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Feds plan $30M ad buy to help media deal with COVID-19 fallout – Toronto Star

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OTTAWA—The federal government announced Wednesday that it is planning a $30-million COVID-19 awareness advertising campaign and moving closer to implementing long-promised tax credits for newspapers as it seeks to support Canada’s struggling media industry during the pandemic.

Yet the measures were immediately deemed by some as insufficient to deal with the financial pinch that newspapers, broadcasters and other media organizations, many of which were struggling even before COVID-19, are now facing as their advertising revenues evaporate.

Several media organizations have blamed that collapse in revenue for their decision this week to lay off hundreds of journalists and support workers, and shift their operations by closing or combining publications and ending print editions during the week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previewed the coming support during his daily appearance outside his Ottawa residence, where he emphasized the importance of Canadians having accurate information while thanking journalists for doing their jobs.

“Right now, it is more important than ever that Canadians have access to the latest news and information,” Trudeau said. “To ensure that journalists can continue to do this vital work, our government is announcing new measures to support them.”

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault later announced the government plans to spend $30 million on an advertising campaign to raise awareness about COVID-19 — money that he promised would go primarily to Canadian media organizations.

Those include Canadian newspapers, magazines, television stations and online publications, Guilbeault said, “so the revenues generated by this campaign can breathe new life into our media.”

The federal government has spent on average about $39 million per year on advertising since the Liberals came to power in 2016, according to official figures. That represented just more than half what it spent each year between 2010 and 2015 when the Conservatives were in government.

Those increasingly scarce advertising dollars have also shifted more and more away from newspapers, radio and television toward online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which are not Canadian-owned.

Guilbeault also said the government has finished putting together a panel tasked with assessing whether media organizations qualify for three different tax measures that were first promised last year.

The most significant is a tax credit that qualified newspapers can claim on up to 25 per cent of the wages or salaries they pay to their journalists or other eligible employees. The credit, which is not available to broadcasters, is retroactive to salaries that were paid starting on Jan. 1, 2019.

“It is essential that Canadians can obtain authoritative, well-sourced and factual information related to COVID-19,” Guilbeault said. “This is why the government of Canada is taking immediate action so Canadians can continue to access diverse and reliable sources of news.”

The measures were widely criticized as too little to make a real difference, including by the head of one large newspaper chain in Atlantic Canada that laid off 240 employees — or about 40 per cent of its workforce — on Tuesday and shuttered several of its publications.

“This is not going to help us,” said SaltWire Network president Mark Lever. “Our business, we see two-thirds of our revenue at risk here. I mean it went away overnight with cancellations and businesses shuttered.”

Lever was skeptical newspapers would get very much of the promised new advertising money, suggesting broadcasters and online platforms would see the lion’s share. And he said newspapers were already working the tax credits into their business models before COVID-19.

“It’s money due to us that’s been frankly already spent,” he said. “So it’s a shame to see that the aid package is repurposing money already committed.”

Bob Cox, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press and chair of News Media Canada, bluntly accused Trudeau of lying when he spoke of new measures to support journalism.

All the government has done is reannounce measures “that were first announced a year ago that have been mismanaged and delayed and to date have provided zero dollars to news outlets,” Cox said in an opinion piece to be published Thursday in some newspapers.

SaltWire wasn’t the only newspaper group to lay off staff this week. More than 140 employees of a co-operative that owns six daily newspapers outside Montreal were also temporarily laid off on Monday and the organization said it was ceasing print editions during the week.

Lever said what news organizations really need is more liquidity to be able to ride out the precipitous drop in revenue until after COVID-19. That and for the government to finally take action against foreign social-media sites that circulate news content for free while stealing ad revenue.

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Daniel Bernhard, executive director of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, echoed that assessment, noting Facebook, Twitter and other sites continue to benefit from Canadian journalism while being free of having to pay any corporate tax.

Bernhard was also skeptical that the measures announced on Wednesday would make a huge difference to media organizations, adding he was worried the government would be slow in approving tax credits or other assistance at a time when it is facing so many other challenges.

“Not only are these measures small and were probably insufficient when times were normal, I’m not confident that they’ll be able to get this package out the door with enough time to be helpful,” he said.

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Sarah Simpson Column: Lacy’s wild ride: Social media saves the day – Cowichan Valley Citizen

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Remember back when I wrote a few of my columns about Lucy, the leucistic hummingbird? I can’t believe it was three years ago already. Lucy vanished from the neighbhourhood at some point years ago and although it was a wild bird, I had hoped she’d stick around.

SEE RELATED: A one-in-a-million piece of good news

Recently, however, a little white bird did end up back at its home with the help of a few humans, after six days of being on the lam.

Maple Bay’s Chris Young said the family cockatiel Lacy, (not to be confused with Lucy the wild hummingbird) took off on a six-day adventure. Unbelievably, they got the bird back.

“The reason I found it so amazing was the local valley and neighbourhood network social media platforms; that’s the only reason we got Lacy back,” Young said. “There would have been no way [otherwise]. People need to sign up for these things. They need to use social media for how great it can be to leverage information quickly at the press of a button.”

Lacy, who is often permitted to fly free inside the house, escaped through an open screen door on July 28 while Young was out watering.

