died?… In Britain, it is tempting to say that the papers’ many defects stack up to such an extent that they wouldn’t be missed. A complete submission to the idea that news is entertainment and entertainment is news; a pack mentality and the idea that only things which are being already covered in the media are worth covering; a general retreat from the principles of serious journalism, investigative journalism, and a horror of complicated ideas; amnesia; a default setting to knee-jerk populism: none of these things is a virtue. But the UK newspaper industry is an energetic and cacophonous thing, one which sees a big part of its role as being to make the government’s life as difficult as possible. Because of the way our constitution is skewed towards the incumbent government, for a lot of the time the press is a de facto form of opposition…

So, now what? Is that it, Game Over for print media? I don’t think so, not quite yet. Just as one of the industry’s biggest strengths, classified advertising, turned out to be a hidden weakness when that business simply upped and left, now there is a similar paradox, but the other way around: one of its greatest weaknesses may turn out to be a potential saviour. That weakness is simple: it is the cost of physically producing a newspaper. The production and distribution of newspapers is fantastically, outlandishly expensive…

…If newspapers switched over to being all online, the cost base would be instantly and permanently transformed…

…what the print media need, more than anything else, is a new payment mechanism for online reading, which lets you read anything you like, wherever it is published, and then charges you on an aggregated basis, either monthly or yearly or whatever. For many people, this would be integrated into an RSS feed, to create what amounts to an individualised newspaper. I would be entirely happy to pay to subscribe to Anthony Lane on movies in the New Yorker, and Patricia Wells on restaurants in the Herald Tribune, and Larry Elliott on economics in the Guardian, and David Pogue on technology in the New York Times, and I also want to feel free to read anything else which catches my eye, whenever I feel like it – I just don’t want to have to think about paying every time I click on the article to read it. I want a monthly or yearly charge, taken off my credit card without my having to think about it…

Canadian papers seem to be doing comparatively well so far.  Indeed I’ve noticed that the Saturday Ottawa Citizen and Canada’s National Whatever are now as hefty as the Sunday NY Times.  By chance I heard the Citizen’s editor of the radio today saying that they are planning (in effect following the Globe’s lead) to concentrate hard news in the online version with print focusing on in-depth analysis and feature pieces.  Hurl.  Not what I want in the morning.  For those I read magazines–like the LRB and several others.

Update: As for magazines, David Brooks of the NY Times discusses his favourite articles of the year and concludes:

Everybody’s worried about the future of print journalism, but this has been an outstanding year for magazines. On Tuesday, I’ll offer more suggestions for holiday reading.


What’s wrong with Canadian journalism?

Posted December 20th, 2010 in Canada, Humour by MarkOttawa

At least seven of the 24 names on this sub-list for inside the Queenswayers are plain awful; few of the rest are beyond mediocre.  Your thoughts in the “Comments”, any names?

The Hill Times’ top 100 most influential people in government and politics in 2011


CBC’s The National’s At Issue Panel

The CBC’s At Issue Panel is one of the most-looked-forward to political panels because Andrew Coyne, Allan Gregg, and Chantal Hébert’s comments on the day’s top issues are insightful and accurate. Politicos usually take note of the 13-minute panel and is a must watch among the country’s top decision makers.

QMI Agency bureau chief David Akin

As the bureau chief of the wire agency for the largest news publisher in Canada, David Akin is influential in shaping the news agenda. He’s also a top social media user and often breaks stories on Twitter and through his blog.

La Presse bureau chief Joel Denis Bellavance

Joel Denis Bellavance is a well respected and well connected reporter who often break stories that the English media follows. As one insider said, if Mr. Bellavance has a story, “you can almost rest assured it came straight from the PMO.”

CBC reporter Rosemary Barton

Since veteran broadcaster Don Newman left his seat at the CBC-TV’s Rosemary Barton has taken on an even bigger presence for the national public broadcaster. She’s been called upon to fill in for Power & Politics host Evan Solomon, and she often breaks stories that shape the news agenda. Ms. Barton is new to the list and is also an influential Twitterer, engaging her followers with witty commentary and political news.

