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Queen Elizabeth shows flexibility as social media shifts power

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For the last 66 years, Queen Elizabeth has skilfully walked the tight rope between being a bulwark of tradition, keeping things more or less as they have always been and skilfully adjusting as England and the world spun forward around her.

Nothing was ever new; just enhanced.

As the Queen has adopted new technologies — from televising her coronation and annual Christmas speech to increasing the use of social media — who can ever forget her “phone drop” to promote the Invictus Games or her arrival by parachute with James Bond at the opening of the London Olympics — she has, by and large, sought to preserve the decorous traditions of the British monarchy.

The give-and-take (or lack thereof) between tradition and modernity is precisely the tension that fascinates so many. It is this tension that is the dramatic underpinning of Netflix’s biographical drama, “The Crown,” which this week got some real-life experience to add to this theme.

The makings of this new episode began when the Queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan Markle, trademarked “Sussex Royal” and posted a photo to their Instagram account announcing their intention to step back from their royal duties, seek financial independence and take up a new life in North America, all the while honouring “our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages.”

While news coverage has been devoted to the announcement’s substance, the medium here is equally as important as the message. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have effectively used social media to leap over their 93-year-old grandmother and family. The Queen of England now finds herself embroiled in a singularly modern predicament: an asymmetrical communications campaign that pits individuals against institutions.

Again and again, we have seen a similar dynamic play out in such situations. While institutions are hamstrung by tradition, bureaucracy, and red tape, individuals are empowered by social media to be self-defining, agile and swift.

Case in point: While Harry and Meghan could rush out their campaign as if it were a lifestyle-brand-in-a-box, (along with the post they launched a website, complete with glossy photographs, inspirational quotations from the likes of Desmond Tutu with web copy written in the tone of an Instagram influencer), the Queen had to resort to issuing her rebuttal statement in two sentences printed on Buckingham Palace letterhead.

 

The generational divide could not be more clear; nor the implications. This is not a fair fight.

While it may be unpleasant to go up against one’s own family, this dynamic yields the couple a few distinct advantages. First, their new media relations strategy circumvents the depraved British tabloids, and their antiquated “royal rota” system.

While the Royal Family has tolerated no end of vitriol from the press (remember Waity Katie? Or Fergie, the Duchess of Pork?), rationalized by the adage, “We pay, you pose,” Harry and Meghan seek to change the rules, an objective made all the more urgent by the press’ clear double standard when it comes to covering Meghan Markle versus Kate Middleton.

As those same British tabloids have reported breathlessly on the behind-the-scenes machinations at work throughout this entire episode, another advantage has become apparent.

By staking out a clear, public position and then negotiating, the couple most likely stymied attempts by the Queen’s courtiers to delay or dilute their plan. Declaring their intention for a clean break was perhaps the only way for Harry and Meghan to break through the institutional monarchy’s resistance to doing things new.

But if there is a resistance to things new, the Queen, herself, demonstrated last week a willingness to enhance.

In the days since the launch of Sussex Royal, the Queen has followed a playbook of her own. She took charge, summoned all the influence of her court, gathered her family for the so-called Sandringham Summit, and after its conclusion, released a statement cautiously endorsing her grandson’s plan.

But the real news was how the statement was written. One royal historian, speaking to the BBC, remarked that its tone was “unusually personal” with its several references to “my family” or “my grandson.” What’s more, it abandoned the use of formal titles, referring instead to “Harry and Meghan.”

 

Her Majesty demonstrated, once again, just what it means to enhance.

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Parenting tips on using social media – Global News

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Global News Morning Toronto

Most parents would say unequivocally that they’d like to reduce their child’s screen time, but not all time spent tapping away on a tablet is created equal. For more information on how you can make sure your kids are getting something out of their screen time and responsibly navigating the internet, Amber Mac joins Mike Arsenault.

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Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes meet media ahead of NHL Draft – CTV News Montreal

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Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes and special advisor to hockey operations Vincent Lecavalier are speaking to media Monday afternoon ahead of Thursday’s draft — the first time the Habs will pick first since 1980.  

The big question on everyone’s mind: who will join Guy Lafleur, Rejean Houle, Garry Monahan, Michel Plasse and Doug Wickenheiser as a first overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens?

