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Feds planning $30M ad buy to help media deal with COVID-19 fallout – National Observer

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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 re-announce 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.

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.

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

“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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2020.

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Premier League star Zaha racially abused on social media – CNN International

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Ahead of a game in the English Premier League on Sunday, Zaha wrote on Twitter, “Woke up to this today,” then showed what he had been sent by a user who appeared to be a fan of Palace’s opponent in Sunday’s match, Aston Villa.
“You better not score tomorrow you black c**t. Or I’ll come to your house dressed as a ghost,” the person wrote.
There was an accompanying image of the Ku Klux Klan and a cereal box named, “c**n flakes.”
Crystal Palace called the abuse “an absolute disgrace” on Twitter and said it “should not be happening.”
Aston Villa then retweeted the London club’s statement, vowing to issue a lifetime ban to the individual who posted the abuse.
“We deplore the disgusting racist messages sent to @wilfriedzaha. We condemn all forms of racial discrimination and stand with @CPFC,” the club based in Birmingham, central England, wrote.
“We are working with the police in investigating this extremely serious matter and when the culprit is identified AVFC will issue a lifetime ban.”
Later that day, the West Midlands Police announced on Twitter that it had made an arrest — of an individual whose lifetime ban could be very long indeed.
“We were alerted to a series of racist messages sent to a footballer today and after looking into them and conducting checks, we have arrested a boy. The 12-year-old from #Solihull has been taken to custody. Thanks to everyone who raised it. Racism won’t be tolerated,” the police force tweeted.

Premier League statement

The Premier League, widely considered the most watched football league in the world, also condemned the actions of the offender.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Premier League stands alongside @wilfriedzaha in opposing this, and discrimination in any form. There is #NoRoomForRacism, anywhere,” it tweeted.
“We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse. Through our dedicated reporting system we can take immediate action on cases like this.”
Late last month, the league launched the system that would “enable players, managers and coaches to notify” it “of serious discriminatory abuse” received via direct messages on social media platforms.
“Each case will be reviewed, reported to the relevant social media company, investigated and legal action taken where appropriate,” said the league.
Speaking before the Villa game, Palace manager Roy Hodgson said the actions of the individual were “cowardly” and “despicable.” He praised Zaha for going public.
“It is very saddening on the day of a game that a player wakes up to this cowardly and despicable abuse,” Hodgson told Sky.
“I think it is right that Wilf made people aware of it. I don’t think it is something he should keep quiet about.
“I think it is very good that our club, Aston Villa and the Premier League are doing everything they can to find out who this despicable individual is and one can only hope that they will get identified and they will get called to account and they will pay for these actions.
“There is literally no excuse. There is no excuse at all.”

Past instances

Zaha was racially abused last year and said he received death threats after winning a penalty for Palace against Arsenal in October 2018.
The head of Kick It Out, which according to its Twitter handle has “campaigned for equality since 1993,” told CNN in February that he believed racism in sport is “worse now than it was five years ago.”
“Football is very different to what it was in the 1970s, racism is not the endemic thing that it was in the 1970s,” said Sanjay Bhandari. “Over a 40, 50 year period? We’ve definitely [made progress]. But it’s worse than it was five years ago, and it’s worse than it was seven years ago.”
Kick It Out said Sunday on Twitter: “We are extremely disappointed that Wilf Zaha has once again been the subject of targeted racial abuse.”
“Those who continue to select professional sports people in this way, need to be brought to justice and face the strongest consequences.”

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After issuing social media plea, Saint John, N.B., woman still waiting for live kidney donor – Globalnews.ca

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A Saint John woman who made a social media plea last year for someone to donate a kidney to her is still waiting and hoping.

Kara Phinney was born with small kidneys. She said her health has been pretty good since childhood, despite numerous medical appointments and constant bloodwork.

“I’m working two jobs, so, I mean, I’m doing okay,” said the 26-year-old.

“You have your good and bad days.”

A bad day can include extreme fatigue, among other things.

