Never underestimate a sore loser – Part 2
Following Part 1, published Thursday, more about how media chases its collective tail and become supporting actors in a conspiracy of manipulation. Specifically, how news media this past weekend fanned the implausible, even as the trail of facts didn’t quite square. What follows is my take on what (may or may not have) happened.
Savaged by what many have described as an indecorous presidential performance during last Tuesday’s debate, White House officials may have conspired to deflect criticism by concocting news on Friday that POTUS and FLOTUS had tested positive for covid. What we know for sure is that the president was airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center where it is reported that he was placed on a respirator for oxygen and dosed with a cocktail of experimental drugs.
The First Lady remained at the White House where, presumably, she was able to maintain her daily regimen of beauty care and restorative treatments.
On Saturday, presidential contender Joe Biden and former President Obama separately offered their best wishes for a speedy recovery for the president who spent a considerable amount of his ailing time tweeting his base and posing for autographs.
On Sunday, the president or his stand-in again became the day’s top headline, briefly leaving the hospital to headline an elaborately staged motorcade that had him or his likeness seen waving to a cheering crowd from a customized bullet-proof Cadillac limo, colloquially known as “The Beast”.
While it is widely reported that the fan-meet was a “surprise,” it could well be that Republican party organizers had been working the phones and sending e-mails well in advance to loyalists, and perhaps had even arranged for buses to bring them to the staging area. It is even possible these organizers handed out pre-printed placards to complete what appears to have been a choreographed photo op that would become the lead news item across North America and many other countries around the world.
Casting doubt on the virulence and maybe even the veracity of the covid claim, the president’s advisors told numerous sources that their boss was expected to be back at work on Monday.
In other weekend news, Kanye West has said he is quitting the music business to become lead defenceman for the Arizona Coyotes, Elon Musk has announced Tesla’s first fleet of fossil fuel cars will be delivered in 2022, and the Harvey Weinstein My Life and Loves biopic became the first movie to gross ten-dollars in its opening weekend.
How is emerging technology and media shaping democracy? – McGill Newsroom
The Max Bell School of Public Policy is launching a new Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at McGill University. Collaborating with leading researchers, policy thinkers, and journalists, the Centre works to understand the impact of emerging technology and media on policy and public life.
“The benefits that technology brings to our world are undeniable, but we are now at a critical point where we need to make changes in the way we govern our media and tech infrastructure,” says Director Taylor Owen, a leading voice in technology governance in Canada and Associate Professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy. “Our research will inform the public debate and policy makers so that we as a society can create policies aimed at maximizing the benefits and minimizing the harms embedded in the design and use of emerging technologies.”
“We believe in the power of the public to mobilize for a different future, and to hold governments and technology companies to account for that future. It’s time to collectively reclaim the problems that technology was promised to solve,” says Sonja Solomun, the Centre’s Research Director.
The Centre is committed to public-facing work through a range of events, podcasts and workshops aimed at translating cutting-edge research for broad public audiences and policy makers. Its research program focuses on three core streams: technology governance, information ecosystems, and media and journalism.
In addition to projects focused on pressing issues such as facial recognition policy, children and technology, surveillance technology, platform governance, and journalistic support the Center’s projects include:
“While existing initiatives tend to focus either on technology, or on media and communication, this Centre will examine how both impact policy and public life. We are thrilled to support such innovative work which will inform public debate and engage policymakers,” said Professor Chris Ragan, Director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill.
Register for the 2020 Annual Beaverbrook lectures presented by the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy, featuring Shoshana Zuboff author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism on November 23 at 12:00 EST and novelist, activist, and journalist, Cory Doctorow on November 30 at 12:00 EST.
About McGill University
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning two campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,800 international students making up 31% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 19% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.
Social media groups under fire in France over Islamist killing – Financial Times
Within hours of the assassination of a history teacher by an 18-year-old Islamist in France on Friday, fingers were pointed at social media platforms for having helped motivate the killer before he decapitated Samuel Paty and then for allowing him to gruesomely claim responsibility moments afterwards.
