CWA Canada condemns outrageous sentence against Egyptian-Canadian journalist

OTTAWA (June 23, 2014) – CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, is outraged at the sentences handed down against three journalists in Egypt today and demands their immediate release.
Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian serving as Al-Jazeera’s Cairo bureau chief, and two of his colleagues were each sentenced to seven years in prison on trumped-up, terrorism-related charges.
CWA Canada joins other journalist groups and human rights organizations in condemning the action.
“We cannot allow the Egyptian government to get away with this,” said CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon.
“We cannot allow journalists to be punished or imprisoned for doing their jobs.

“Democratic countries and organizations must stand up to defend freedom of the press or this sort of injustice will spread. As journalism goes, so goes democracy.”
Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed were accused of supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which the authorities have declared a terrorist organization.
In fact, they were simply doing their duty as journalists, covering protests against the military-backed government.
For more information contact:
Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA/SCA Canada
(613) 820-8460

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Toronto Star’s digital journalists and the market devalue of journalism

Source: rabble.ca

Last week the Toronto Starannounced a couple of things. First, they laid off 11 full-time page editors. Second, they announced the creation of a new department, torstar.ca and its intention to hire 17 new digital staff including video editors, digital producers and social media assistants. This is the first time folks in the torstar.ca wing of the company have actually been journalists. Historically torstar.ca been staffed by production folks and was, for a few years, jobbed out to another company completely.

The odd thing is, the new hires will be paid a good deal less than their compatriots in the print newsroom. According to a memo sent by the paper’s editor-in-chief Michael Cooke and its managing editor, Jane Davenport, the Star will pay the new hires the same kind of money they could make at Bell Media, Huffpo or Facebook. They called the lower salaries (over $200 per week lower, in some cases) “market-based rates.” The memo states: “… new digital jobs cannot be rated on print business legacy rates of pay.”

This is an odd position, especially in a unionized shop that is in the print business. A digital journalist is still a journalist and must be doing the same work as a print journalist. So why is one employee paid less just because his or her work doesn’t end up as ink on cellulose?

And, the new positions are in a different department from the main newsroom, which means that although they are unionized jobs, the new hires won’t be bumped, if there are layoffs. And, of course, that means that print journalists don’t roll into the torstar.ca positions. They could, of course, apply for the 17 new slots, but they’d have to take a cut in pay.

According to Unifor unit chair for the Star, Liz Marzari, the union is worried that the digital journalists are getting substantially lower pay for the same work. And, since, in the near future almost all journalism work will be digital, that means the new hires will set a new low bar for journalists working at the Star. “We object to the company trying to take an end-run around hard-won seniority,” says Marzari. “We understand that if there were lay-offs the new digital journalist hires would be vulnerable, but let’s have a conversation about it, not just isolate them.”

She says Unifor can take legal action and wants to continue discussing the situation withStar management.

Of course, in an ideal world Star staff would have already acquired the digital skills they need to be capable online journalists. And, in that same ideal world, they would be paid the same no matter what kind of journalism they practiced. But clearly, that’s not the case. TheStar has historically treated online work as production work, not journalism.

Back in the late ’90s I visited the Toronto Star to see how they tackled online news. My hosts directed me to a sprawling space full of eager young faces, all illuminated by monitors that still gave off the nerd-attracting pheromones of fresh packaging. But this was not the newsroom of the Toronto Star. This was a whole other team, the web team. They were not journalists, not part of the Guild and they were not paid on the same wage scale as the ink-stained folks nearby. In fact, they weren’t even allowed to alter copy from the newsroom. What went in the paper went on the site, no rewritten headlines, no new subheads, no grabber quotes. Certainly no video or new photos. Nothing. The people in the room were just web jockeys, there only to shovel the print edition online. The Toronto Star wanted to keep these young people as far away from journalism and as far away from the Guild as they could.

But now, even though the new torstar.ca team will be doing journalism, the old ideas of the print view of the worth of digital journalism seem to prevail. It is devalued. And the Starseems to want it both ways. They want the cachet of being an elder statesman of print journalism in Toronto, but when it suits them, they expect to behave like a nimble, digital native, despite having far more overhead, legacy equipment and legacy union agreements.

That’s not fair. It’s not fair to long-time Star journalists who will be bought out, retire or move on without truly participating in digital journalism. It’s not fair to the new hires who will be blamed for setting a new low in journalism wages and who will lack the deep experience of the Star culture and maybe of serious journalism and still be expected to publish quality work. And, it’s not fair to the publication’s readers, who should expect both the best journalism and the most modern delivery of that news and not have to settle for one or other because the Star wants to cavort around as mutton dressed like lamb.