George Cope, CEO Bell

With the $1.3-billion purchase of CTV, President and Chief Executive Officer Bell George Cope steps into a whole new league as he leads the transformation of the country’s largest communications company. The deal will split the assets of CTV Globemedia, which includes The Globe and Mail newspaper, which will go to the Thompson family’s Woodbridge Company Ltd., although BCE will keep a 15 per cent stake in the newspaper. BCE will have full ownership of CTV and its specialty television, digital media, conventional TV and radio. Mr. Cope plans to broaden the media corporation’s content assets across its Bell mobile, online and television services.

Le Devoir reporter Hélène Buzzetti

Hélène Buzzetti has a keen political sense and often breaks stories which the English national media later follow. Her stories are a must-read for her in-depth analysis of the federal political scene from a Quebec perspective.

Toronto Star senior writer Susan Delacourt

Susan Delacourt is a Hill veteran who writes for Canada’s largest circulation daily paper. Her stories are full of insider perspectives and analyses. Top political players keep a close eye on her work, as does her large blog, Twitter, and Facebook following. She’s one of few Hill reporters who uses her blog to give insightful political commentary on the day’s top issues.

La Presse columnist Alain Dubuc

Alain Dubuc has been covering federal and provincial politics for more than 30 years and is a must-read columnist for any top political players wanting a French-Canadian perspective on the day’s most important stories.

CTV Ottawa bureau chief Bob Fife

Top political players and government officials often take note of Bob Fife’s stories. As a Hill veteran, he’s cultivated many sources on all sides of the House to break stories that shape the political agenda.

Toronto Star, Le Devoir, The Hill Times columnist Chantal Hébert

Chantal Hébert has covered politics since 1975 and top federal political players trust her honest, ever sharp and insightful views of Parliament and federal politics. She’s definitely an influential must-read and often shapes the political agenda.

The Globe and Mail Ottawa bureau chief John Ibbitson

As the Ottawa bureau chief for one of Canada’s national newspapers, John Ibbitson plays a large role in shaping both the news and political agenda. He has close contacts inside the PMO and often is the first to break stories which are followed closely by top political and government players [see here].

National Post columnist John Ivison

John Ivison is well-known for his Scottish accent, but is also best known for his gritty, insider, and thoughtful must-read columns that often have Hill reporters chasing stories of their own. Top political and government players watch his column closely.

Halifax Chronicle-Herald Ottawa bureau chief Stephen Maher

As the bureau chief for a regional paper, Stephen Maher has been successful at breaking original and exclusive national stories which are later followed by other Parliament Hill media.

CTV Power Play host Don Martin

Don Martin only recently started hosting CTV’s influential political show, Power Play, but is an influential media personality on his own. For years, he’s written thought-provoking insider columns with significant scoops that every politico follows intimately. Apparently, the government’s recent decision on BHP came partly to prove Mr. Martin wrong. He had written a column suggesting the government would allow the takeover. That’s some influence [see here].

Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin

Anybody who follows the federal political scene also follows Lawrence Martin, The Globe and Mail’s influential columnist. Not only is his latest book, Harperland, an insider’s account of the Prime Minister’s control on Ottawa, a must-read, but so are Mr. Martin’s columns [see here].

Political satirist Rick Mercer

Through seven seasons of the Rick Mercer Report, Rick Mercer has not only entertained Canadians by poking fun at politicians, but he’s also influenced public opinion through his political satire. Federal political players and insiders always want to hear what he’s saying, unless of course he’s ranting about them.

National Newswatch founder Will LeRoy

Every morning, it’s almost guaranteed that the first website politicos visit is Will LeRoy’s news aggregator. Mr. LeRoy’s aggregator is so popular, that he’s attracting top advertising dollars, and is often breaking his own stories with inside scoops and tidbits of information that reporters take note of to follow-up on. He’s hot.

CTV Question Period host Craig Oliver

Craig Oliver has been covering federal politics for more than 50 years, and continues to be an influential journalist. He’s seen as a thoughtful and respected journalist who political players can trust. He often shapes the news agenda [see here, and second comment here--which raises a theme I often raise].

CBC blogger Kady O’Malley

Kady O’Malley is the mother of live blogging and continues to do it best. She has a large following as people tune in to her blog postings to get real time coverage of the most important issues of the day, coupled with insightful commentary [see here].

Corriere Canadese, The Hill Times and The Toronto Star columnist Angelo Persichilli

Angelo Persichilli’s influence comes from the platforms that he has to give his insider’s perspective of the top daily stories. He writes for Canada’s largest circulation daily, The Toronto Star, and Parliament Hill’s influential weekly, The Hill Times, as well as the daily Italian-language paper Corriere Canadese. He has close sources and he breaks news in his insightful columns.