Read more:
Stranger aims to help Edmontonian find urgently needed kidney donor

Phinney has been on home dialysis for more than year. It runs nine hours per day. She said she does it at night and sleeps through the majority of it, but it does wake her up if she inadvertently rolls over on the tubing.

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Phinney’s mother, Patti, went through a lengthy testing process to become a potential donor for her daughter, but was rejected.

“All in all it was quite a disappointment, thinking you’re going to give her this gift and it’s not going to happen,” Patti Phinney said.

“And then, you know, what’s the next phase?”

Just over a year ago, Kara posted a plea on Facebook asking for someone to donate a kidney to her. She said it was shared thousands of times, and got another round of shares when it popped up as a memory on her profile.

She said she turned to social media to help raise awareness about the need for donations, both for herself and others.

“I don’t really tell people about it,” Kara said of her condition.

“A lot of people found out from it because you don’t really see that I’m sick. It looks like everything is fine, but it’s not.”






6:19
Emergency goalie David Ayres supports Green Shirt Day organ donation campaign


Emergency goalie David Ayres supports Green Shirt Day organ donation campaign

Interim Health Services Manager of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program (MOTP) of Atlantic Canada Shelby Kennedy said social media is becoming a more common way for people seeking organs to try to find someone willing to make a live donation.

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However, she cautioned that some posts include too much personal information, which could be misused.

Kennedy said she sees merit in the use of social media, but stressed that it needs to be done safely.

“So we’re trying to work with recipient and donor sides to make that more of an option if that’s the route that you choose to go to try to get a transplant,” Kennedy said.

“We’ve seen some successes across Canada with those, but we have not seen it happen here in Atlantic Canada.”

Read more:
Nova Scotia’s presumed consent law for organ donation to go into effect on Jan. 18

MOTP performs all transplants for Atlantic Canadians in Halifax. Kennedy said there have been nine kidney transplants on New Brunswick residents in 2020, including two live donations.

She admits that’s about half the usual figure for this time of year, but the numbers were impacted by COVID-19-related cancellations of all transplants for more than six weeks.

The Phinneys are hopeful New Brunswick follows Nova Scotia’s lead in enacting a presumed consent law, which will require people to opt out of donating organs, rather than opting in.

That Nova Scotia law comes into effect in January.

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Read more:
Nova Scotia’s presumed consent law for organ donation to go into effect on Jan. 18

“I think it’s going to help a lot of people,” Kara said.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Patti. “And I think they’re going to have to encourage doctors and specialists to come to Halifax to be able to perform (these surgeries).”

Kara’s brother-in-law is now being tested to see if he could donate to her. He went through testing once before, but the tests expired and had to be redone.

As she seeks a live donor, Kara is not on the wait list for a kidney from a deceased person. She said people on the wait list have to drop everything and rush to the hospital once they get the call that a kidney is available for them.

As long as she stays reasonably healthy, she said, she’ll continue to aim for a live donor.

“You get stressful some days,” she said. “I think if you overthink about it, is when it gets a little more stressful and frustrating.

“And it is frustrating, you know. It’s a wait.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Packed, Maskless Great White Show Reminds Social Media of Band’s Tragic Concert Past – Variety

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Unsafe concert conditions seem to know no genre boundaries in the mid-pandemic era. Two weekends ago, it was country artists Chase Rice and Chris Janson stirring outrage when they proudly posted videos of themselves playing to packed crowds of fans with no masks in sight. Last weekend, it was hip-hop star DaBaby in the hot seat for playing a show in a large, packed nightclub where his unmasked female fans were literally reaching out and grabbing him.

Now the attention has turned to veteran hard-rock band Great White, which performed an outdoor show Thursday night for a general admission audience in North Dakota, many of whom posted videos giving no indication of even a single mask in the crowd, with fans jammed together, and even shirtless in some instances.

