Friday Wrap #28 – Levelling the playing field

Facebook, and really all the other social media platforms, have become boring. I mean watching paint dry boring. It’s so boring [dear reader, yell “how boring is it” at the screen now], that I’d consider a root canal to liven the place up.

I am still going on about Facebook’s chicken-shit action to block Canadian News because they don’t want to pay for things. If this is boring for you, skip down to the three things at the bottom please. Facebook’s digital vice has clamped down more on news outlets, so there is NO Canadian News on that platform. I get it. If a law was specifically crafted so I had to pay for that with which I have had for free for 15 years, I’d be pissy too. But this is not that.

Just over a week ago, there was a flash flood in Ottawa thanks to a sudden dump of rain. In some places, it was close to 100 millimetres, or 10 centimetres, or.. about 4 inches. Thanks to Facebook’s ass-hattery, news and posts about flooding weren’t allowed on that platform. Some did not know when this was happening because – surprise – some people DO get their news from only Facebook.

I’ll share this link because Facebook can’t be bothered:

If this had been a Tornado — like those don’t hit Ottawa at all — or a child abuction/Amber Alert, what would Facebook do? Show crap from Fox News or suggest posts about WW2 era US warships (no thanks Facebook.) Clearly, people do use this service. But Facebook also needs to cough up some dough to news sites.

But this news barracade is not only unfair, it’s an uneven playing field. For the past 15 years, as Canadian news media has been gutting itself to pay for shareholder dividends and merger debt, more and more journalists have left the profession — moving sideways into communications. Multiple levels of government now have comms people, who are former journalists, who have turned their employer’s social media channels into quasi-news sites. Instead of departments and governments pushing out announcements of programming or to pay your taxes, there are weather reports, commercial announcements, and press releases about everything under the sun. How is that not news? Yet these entities are able to continue with no impact. The word “PRESS” makes up half of the term “Press Release.” Whilst Facebook blocks legitimate Canadian News, it allows unchecked “news” from government.

What is one of the main roles of journalism in a first world democracy like Canada? To hold the government to account. Not only is Facebook blocking the disemination of news sources by the Canadian press — it is aiding and abetting the disintegration of government accountability.

Personally I am frustrated by this situation. One of my roles where I work is to post links to the news we write to social media channels. Have you tried posting a news story lately??? I still do because these can be seen by non-Canadian based viewers and we have non-Canadian followers. Facebook’s tools are useless, half-broken web garbage. The situation we’re in is the fault of the tech companies that don’t want to pay for Canadian News, but it is also the fault of the lobbying groups that pushed for this specific piece of legislation. Groups like News Media Canada are now silent — save for web banners that trash Facebook for blocking news.

In this frustration, I had an idea… What if – instead of using a social media channel to post news, we had one funnel that all the news sources went to? One that had no ads, linked to the original sources, and could be accessed by anyone/everyone? It makes sense to me that instead of putting up web banners saying “Bad Facebook, Facebook Bad” and nothing else, this group could do something to help news publishers. Obviously my sense and those who run NMC and similar groups are not the same. So I built one myself:

This took me about 30 minutes, a $12 web domain, and voila! A news aggregator that takes major sources and funnels into one screen all the news.

30 minutes, that’s all. Not bragging, I have some prior knowledge of these systems. Why couldn’t the lobby groups do this? Or something else? Money.

The more newspapers hurt from this, the more they can get the lobbying group to seek government help (bailouts) to help recover. Sad.

So where we are. Less news online, more people relying on Fox News, less access to Canadian News. Fucking sad. (I know I shouldn’t swear but there are times when it is appropriate.)

Three things

Something to read — Hugh Segal died this past week. He was a Canadian Senator, politician, educator, and all around nice guy. I met him once in Kingston many years ago. Always had a smile. Segal was considered a red-tory, more of a Progressive Conservative in the ranks. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson has a good obituary/reflection article in that paper about Segal. Well worth the read. Note, this link goes to a pay wall. Pay for news – it wont hurt anyone.

Something to watch — I am a fan of Uncle Roger videos. He is the alter-ego of Malaysian/UK comedian Nigel Ng. His latest video is below. It is quite funny.

Something to listen to — I was saddened to learn just before writing this week’s Wrap that Rick Jeanneret died. He was the long-time play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Sabres. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto fans had Foster Hewitt or someone like that, us Buffalo fans had Rick Jeanneret. “May Day! May Day! May Day!” “Top shelf, where momma hides the cookies!” “Someone call the police ‘cause he just got robbed!” Jeanneret was a character behind the mic calling Sabres games until just recent years. The last video I had seen of RJ was from January when Ryan Miller’s jersey was raised to the rafters in Buffalo.

I’ll miss all those calls.

Final Thought — There is a lot of change going on in my world right now. School; Work; more School; house repairs; short term plans; long term plans; etc. Change seems to be the only constant here. Not sure how it is going to go, but I know things won’t look the same as before. That’s not always a bad thing.

“Everything changes and nothing remains still; and you cannot step twice into the same stream.” — Heraclitus