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Opinion: To fix America, fix the media – The Globe and Mail



When talk turns to the slew of problems presented by today’s media ecosystem, my thoughts go back to years in Washington for this newspaper covering parts of the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations.

It’s stunning how much has changed. Today, you’re hit by a 24-hour media bombardment. The political bluster, bombast and rants are inescapable.

Back then, there was hardly any of that. The news, and views on the news, took up only a very small portion of one’s day. The major TV networks ran their half-hour news broadcast in the evenings. Trusted anchormen such as Walter Cronkite and John Chancellor summed up the day’s events. Save for the Sunday morning shows, that was about it.

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Panels of talking heads, ubiquitous today, were not to be found, nor were talk-radio evangelists – Rush Limbaugh, the most influential among them, passed away Wednesday – pitching their prejudices. Newspapers had only a couple of columnists, not the multitude we see now.

Not only were the media numbers lean, so were their political offerings. There were no cable networks. The main networks all operated from a similar centrist political perspective, helping create a consensus in the country, a shared reality. They were the mainstream, and the mainstream was the only stream. Voices of the far right and hard left had no big platforms.

Post-1990, advocacy journalism began its takeover. Under Mr. Reagan, the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to have balanced coverage, was eliminated. Then came Fox News and the internet and social media and Twitter. Everybody had a soapbox, free licence to debase the public discourse with their biases, insults and ideologies.

The age of wrath arrived – political sectarianism at unseen levels – and the question now is how and if the U.S. can emerge from it.

Since the crisis of disinformation is as much responsible for the cultural carnage as the politicians themselves, much will depend on whether the media ecosystem can be set right.

No one should be placing bets on such an outcome.

Communications clairvoyant Marshall McLuhan contended way back in the 1960s that the electronic global village would paradoxically lead to retribalization. Media tribalism is upon us now.

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The internet has allowed the far reaches of the right and, less so, the left, to come marching in, replacing the old consensus, the shared realities, with primal impulses. “The old fringes,” as Kurt Andersen writes in his book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, “have been folded into the new centre. The irrational has become respectable.”

Donald Trump’s daily attacks on the press have cut deeply into media credibility. Trust in traditional media is at less than 50 per cent, considered a historic low.

Under the old media dynamic, Mr. Trump’s falsifications could never have found such an enormous following. The big lie that the election was stolen gained the credibility it did by virtue of right-wing media giving it oxygen, not calling him out.

In the political arena today, most points of view, no matter how fact-based, are reflexively written off as motivated by bias by one side or the other. The New York Times and The Washington Post aren’t just seen as liberally inclined newspapers. Trumpians have pigeonholed them as founts of left-wing ideology.

The media has long trended toward opinion journalism because hot takes get a larger audience than nuanced and balanced perspectives. That trend is not about to change.

Cable news networks CNN and Fox are locked in their ideological zones, reinforcing the two media solitudes.

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Social media has taken needed steps to regulate content. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have banned Mr. Trump and censored other controversial social-media accounts. But this has triggered bitter opposition on the right as an infringement of free speech.

Debates in the journalism community aren’t coming to any consensus on how to regain credibility. Some say the traditional newsworthiness code of giving weight to each side of a story should be maintained. Others argue that this allowed Mr. Trump’s assault on the truth to partially succeed.

His Twitter ban is already helping to soothe the public dialogue. Joe Biden’s presence should do that as well, although the right is hard at work bashing anything good that is said about him as being the result of sycophantic woke journalism.

Fixing America requires fixing the media. The country needs to get the middle back, but the fractured state of the media complex militates against that prospect. The age of wrath was a long time in coming. It will be a long time in going.

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Central Okanagan media companies launch Local Advertising Initiative – Kelowna News –



With many businesses struggling through the pandemic, “support local” is a phrase heard more often than ever recently.

But you often see those businesses, big and small, buying advertising directly from Facebook and Google. It’s important to be mindful of where businesses are investing and how those decisions impact our local economy.