The near-consensus number-one pick in 2022 is Burlington, Ontario-native Shane Wright, a 6’1″, 200-pound, right-handed centreman who spend his playing days in the OHL for the Kingston Frontenacs. He’s 18.

SB Nation Eye on the Prize (EOTP) draft rankings have the following players in the next three spots:

  • Logan Cooley, centre (5’10”, 174 pounds)
  • Juraj Slafkovsky, left wing (6’4″, 225 pounds)
  • David Jiricek, right defence (6’3″, 190 pounds)

Hughes and his team have kept their cards very close to their chest regarding who they will pick at number one, let alone at number 26 or the two second-round picks, and three in the third round.

Ottawa Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch tweeted that Habs management have called every team with a top-10 pick and may want a second young talent.

“They want to make a splash with a second pick in that area,” said Garrioch.

Since 2001, the Habs have picked in the top 10 spots.

Mike Domisarek (7, 2001), Carey Price (5, 2005), Alex Galchenyuk (3, 2012), Mikhail Sergachev (9, 2016), and Jesperi Kotkaniemi (3, 2018).

Habs fans may have just experienced a slight pain in the heart region after reading those last two names.

Coming off a last-place, forget-as-soon-as-possible season of misery, it is safe to say the Habs could use help in just about every position, and two young stars would give fans something to salivate (obsess) over.

Draft aside, the ongoing “will he ever play again” saga surrounding star goalie Carey Price continues, and it would come as little surprise if the Habs moved a veteran or two like Jeff Petry or Christian Dvorak (maybe Josh Anderson?).

The draft starts Thursday in Montreal. 

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Media Moguls Return to Sun Valley Under Darkening Financial Skies – Vanity Fair

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As fleece-clad billionaires—and newcomers like Bari Weiss—flock to Idaho this week, Sun Valley fixtures are buzzing about Netflix’s future, an Elon-led Twitter, and Disney’s power structure. But will plunging stocks and a cooling M&A market drive down the dealmaking? “There’s a cloud hanging over,” says Ken Auletta.

July 4, 2022

Image may contain Elon Musk Human Person Clothing Apparel Pants and Wood

Elon Musk speaks to the media as he arrives for the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.  By David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

This time last year, as the illustrious guests of Allen & Company’s annual mogul bonanza were pulling up to the entrance of the storied Sun Valley Resort in the mountains of central Idaho, David Zaslav stepped out of his chauffeured SUV and gave an interview about big-media’s robust appetite for M&A. Zaslav had just pulled off a deal for the history books: the creation of Warner Bros. Discovery, of which he is now CEO. “There was a line wherever he was,” Oprah Winfrey told me at the time, relaying a scene report from Gayle King.

As this year’s so-called summer camp for billionaires kicks off Tuesday, Zaslav will hardly want for company while sipping cocktails in the Duchin Lounge. But other attendant honchos will surely elicit a greater deal of scrutiny and interest. For starters, there’s Elon Musk, who is expected to attend for the first time in several years, as his rollercoaster Twitter takeover inches toward some sort of spectacular conclusion. The Tesla boss isn’t just one of the most talked about and controversial people in the business world—he’s become one of the most talked about and controversial figures in the entire world, and his likely ownership of Twitter is seen as having major implications for free speech and democracy and the ability of platforms to rein in disinformation in a highly polarized society. “I definitely think Elon will grab a lot of attention,” one Sun Valley fixture told me. “No question.”

Someone else who has attended the conference over the years alternatively posited, “Everybody will be watching for the body language between Chapek and Iger, the Game of Thrones dynamic between the current emperor and the past emperor, and how that will shake out.” This source was referring, obviously, to the two Bobs—Bob Iger, the legendary former CEO of Disney, and Bob Chapek, the embattled current Disney boss—whose well-documented falling-out has been grist for the Hollywood gossip mill. Chapek, of course, will arrive in Idaho with a new three-year contract, putting to bed speculation that, following a series of highly publicized stumbles, his Disney stewardship may not be long for this world. (As another conference-goer joked, “When everyone ran out of stuff to talk about in the media business, they started gossiping about Chapek.”)