Canadian Press bureau chief Rob Russo

Rob Russo recently won the prestigious Charles Lynch Award for best coverage of national issues at the 2010 Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner, a testament to not only his outstanding reputation as a newsmaker, but also the respect his peers have for him. Through leading a top-notch bureau, Mr. Russo’s team is often the first to break the day’s news, as a result influencing the federal political scene. The Canadian Press Ottawa bureau is trusted and influential.

Globe and Mail senior reporter and CTV Question Period host Jane Taber

Jane Taber’s stories are a must-read for the exclusive insider perspective of life on the Hill. As the senior political reporter for one of Canada’s national newspapers and the lead on a widely-read blog, Ms. Taber is an influential must-read [see here].

CBC pundit Greg Weston

Greg Weston left his years of writing for Sun Media during the Kory Teneycke fiasco, but has landed well at the CBC. Insiders say he’s responsible for heightening CBC’s profile with the scoops he has and the stories he breaks. He remains a key player among the Hill media, and is an influential player when it comes to shaping the federal political agenda. He’s an old fashioned journalist who breaks stories [see here, more on others too]…

Via David Akin at his blog.

Predate: Word sketches of mine from 2006 (in last link in quote):

English Canadian TV Pundits: 10 words or less

Jane Taber: Katie Couric without looks, brains or money

Jim Travers: Punching above his cranial capacity

Don Martin: Hunter S. Thompson without serious drugs or brains

Susan Riley: The class struggling

Rex Murphy: Only in Canada you say? Pity

Susan Delacourt: Hair punching above its weight

John Ibbitson: A conflicted but intelligent pixie

Gilles Paquet: The real and delightfully cynical deal

Don Newman: The chuckling fog (I like Mel)

Mike Duffy: The chortling tummy that showed a backbone a few months ago

Greg Weston: Something stinks and it couldn’t possibly be my judgement…


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The accelerating decline of Mother Corpse, radio version

Posted December 16th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, pop culture by MarkOttawa

When will the fall be made final?  Quelle misère out of which it should be put. At Taylor Empire Airways:

I am Canadian’ pitchman joins As It Happens

I gave up on CBC Radio right around the time my twenties disappeared into the rear-view mirror…

Just to age myself I started giving up on their radio about 15 years ago moving into my late 40s. All I can listen to now (despite the global warming fixation) is Quirks and Quarks, almost always pretty interesting. Ah, for Basic Black.

From a 2006 post at Daimnation!:

CBC radio dying too/Sook-Yin Lee sucks

In the car, with nothing else to consider, I listened Saturday, July 22, for a while to Definitely Not the Opera. The show was spending large amounts of our money to do special programs from New Orleans.

Host Sook-Yin Lee achieved a truly great moment in postmodern irony. She asked some nice old black guy she was interviewing whether he considered her a lady. He replied that he certainly did unless evidence otherwise came to his attention, for instance that a woman was, say, truly sexually loose. Ms Lee ragged him about this for some time (what a hoot) knowing full well that the fellow did not know this: “Sook-Yin Lee Funny Porn Movie Shortbus”.

How utterly disgusting, arrogant and condescending. And you’re paying for it.

Thank goodness for this:

Of course, the fact that Lee isn’t particularly good looking helps make her being naked and having sex un-erotic.

Chris Taylor has another post, with great photos, of CBC types outside the wire:

CBC Radio, 1943-44

There was a rather different view about reporting one’s country’s wars a while back or, as the French say, autres temps, autres moeurs.


WikiLeaks, Assange, and the major media’s not so amazing double standard

Posted December 7th, 2010 in Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

Assiduous Asshole Assange, would-be becoming destroyer of the Americans’ world (see end of fifth paragraph here)  has been charged in Sweden with serious sexual offences, amongst them rape (now called in Canadian law “sexual assault“).

Yet in almost all major media coverage of Triple A one gets the impression that those charges–if not trumped up at, perhaps, US government instigation (the saintly Swedes would stoop so low?)–are somehow simply a side-show.  With little bearing on how one should consider Triple A’s WikiLeaks actions.

For example, BBC World television, after reporting on Triple A’s arrest and denial of bail, had a subsequent piece today dealing with what they delicately described as his alleged “sexual misconduct” (I can’t find a BBC link with the phrase so this other one must suffice).