“Things began on social media and they ended on social media,” said Gabriel Attal, the French government spokesman. “We have to do better at bringing them under control.”
Paty’s fellow-teachers at the school in Conflans-Saint-Honorine near Paris expressed “deep concern about the impact of social media” in a joint statement on Tuesday. They called the speed and irreversibility of the messages broadcast “a real plague for the exercise of our profession”.
Marlène Schiappa, minister for citizenship, summoned representatives of social media groups, including Facebook-Instagram, Twitter, Google-YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, to a meeting on “cyber-Islamism” on Tuesday and demanded they take responsibility for content on their platforms.
Big social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were already under pressure in Europe, the US and Asia to curb the spread of fake news and hate speech and to stop turning a blind eye to the promotion of violence.
Last year, the platforms pledged to boost their moderation capabilities and introduced new hate speech policies, after a white supremacist killed 51 people in an attack on two mosques in New Zealand and livestreamed the footage via Facebook’s Live service.
More broadly, Facebook and YouTube have been criticised for helping extremist groups recruit, radicalise and organise — because their algorithms tend to push users towards provocative and eye-catching content.
Lately, concerns have centred on the rise on the platforms of armed militias in the US ahead of the presidential election, and of pro-Trump conspiracy group QAnon.
Officials and politicians say the killing of Paty will inevitably accelerate legislation in France and the EU designed to hold social media platforms responsible for the sometimes inflammatory content posted by their users.
Investigators are still trying to piece together the sequence of events that led to Abdoullakh Anzorov, a Chechen refugee, hacking off the head of a teacher who had shown pupils caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in a class about freedom of speech.
But the fact that the murderer, who was shot dead by the police, came all the way from Evreux 80km to the west suggests that he learnt of Paty and Muslim complaints about him from videos posted on the internet. The videos were widely disseminated, with some pupils and parents at the school complaining they had been sent them multiple times.
Brahim Chnina, the father of one of the pupils in the school, had posted three videos highly critical of Paty, demanding he be fired and calling on people to take action, and BFMTV reported that he had been in touch with the killer via WhatsApp in the days before the assassination.
At least one of the videos could still be seen on Mr Chnina’s Facebook account on Monday evening. Mr Chnina made one of them with the help of Abdelhakim Sefrioui, an Islamist militant already categorised as a security risk by French intelligence. Both men have been detained.
After he had killed Paty, Anzorov sent a Twitter post with a picture of the severed head on the street addressed to President Emmanuel Macron, “leader of the infidels”, and boasted of killing “one of your hell dogs who dared to denigrate Mohammed”.
According to the newspaper Le Monde, Anzorov in recent weeks sent 400 tweets from that account, @Ttchetchene_270. The account had been notified in July to Pharos, a government site where the public can report lawbreaking or other concerns about the internet.
Twitter declined to say when it had removed the account — it is no longer visible — and refused to make any other comment on the attack. However, the company has said that Twitter does not tolerate terrorism or terrorism content and that its teams act “proactively on this type of content and are in contact with law enforcement agencies in order to act as quickly as possible”.
Facebook did not reply to requests for comment.
French leaders from Mr Macron down immediately announced plans to tighten controls on social media after what Mr Attal called the “public lynching” of Paty over the internet.
Gérald Darmanin, interior minister, said 80 investigations had been started since the attack into those who had sought to justify the murder or said the teacher “had it coming to him”.
Ironically, Mr Macron’s government had already finalised a law against internet hate in May, but its key clauses — including an obligation on social media networks to delete hateful content within 24 hours on pain of heavy fines, and a requirement for transparency — were struck down in June by the Constitutional Council on free-speech grounds.
Laetitia Avia, the member of parliament who drafted the law, described the killing of Paty as a tragedy which “reminds everyone that social media has been the terrain of dangerous content”.
She told the Financial Times on Monday she was continuing to work on the issue both in France and in Brussels, where the European Commission is set to present its new digital services law in December.
