Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Government run media? Canadians should be outraged

The Toronto Star has obtained documents that outline the Harper government's plan to axe the National Press Theatre (where Parliamentary Press Gallery Association moderates government news conferences) and replace it with a government-run briefing centre based in a mall in Ottawa.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Privy Council Office and the PMO are pencilling in $2 million to create the government's own media centre.

No. Hell no. This is odious, antidemocratic and authoritarian in too many ways to count. You need look no further than China to see how government involvement in media muzzles news reporting to the detriment of a country's population.

Dangerous path to embark upon. Canadians should be outraged.

Monday, April 18, 2011

C-Span spawns a star: Anthony Weiner

Never thought I'd see the day when I became a C-SPAN fan - most days the U.S. House of Representatives is a snore. But after Penelope Trunk's blog turned me on to Anthony Weiner performances in the House today, I'm hooked. Spent an hour watching him on YouTube. This guy can talk a blue streak, and, as Penelope points out, makes encylopedic knowledge of parliamentary procedure entertaining. Seriously. Check him out.

A quick Wikipedia search also revealed that he's:

1) friends with Jon Stewart and
2) played hockey in college.

How cool is that? He's practically an honorary Canadian.

PS: Penelope's blog post talked about how it's dumb to break rules before you understand them. She's right. It's hard to break them *right* unless you do.

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Does Google Search Change Spell Death for Demand Media?

It's a little early for producers of thoughtful content to crow about how eHow traffic fell 50 percent after Google changed its search algorithm last week. eHow producer Demand Media, of course, said that the effect of the algorithm change was "significantly" less than the 50 percent reported. The fact Demand Media didn't say how much less does mean that it must have hurt. As did an almost $7 drop in their share price during trading on Monday.

But that's not enough to break Demand Media's business model. Demand Media pays pennies per word or video byte compared to other content producers such as news organizations or magazine publishers, and it's lamentable that content created in response to searches gets traffic that should go to content created with greater standards in order to provide more value to readers. Changes in how search engines display results is certainly Demand Media's Achilles heel. But playing search engines is Demand Media's game so adapting to such changes is also part of their business plan. I wouldn't hold your breath unless Google gets aggressive about changing code frequenlty to avoid its engine being played.

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