Two days removed from losing the Stanley Cup Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, players and management of the Montreal Canadiens held their annual exit meetings and spoke with the media on Friday before heading home for the summer.
As he gears up for a hectic few weeks of offseason business, general manager Marc Bergevin addressed what’s to come for the team and most importantly, his own future with the club. Here are three takeaways from his end-of-season media availability.
Will Bergevin Sign an Extension?
With one year remaining on his current contract, it’s understandable that questions about Bergevin’s future were raised, but his answers didn’t provide any clarity on the situation and only fuelled the speculation surrounding him.
“I have one more year on my contract, and I will honour that,” Bergevin said when asked if he wanted to continue in his role.
This may just be a negotiating tactic on his part, but it certainly doesn’t help stop the rumors even though it has been reported that negotiations have started between Bergevin and owner Geoff Molson. Still, the 55-year-old GM admitted that this season full of challenges was tough on him, especially mentally. After nine years of doing one of the toughest jobs in sports, the wear and tear are starting to show.
In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman wondered whether Bergevin and Molson will discuss a new front office structure that sees Bergevin being promoted to a higher position. This would ease some of the day-to-day burdens that being the GM carries and keep him with the Canadiens.
Joël Bouchard’s Departure
Friday’s end-of-season media availability wasn’t even the biggest Habs-related news of the day. The Anaheim Ducks announced that Joël Bouchard will be the new head coach of the San Diego Gulls, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. Bouchard spent three years as the bench boss of the Laval Rocket in the AHL and captured the Canadian Division title on the strength of an impressive 23-9-4 record.
Bergevin explained that Bouchard, whose contract expired on July 1, was offered to either continue as head coach of the Rocket or join Dominique Ducharme’s staff as an assistant with the Canadiens. In the end, it was Bouchard who decided to leave the organization.
“He knew that we were interested in him. It wasn’t a case of someone not doing their job. It’s just that Joël decided to go in another direction,” Bergevin said. “We’re never going to hold anyone back. He had a job in Laval or here with the Montreal Canadiens.”
Bouchard’s departure is a significant loss for the Habs and it makes Bergevin’s offseason to-do list even longer as he begins the search for a replacement. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bouchard return the Habs at some point down the road.
Phillip Danault’s Future in Montreal
One of Bergevin’s biggest offseason priorities will be to retain the services of pending unrestricted free agent Phillip Danault.
The 28-year-old enjoyed a stellar postseason and proved his value to the Canadiens as a premier shutdown centre in the NHL. Replacing him would be no easy task if he is lured by a lucrative offer on the open market.
“We love Phil Danault. I think he even mentioned that we offered him a contract in September. He’s still in the plans. The next few weeks will decide Phil’s future, but we’d definitely like to keep him in Montreal,” Bergevin said.
Perhaps a run to the Stanley Cup Final will entice Danault to stay with his hometown team and the understanding that a team needs a lot of good centres to win. Not to mention that he plays alongside one of the Habs’ best wingers in Brendan Gallagher.
No doubt all eyes will once again be on Bergevin during a busy and stressful July as he tries to set his team up for another deep playoff run in 2021-22, all while continuing to strengthen the Canadiens for years to come and contemplating his future with the franchise.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media Community Manager and a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.
CBC grapples with how to program an Olympics in the social media age – The Globe and Mail
After dozens of Olympics on television, you might think it would be easy for a network programmer to figure out which sports Canadian audiences want to watch. But conventional wisdom goes only so far. “In a Winter Games, it’s pretty much: hockey, figure skating, curling – and then you sort everything else out,” said Chris Irwin, the executive producer and head of production for CBC Olympics, in a recent interview. “But a Summer Games, once you get past the big three – athletics, aquatics, gymnastics – everyone in the room has a different opinion.”
In the entertainment realm, TV networks that are programming a new show might base decisions on the performance of similar fare: if CSI Miami pulls in 10 million viewers on Thursdays in primetime, it’s a safe bet CSI: Poughkeepsie would do more or less the same. That works for sports, too: Networks can project with some accuracy the viewership numbers for a typical Yankees or Maple Leafs game.
But the relative rarity of the Olympic Games, combined with their changing locations and the head-swirling developments in both technology and viewer habits, have made historical comparisons of little use for the Tokyo Games, which will unfold 11½ to 16 hours ahead of viewers watching across Canada.
“It’s definitely part science, part art form,” Irwin said.
Looking at data from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, “you have the right time zone [as Tokyo], but it’s winter sports, so nothing is relevant. You go back to Rio, and it’s summer sports on the same schedule, but nothing is relevant from a time-zone perspective,” he said. “So, when you get people weighing in and saying, ‘The highest-rated sporting hour in Rio was this [particular event],’ you say, ‘Yes, but that’s because it was at 9 o’clock eastern time and it followed that big, huge other thing.’ And then you try to map that to Tokyo, and [that same sport] is at 8 a.m. and the available audience is one-tenth of what it is [in primetime].
“So, the last comparable Olympics with information that could help you make better decisions was [the Beijing Games in] 2008 – and you can imagine how irrelevant that research is. Nobody was watching streaming. There wasn’t even an app in 2010,” for the Vancouver Games. “So the idea that people [might watch the Olympics] on their phones, and in their beds and on trains and planes and everything, was just non-existent until this cycle.”
Canadians will have a dizzying array of ways to access these Games: five broadcast channels (the main CBC network, which will devote 23 hours every weekday, and 24 hours on weekend days, to coverage; two channels each of CBC’s sub-licensees, TSN and Sportsnet); up to 20 livestreams at once on CBC’s Gem app, the new CBC Olympics app, and the CBC Olympics website. Amazon Prime will have a CBC Olympics hub filled with live games and replays. Select bits of content will run on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. CBC Sports even started up a TikTok account for Tokyo.