As the lack of protocols at the show came up for scorn on social media, it was not lost on many commenters that, if there is any band that might want to avoid being mentioned in the same breath as “unsafe concert conditions,” it’s Great White,

“Great White doing a precaution-free concert right now is like if Great White were to do a precaution-free concert right now,” jabbed writer Evie Nagy — one of countless references Twitter users made to the 2003 tragedy in which 100 people were killed and 230 more injured in a pyrotechnic-related fire at a Great White show in Rhode Island.

In the tradition of Rice and Janson posting photos and videos of their caution-to-the-wind packed crowds, it was Great White singer Mitch Malloy himself who posted the most circulated video from the show.

[embedded content]

Late Saturday night, the group issued a statement that emphasized that emphasized that the show went well while saying they consider themselves “far from perfect” and offering an apology “to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement.”

“We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time,” the group said. “We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. North Dakota’s government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws. We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement. The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions. Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town. We value the health and safety of each and every one of our fans, as well as our American and global community. We are far from perfect.”

The group’s statement did not specify what safety precautions the promoter assured them about.

One difference between the show performed by Great White in North Dakota and the controversial gigs by Rice, Janson and DaBaby is that there wasn’t even the promise of social distancing Thursday, as organizers said ahead of time that none would be enforced or even encouraged.

“We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don’t have any,” event coordinator April Getz told the local Dickinson Press in touting the city’s “First On First: Dickinson Summer Nights” programming last month. (Grand White was the only act of national renown announced for the series.) ““I guess it’s one of the first events this year that didn’t get canceled and was approved by the city; we’re all very, very excited about it… It’s one of those things where if people feel comfortable coming down and mixing and mingling, that’s their personal choice. We’re leaving it up to everybody that chooses to attend.”

Although they were in the minority, there were some on social media defending Dickinson’s and the band’s right to put on shows with no coronavirus-related restrictions and fans’ right to attend.

“People are INSANE about masks right now,” wrote one Twitter user. “People are actually looking for pictures around the country of people not wearing masks to get pissed about. If you’re mad people in North Dakota at a Great White concert aren’t wearing masks, get out of the house and get a hobby.”

The version of the band that played Thursday in North Dakota has three members who have been with the group since the 1980s, along with lead singer Mitch Malloy, who joined in 2018. It is not to be confused with “Jack Russell’s Great White,” a spinoff group started by original singer Russell in 2011.

Russell is probably hoping no one associates him with this version of Great White or the North Dakota show, judging from recent omments he made strongly favoring the use of masks.

“There’s no need to be out [in public places],” Russell said in an interview with Austria’s Mulatschag that was found and publicized by Blabbermouth. “People don’t take it seriously — they don’t take the virus seriously. It’s sad. …It’s no small wonder that when you open all these places up, ‘Gee, the numbers [of coronavirus cases] rose up.’ It’s, like, what did you think was gonna happen? It’s, like, ‘I took my mask off and I got COVID.’ Well, what a big surprise that is.” Russell added, “If you don’t wanna help yourself, help everybody else. ‘Well, it’s my right. It’s my human right.’ Well, look, dude, you’ve gotta pay for your car to get smogged, you’ve gotta have a seat belt, you have a driver’s license, you have to have a license to be born, you have to have a marriage license. I mean, so you have to wear a mask for a while so you don’t die. What’s the problem?”

The version of Great White fronted by Malloy doesn’t have any other dates listed on its tour schedule before August 7, when it is booked for Riverfest FM in Fort Madison, Iowa, billed as “Southeast Iowa’s largest rock and roll festival.” That five-day festival in four weeks is “absolutely happening,” according to posts on the fest’s Facebook page. “With all of the uncertainty, it would have been easy to throw in the towel on this year,” Riverfest said, “but we firmly believe that ‘If we rock it, they will come’ and boy, do we have a line-up that is prepared to do just that!”

North Dakota has not been ravaged by COVID-19 as much as other states have, largely by virtue of a mostly rural population. Nonetheless, the state has seen rapid recent upticks. As of Saturday, North Dakota’s Department of Health reported 623 active cases, double the number from just 10 days earlier. Ninety of those cases were being newly reported Saturday. Earlier in the week, the state’s total case count was reported at 4,070.

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