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Poor Form As Bell Media Fires Dan O’Toole And Hundreds More – Forbes

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This past week, hundreds of Bell Media employees across Canada—on-air personalities, producers, writers, camera operators, the list goes on—were handed termination notices. Bell Media is part of BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada division, Canada’s largest telecommunications company.

The mother ship earned revenues of $22.9 billion in the fiscal year 2020.

Dan O’Toole became one of those employees who got served notice. O’Toole was one half of the very popular TSN duo known as Jay & Dan. Their irreverent, comedic, and downright nutty style of delivering nightly sports highlights was admired by many on both sides of the 49th parallel. The partnership is no more with O’Toole confirming in a tweet that he had been made redundant.

O’Toole’s firing seemed to set off a lightning storm of commentary across Canada. I’ve reflected on the overarching situation over the past few days. Three key issues seem to be of concern that outlines the company’s poor tact with O’Toole and the others fired.

The Optics

First, the obvious elephant in the room is BCE’s willingness to tap into the Government of Canada’s wage subsidy program, CEWS, and a few months later drop a carpet bomb of pink slips across their media division. CEWS—fully known as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program—became a corporate lifeline for many businesses across the country. CEWS is not the issue. It’s the optics.

In this case, the parent company of Bell Media, BCE, used it to outline to the Government how the pandemic impacted its revenues. Fair enough. Almost every company in Canada has seen its revenues negatively affected by the pandemic. The Government then turned Bell’s position and application into a $122 million subsidy that could be applied to employee wages. It’s hard for the public—let alone those terminated—to understand how the subsidy might have been used to save jobs rather than terminate them.

We don’t know the total number of jobs that Bell Media terminated. We do know that Bell Media’s revenues were down close to 15 percent in 2020. Does the revenue loss and wage subsidy program applicable to Bell Media balance out? Do the terminations help fix the revenue or profit gap, despite the wage subsidy program? It’s a private matter at BCE headquarters, but if the decision is based on upholding shareholder return through dividend increases, that’s also an optic issue. BCE announced a 5.1% dividend increase in 2021. It also indicated it possessed $3.8 billion in available liquidity. Now you know why many people in the public are incensed.

The Timing

The second issue to highlight is timing. It seems especially cruel for an organization to terminate hundreds of people mere days after its annual mental health awareness day. Known as “Bell Let’s Talk,” the company spends one day every year to spread awareness across the whole of Canada about mental health. The 2021 version saw 159,173,435 messages of support sent by Canadians, which allowed Bell to invest $7,958,671.75 in mental health funding. However you view it, that’s a lot of good going toward mental health initiatives.

Less than a week after their Let’s Talk day ended, however, the Bell Media division then terminated hundreds of people. Does that make sense? Is that humane? Is that supporting mental health?

Equipped with a severance package and no longer full-time employed by the company, O’Toole took to Twitter and outlined his grievances, taking aim at the company’s irony. O’Toole has publicly previously divulged his struggles with mental health.

“Let’s talk. We should. Let’s talk. Does it mean anything without a hashtag? Oh right. Wrong day. So I have to mention the company for it to mean anything? But what if I was fired by the company that makes the hashtag about mental health? Do I still include them in the hashtag? And isn’t being fired, I don’t know, kind of bad for mental health?”

O’Toole’s tweets were raw, but they were also spot on. How a company does not consider the mental wellbeing of those it’s terminating in terms of optics, timing, and overall compassion seems to be missing the mark entirely. It’s no wonder hundreds of social media posts were whirling around the internet supporting O’Toole and his media colleagues.

The Tactics

And finally, the third issue concerns the organization’s termination tactics. Executives made the decision. It was going through with mass staff reductions. The train left the station, and there was no turning back, but how the corporation approached communicating the layoffs seems to have been done with less compassion than people deserved.