Who else? There’ll surely be eyes on Sheryl Sandberg, who recently resigned from Meta/Facebook after 14 years with the company. Or Brian Roberts and Shari Redstone, both seen as needing to enlarge their respective corporate fiefdoms, Comcast and ViacomCBS. Conspicuously absent from this year’s guest list is Jeff Bezos, who usually doesn’t miss the thing. It could be that he’s trying to create a bit of breathing room for Amazon’s new CEO, Andrew Jassy. Or as a couple of my sources suggested, he might just be galavanting around Europe on his mega-yacht. (Wouldn’t you be?) As for the Murdochs, I was able to confirm that James, Lachlan, and Rupert will all be in attendance. And among the requisite celebrity-type journalists prowling the resort, keep an eye out for Substack star Bari Weiss. “I’m going! And I’m excited!” she texted me on Friday. “But I do not have the requisite vest. Nellie and I”—as in Nellie Bowles, her wife—“are researching high-end athleisure at this very moment.”

Then there’s the Netflix of it all. For a long time, the O.G. streaming service was king of the jungle, the pinnacle to which all others aspired as they began to recalibrate their businesses for the unbundled, multiplatform future. Now, those others are catching up, which means Netflix bosses Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos find themselves fighting to hold on to the throne. One of the biggest stories in media this past spring was the company’s stunning subscriber loss, its first in 10 years, with further bleeding projected in the second quarter. That story will be hanging in the air as attendees amble along the resort grounds in their signature fleece vests. “To see how Reed and Ted engage with people will be interesting for sure,” one source said. “It’s a big sea change for them in their business. How are they thinking about it?” Another wondered whether Netflix might begin to look like an acquisition candidate, noting the steep plunge in the company’s market capitalization and value: “They still have something most people don’t have, which is 220 million subscribers and a great technology platform.”

There were a few other themes that came across in conversations with various big shots I spoke with. One was the potential for further M&A. Merger fervor has cooled since the gold rush of the prior few years, and the biggest players have shored up their power. But further consolidation is surely in store. Also, one source noted there’s a “recognition” that the biggest media companies in the world—Netflix, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery—don’t have controlling shareholders who own the lion’s share of outstanding stock. Will they be able to stay that way, or is it only a matter of time? Someone else suggested a sudden popularity for companies with big balance sheets. Roberts, for instance, never attracted a lot of attention, but maybe now, with Comcast’s nearly $9 billion in cash on hand, he just might.

My conversations also veered toward the larger picture, the backdrop to all the freewheeling panel discussions and furtive confabs. Last year’s festivities came with a certain buoyant optimism. Business leaders were emerging from the monotony of remote work and Zoom meetings, ready to let loose and breathe the same indoor air, the ink on their vaccine cards still fresh, the world getting back to normal. One year later, the world is positively on fire. Aside from the never-ending COVID spiral, the sociopolitical convulsions, and the unsettling global turmoil, fortunes have reversed; the stock market’s down, inflation’s up, and recession fears loom large. As one of my sources mused, “Everybody was walking around there the last few years with their chests strutted out. Now everybody’s stock has declined and the actual models are being questioned. You could ask the question, Will humility have set in to the environs of a place heretofore attended by nothing short of unbridled self-confidence? What will be the level of reflection in the private conversations and side lunches and all that?”

For some additional perspective, I called Ken Auletta, who’s been to Sun Valley a number of times since the mid-’90s, including in 1999, when he became the first—and as far as he knows still only—reporter to be granted full on-the-record access to the über-exclusive and highly secretive affair. (He has otherwise attended as a guest alongside fellow star-studded journalists—the Gayle Kings and Andrew Ross Sorkins and Anderson Coopers of the world.) “There are all these questions,” Auletta told me, “where you see Democrats and Republicans in greater agreement on reining in big companies. You’ve got questions about privacy. About Apple, and whether its insistence that [publishers] pay them 30% to be on their platform is a fair amount of money, or blackmail. Questions about whether you break up parts of Alphabet, meaning Google, or parts of Meta, meaning Facebook. Then you’ve got questions about free speech, where you’ve got conservatives, sometimes joined by liberals, arguing that Facebook and Twitter have killed freedom of speech, and then on the other hand, those on the left claiming that allowing people with false information to get on Twitter and Facebook is basically warping democracy. So if you think about the power of some of these issues out there, that would be something I think would resonate with the people who go to Sun Valley.” The upshot? “I think there’s a cloud hanging over the heads of all the people attending.”

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