Tonight’s the night.
The 28th Annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues online festival will kick off, streaming for free, Aug. 14, across Black Press Media website platforms.
The online festival experience will showcase exclusive artist performances recorded specifically for the virtual festival broadcast, alongside previous year’s archival footage and greatest hits.
Starting at 7 p.m. The Altered State Festival will begin with performances by Steve Marrnier and Paul Reddick, Lunasa, Lil Jimmy Reed, Harry Manx and The Yaletown String Quartet, Oysterband, The Hamiltones, Stephen Fearing, Oktopus, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, The Paperboys, John Wort Hannam, Sam Lewis, New Orleans Suspects, Pharis & Jason Romero, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, Kat Danser and Jim Guiboche, Cedric Burnside, and Michael Franti.
The online Roots and Blues festival experience will include two hours of programming Aug. 14, 15 and 16, and will be accessible for free to everyone at https://www.saobserver.net/roots-blues-festival/.
To learn more about the Salmon Arm Roots and blues Altered State Festival visit www.rootsandblues.ca.
'Information is power': Social media page keeps track of COVID-19 exposures in schools – CTV News Vancouver
When it comes to possible COVID-19 exposures in schools, who gets notified depends on the health authority where the exposure happened.
The discrepancy and lack of consistency compelled one Lower Mainland parent to take it upon herself to ensure others can easily access that information.
“I was super frustrated and I said, ‘Something really needs to be done. If I need to know this information, I’m sure others do, too,’” Kathy Marliss told CTV News Vancouver.
Marliss started a Facebook page called “BC School COVID Tracker”, which keeps tabs on possible exposures and confirmed cases at schools.
“Information is power; information is valuable. And it just gives parents that sense of comfort to say, ‘OK, you know what, I know what’s happening. I can make some informed choices,’” she said.
Fraser Health Authority and other regions are posting all school exposures, but Vancouver Coastal Health isn’t posting cases when the risk is low and all close contacts have been successfully traced.
“The decision to post notifications, we will do that when there’s a broader group of students who may have been exposed,” VCH’s chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly explained to CTV News Thursday.
Since only certain exposures are being posted, parents, teachers and concerned residents are sharing information by anonymously sending a private message to Marliss’ page.
The page was started less than a week ago, and through the power of crowdsourcing, it has identified 51 B.C. schools with possible exposures and a total of 57 exposure events.
“It sends a really clear message that the health authorities, the government aren’t doing what needs to be done,” Marliss said.
Patti Bacchus, a former long-time chair of the Vancouver School Board chair, has been calling for greater transparency and consistency with the reporting policy.
“When you don’t get that information, and you’re hearing it through the back channels or through Facebook, you start to question, ‘What else aren’t they telling us?’ And that’s just not a good place to be,” Bacchus said.
She said it’s no surprise parents have taken matters into their own hands, but cautions it could lead to misinformation.
“People want information and I think it’s critical that they have that. But I think it’s also risky. And I think that’s why it’s important for the official bodies, the public health authority, (to) be keeping people informed in a timely way with up-to-date, accurate information,” she said.
Marliss would also like to see public health officials make the information available, but until then, she is busily updating her Facebook page several times a day.
She said the secrecy further stigmatizes those who test positive for the disease.
“I don’t think we need to know who has COVID. I don’t think we need to know which class necessarily has COVID, we just need to know if it’s in a school,” she said. “I think instead of us trying to hide it, we should be seeing if those people need support, and how we can help them, and not ostracize them from the schools.”
Google attacks extreme ways of ACCC news media bargaining code – ZDNet
Google has continued its fight against Australia’s news media bargaining code, this time attacking the final offer arbitration process, known as baseball arbitration, that will be used.
In such a process, rather than parties agreeing to a deal, an arbitrator is presented with a final offer from each side and must select one of the offers presented. Google is arguing that Australia’s old media are asking for sums far in excess of what Google generates from searches related to news, which it says is around AU$10 million in revenue.
“Clearly, both sides have very different ideas of what the prices should be — and asking the arbitrator to pick a ‘final offer’ is an extreme way of resolving that,” Google ANZ chief Mel Silva said in a blog post.
“The reality is that baseball arbitration often fails and doesn’t produce quick outcomes. Independent economists have raised questions about its effectiveness.”
Silva also said the arbitrator would not need to consider the approximately AU$200 million the search giant claims news organisation derive in value from Google properties.
“We are happy to negotiate fairly and, if needed, see a standard dispute resolution scheme in place,” Silva wrote.
“But given the inherent problems with baseball arbitration, and the unfair rules that underpin it here, the model being proposed isn’t workable for Google. It wouldn’t be workable for many Australian businesses — no matter how large or small they are.”
In a separate blog post, Silva said the code would set a bad precedent.
“The draft code would also create a mandatory negotiation and arbitration model that only takes into account the costs and value created by one party — news businesses,” she said.
“The code’s provisions mean costs are uncapped and unquantifiable, and there is no detail on what formula is used to calculate payment.”
Google once again complained that under the code, it will be forced to provide news businesses with advanced warning of changes to its search algorithm, which could punish other local businesses.