Take, for example, weather anchor and reporter Anwar Knight. As one of the many Toronto-based employment casualties, Knight suggested that his firing was done over the phone in a two-minute conversation. “Your services are longer needed. Thank you for your contribution,” is how he described the curt conversation. Is this how an employee of 15+ years should be treated, in the middle of a pandemic, when all Knight has ever done is serve the company and its core audience dutifully and with purpose?

I’ve had to carry out my fair share of layoffs over the years. I’ve been privy to friends and colleagues who have suffered the same fate. It is never easy. We’re talking about human beings, after all.

But there are right ways and wrong ways to handle mass layoff situations. In the case of Bell and these recent firings, I reckon a different approach could have been conducted. Let’s talk.

_______

My 4th book, “Lead. Care. Win. How to Become a Leader Who Matters,” was recently published. Amy. C. Edmondson of Harvard Business School calls it “an invaluable roadmap.” 16+ hour, self-paced online leadership development program is also available. Nearly 100 videos across nine lessons.

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New ETF tracks social-media buzz from platforms like Reddit | Venture – Daily Hive

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Partnership content presented by Market Buzz.


January’s unprecedented GameStop saga completely changed the game for the stock market, as Redditors reigned over hedge fund superpowers. Who would have known that a social media community would single-handedly be responsible for the biggest short squeeze in recent history?

Although things might have simmered down on r/wallstreetbets lately, no longer is anyone underestimating the influence social media communities can have over the stock market.

This includes New York asset management firm VanEck, who is launching a new exchange traded fund (ETF) called BUZZ on Thursday. The clever business model will use AI to invest in the most-buzzed-about stocks in social media communities.

So how does it work? The index fund scours over 15 million online social media posts a month on sites like Twitter, Reddit, and StockTwits for investing hype using machine learning and artificial intelligence. It looks for patterns, trends, and sentiments that will impact the market value of certain stocks.

The algorithm will then produce a portfolio of 75 US large-cap stocks with the strongest market sentiment, which gets rebalanced once a month.

A big believer in BUZZ is Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy, who excitedly shared the news of the ETF’s launch on Tuesday with a video press conference on Twitter. Portnoy is no newbie to the stock market game, tweeting daily about his stock trades and actively getting involved during the recent GameStop frenzy.

Not surprisingly, Portnoy is also part-owner and director of Buzz Holdings ULC, the business entity that licences strategy to VanEck.

Although the fund, that launches this Thursday, might just seem to be piggybacking off the success of recent Reddit-driven investing, it’s not the first time a social-media sentiment ETF has been created.

BUZZ U.S. Sentiment Leaders ETF (BUZ) launched in 2016 that tracked the same index that BUZZ will, but was shut down in 2019 because it never caught on. You could say the timing was off. But due to recent GameStop mania, the timing couldn’t be better now for BUZZ.

According to its website, BUZZ is up 89.43% versus 32.08% for the S&P 500 over the past year. BUZZ’s top holdings are Twitter, Draft Kings, Ford, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, AMD, American Airlines, Netflix, and Tesla.

The VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment ETF, trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker “BUZZ,” will be available Thursday, March 4.


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FOMO-obsessed people risk fraud via social media investment tips: BCSC – Richmond News

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Social media is not the place to get your investment tips.

That’s the message from the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), which is detailing new research that shows younger adults and those who experience the fear of missing out – also known as FOMO – are more likely to think social media is a good place to find investment opportunities.

To mark Fraud Prevention Month, the BCSC said it surveyed more than 2,000 Canadians, including 1,000 British Columbians, to measure how age and FOMO influence investment attitudes.

“Results of this new research are particularly concerning because we’ve seen a surge in potentially fraudulent schemes peddled on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Doug Muir, the BCSC’s director of enforcement, in a news release. “We also know that fraudsters put pressure on people to act quickly. It’s important to gather as much reliable information about an investment as you can before putting your money into it, and to not rush into it.”

One warning sign of investment fraud is claiming that an opportunity is exclusive or available only to select people, said the BCSC, while in reality, most legitimate investments for ordinary British Columbians are available to anyone with the money to invest. Another warning sign is rushing would-be investors, telling them they must sign now to get in on the deal.