Wayne MacPhail has been a print and online journalist for 25 years, and is a long-time writer for rabble.ca on technology and the Internet.

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Newspapers hire ex-Clark aide to oppose her new recycling scheme

Source: thetyee.ca

Look who’s lobbying for the struggling newspaper industry.

British Columbia biggest daily and weekly publishers have hired a key member of the BC Liberals’ 2013 re-election campaign in a last-ditch effort to change Environment Minister Mary Polak’s mind about the imposition of a hidden tax on newsprint.

Dimitri Pantazopoulos registered to lobby Polak on behalf of Pacific Newspaper Group, Black Press and Glacier Media from April 7 to May 7. The Maple Leaf Strategies partner’s registration with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists for B.C. says his objective is “recognition that newspapers are unique in relation to extended producer responsibility and finding a solution that reduces the cost of the (printed paper and packaging) regulation to newspaper producers.”

When Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals amended recycling regulations in May 2011, they did not include a requirement for producers to disclose the fees on printed paper and packaging to consumers. Multi Material B.C., which is overseen by executives of corporations like Walmart, Procter and Gamble and Tim Hortons, is scheduled to take over the province’s recycling system on May 19 and will charge producers a 20 cents-per-kilogram fee on newsprint.

Newspaper publishers estimate it will cost their industry $10 million a year. Newspapers Canada CEO John Hinds fears the fees will force more community newspaper closures and the loss of 300 to 500 jobs.

Toronto-based Postmedia, owner of B.C.’s biggest daily publisher PNG, donated $10,000 to the Liberals on Oct. 17, 2013, five months after its Province newspaper endorsed Clark over Adrian Dix and the NDP in the 2013 election. For the quarter ended Feb. 28, Postmedia reported a $25.3-million loss because of continuing declines in print advertising and circulation.

Pantazopoulos, a former Rob Ford and Stephen Harper advisor, moved to B.C. to be Clark’s principal secretary in April 2011. She promoted him to assistant deputy minister of intergovernmental relations before he took leave of absence to work on the BC Liberals’ re-election campaign. Pantazopoulos took credit for polls that predicted the surprise May 2013 win over the NDP, but has not published his detailed methodology or data. The week after the election, he resigned to become a lobbyist. His Maple Leaf office is on the fourth floor of the World Trade Centre at Canada Place, three floors down from Clark’s Vancouver cabinet office.

Pantazopoulos, however, will be competing for attention with two former Clark aides who are in MMBC’s corner.

Former Clark executive assistant Gabe Garfinkel quit government on Oct. 25, 2013 to join Fleishman Hillard where his lobbying clients include a mix of biopharma and energy corporations. Garfinkel’s MMBC lobbying undertaking began Dec. 2, 2013 and runs until Dec. 31, 2014. His stated plan is “ongoing discussions to provide program updates.”

Steve Kukucha, a partner in Liberal-allied Wazuku Advisory Group, has a more complex assignment with MMBC. Kukucha was the so-called “wagon master” of Clark’s campaign this time last year, managing her media plane and bus. His lobbyist registration lists Clark, deputy minister Neil Sweeney, Polak and aide Matt Mitschke as lobbying targets for “assisting with issues around implementation of MMBC mandate.”

Since the Liberals won, Kukucha has gained eight lobbying clients. Last month, he registered for Quebec alternative energy company Enerkem and tire recycler Crumb Rubber Manufacturers Co. In February, he effectively took over from ex-federal Tory cabinet minster Chuck Strahl as a key lobbyist for pipeline company Enbridge.

Strahl registered Dec. 6, 2013 to set-up meetings between Enbridge and deputy premier Rich Coleman through June 6, but quit prematurely on Feb. 12. The Vancouver Observer revealed the previous month that Strahl was lobbying for the Northern Gateway Pipeline proponent while serving as the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the watchdog for Canada’s federal spy service.

Kukucha began his Enbridge lobbying gig on Feb. 20, naming Clark, Coleman, Polak, Energy Minister Bill Bennett and Aboriginal Affairs minister John Rustad as his targets. Also named on his file are Sweeney, Clark’s chief-of-staff Dan Doyle and deputy chief of staff Michele Cadario.

Kukucha donated $9,915 to the Liberals since 2005, of which $6,100 was in his former role as an executive with Ballard Power. Wazuku donated $8,275 in 2012 and 2013 to the Liberals.

North Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin has reported for local, regional, national and international media outlets since he began as a journalist in 1990.

- See more at: http://www.thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2014/04/22/Clark-Recycling/#sthash.v9YDsprO.dpuf

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