… Under the constant assault of cultural demands to conform to the dictates of screen culture, the media too has largely abandoned its traditional role as the Fourth Estate or has taken up that duty only as an afterthought. The responsibility of holding government to account is no longer the central driving force of media. Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV have become an amorphous hybrid of news and entertainment that gives what amounts to never-ending reviews of the performances of government leaders. Too often, the media no longer sees its duty as telling its audience what happened, when, why, how and by whom. Its drive has become to amass an online following by appealing to the preconceptions of particular audiences. The mission is no longer to broaden people’s knowledge and understanding but to present them with a narrow vision of the world that panders to their prejudices. – Excerpted from Restoring Democracy in an Age of Populists and Pestilence by Jonathan Manthorpe
His nickname may have been Dr. Foth, for his astute diagnoses of Canada’s body politic, but Allan Fotheringham lustily ignored the Hippocratic Oath’s imperative to “first do no harm”: He revelled in his ability to draw blood, for sport as much as for therapeutic purposes. He took down mayors and monarchists, prime ministers and PR men, other journalists and the justice system, bureaucrats and the bourgeoisie with whimsical wordplay that was no less cutting for its folksiness. He built them up, too, taking credit for sparking the political careers of Brian Mulroney, Paul Martin, and Stockwell Day. – Simon Houpt, The Globe & Mail
Normally, when your company becomes the most valuable firm in history, it is an occasion for unalloyed joy. Last week Apple Inc. passed the 2 trillion-dollar barrier, something no American company has done before. The only other 2 trillion company in the world has been Aramco—and Apple zipped past it, proving that silicon really is the new oil. But I suspect that Apple CEO Tim Cook’s socially distanced celebration might have been more fun if the company had not been simultaneously engaged in a high-wire confrontation with the game company Epic.
Being a double trillionaire is not an advantage in this flap.
First, let’s recap the situation. Apple takes 30 percent of the revenue generated by companies that use its App Store to distribute their software. Epic, which makes the mega-hit game Fortnite, thinks that is too high a tariff. So Epic began selling in-game currency at a discount to players if they used “Epic direct payment,” which bypassed the App Store and avoided Apple’s fees. Apple claimed this practice violated its rules, and banished Fortnite from the App Store. (Epic pulled the same trick with Google, which also charges 30 percent and also yanked Fortnite from its Play store—but in the case of Android, users can still install Fortnite directly from Epic, an option not available to iPhone users.)
Epic’s move seemed intentionally positioned to call out Apple’s huge market power. In fact, Epic had correctly anticipated the ban from the App store and had a lawsuit charging Apple with monopolistic malpractice ready to go. It also readied a video that echoed the famous Apple 1984 commercial introducing the Macintosh. The original ad portrayed Apple as a feisty underdog, freeing users from the evil giant IBM. Now Apple is the one depicted as the evil giant.
Does Epic have a point? Is Apple justified in taking almost a third of all the money that developers make from the iPhone and iPad? – Steven Levy, Wired
Trump Media Agency Chief to Defy Subpoena, Angering Republicans – BNN
(Bloomberg) — The head of the agency that oversees the Voice of America and other government media outlets won’t appear at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing later this week, defying a subpoena to testify about changes at the agency, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Michael Pack, who was appointed by President Donald Trump to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, was supposed to appear Thursday before the committee voluntarily, but withdrew on Sept. 18. The panel’s chairman, Democrat Eliot Engel, said Pack failed to provide alternative dates or offer an acceptable excuse, and issued a subpoena to force his testimony.
Pack’s withdrawal also drew a strong statement from the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Michael McCaul, who called for Pack to testify. In a sharply divided Congress, the bipartisan response was unusual, particularly with regard to pressing a Trump nominee to appear before a Democratically controlled committee.
McCaul said that since being confirmed by the Senate in June, Pack had placed critical national security programs “in jeopardy” and that the CEO “needs to come before this committee and explain those actions.”
Representatives of the agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The focus of McCaul’s ire is Pack’s actions related to the Open Technology Fund, or OTF, an organization that promotes internet freedom abroad and receives grant money from the Agency for Global Media. McCaul was one of the lead authors of the law that established the OTF as an independent grantee of the agency.
In June, Pack dismissed the heads of four news outlets, including Radio Free Europe, as well as staff and governing board members at the OTF. A federal appeals court in Washington issued an injunction in July blocking the dismissals, as it determines whether the firing was lawful.
Pack’s nomination was controversial, both for his association with former Trump campaign and White House adviser Steve Bannon, but also over unresolved questions about his business dealings while running an nonprofit media organization called the Public Media Lab. The attorney general of the District of Columbia is investigating the organization for unlawful use of funds.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
WFPS to investigate 'unacceptable behaviours' on social media – CTV News Winnipeg
An investigation is coming into social media behaviour the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) calls “unacceptable”.