To educate people about the risk of letting FOMO drive their investment decisions, the BCSC is running a multi-media campaign called Hi, My Name is FOMO. 

“The younger you are, the more FOMO you have,” said the news release. “Half of B.C. residents between 18 and 34 said they experience it, compared to just 19 per cent of adults 55 or older. B.C.’s young adults also seem to have more FOMO than their peers across Canada – 50 per cent in B.C. compared to 40 per cent nationally.”
This online survey was conducted for the BCSC by Innovative Research Group among a representative sample of British Columbians from February 11 to 23, 2021 as part of an omnibus survey. A total of 1,015 British Columbians aged 18 and over completed the survey. The results are weighted to a representative sample of 1,000 by age and gender within each region of the province using the latest available Census data to reflect the actual demographic composition of the population.

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How Unpaid Internships In Sports Media Fuel Racial Disparity – Forbes

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The entire media industry suffers from lack of diversity. But the problem is especially apparent in sports media, where largely white reporters and editors cover leagues with majorities of Black and Brown players. Unpaid internships only fuel this gross disparity.

The long-running debate over unpaid internships was reignited this week when NFL Media reporter Jane Slater shared an unpaid opportunity with her followers. When Slater encountered backlash, she doubled down, boasting about her experience working three unpaid internships in college along with a job. Soon thereafter, Twitter users picked up on previous comments from Slater, in which she praised her grandfather for supporting her “emotionally and financially” through college (Slater’s grandfather was the president of Wolf Brand Chili).

“To the people shaming me for my hardworking grandfather and parents who instilled a similar work ethic to achieve success, you are rotten,” Slater wrote.

Slater eventually clarified her thoughts, pointing out she would never support anybody working for free. She did, however, still highlight her work ethic: “I did not grow up rich,” she wrote. “I always had a job and was taught to value hard work and paying my own bills.”

Many of the NFL reporters who defended Slater, including Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, echoed her sentiments about how working unpaid internships is one of the best ways to get ahead in a highly competitive field. And therein lies the problem: college students who can easily take unpaid gigs usually come from privileged backgrounds. That means opportunities are only open to a select few.

Way back in 1979, the American Society of News Editors forecasted that by the year 2000, the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in newsrooms would mirror the population at large. That pledge was way off. While racial and ethnic minorities comprise almost 40% of the U.S. population, they make up less than 17% of newsroom staff at print and online outlets, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.

The numbers in sports media are just as porous. The last study of the 75 outlets belonging to the Associated Press Sports Editors, which was published in 2018, found at least 78% of all editorial positions were filled by white people. The gender disparity was even more stark: 90% of sports editors and 88.5% of reporters were men.

With those figures in mind, there’s an obvious opportunity gap between white people and people of color when it comes to landing full-time jobs in sports media. One explanation is the staggering wealth gap between white and Black families. The Brookings Institute found the net worth of a typical white family is 10 times greater than that of a Black family. As we all know, wealthy kids are better positioned to grind through that unpaid college internship, because it’s less likely they need to dedicate time to working. (With my parents taking care of tuition, I was able to focus on two unpaid internships during college, one of which resulted in a paying position.)

The racial composition in press boxes doesn’t mirror the racial makeup in locker rooms: the NBA is nearly 80% Black; the NFL is 74% players of color; MLB is 40% players of color. It’s generally considered a positive for journalists to reflect whom they cover. In that respect, sports departments fail miserably.

Racial disparities are prevalent everywhere in sports. In the NFL, there are only three Black head coaches, despite increased efforts to increase diversity in the coaching ranks. Just seven of the 30 NBA head coaches are people of color.

The front offices of professional sports franchises are just as white. The NFL and NBA each has five Black general managers. Of the three major sports leagues, only one principal owner is Black: Michael Jordan.

Black and Brown players aren’t represented in the coaching ranks, front offices or the press. Eliminating unpaid internships in sports media wouldn’t eradicate this entire imbalance, but it would help.

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