“If you ran an independent travel website that provides advice to people on how to plan local holidays, you might lose out to a newspaper travel section because they’ve had a sneak peek at changes to how Search works,” Silva said.
“That’s an unfair advantage for news businesses. Businesses of all kinds would face an additional hurdle at a time when it’s more important than ever to connect with their customers.”
At the start of the month, fellow tech giant in the crosshairs of the code, Facebook, said it would stop allowing news to be shared by Australians on its platforms.
“Assuming this draft code becomes law, we will reluctantly stop allowing publishers and people in Australia from sharing local and international news on Facebook and Instagram,” the social media giant said in a blog post.
“This is not our first choice — it is our last. But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia’s news and media sector.”
Last month, shadow assistant minister Andrew Leigh said the quiet part out loud when he said the changes should happen because Australian newspapers failed to capitalise on the shift to online in decades past.
“I think it’s really important to recognise … that news plays such a critical role in our democracy and yet the funding streams that they used to rely on — the classified ads — have been separated apart from the newspapers,” he said.
“We’ve seen huge financial pressure being placed on newspapers and their online equivalents at a time in which we really need the scrutiny of those outlets … we need to have this high-quality investigative journalism, and I think what the government’s doing here is one way of achieving it. I don’t think it’s perfect, but I don’t support the scare campaigns being run against it.”
Google said a couple of weeks later that it was not responsible for the decline of newspaper classifieds.
Thai big media forced to rethink unwritten rules – Bangkok Post
With the rise of the student-led pro-democracy movement, the topic of the monarchy, which was once a taboo, now has more space in public discussion.
Social media has set a new standard of freedom of speech and a number of netizens have dared to break the tradition without fearing the harsh penalties of the lese majeste law, which could theoretically see them slapped with three to 15 years in prison.
But things have hardly changed in the Thai mainstream media which mostly applies self-censorship. Early last month, human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa brought up his demand for reform of the monarchy during a Harry Potter-themed protest in Bangkok. He is the first person in over a decade to break the taboo of criticising the high institution in public on Thai soil.
His statement came so abruptly that, worried about the consequences, most mainstream media pulled the plug on their Facebook Live reporting at the demonstration. That evening, as I learned from other journalists, a debate raged in newsrooms over whether Mr Anon’s speech should be put in the news. The next morning the part about the monarchy was mostly missing from reports. It was the same with the student rally on Aug 10 at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus, and the following two demonstrations, one led by the Free Youth group at the Democracy Monument six days later, the other on Sept 19-20 at Sanam Luang.
Some speakers went deep into the details of the proposed reform, such as the need for transparency in palace spending so the institution will maintain public respect.
Those who want to see other details of this sensitive issue must either watch live on the student movement’s Facebook page or follow certain Twitter accounts and seek out coverage by the international media.
It’s clear the Thai media is finding it difficult to adjust to this sudden change, and to convey the students’ message properly. Journalists are currently embroiled in debate as to how and to what extent they can report on the topic.
In principle, these questions shouldn’t need to be asked at all. Journalism must promote democracy and freedom of expression. But Thailand’s unique legal and social context makes most mainstream media reluctant to adhere to this principle when reporting on news pertaining to the monarchy.
The legal scope of the lese majeste law is extremely broad and open to interpretation in terms of what constitutes defamation, insult, or threats to the royal lineage. In 2014, police accepted a complaint filed by retired army generals against Sulak Sivaraksa over comments he made about King Naresuan, a 16th-century ruler of Ayutthaya. The court later dismissed the case.
Without a clear boundary over what can be defined as a breach of the lese majeste law, it’s common for newsrooms to end up in disagreement. Some don’t think reporting the students’ demands would cross the line while others do. The most common scenario is all the reports about this issue are cut or amount to just brief or vague mentions. This is because the stakes are high for established news organisations if they were to face lese majeste law charges. Social pressure is another factor that news organisations weigh in handling this topic.
Last week, a royalist group announced it would file a complaint against Voice TV, an online media outlet that has regularly criticised the government, for broadcasting the recent Thammasat University student rally on Facebook Live.
The staff of the Reporter, another news website, also had a live stream of the event. Though there is no criminal charge against them, just yet, they are aware of the possibility.
“After we consulted with lawyers, we are sure that reporting the student demand for reform of the monarchy is not against the law. But it’s still difficult to do when considering the social context,” said Thapanee Eadsrichai, a prominent journalist who founded the Reporter.
During the Harry Potter-themed protest, her team cut their Facebook Live coverage during Mr Arnon’s speech because referring to the monarchy in public was a new phenomenon at the time. But after they studied the law, they decided not to censor their reports going forward.
“The student rallies are newsworthy events, and we can’t avoid reporting it,” she said. “For me, not reporting it is irresponsible to society. Only when the audience can hear different opinions, can society as a whole discuss and find a solution peacefully.”
I could not agree more. Open and healthy discussion about the institution should be possible.
It’s time for Thai media organisations to sit down and discuss a practical approach to covering the subject before their audiences lose confidence in them forever.
Paritta Wangkiat is a Bangkok Post columnist.
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