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Public editor: Media trust rising thanks to COVID-19 coverage, but more needs to be done – The Globe and Mail

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The positive shift in media trust, plus climbing vaccination rates, tells the Globe’s public editor, that the vast majority of the public appreciates factual science-based reporting.Carlos Osorio/Reuters

Some good news about the media this month: In its tenth year, a report from the Reuters Institute and the University of Oxford found more readers and viewers trusted the media, based on polling data from 46 markets (not Canada).

Senior research associate Nic Newman wrote in his summary: ”Trust in the news has grown, on average, by six percentage points in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – with 44 per cent of our total sample saying they trust most news most of the time. This reverses, to some extent, recent falls in average trust – bringing levels back to those of 2018. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (65 per cent), and the USA now has the lowest levels (29 per cent) in our survey.”

I found it heartening that people around the world understand the public service value of news, which currently is largely focused on giving readers the evolving science on COVID-19 and the vaccines. This positive shift in media trust, plus climbing vaccination rates, tells me that despite the few throwing despicable hate and vitriol at health care workers, politicians and journalists (especially those of colour and women), the vast majority of the public appreciates factual science-based reporting. (Though we do see trust levels are still mired in the mud in the United States.)

I think a big reason for this positive shift is that journalists, even though some have worked in a specialty such as health reporting for years, know they aren’t the experts and seek out the most knowledgeable people they can find. That push for science and public health shines through.

The report notes that: “this crisis has also shown the value of accurate and reliable information at a time when lives are at stake. In many countries we see audiences turning to trusted brands – in addition to ascribing a greater confidence in the media in general. The gap between the ‘best and the rest’ has grown, as has the trust gap between the news media and social media.”

That gap was exposed in a recent Globe and Mail feature about people who were hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but recently went ahead.

One woman, Caroline Hartley, said while she heard positive things about the COVID-19 vaccine from the AM radio station she listened to, her Facebook feed was crowded with shared misinformation about its effectiveness. She said her husband’s friends were sharing all kinds of nonsense. But ultimately she was able to discern which information to trust.

Another, Irene Brucculeri, saw friends getting the disease and so began reading more about COVID-19 in the press. Eventually, she got the vaccine, believing it to be safe and effective.

To build on this greater openness, we must do a better job explaining how the media works. Respondents who said they generally trust the news media also said it’s important to know about reporters’ expertise.

The Globe includes bio info on opinion pieces by outside contributors, but perhaps it should be included on major news articles and staff columns as well. Readers are able to see Globe staff bios by clicking on hyperlinked bylines on the website.

And while The Globe has published background pieces on how major stories came about, such as this one by Tom Cardoso on how he investigated bias in Canada’s prison system, I, for one, would like to see more of these.

The report isn’t full of good news of course. It also noted “worrying inequalities in both consumption and trust – with the young, women, people from ethnic minorities and political partisans often feeling less fairly represented by the media.”

It’s a good reminder that we in the media have room to improve in increasing the trust of readers and consumers.

Turning to another issue, I’ve had a number of readers complain about too much front page/main news coverage of the Rogers saga, rather than keeping it on the business pages.

This is a common complaint on any breaking news event where some readers aren’t invested while others read every word. In this case, Rogers is not only an important telecom company in Canada, it’s a consumer company. The family is well known and the arc of what happens to family businesses is a fascinating one to many, hence the comparisons to the series Succession or Game of Thrones.

The Globe has published many exclusives, which have given a rare insider look at a business in the midst of a power struggle. It’s also a major news story, not a just business one, and it is far from over. Notably, in the list of trending articles on The Globe homepage in the mornings lately, Rogers stories are inevitably in the top five.

Any thoughts on these or other issues, please e-mail me at publiceditor@globeandmail.com.

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A Famous Tech Expert Says You Should Quit Social Media. Not So Fast There – Forbes

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A famous professor and book author named Cal Newport is still arguing, after his popular TED talk from a few years ago and with a new book about the dangers of email out now, that you should quit social media.

He seems to advocate for deleting your account forever, never going back, skipping the entire social media space including apps like Facebook and Twitter.

In listening to his argument, the reasons are relatively sound. He doesn’t see the value, and views apps like Facebook as mere distractions.

Unfortunately, I view this argument as woefully flawed.

First of all, hats off to Newport who has written some excellent books. He makes some good points about distraction and how social media companies are using these apps to feed us ads that line their pocketbooks. We’re endpoints for advertising, nothing more.