Castanet has joined forces with other local media companies in the Central Okanagan to present the Local Advertising Initiative. Many members of the initiative provide you with local news and entertainment, enriching the community and employing your neighbours.

“Locally bought advertising allows you to create a local presence through trusted local brands online, on-air and in print,” said Chris Kearney, Castanet senior vice president and Kelowna general manager.

“You won’t ever see Facebook and Google support charities and nonprofits like the Central Okanagan Food Bank or BC SPCA, but local media companies do.”

There is a wide variety of highly effective options to support local media organizations, including digital, radio, print, outdoor and event advertising.

Localizing your ads also allows you to make a personal connection with your ideal consumer, many of whom log onto their favourite websites, tune into the same radio stations, or view their favourite newscast every day.

That trust is powerful to customers.

To learn more about the Local Advertising Initiative, or to get involved, click here.

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Mother of rotational worker says family harassed because of false social media posts –



GLACE BAY – Venice Vance hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since Wednesday.

That was the day her son Nick Kelly returned to their Glace Bay home at 2:30 a.m. where he started his 14-day isolation, separated from the rest of the family in the basement.

A pipe fitter, 19-year-old Kelly and two other rotational workers from Cape Breton arrived early morning on Feb. 24 after driving home from Alberta where they were working.

By Thursday, the three young men were being targeted on social media with posts and rants about them breaking provincial public health protocols after one of them had their first required COVID-19 test results come back positive. Kelly’s test result came back negative.

“I hate that there was fiction put out there instead of facts. People just assume. The kids were targeted because of lies instead of the truth. They aren’t doing what everybody is saying,” said Vance during a phone interview from her Glace Bay home.

“And that poor boy that has COVID … he has a (respiratory condition). That boy is home. He hasn’t left his home and no one is concerned about how he’s doing.”


Along with the social media posts, rants in group threads and chat rooms resulted in threatening private messages to the three rotational workers. Vance also got those messages and is diligently trying to fight misinformation about her son online.

“(It feels horrible) because you have to explain yourself and put out information the public shouldn’t even know,” she said.

Posts were being shared saying Kelly was the one with the virus. Vance posted his test results from Nova Scotia Health to prove it was negative.

Screengrabs of Kelly’s location through multimedia messaging app, Snapchat, were posted and shared as proof he wasn’t obeying isolation orders. These screengrabs show Kelly’s Snapchat image on the road; in one screengrab his character, or avatar, is seen in a car.

Alleged sightings of the men at public places were popping up. Vance said a woman alleged she saw Kelly and his stepfather at a restaurant.

When Vance questioned her in the social media thread it became apparent the woman saw Vance’s husband and his friend at the restaurant a week before Kelly was in Nova Scotia.

People also claimed the men were at a party in Glace Bay on Saturday – three days before the men arrived in Cape Breton.

At some point the rumour about the young men being at the party, which happened on Feb. 20, the Saturday before they returned to Cape Breton, turned into Kelly throwing the party.

“There was no party. Nick got in at 2:30 in the morning. Who throws a party at 2:30,” Vance said during the phone interview.

“The party they are saying they saw the boys at was on Saturday. They weren’t even home on Saturday. People can check this out. Call the Nova Scotia border and see when they did their check-in.”

Rumours swirled around the men having girlfriends at Glace Bay High School. Vance said her son’s girlfriend is in second year of college and she hasn’t seen him because, like the other two workers, he’s been in self-isolation.

“There’s one guy who posted that these three boys planned this,” Vance said. “That they came home here to spread COVID. Like, it was unreal what was being posted and what was being said.”

Kelly’s family has also been affected even though they are doing more than what public health directives require.

Vance said a business called to inquire when her husband, who hasn’t travelled, had returned to Canada indicating they heard the family had COVID-19.

She also saw posts saying the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. store in Glace Bay was closed because she had been in there. Having not been in there for a week, Vance called the store who told her they hadn’t closed.

Even Vance’s daughter who doesn’t live with them has been affected.