An internal memo from WFPS Chief John Lane on Sept. 18, obtained by CTV News, calls recent instances reported to the department disappointing and says frank discussions are happening in the world about racism, sexism, and prejudice.
In the memo, Lane points to a previous memo reminding staff about city and department expectations for social media use, and says it appears some may not be adhering to those policies.
“Unfortunately, despite these and many efforts to instil and reinforce the importance of compliance with these requirements, it is apparent that unacceptable behaviours continue on social media and occasionally among individuals,” Lane said in the memo.
“Instances have recently been brought to our attention. This is profoundly disappointing for me, both professionally and personally.”
While the memo does not go into detail regarding the behaviour on social media, The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) which represents paramedics, said some of its members have come forward with concerns.
“It doesn’t really matter who it is, it should not be happening,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky.
“Our members have come forward to say that there’s racism and sexism going on and they have provided documentation to the employer.”
The memo goes on to say the department will investigate the instances and that employees who are found to violate the city’s code of conduct could be subject to disciplinary matters including termination.
The memo also says staff are encouraged to bring forward details of behaviours which are ‘not consistent’ with city standards.
To help employees feel comfortable, Lane said in the memo that a third party is being hired to provide additional assurances of confidentiality.
“It is time for the WFPS to put some action behind the words that were in the memos, saying this isn’t allowed and it needs to stop.”
Alex Forrest, the president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, said he is not commenting at this time as these are personal HR matters.
In a statement to CTV News, the WFPS said as a practice it sends out reminders about corporate policies and said no information will be provided about specific human resources matters involving individuals.
Canadians use social media to shine light on live music industry left in dark by COVID-19 – Global News
Canadians who have a passion for the performing arts are taking to social media on Tuesday night to raise awareness about the live events industry that they say has been left on life support by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We risk not having events,” said Jennifer Hildebrandt, who helped to organize a social media campaign using the hashtags #lightuplive and #lightuplivecanada in Edmonton. “We risk thousands of people being out of work [and] we risk coming out of this pandemic and not having events, not having concerts for people to go back to.
“I think that’s the one thing that a lot of people aren’t grasping right now, is that that’s a very real possibility. Venues are shutting down all across the country. It’s been going on for six months and it’s only going to get worse.”
Inspired by similar movements in Germany and the United Kingdom, the Light Up Live event on Tuesday asks venues, performers and events workers to take photos of themselves or venues with red lighting and then post them on social media accompanied by the movement’s hashtags.
“I think it will be a fantastic show,” said Christian Zeretzke, an Edmonton freelancer who specializes in rigging and carpentry for theatres. “It’s to raise awareness to the plight of events workers at the moment.
“Bring attention to this. That way we can ask the government to continue giving meaningful support… We’re writing and ready to go back to work because this is what we love to do.”
Zeretzke, who came up with the #lightuplivecanada hashtag, said since the pandemic hit in March, he has only had one gig in the arts and has been forced to take other jobs to support himself.
He said from performers, lighting technicians, sound technicians, promoters, florists, security, cleaners and caterers to hospitality groups, an incredible number of people were impacted when live shows came to a screeching halt.
“The list is mind-boggling how many people it takes to put on an event,” Zeretzke said.
Organizers of the social media movement say the live events sector employs about one-million Canadians, directly and indirectly.
In Alberta, the arts — including live events — contribute to the province’s economic growth as well as quality of life, according to the provincial government.
“This is an additional $1.3 billion in GDP generated, while sustaining nearly 20,000 jobs here in Alberta,” Michael Forian, press secretary for the minister of of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, told Global News in a statement. “Live experience events also generate economic activity through out-of-town tourism, at an average of $10 million in economic impact for larger events.
“Every $1 million in output from live performance businesses in Alberta generates 17 direct and indirect jobs. When arts and culture thrive, Alberta is well positioned to be seen as a good place to live, invest and do business.”
Over 600 venues across Canada, ranging from arenas to theatres and concert halls, are taking part in Tuesday’s social media event.
Zeretzke said even though some venues have been able to reopen in some areas, the limited capacity to accommodate social distancing — something he understands and agrees with — makes it very difficult to break even on a performance.
“If you have a 100-seat capacity… and 15 of those are technicians and box office staff and actors or whatever, it’s really tough to make a profit off that,” he said.
“We’re really hoping to bring awareness and bring… [more] support from government and from the public for our industry and moving forward, you know, we need to maintain support for gig workers and live event workers,” Hildebrandt said.
“We need an economic recovery plan for our industry.”
People are being asked to begin taking photos and posting them to social media once the sun sets in their region on Tuesday night.
For more information, click here.
–With files from Global News’ Kendra Slugoski
View some tweets with the hashtag #lightuplive below:
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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