“It was like a flash of lightning. She busted past my head and she was gone. She flew up into the Cowichan Valley blue yonder hundreds of feet into the air, I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “And I’m just standing there going ‘Oh boy, this is not good!’ She was gone. I’m looking at her fly away going: ‘This is it, I’ll never see her again’ and it’s not even my bird, it’s my son’s bird!”

The first thing the distraught dad did was post the information to the Maple Bay-area neighbourhood group social media pages he’s part of. The community took it from there.

“I just started getting all of these responses and it kept on going and there were hundreds of people looking at it and I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing.’”

Days went by but, according to social media, Lacy had been sighted so there was still a speck of hope.

“A pure white cockatiel sort of stands out in the wild, you know?” Young said.

With continued chatter online about his missing feathered friend, Young realized how amazing social networking can be — if it’s used for good.

“There’s a platform here where I pressed a button and all of a sudden everyone’s aware of what’s going on with our little bird,” he said. “Then all of a sudden she gets found.”

It took six days, and poor Lacy was not doing all that well, but she was found alive, a mile-and-a-half away from home, by a nice family who’d been part of the, Young estimated, “500 eyes” keeping an eye out for her.

“People need to join these groups that are local. They’re not trashy bulletin board talks, they’re ways to get to people in a click of a button. We would never have seen that bird again. There’s just no way,” Young said. “Join these things. If there was a missing child or something goes wrong that’s worse than our little white bird…people have to realize how powerful these little local chats are and what a difference they can make for even greater things.”

He said membership in these online groups is only increasing.

“Those platforms are expanding and they’re critical to the safety of our kids and our valley,” he said. “It really opened my eyes to it a little bit.”

Young thanked everyone who played a role in finding his son’s bird — especially the family that found her.

“They found her on her last legs,” he said.

Young said his research shows domesticated birds usually last just two days outside their homes.

“They don’t have any mechanisms to survive in the wild,” he said. “The biggest thing is water. They don’t find water because they don’t know how to do it really.”

Now she’s safe, Young has let himself imagine what life must have been like for Lacy out in the wild.

“She survived in the world of predators,” he said. “She must have dodged Cooper’s hawks and Peregrine Falcons and she would have stood out like a sore thumb and somehow she survived.”

I hope the same can be said for my Lucy, wherever (s)he is.

And, from following so many neighbourhood groups in search of “good news” stories to tell, I can attest to the usefulness and practicality of some social media neighbourhood groups. While some are just NIMBYs and full of negative talk, I’ve witnessed others work together to round up horses, pigs, find dogs, return prescription glasses, raise money, reunite kids with lost stuffies and more.

Growing up, my mom used to send us out with a warning that she had eyes all over town so if we were up to no good, somebody would let her know.

I know it’s not the same but it’s kind of nice to know that those eyes, however digital, are still on the lookout when folks need a helping hand.

ColumnistComedy and Humour

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Newly Revised Map Charts Media, Entertainment And Technology Universe

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Evan Shapiro, a veteran TV executive who is now president of National Lampoon and a college professor, has seen the media, entertainment and technology universe grow increasingly complex.

So, in preparing to teach a new class about the business at Fordham this fall, he did what any explorer would: He made a map of the universe. (Click on it below to see its full, multicolored detail.)

Shapiro, a former head of cable networks like IFC and Pivot who first floated the map in a LinkedIn post this month, readily acknowledges he is not the first industry cartographer. In the post, he gave a shout-out to one high-profile effort, a media landscape map regularly published by Recode, calling it “very insightful” and noting it was a fixture for years in his classes at NYU.

“However, it’s somewhat incomplete and misleading,” he wrote. “It leaves out the companies that are, in fact, the biggest players in media, and entire sectors which must be considered in context, if you want a true picture of the landscape of media.”

The LinkedIn post drew 100,000-plus views and more than 100 comments, including from fellow college profs and media executives offering suggestions, edits and feedback. A few asked for permission to use it in their classes at Georgetown, UCLA or elsewhere and Shapiro obliged, posting updated versions in the comments section underneath the post.

Financial figures and other metrics came from public filings and, for privately held companies, from reports of recent investments that suggest their estimated planetary circumference.

Unlike the heyday of Rand McNally, a digital map can be constantly updated, which is helpful given potential deals in the future involving TikTok, Microsoft, ViacomCBS and many more. As the pace of consolidation and disruption continues around the world, it’s good to keep a finger poised above the “backspace” button.

Source: – Deadline

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VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star – Victoria News

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Greater Victoria police officers came together to learn bhangra from a social media sensation on Friday.

Officers from Saanich, Central Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay police departments along with West Shore and North Cowichan RCMP danced bhangra with Gurdeep Pandher on the front lawn of the B.C. legislature.

“Sharing joy [and] celebrating the love that comes with everyone dancing together,” said VicPD Chief Del Manak in a Tweet. “Turns out there’s even more talent in the Department that I knew!”

Pandher, from the Yukon, moved to Canada from India’s Punjab region more than 10 years ago. His videos of bhangra dancing in scenic locations around Canada has earned him a social media following of more than 300,000 people.

Phander announced on Twitter Aug. 7 that he was coming to Vancouver Island for a 10-day visit.

During his time on the Island, the social media star has shared his spirited dance moves from Salt Spring Island, Nanaimo, Ucluelet and Victoria’s Government Street. Sandher has even danced with a surf board in one arm and two feet in the Pacific Ocean at Tofino’s Long Beach.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

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VicPDVictoria Police DepartmentWestshore RCMP

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