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Ford: Manners matter, especially in the age of the social media plague – Calgary Herald

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Maybe it’s time to rein in excesses of social media, says columnist Catherine Ford.


Thomas White / REUTERS

It’s become a common sight: a young couple in a restaurant, seated across from each other, both thumbing frantically on their smartphones. Presumably, they’re not texting each other, but one never knows these days.

Such lack of etiquette is not solely the purview of the young who believe tattooing every inch of their skin won’t affect their job prospects or will still be a pretty sight when they reach my age. Maybe young men who think wearing a ball cap backwards is the height of fashion never learned the rules; otherwise, bad manners are endemic across the generations.

Case in point: I once sat across the table from a prominent CEO, a Very Important Person who wore his cellphone in a holster on his hip and placed it on the tablecloth at the banquet, the better to consult it regularly while ignoring everyone else but his flunky seated at his side.

I must assume he believed himself to be so important — honorary president of the host organization — that no one would mention the incredible lack of good manners he exhibited. And he was right. Nobody called him out on it; not even me.

As an aside, I have learned from more than 50 years of observing and writing about grand poohbahs that men (and women, too) who are truly worthy and important share common attributes: they are conscious of their power and position and they are loath to display it, loath to flaunt it openly and are scrupulously careful with the “little” people whose careers they control. I’ve known a few, not nearly enough, but every single one had impeccable manners.

As for the younger generations, when social scientists wring their hands in dismay and advise parents to monitor their children’s screen time because they believe there is a correlation between the amount of time spent staring at a screen and the increase in self-harming behaviours, the only proper response should be a resounding “Duh!” Is this not a case of blaming the machine and not the message?

At the risk of contradicting a whole slew of experts, it might not be the screen time that is causing a spike in teenage suicides and self-harm, but what is on the screen. It’s doubtful that Pokemon Go or Spider Solitaire are agents of harm. But social media is delivering a steady diet of mockery, insults and cyberbullying.

Girls and young women especially are treated to a barrage of sexual innuendo, crude images and hurtful language. For immature brains and not-quite-yet-adult emotional control, the harm done can be stunning. The same researchers who report a 45 per cent increase in mental disorders in children as young as five and adults as young as 29, also report increases in self-harming behaviour, including suicide.

When CBC Radio host Michael Enright referred to social media as a “high-tech gift to mass stupidity,” I hoped he was referring to the mind-boggling gullibility of people who choose to believe Facebook before fact; Twitter before truth. Even worse, social media delivers its messages, particularly the vile and caustic ones anonymously.

Blame my age or my generation or even my sense of fair play, but I don’t read anonymous letters or pay much attention to rumours or gossip until some source I trust confirms the fact. For years before social media revolutionized communication, letters were written on paper and delivered to my desk. If they were unsigned, they went directly to the garbage can. That rule should still apply, regardless of the medium.

The British government introduced the first online safety laws last year. They hold the companies responsible for social media sites have a “duty of care” toward their users. As the government explained in a news release, the law would require “companies to take reasonable steps to keep their users safe and tackle illegal and harmful activity.”

Is this censorship. Yes. Is it necessary? Probably.

Frankly, if the solution to stopping cyberbullying were left up to me, the first thing I’d do is outlaw anonymity except in extreme cases. And only then, a life should be in danger.

Only cowards hide behind anonymity. Only bullies pick on the weak and vulnerable. And both, when in positions of power, frequently feel free to abuse that privilege.

Such people don’t learn to be cowards and bullies when they become adults. It is as children they are nurtured and encouraged, today emboldened in their nastiness by ready and available social media.

Catherine Ford is a regular columnist for the Calgary Herald.    

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Amazon reveals ‘Lord of the Rings’ subtitle that hints at storyline

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The long-awaited, expensive Middle-earth fantasy series from Amazon.com Inc has a name: “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”

Amazon’s Prime Video revealed the full name of the fantasy series on Wednesday ahead of its planned streaming debut of Sept. 2.

The show’s storyline takes place thousands of years before the events in writer J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” books, which are set in the fictional land of Middle-earth and were brought to life in blockbuster movies.

The subtitle foreshadows a story “that welds the major events of Tolkien’s Second Age together: the forging of the iconic rings,” Amazon said in a statement.

Creators J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said the series “unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Numenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”

“Until now, audiences have only seen on screen the story of the One Ring,” they added. “But before there was one, there were many … and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”

Amazon spent about $465 million filming the first season of the show, according to government officials in New Zealand, where the series was filmed. The company is expecting to make five seasons of the show, making it one of the most expensive TV series ever.

The first season will be available in more than 240 nations in multiple languages, Amazon said. New episodes will be released weekly.

 

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Media Advisory: Premier Furey, Minister Osborne, Minister Haggie and Dr. Fitzgerald Available to Media – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Education, the Honourable John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services, and Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer of Health, will hold a media availability tomorrow (Thursday, January 20) at 2:00 p.m. to discuss COVID-19 and in-person learning for K-12 students. They will be joined by Tony Stack, CEO and Director of Education of the NLESD.

The availability will be live-streamed on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and on YouTube.

The availability will be virtual and all participating media will join by teleconference only. To participate, please RSVP to Jillian Hood (jillianhood@gov.nl.ca) who will provide the required details.