“As we look at these Olympics and [the 2022 Winter Games] coming up, and Paris [in 2024] down the road, I’m convinced it’s our responsibility not to just expect Canadians to come to the main channel and watch it like they used to,” said Chris Wilson, the executive director of CBC Sports and Olympics. We’ve got to challenge ourselves to present the Olympic content in different ways, on different platforms and be very creative with our partners.”
Mindful of its role as a public broadcaster, the CBC will be offering the opening ceremony, which airs Friday morning, in eight Indigenous languages on its online platforms: Eastern Cree, Dehcho Dene, Denesuline, Gwichʼin, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Sahtu Dene and Tlicho.
And while TSN and Sportsnet are only available to paying subscribers, all of the action airing on those cable networks will also be available free on the CBC’s streaming platforms.
That free and universal access – at least for those who have broadband internet – contrasts with the United States, where NBC will spread content across its over-the-air network and several of its pay cable channels. And it is using the Games to push subscriptions to its new streaming service, Peacock.
The CBC is also treating these Games as a promotional opportunity. “We’re certainly interested to see if we can drive additional awareness and additional free subscriptions to Gem,” Wilson said. “There’s no question that Gem is a massive part of our future.”
During the Games themselves, all of those online platforms will help Irwin and his team take the country’s pulse on a continuing basis: They’ll be able to see, in real time, what people are engaging with, what they’re sharing. “Actual clicks, actual minutes, actual numbers, when [viewers] joined, when they left: There are some very specific things that the digital and social metrics can tell us all about what the country is thinking, what the users are thinking,” Irwin said. But, he adds, those numbers need to be read with some caution. Social media is not a perfect proxy for the wider world.
And while the CBC can simply run all of the available sports on its online platforms, it needs to aggregate the largest possible audience for the five broadcast channels at its disposal, especially the main CBC network. That’s where it will aim to show the biggest event of interest to Canadians at any given moment. Long-form competitions – including team sports, road races, golf – will be carried on TSN and Sportsnet, with the CBC main channel possibly cutting in to the final minutes.
Recognizing that many viewers can and do access results on their phones as soon as they occur, the CBC decided years ago it would prioritize live events. “That’s where the change has come to the global media [landscape],” Irwin said. “You can no longer stage the release of information in a way that makes a show [of tape-delayed content] work, or make an audience play along.”
So the broadcaster decided “live trumped everything, and that your filters to make decisions started with live – live Canadian, live of Canadian interest – and worked its way down, to delayed international events that aren’t for medals.” That made it immediately clear where an event might end up on its matrix of outlets.
Irwin knows that makes it challenging to bring in a primetime audience, but he says there is still a hunger for that communal, narrative experience. “The audience, if they love [a particular sport], they did see it when it happened live,” possibly hours before. “And we told them about it on our digital platforms and in our shows and social [media] talked about it, and our daytime show reviewed it, and we’ve interviewed athletes since it happened. But now we have a very captive audience that has made an appointment to come and watch us tonight, when they have a chance to sit down. And we’ve made them a promise that we’re going to tell them a story.”
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U.S. senators want social media to be held liable for spreading health misinformation – Global News
Two Democratic U.S. senators on Thursday will add to the stack of bills going after Section 230 — a law that protects tech companies from being sued over content posted by users — making such platforms responsible for health-related misinformation.
The legislation introduced by Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Lujan requires internet platforms such as Facebook to take down health and vaccine-related misinformation during public health emergencies or be held liable for that failure.
It also directs the Department of Health & Human Services to issue guidelines on what constitutes health misinformation.
“These are some of the biggest, richest companies in the world and they must do more to prevent the spread of deadly vaccine misinformation,” Klobuchar said.
The bill quotes a study from the Center for Countering Digital Hate that found social media platforms failed to act on 95% of coronavirus-related disinformation reported to them.
Kevin Martin, a vice president of public policy at Facebook, said the company supports reforming Section 230.
Increasing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation
“We believe clarification on the difficult and urgent questions about health related misinformation would be helpful and look forward to working with Congress and the industry as we consider options for reform.”
The Health Misinformation Act is not the first bill targeting tech firms’ liability shield from Senator Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate antitrust subcommittee.
Earlier this year, she co-sponsored another bill called the Safe Tech Act with two fellow Democrats. It aims to make social media companies more accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment and discrimination on their platforms.
The chief executives of Google, Twitter and Facebook have said Section 230 is crucial to free expression on the internet. They said it gives them the tools to strike a balance between preserving free speech and moderating content, even as they appeared open to suggestions that law needs moderate changes.
Health officials warn about disinformation, conspiracies
Several Republican lawmakers have separately pushed to scrap the law entirely over decisions by tech platforms to moderate content critical of former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
There are several other pieces of legislation aimed at changing the law that have been making the rounds for over a year, including a bipartisan bill from Democrat Brian Schatz and Republican John Thune.
Trump repeatedly pushed for the legal protection to be stripped away over what he alleged was censorship against conservatives.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler and Sam Holmes)
© 2021 Reuters
Current's 2021 Public Media Salary Survey – Current
Earlier this year, we asked our readers to take an anonymous survey about what they earn as a public media employee. We received more than 1,900 responses. Below, you can enter your salary and use the filters to explore the results and see how you compare to similar public media professionals. Read more about our key findings and email us with any questions, comments and observations.
This survey was conducted as part of On the Money, our special coverage of money in pubmedia.
Thanks to Eric R. Schuler, quantitative/computational research methodologist with American University, who advised us on designing and fielding the survey.
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