Now consider this, just as a thought experiment.  Canada’s very conservative Ezra Levant was a couple of years ago in a great deal of bother–and expense–with the Alberta Human Rights Commission for supposedly being in effect anti-Muslim.

If Mr Levant had at the same time been charged with serious sexual offenses by, say, Denmark, do you not think a typical story about his situation might likely have started something along these lines?

Right-wing commentator and activist Ezra Levant, who has been charged with rape by Denmark, is responding to claims that he has defamed Islam by…

The point being that the major media are doing their damndest to distance Triple A’s criminal problems from WikiLeaks itself. Which would not have been the case were the shoe on the right foot.


I’m dreaming of a white…

Posted December 4th, 2010 in International by MarkOttawa

…kingdom, not like the one I used to know:

Plus comment in the Daily Telegraph of a sort you’d be hard-pressed to find in our major media:

Cancun climate conference: the warmists’ last Mexican wave
The global warming scare was fun while it lasted, but the joke’s over, says Christopher Booker.

And guess who’s driving the final stake through Kyoto’s heart? From Spector Vision:

On Wednesday [Dec. 1], Montreal French-language newspaper Le Devoir reported a remarkable development in the climate change file: “Japan won’t agree to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 even if that means isolating itself at the UN climate change talks next week in Cancun, Mexico, a senior Japanese negotiator said [last week].”..


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The US Army bridging Afghan divides

Posted December 3rd, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, united states by MarkOttawa

I wish the Dippers and suchlike, and our major media, would read things like this from Bouhammer’s Afghan Blog; ain’t them Yanks and Rebels just awful?  Hell, it’s in the public domain so not worth the attention of Assiduous Asshole Assange.  Nor, more’s the pity, of the major media.  Not their agenda either:

Tobin’s Pass: Bridging a river, bonding the people

The following was sent to me by good friend JC who is currently serving in Afghanistan

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – From pursuing insurgents over the
daunting mountain peaks of Afghanistan to rescuing a local villager’s
car over a 130-foot bank, the soldiers of 2nd Platoon, Troop A, 1st
Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment, have proven their dedication to the
people of Afghanistan and fortified a steadfast bond with the people
of Parwan province. Nowhere is this bond more evident than in the
Ghorband District Center where laughter and song poured out of the
small concrete buildings as soldiers spend evenings sitting
side-by-side cross-legged on pillows with their Afghan National Police

This figurative bond is exactly why the soldiers were determined not
to leave Afghanistan without building a literal one for the people of
Ghorband, who desperately needed a bridge to cross a swift river that
parted two villages from the local bazaar and medical clinic…

U.S. Army Spc. Brian Lucas, a food service specialist from Sugar Hill, N.H., stops to take one last look at a bridge soldiers from the 2nd and Mortar Platoons of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment [more here], finished Nov. 10 for the residents of Ghorband District. (U.S. ARMY STAFF SGT. WHITNEY HUGHES)…

I do wish the Canadian government, through the Canadian Forces, allowed similar expression. Note that the immediately preceding link is an official one.


WikiLeaks revelations? Or, burnin’ rubber/Interactive map plus Canada Update

Posted December 2nd, 2010 in International, Technology, united states by MarkOttawa

A lot of smoke, very little fire.  This is what Spiegel Online (Der Spiegel is one of the major media recipients of material from Assiduous Asshole Assange) manages to highlight today, focused on Russia:

Washington Concerned about Berlusconi-Putin Axis

Russian Mafia an International Concern for US Diplomats

The US Is Betting on Putin

Cables Track US Diplomatic Efforts to Avert Russian-Georgian Conflict

US Forced to Change Course in Relations with Ukraine

The US Ambassador Learns that Cognac Is Like Wine [already mentioned at this post]

I am shocked, shocked to find…what? In a quarter of a million documents:


A time lapse of 251,287 documents: The world map shows where the majority of the cables originated from, and where they had the highest level of classification. View the atlas …

But there are perhaps shocking downsides–from a leader in The Economist:

…any gains will come at a high cost. In a world of WikiLeaks, diplomacy would no longer be possible. The secrecy that WikiLeaks despises is vital to all organisations, including government—and especially in the realm of international relations. Those who pass information to American diplomats, out of self-interest, conviction or goodwill, will be less open now. Some of them, like the Iranian businessman fingered as a friend of America, could face reprisals…

On reading diplomats’ dissembling, people may be tempted to sneer. In fact diplomacy’s never-ending private conversation ultimately helps see off war and strife. That conversation will continue. Too many people have too much to gain for it to stop. But it will be less rich, less clear and therefore probably less useful. WikiLeaks claims to want to make the world a better place. It will probably do the reverse.