Media planning to participate must join the teleconference at 1:45 p.m. (NST) to be included on the call. For sound quality purposes, media calling in are asked to use a land line if at all possible.

– 30 –

Media contacts
Nancy Hollett
Health and Community Services
709-729-6554, 327-7878
nancyhollett@gov.nl.ca

Tina Coffey
Education
709-729-1906, 687-9903
tcoffey@gov.nl.ca

2022 01 19
11:50 am

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Reporter reflects on relationship between athletes, media after testy exchange with Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl – Global News

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A veteran Edmonton sports reporter whose career has seen him be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame says he believes it’s more difficult for journalists to smooth things over when there’s friction with an athlete than it used to be.

“It’s not supposed to be an adversarial relationship between the media and the players,” Postmedia writer Jim Matheson told Reid Wilkins of 630 CHED’s Inside Sports radio program on Tuesday night. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I think I’m very fair at what I do.”

Matheson’s name was trending on Twitter for much of the day after a tense exchange at a post-practice media availability with Leon Draisaitl, one of the Edmonton Oilers‘ two superstar centres.


Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes with Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz.


(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

“Obviously, something I’ve written or said has ticked him off, but I have no idea what that is,” Matheson said.

“It’s not the most pleasant situation to be honest.”

Matheson asked the German-born Draisaitl questions after the Oilers practised at Edmonton’s Rogers Place on Tuesday about the team being mired in a weeks-long funk after a dominant start to their NHL season.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers collapse in third and lose to Senators

The journalist, who has covered the Oilers for about 40 years, asked Draisaitl if, amid the team’s second six-game losing streak, he had thought the team was past getting into such slumps after the Oilers’ last two regular seasons were quite successful.

“Sure. Yeah,” Draisaitl said.

Matheson then asked Draisaitl for his thoughts on what the biggest reason is for the team’s recent losses and what the one thing is he thinks is most important for the team to improve on.

“Yeah, we have to get better at everything,” Draisaitl replied.

“Would you like to expand on that?” Matheson countered.

“No,” Draisaitl answered. “You can do that. You know everything.”

At that point, Matheson decided to ask Draisaitl why he was being so “pissy.” Draisaitl said he was simply answering the questions and Matheson suggested they weren’t very “good” answers.

“I have one more for you,” Matheson then said. “Leon, you show your frustration on the ice last game against Ottawa. Is that a good thing when you show it so the other team knows you’re frustrated?”

“Yeah it’s a great thing for sure,” Draisaitl answered.

After his answer, a voice in the background of the media availability can be heard saying, “I think we’re done.”

Matheson said he was aware the exchange blew up on social media almost immediately after it happened but pointed out that as a journalist, he does not want to be part of the story.

“And when I write my story tomorrow, I will not be the story either,” he said. “I will just say that Leon wasn’t very illuminating with his answers.”

The Oilers’ recent struggles have been compounded by the fact the team will have gone through a stretch this month of only playing one game in 15 days as an indirect consequence of pandemic-related public health restrictions. Some players have suggested having to stew in their problems as they wait to get their season back on track has been difficult.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers return to Rogers Place for first time with new COVID-19 restrictions in place

Matheson told Wilkins that coincidentally, the pandemic may also indirectly be making it more difficult to smooth things over with a player when there is friction between him and a reporter.

“Things aren’t the way they used to be and they need to go back to the old days,” he said Tuesday night. “If I was having a disagreement with a player, you could sit beside him in the dressing room and say, ‘Have I done something to upset you? Tell me what it is and I can try to make it better if it’s something I said or did.’”

Matheson said if the player feels he is deserved an apology and he can understand why, he has no problem offering him one.

“I’ve written some things over the years… where you’ve tossed off some gratuitous shot which seemed like a cheap shot at a player and then you go to bed at night and you sleep and you toss and turn and you get up in the morning and you say, ‘That wasn’t very nice of me,’” he said. “And then the next day at practice, you go up to a player and you say, ‘I’m sorry, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say,’ and you can apologize and go on from there.

“But that’s not the way it works now in today’s NHL… because with COVID, you don’t get into the dressing room and so you can’t sit beside a player and say, ‘Look, have I done something to upset you?’”


Jim Matheson poses in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday Nov. 13, 2000. Matheson will be inducted into the Hall and will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award during a ceremony Monday night.


(CP PHOTO/Frank Gunn)

Wilkins said he reached out to the Oilers to ask if Draisaitl wanted to appear on his program as he was going to speak with Matheson about the awkward media availability. He said the Oilers politely declined to make him available, saying they felt he did not need to rehash what was said.

“I thought I asked a couple of softball questions to start with,” Matheson said, noting that another Oiler answered many of the same questions on Tuesday without one-word answers.

“But Leon didn’t want to answer the question, so he just said, ‘Everything.’ OK. I thought it was just a normal, ‘Would you like to expand on that?’ and he said, ‘no.’ And that’s when I said, ‘Look, I’m getting one word answers, so…’”

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland believes team will turn it around

While Matheson said he would like the opportunity to talk to Draisaitl to see if there is something he has done to upset him, he does not regret asking the NHL’s 2020 Hart Trophy winner why he was being “pissy.”

“If I walk away and just take what he said, then I don’t look very good, so I was just standing up for myself,” he said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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