February 18th, 2015
Digital media is killing off traditional TV in North America.
According to the latest Nielsen ratings, U.S. TV viewership fell by 12% in January 2015, the eighth consecutive double-digit drop.
Viewing of Internet video has increased on both sides of the border (60% in the last year in the US) as consumers select their content via on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple and Shomi.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Girl Scouts (Girl Guides in Canada) will launch a “digital cookie” online sales platform for its boxed cookies. It’s a big step for the organization, which sold its first box of colourful cookies back in 1917.
The take away? In the digital world, the consumer’s “on-demand” rules.
February 5th, 2015
Mack just watched a documentary film, Humans Need Not Apply, which predicts that 45% of the world’s workers will eventually be replaced by technology that already exists today.
This dramatic forecast is a grim reality for print journalists as the newspaper industry spirals downward.
Postmedia, the company that owns the Vancouver Sun and Province, saw its 2014 revenues drop $224 million lower than three years ago, representing a 25% decline.
Meanwhile traditional journalism programs at universities and colleges are restructuring, shrinking or even closing due to lack of enrolment.
But brand journalism – snappy journalistically-writing branded content that pulls in page views for everything from toothpaste to environmental causes – has created a new and growing market for new media journalism.
The take away – it’s not all bad news for journalism, but the skills have changed.
January 26th, 2015
Here we are a new year and yet another controversy at the scandal-prone CBC. The public broadcaster has announced that on-air journalists and hosts are barred from taking cash for appearances, speeches and other “paid outside activities”.
The policy follows a series of reports that CBC’s senior business correspondent Amanda Lang was paid to speak at events sponsored by RBC, ManuLife and Sun Life. Lang was also alleged to have tried to interfere in a story about RBC’s use of temporary foreign workers.
For its part CBC bosses say the “no cash for outside activities” policy had nothing to do with the recent allegations.
The take away – CBC’s decision to shut the door to its outside pay for its journalists reminds Mack of the old saying “closing the gate after the horse has bolted” – a little late and pointless.
December 17th, 2014
Half a century ago this week, a children’s Christmas cartoon debuted across North America. The 1964 show told the story of a genetically disabled hero who, after suffering years of verbal and physical abuse by his peers, leaves his northern village in search of acceptance.
Arthur Rankin Jr., the man who created the stop-motion “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” one of TV’s longest running annual specials, died at the age of 89 earlier this year.
Created by Americans, filmed in Japan and full of Canadian voices, the classic tale of how Rudolph overcomes social rejection to heroically save Christmas with his luminous red nose and how misfit toys are accepted and loved by children is one of Mack’s favourite Christmas stories.
The take away? Have a very politically incorrect Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
December 3rd, 2014
Smartphones are everywhere. Mack, who frequently has to dodge inattentive smartphones users on sidewalks, often considers them a pain in the neck.
They might be even worse than Mack thought. According to a study by New York spinal surgeon Kenneth Hansraj, using a smartphone flexes your head and shoulders forward, dramatically increasing the force on your spine.
People who spend two to four hours a day hunched over their phones put excessive stress on their spine, which can lead to “wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgery,” says Dr. Hansraj.
It gets worse: Smartphones can also destroy your career.
Elizabeth Lauten, a US Republican communications director, was forced to resign this week following the backlash to her criticism of President Obama’s daughters at a US Thanksgiving event.
Lauten used her phone to cyber bully Malia, 16 and Sasha, 13 with her comment that the teenage girls should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar.”
The takeaway? Smartphones are tools—not weapons. Be careful how you use them.
November 24th, 2014
It was a month ago today that Jian Ghomeshi hosted his last uber-popular CBC radio show Q with Jian Ghomeshi. In less than 30 days, he went from Canada’s “creative class” golden boy to just another loathsome creep after more than a dozen women came forward accusing him of violence and sexual assault. It seems Ghomeshi used his public fame to literally hit on fawning, much younger women.
After being turfed by the CBC, Ghomeshi turned to Facebook to argue for his sexual “human rights.”
For a few days, playing the victim worked. Supporters, including federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, jumped on social media to defend Canada’s politically correct media star. But as the accusations snowballed, these BFFs fled, stunned by the social media backlash to their misguided support.
Fired by the CBC and his PR firm, agent, publicist, and music client, Ghomeshi has lost his lucrative speaking, special event MC and publishing gigs and is in hiding in either LA or Ontario’s cottage country, according to reports.
The takeaway? With social media, being first isn’t the same as being right. Think before you “send.”
October 29th, 2014
The latest version of Debrett’s—the long trusted source of British manners and deportment—is now available online. Pity it doesn’t cover 21st-century conundrums such as when to tweet (or not).
Such social media etiquette advice may have saved a couple of dumb dudes their jobs recently.
Vandon Gene, a Sun News Network reporter, got fired last week after a Twitter spat with none other than CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Gene wanted Cooper to take a selfie of them at Ottawa’s National War Memorial during a break in covering the shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
On Twitter, Cooper wrote, “Dude, you were rude and asking for a selfie where a soldier was killed. It was completely inappropriate. Think about it.”
Ted Bishop, president of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA), was sacked after he called a British golfer “a little girl” on Twitter for criticizing a tournament.
Later, the ex-president called his statement “unacceptable.”
“This is a classic example of poor use of social media on my part,” he added.
October 21st, 2014
It’s strange how empires grow just before they collapse. Postmedia, owner of the National Post, recently bought 175 daily and weekly newspapers from Quebecor, owner of the Toronto Sun.
That’s one debt-ridden print newspaper company spending $316 million for a bunch of other ad revenue challenged newspapers.
Meanwhile, in the digital world, Canadians are about to reach a mobile milestone. We now spend 49% of our time online on mobile devices. It won’t be long until our screen time on tablets and phones exceeds that of laptops and desktops.
And as free digital access to news and music increases, 2014 may mark the first year when only one US released album – Disney’s Frozen movie sound track – has gone platinum by selling more than a million copies.
September 25th, 2014
A Dutch woman recently spent five amazing weeks travelling through Southeast Asia, eating in exotic restaurants, snorkeling and journeying to Buddhist temples, all the while posting her photos and videos on Facebook and Vimeo.
But it was a digital fake. Zilla van der Born never left Amsterdam. The restaurants and temples were local sights, snorkeling was a combination of Photoshop and a local pool.
“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media,” van der Born told journalists. “We create an online world which reality can no longer meet.”
Next meet a seven-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Gidget who went missing for more than four months from her home in Pennsylvania only to turn up across the continent in Portland, Oregon.
Animal shelter workers used Gidget’s implanted microchip to find her home. The 4,838 km trip only cost Gidget a few lost pounds.
September 15th, 2014
According to the experts driverless cars will arrive in Canada by 2020. As Paul Godsmark, co-founder of the Canadian Automated Vehicle Centre of Excellence recently put it: “The technology is not just accelerating, the acceleration is accelerating”.
Meanwhile digital technology-driven changes are also coming to cable TV in Canada. Bell Media has announced it will cut 91 employees from its music channel production staff. The popularity of YouTube, Netflix and other online services has sucked viewers from music channels such as MTV and Much.
With easy online access to the music, videos, shows and movies (not to mention cat videos) a growing number of Canadians are “cutting the cable”.
Full disclosure – Mack cut the cable this summer.