More from a story in the paper:

For the most part, the leaks’ content is less important than their source, and the manner of the betrayal. Individually, the disclosures are trivial: some would be barely newsworthy if published legally. But collectively, they are corrosive. America appears humiliatingly unable to keep its own or other people’s secrets [i.e., it's not the nature of the "secrets" that matters, see start of post, but rather the fact and manner of their revelation]…

…casual damage to bystanders sits oddly with the founding mission of WikiLeaks, as outlined in 2007: “Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behaviour in their governments and corporations.” Early targets included high-level corruption in Kenya; alleged illegal activities in an offshore operation of the Swiss-based bank Julius Baer; the American prison camp at Guantánamo Bay; Scientology’s beliefs and practices; Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account; the membership list of the far-right British National Party; and a toxic-waste scandal in Africa. Cheekily, WikiLeaks also published classified Pentagon and British military documents about the damage leaks can do to national security…

Oddly, that material has now disappeared from its website. But the worries were prescient. This year WikiLeaks has focused almost exclusively on American government secrets, using material apparently leaked by Mr Manning…

So now a hatred-driven, mainly single target site, rather than a principled one aimed at tous azimuts. Thanks to that AAA fellow.

Update: The Guardian also has an interactive map.  And the NY Times lists cables on Canada here.


Canadian Government has no idea what the F-35 will cost…/Video Upperdate/What LM said Uppestdate

Posted December 2nd, 2010 in Canada, International, Technology, united states by MarkOttawa

…just like the US one (and all other prospective buyers).  The end of a post yesterday:

“Rivals Target JSF”/ More on why Update

Meanwhile our government claims our F-35s will cost 74.5 million each.  Sure.  The most recent limited production batch for the US have prices (without engines) of around $150 million each, it would seem.

Now we see the government finally coming somewhat clean:

[David] Burt [director for air requirements] conceded the $70-million to $78-million price tag per plane is not guaranteed. It could rise or fall, he said, depending on the timing of the delivery. Lockheed Martin has only recently started the F-35′s mass-production process. The earlier the slot in which an aircraft is produced, the more costly it is [emphasis added, our government says the Air Force will start receiving the planes in 2016--when full-rate production will just be starting and the full-rate price will therefore be at its highest].

Burt added that commodities prices and other factors could also drive up prices. “But they could also drive prices down,” he noted.

Talk about grasping at refuelling nozzles:

Does anyone really think the acquisition costs for 65 aircraft will stay anywhere near the $9 billion the government has budgeted? So how many F-35s might the Air Force end up with if the government does not add more money (most unlikely under continuing budget pressures)?  Our slowly shrinking fighter force–unless we hold a competition?

And note this from 2008, and how our government is now being exceedingly economical with the truth when it says the F-35 was somehow selected under the Liberal government in 2001 as a result of the American JSF competition:

Canada Lowers Number Of Planned Fighters

Canada has reduced the number of new fighters it plans to purchase to 65 from 80, and stresses that it has not formally selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) despite having participated in its development…

Despite the widespread and understandable assumption that Harper was referring to the F-35, Canada has not yet selected its next fighter, the DND emphasizes. Like several of the international participants in the JSF program, Ottawa plans to evaluate other candidate combat aircraft before making a decision, which is required by 2012.

Yet the government rushed to a decision two years early in 2010; this, I think, is the reason.

Update: A version of the post is at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute’s 3Ds Blog. Below is a list of contributors to the blog, weird:

David Bercuson
Douglas Bland
Derek Burney
Paul Chapin
Mark Collins
Mark Entwistle
Jack Granatstein
Colin Robertson
Hugh Segal

Upperdate: Tom Burbage, Executive Vice-President and General Manager F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Integration, will be appearing at 1530 this afternoon before the Commons’ Standing Committee on National Defence, video will be here. Somehow one doubts the discussion will be terribly informative or to the point.  One suspects there will a great concentration on jobs (pork) from all parties.