One problem, she noted, was that traditional media were counted in French law as publishers, while social media networks were treated as neutral “hosters”, even though they were really hybrids because their economic model meant they ranked and placed content to attract readers and viewers. Another problem was that apparently anodyne verbal violence was often a precursor to real violence.
“We must now treat dangerous content as a priority,” she said.
Bell Media and ICA Launch the Inaugural Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity in Advertising (IDEA) Competition with $1 Million Yearly Prize – Canada NewsWire
“The ICA believes that not only is diversity and inclusion a global business imperative, but that it’s a growth-driving narrative for Canadian brands and companies,” said Scott Knox, the President and CEO of the ICA. “We’re excited to announce this unique media partnership between the ICA and Bell Media and the launch of the inaugural IDEA competition in order to bring awareness to diversity as business strategy.”
“We are committed to creating meaningful change in our industry, and this competition aims to encourage greater representation of diverse communities in Canadian media,” said Randy Lennox, President of Bell Media. “We have been working to create a new roadmap for the industry, one that recognizes the added value of BIPOC presence and expertise, and the IDEA completion is one more opportunity to showcase the value of inclusion.”
Creators of the winning entry will have access to the full range of Bell Media’s platforms – TV, radio, out-of-home, and digital – to execute their $1 million campaign in 2021. Details on how to enter will be announced in November, with the winner announced later this winter.
Entries are required to be new creative executions in English and French, and require that diverse producers, directors, writers, and crew contribute significantly to the campaign beyond on-camera talent. Entrants must also commit to demonstrating, as part of their submission, that inclusion and diversity are components across all of their advertising, even when not the key message.
“Our goal is to get more diverse representation in advertising campaigns, while encouraging diversity and inclusivity in the creative process,” said Justin Stockman, Vice-President, Brand Partnerships, Bell Media. “We’re looking forward to the launch of the IDEA competition and we hope it becomes an annual event, highlighting different equity-seeking communities each year.”
In line with the ICA’s belief in the importance of attracting diverse new talent into advertising, additional judging consideration will be given for entrants that include mentorship opportunities as part of their production to provide experience and build the pipeline of new diverse talent.
The IDEA Competition builds on the broader IDEA initiative, launched in 2017 by the ICA, to promote inclusivity, diversity, and equity in advertising. An earlier supporter of the program, Bell Media participated in ICA’s IDEA Summit at TIFF in 2018 with the theme “How Diversity of Thought Leads to Powerful Storytelling”, featuring THE SOCIAL’s Melissa Grelo.
Brands and their agencies can register to receive more information about entering the IDEA Competition at this link.
About the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA)
The ICA is the not-for-profit association for Canadian advertising, marketing, media, and public relations agencies. ICA’s mission is to Amplify, Protect and Transform the agency sector through advocacy, awards, community, consultancy, insight, networking, research and training. ICA membership and board of directors represent some of the most recognized and influential businesses in our industry, both in Canada and internationally.
About Bell Media
Bell Media is Canada’s leading content creation company with premier assets in television, radio, out-of-home advertising, digital media, and more. Bell Media owns 35 local television stations led by CTV, Canada’s highest-rated television network, and the French-language Noovo network in Québec; 29 specialty channels, including leading specialty services TSN and RDS. Bell Media is Canada’s largest radio broadcaster, with 215 music channels including 109 licensed radio stations in 58 markets across the country, all part of the iHeartRadio brand and streaming service. Bell Media owns Astral, an out-of-home advertising network of 50,000 faces in five provinces. The country’s digital media leader, Bell Media develops and operates websites, apps, and online platforms for its news and entertainment brands; video streaming services Crave, TSN Direct, and RDS Direct; and multi-channel network Much Studios. The company owns a majority stake in Pinewood Toronto Studios; is a partner in Just for Laughs, the live comedy event and TV producer; and jointly owns Dome Productions Partnership., one of North America’s leading production facilities providers. Bell Media is part of BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE), Canada’s largest communications company. Learn more at www.BellMedia.ca.
SOURCE Bell Media
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