“My daughter goes to Glace Bay High. She lives with her father,” said Vance. “She has people not going near her, shunning her and her step-sister. They were nowhere near their brother.”


One of the 10 cases of COVID-19 announced on Friday was located in the eastern zone. Another case in the zone was announced on Saturday.

After cases are detected, public health officials do contact tracing and alerts are issued indicating locations of possible exposure to the virus.

There have been no new possible exposure locations announced for anywhere in Cape Breton and on the two pages of listings online, none are located in the eastern zone, which includes the geographic region of Cape Breton Island as well as Antigonish and Guysborough counties on the mainland.

During Friday’s COVID-19 update, the province’s medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said domestic workers have different requirements during isolation directives when they return from working out-of-province and people need to remember this.

Instead of isolating alone or having to isolate with the other residents of the home, rotational workers can isolate with family members who are allowed to leave the home at will.

Isolating rotational workers can also drive family members to work or school and get take-out, as well as pick up contactless retail orders.

“People need to understand what the requirements are for different groups,” Strang said during Friday’s briefing with reporters.


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Western Hockey League unveils Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence – CHL – Canadian Hockey League



The Western Hockey League announced today the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence, a new WHL Award which will be presented annually to a distinguished member of the radio, television, and print journalism industry in recognition of their outstanding contributions to sports journalism and the WHL.

Bob Ridley, the longtime radio play-by-play voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, is the first recipient and the namesake for this prestigious honour. Bob Ridley was recognized by WHL Commissioner Ron Robison and the Medicine Hat Tigers during a special ceremony at Co-op Place in Medicine Hat on Saturday, the day of Ridley’s 4,000th career WHL game.

“The WHL and our member Clubs are honoured to pay tribute to Bob’s remarkable career with the Medicine Hat Tigers by establishing the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Bob has made an incredible contribution to the WHL and the Tigers over the past 50 years and as he gets ready to call his 4,000th WHL game it is only fitting we recognize his legacy with this new league-wide award named in his honour.”

Since the Tigers began play during the 1970-71 WHL Regular Season, Ridley has been the only play-by-play voice in team history, calling every single game the Tigers have ever played, with the exception of one. In 1972, Ridley missed one Tigers game after he was sent out on assignment to attend the Women’s National Curling Championship in Saskatoon, Sask.

Ridley has been synonymous with Medicine Hat Tigers hockey for 50 seasons, with the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season representing his 51st campaign at the mic. Ridley called the Tigers WHL Championship victories in 1973, 1987, 1988, 2004, and 2007, and was there to tell the story of the Club’s two national titles at the Memorial Cup in 1987 and 1988.

In addition to his work as the Tigers play-by-play voice, Ridley also served as the Club’s bus driver for 45 seasons. His unique role helped forge everlasting bonds with players across more than five decades.

Ridley’s contributions to Major Junior hockey in Western Canada have been recognized on a number of previous occasions:

  • 1995 – Medicine Hat Civic Recognition Sports Award
  • 2005 – Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Bell Memorial Award
  • 2005 – Alberta Centennial Award
  • 2006 – WHL Distinguished Service Award
  • 2007 – Lifetime Achievement Award, Radio Television Directors News Awards
  • 2011 – Inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame
  • 2019 – Inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame

In 1995, he was the recipient of the Medicine Hat Civic Recognition Sports Award. In 2005, Ridley was named the recipient of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Bell Memorial Award, and he was also presented with the Alberta Centennial Award by the Government of Alberta. In 2006, Ridley was recognized with the WHL Distinguished Service Award.

A 76-year-old native of Vulcan, Alta., Ridley began his pursuit of broadcasting working weekends at CJDV Drumheller while attending Mount Royal College in Calgary. From there, he moved on to CKSW Swift Current, working as a rock disc jockey and calling play-by-play for an intermediate baseball team in Swift Current, Sask. Ridley then spent two years at CKKR Rosetown before joining CHAT Radio and settling in Medicine Hat.


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