Uppestdate: No video, only audio.  The opposition parties performed better than the government, asking a fair number of fairly substantive questions as opposed to the Conservatives’ cheerleading ones.  Though no MP seemed to have a serious grasp of the related issues involved.

Mr Burbage held to the LM “all is well” party line, as indeed he would, wouldn’t he? He did make clear that Canada would pay the same price per plane as the US for the A model (unless there is Canadianization, e.g., for method of aerial refuelling).  He maintained that the $74.5 million per plane price, for deliveries starting in 2016, was well inside the ballpark. But that depends on the numbers in actual US full-rate production at that time, does it not?

No-one knows what the production rate will actually be in 2016 (if we actually start receiving the aircraft then); therefore Mr Burbage cannot really know the price per plane then. That depends on unknown US government–administration and Congress–decisions. So our government cannot know the real costs when even the Americans do not.

As for industrial benefits, Mr Burbage made it clear that the gazillions Canadian companies are touted to make by our government depend completely on total F-35 sales world-wide. And those are increasingly unclear, both in the US and elsewhere, think of those European budget crunches. So the industrial winnings remain a crap-shoot.

There are an awful lot of assumptions in play.  Mr Burbage (an intelligent and informed professional, what he must have made of our MPs) also made it clear that Canada had no substantive role in the 2001 competitive selection of the F-35 by the US, and that Canada was in no wise committed by that selection.  Not the line our government has been spinning.

Meanwhile at the Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs:

Canadian Commentary

Mark Collins — The 3Ds Blog
F-35’s final cost is unknown – More

Beyond Uppestdate: Our media simply regurgitate Mr Burbage’s opening statement. Pathetic reporting:

Canada could lose out on billions in contracts if F-35 deal yanked: Lockheed Martin

U.S. jet exec shoots down criticisms of F-35

The Brits, for their part, are reducing their planned F-35 buy, probably severely. UK companies have the largest share of non-US F-35 work. Will that be reduced with the Brits’ much smaller F-35 acquisition? That’s what Mr Burbage said would happen to Canadian companies if we do not buy the F-35.  And if we do buy the plane will our firms pick up some of that UK business? That would follow Mr Burbage’s logic.  One wishes an MP had asked the question; and one wishes our media would.

A final note on developments abroad:

JSF in Crosshairs of Dutch Defense Review

Dutch defense minister Hans Hillen says the F-16 replacement program — effectively the purchase of F-35s — will be part of the larger review of force structure in light of planned reductions in defense spending…

The Dutch are slated to buy 85 aircraft, but there has been much talk about reducing that figure to slightly more than 50 units.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to pressure Lockheed Martin for cost reductions.


One type of Afghan progress; or, an agent in place?/Don Martin Update/Journalism Upperdate

Posted November 26th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, Vancouver by MarkOttawa

An excerpt from a speech by B.C. Conservative M.P. Jim Abbott features prominently at this post today:

The disgraceful failure of our major media’s Afghan mission/Coalition crazy/Bob Rae Update

Canadian media coverage of Afghanistan for 10 years has been the equivalent of covering news in Canada and Canadian events by having three reporters driving around in a Vancouver police cruiser on Vancouver’s east side. What would that coverage tell Canadians about Canadians’ aspiration or the beauty of our land or our potential?..

But now we can see that Mr Abbott is merely the front-person for Terrible Terry Glavin (of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee, amongst other things).  From Mr Glavin at The Tyee, April 15 this year:

The way Canadians see Afghanistan is the way Afghans would see Canada if they had three or four reporters here who spent pretty well all their time in the back of a police wagon cruising Vancouver’s downtown east side. That’s not what Canada is about…

Via Terrible Terry.  Somehow I don’t think he’ll be complaining to the estimable M.P. about plagiarism.

Update: Don Martin is a journalist–it’s never quite clear whether he’s a reporter or a columnist–from Alberta who has been to Afstan. He likes to play the role of a hard-bitten, cynical, old-school newsman (but with a sharp sense of humour) who just calls them as he sees them and takes no guff from no-one. Unfortunately his vision is rather limited. He’s basically all hattitude and little cattle. Here he defends the honour of our gallant and intrepid journalists (see my comments, the third and fifth):

Safety = a Canadian MP in Afghanistan

Upperdate: Terry Glavin (yet again), who writes so well (heck, that’s one reason why he’s a real journalist), puts a lot of things Afghan together at this post ending:

…The trouble with Martin’s view is that he is getting pissy and deliberately missing Abbott’s point, which is that any given time there are rarely more than three or four Canadian reporters in Afghanistan and as likely as not they’ll all be embedded with the Canadian Forces in Kandahar, and not embedded with the Afghan people.