My issue is that quitting social media is a recipe for disaster. For starters, quitting is not the same as controlling. As someone who has recently studied the productivity field these last two years and is about to release a book about how to be more purposeful in our work, I can say that there is some value in the apps, and quitting them doesn’t work anyway. In a workplace setting, it’s all but impossible not to use social media, even if it is keeping up on the company feed, commenting on posts, and using the social media chat features.

More importantly, quitting social media means you are not aware of how people are using the apps and finding new benefits. I’ve long maintained that social media is an excellent way to keep in touch with family members, especially those that live overseas. The apps allow us to stay in touch and build a community with others using digital tools.

And, honestly, that’s really all they are is tools. We can use them for positive purposes or we can get sucked into the void and choose to let distraction rule over us.

A more measured approach, one that limits how often we use the apps and for how long, works better because it teaches us to throttle how we use every digital tool, not just the ones that are the most compelling. When we figure out how to use social media tools effectively, we can apply those same concepts to other apps such as email clients.

More than anything, I worry about the “cold turkey” approach because people eventually get sucked back into using the apps. “I’m deleting my account” says the person who is not able to control usage, and hasn’t dealt with a tendency to overuse the apps. A few weeks or months later, that person is back using the app again, maybe even more than ever before. 

So how do you control usage? My approach to this issue is not to delete anything, but to find the value and purpose in what you are doing, and then to set limits on how long you use the apps. For example, if you find yourself using Instagram for an hour or two per day, that is heavy usage. The answer is not to delete your account. A better way to deal with that obsession is to time yourself and keep track of what you are actually doing, to set goals for what you want to accomplish. Tell yourself — I am going to only read 10 posts during one session and then, when I reach that last post, I’ll close out of the app. It works much better. In some ways, learning to control how you use social media apps is a gift because then you can learn to control other things.

My challenge is for you to try that. Set a time limit or choose how many posts you’ll read or comments you’ll make. Don’t delete the app, but find the value and benefit that works for you. If you do decide to limit your usage somehow, send me an email (johnbrandonbb@gmail.com) about how that proved effective for you in controlling how you use these digital tools.

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Media Advisory: Dr. Fitzgerald Available to Media – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer of Health, will hold a media availability tomorrow (Wednesday, December 1) at 2:00 p.m. to discuss COVID-19.

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

Media covering the availability will have the opportunity to join in person in the media centre or by teleconference. To participate, please RSVP to Jillian Hood (jillianhood@gov.nl.ca) who will provide the details and the required information.

Media planning to participate by teleconference must join 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 contact
Lesley Clarke
Health and Community Services
709-729-6986, 699-2910
lesleyclarke@gov.nl.ca

2021 11 30
2:10 pm

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Media Release – November 30, 2021 – Guelph Police – guelphpolice.ca

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Male breaks into second downtown church

A male already facing charges after breaking into a downtown church late last week was arrested again Monday after he was found inside a second church.

Police were called approximately 8:25 a.m. after staff arrived to find a male sleeping in the kitchen. He had smashed a window to get inside. A search of the male revealed he was in possession of some of the church’s property.

The same male had been arrested last Friday morning after staff of a second downtown church arrived to find him sleeping in a storage room. A 22-year-old Brantford male was charged at that time with break and enter and mischief.

On Monday he was charged with a second count of each of those as well as possessing stolen property. He will appear in a Guelph court January 18, 2022.

Tools stolen from work van

Approximately $4,000 worth of tools were stolen from a vehicle at an east-end business this week.

Staff from the business on Speedvale Avenue East near Eramosa Road called police Monday afternoon. Just after 3:30 a.m., surveillance video recorded a male climbing over a fence and breaking into a work van. Approximately $4,000 worth of tools were stolen including tool sets, drills and nail guns.

The male is described as wearing a brown winter coat, khaki pants, a grey toque and black shoes with white soles. He was last seen riding a bicycle with three duffel bags filled with tools.

The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Constable Anna-Maria DePaepe at 519-824-1212, ext. 7195, email her at adepaepe@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous message for Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or leave an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

Wanted male arrested

A Guelph male wanted after he failed to appear in court on assault and weapons charges was arrested Monday.

Guelph Police Service officers were on patrol in the area of Woodlawn Road West and Woolwich Street approximately 8 a.m. when they spotted a male they knew to be wanted. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear in court earlier this month.

A 40-year-old Guelph male is further charged with failing to appear in court. He was held for a bail hearing.

Total calls for service in the last 24 hours – 208

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