Martin doesn’t help his case by bringing the memory of the Calgary Herald’s Michelle Lang into it, either. Michelle had enormous respect for Canadian soldiers but she wanted to write stories about the Afghan people, outside the wire. It was in her memory that the Calgary Herald ran a baker’s dozen of my essays from “outside the wire” (here’s just one), which is a news media euphemism for the entire, heartbreaking, splendid and terrific country we call “Afghanistan.” Some more stories about that country and its people would be a good place for Canada’s journalists to begin to make amends for the distorted picture they’ve given Canadians about that country.

To be comfortably embedded in the Ottawa press gallery and to bitch about politicians who can dish it out as well as take it is churlishness, not journalism. More journalism about Afghanistan, please. That’s the point Abbott was making.

It can be done. It’s not that hard. It’s not even all that dangerous. A young comrade from the Ubyssey, the student newspaper at the University of British Columbia, committed several acts of useful journalism [emphasis added] from Afghanistan, “outside the wire,” all by himself, here.

Another one of those posts that just grew.


The disgraceful failure of our major media’s Afghan mission/Coalition crazy/Bob Rae Update

Posted November 26th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, Vancouver by MarkOttawa

Norman spectates acutely at the Globe and Mail online:

In the House of Commons on Thursday, Conservative MP Jim Abbott had some harsh words for Canadian news organizations:

A few days after returning [from Afghanistan], I was at a social event where MPs, senators and the national news media were mingling, and as I walked by some reporters, one of them asked me about my impressions from the trip. I told him, first, I was blown away with the complete enthusiastic dedication of the Canadian soldiers, aid workers and diplomats in Afghanistan … second, the coverage of Afghanistan by our national news media has been at best inadequate … the news coverage, or lack of it, on Afghanistan has actually distorted the impressions that most Canadians have, or many Canadians anyway. Canadian media coverage of Afghanistan for 10 years has been the equivalent of covering news in Canada and Canadian events by having three reporters driving around in a Vancouver police cruiser on Vancouver’s east side. What would that coverage tell Canadians about Canadians’ aspiration or the beauty of our land or our potential? This parallel is appropriate, because news organizations from Canada have had an average of three people in Kandahar, driving around in LAVs or confined to the air base.

Mr. Abbott, who is a strong supporter of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, offered these observations during debate of a Bloc motion condemning the Government’s duplicity in extending the mission to 2014. Given the paucity of coverage of that debate today, you’d have to extend his remarks about the media from Kandahar to Ottawa, and include opponents of Canadian participation in Afghanistan as well.

While most of the points raised yesterday by Conservative and Bloc MPs were predictable (and sometimes disingenuous), two interventions stood out and are well worth reading. From the Liberal side, Bob Rae explained why Canada is in Afghanistan – and why we must remain there – with an eloquence and intelligence that we’ve seldom if ever heard from the Conservative Government. Virtually nothing of what he said is reported in today’s papers. On the NDP side, Jack Harris tore through the Conservative and Liberal positions with devastating facts and logic. I could find nothing of what he said in today’s papers…

So first we had that Conservative coalition with the Bloc and now one with the Liberals; the prime minister sure seems to be considering them coalitions a pretty Good Thing after all.


Media out! Of Afghanistan/People’s Daily Online Update

Update: An exception to Mr Spector’s strictures: John Ivison, in the National Post’s “Full Comment”, is also impressed by Bobbety in the Commons:

Why Canada is in Afghanistan, and has to stay

We in the Press Gallery rarely report on parliamentary debates – usually for the very good reason they are so dull that if you don’t knit, you’d be advised to bring a book.

But there are exceptions and Bob Rae’s speech in the House Thursday must rank as one of those. There are no Churchills in the current Canadian parliament — a politician who, according to his friend F.E. Smith “devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches”  — but Mr. Rae has no peers when it comes to eloquence on the floor of the House. During the debate on the future of the Afghan mission Thursday, he explains his own thinking and why he arrived at the conclusion Canada could not simply pull out…


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