My 2 Cents


Print Journalism in this Digital Age

Reports of the demise of print journalism are greatly exaggerated. Print's not dead, it's just moving from dead trees to digital. The challenge for newspapers will be creating a model that can be fully funded in an environment of decreasing ad revenue. A paid subscription model is the obvious move here, but this is a little like trying to get toothpaste back in the tube. For better or worse, people have grown rather used to reading news for free online.

Look no further than the music industry. In the age of Napster, record sales started to plummet. Instead of adapting, the music industry put their collective heads in the sand and waited for this whole Internet fad to blow over. The rest, is history.

Help from the federal government is apparently on the way. Finance Minister Bill Morneau has announced $595 million in tax incentives to help with the labour costs associated with reporting, as well as tax credits for subscribers to digital news services.

"To protect the vital role that independent news media play in our democracy and in our communities, we will be introducing measures to help support journalism in Canada," Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his speech to the House of Commons.

The full details of the program won't be available until the next federal budget, after the government receives advice from an independent panel from the journalism community.

The goal is for the program to be funded by the government but have no role for politicians to decide what constitutes a media outlet or who would be eligible. That way, the government hopes to avoid the appearance of conflict between a free press and government influence.

That will help, but an economic model that ensures print journalism survives is still badly needed. $595 million in tax incentives is akin to a bandaid. You still need to treat the wound to stop the bleeding.

With emerging digital-first organizations like The Athletic making impressive strides, my online-canadian-casino.com money is on print adapting and eventually thriving in this new economy.

The Athletic continues to grow, having recently raised another $20 million. All eyes are on "the new sports page" as they rapidly expand.

The Athletic plans to use most of the financing to continue its expansion across the U.S., establishing a presence in every market with a professional sports team by the end of the year. By the end of 2018, the Athletic plans to have between 200 and 350 employees, up from its current staff of 120. The company currently has a foothold in 23 markets across the U.S. and Canada, and plans to expand to roughly 45 markets by the end of the year.

At the end of the day, quality content is king, and there will always be an appetite for that. Here's hoping.

Here are some print journalists who have made the trek to my home studio for an episode of Toronto Mike'd.

Print

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Daylight Saving Time Forever

Did you remember to spring ahead? 1 am magically became 2 am as we lost a precious hour this weekend.

We left Standard Time, an old relic from the days when we were all farmers relying on the sun to determine when we awake and when we literally hit the hay, for Daylight Time. If I had my way, we'd stay here for good. Why move a good hour of sunlight in the evening to the morning for the sake of an antiquated lifestyle?

If we unite as one voice, we can do something about this. Standard Time is for suckers. Resist adjusting your clocks on November 4. Daylight Saving Time Forever!

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Stranger Things is Overrated

Just my opinion, of course, but I think Stranger Thing is overrated. I've watched both seasons and thought it was okay, but nothing special. My favourite thing about the series, and the reason I've watched every episode, is the nostalgia factor. I was about the same age in the early-to-mid-80s and I love the look and feel of the era.

My teenagers think Stranger Things is top shelf, and the general feedback is overwhelmingly positive, so I'm filing this one in the "not my cup of tea" drawer. It's not you, it's me. To be honest, I found the whole upside down world boring.

The kids are cute, though... and the opening title sequence and theme is perfect.

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What's In a Name? Of SkyDome and the ACC

I was forced to read far too much Shakespeare in University. Not that it was bad, but it just felt too schooly, and I never liked that feeling. Of course, it's my fault for taking all those Shakespeare classes in the first place...

Billy S. gave Juliet this great line, and I think it applies nicely to Toronto sports venues.

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet

The SkyDome cost over half a billion dollars to build, and the city and province kicked in a large chunk of that change. As a result, it never felt right when Rogers picked it up for $25 million and then renamed it the Rogers Centre. SkyDome wasn't named after a corporate entity. As a result, I usually call it "the dome". People usually know exactly what I'm referring to.

The ACC, however, was named for a corporation from day one. You may have heard of Air Canada. Changing the name to Scotiabank Arena doesn't bother me in the least. I'm more concerned with what we laypeople will call it... I'm supporting "The Cashbox".

Corporately named sporting venues is the reality of the world we live in today. We watch soccer at BMO Field and watch the Marlies play at Ricoh Coliseum and practice at the MasterCard Centre. Don't get your knickers in a knot when they swap out one corporation for another. The highest bidder usually prevails.

But that SkyDome swap still stings... that one is different.

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Hip Dis at Junos

I just watched the Juno Awards. As I type, Sarah McLachlan is actually still performing. It was a pretty good show with a brilliant tribute to Leonard Cohen by Feist. I don't know where she's been, but I'm glad she's back.

A short while ago, The Tragically Hip won group of the year, and Rob Baker and Paul Langlois accepted the award. While Paul was speaking, they started to play him off. Thankfully, Paul ignored that and continued speaking. Then, just as he was about to talk about Gord Downie, they cut his mic.

That's right, as Paul Langlois was about to speak about Gord Downie, the Juno Awards cut his microphone so we couldn't hear a word.

If the purpose of the Juno Awards is to celebrate Canadian music, and you have two members of The Tragically Hip on stage after the year they've had, it is not okay to cut their mic. Consider for a moment what this band means to this country, and the thoughts that are with Gord.

Who makes this decision? Who decides there's no time for such things but has Bryan Adams and Russell Peters awkwardly vamping a short time later?

Such bullshit from CTV and the Juno Awards. We can now collectively wonder what Paul was about to say about Gord and his battle.

Paul said it best as the Junos played them off. "This is our arena, not yours."

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The White Men of The Fan 590

During my conversation with Bubba O'Neil, the chat turned to race in Canadian sports media. He told me the best advice he'd received was from John Saunders who told him he'd have to work ten times as hard to make it, because he was a black man.

Blacks may be underrepresented in Canadian sports media, but a recent promotional picture from Rogers to promote their sports radio hosts on The Fan 590 have me wondering about that station in particular. Here's the image if you haven't seen it yet.

fan

For those wondering if Bob McCown and Stephen Brunt really did sit together for the photo, the answer is yes. All nine gathered and collected around a table for the photo shoot.

The "countless opinions" belong to nine white men. When you review their surnames, the lack of diversity becomes even more jarring.

  • Brady
  • Price
  • Burrill
  • Cox
  • McCown
  • Brunt
  • Blair
  • Walker
  • Ennis

Herb Powell: You! What are your roots?
Exec: Well I guess you could say they extend to when the Anglos met the Saxons.
Herb Powell: In other words when white met bread.

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Simpsons

I have more questions here than answers. Without a doubt, this roster of sports talk radio talent is not representative of the world's most diverse city, but is it representative of sports radio listeners?

If one argues they are representative of sports radio listeners, is that a reflection of the fact all opinions are from a while male perspective? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

And finally, does this matter? Should sports talk radio in Toronto feature a more diverse roster of talent? Does anyone care?

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Spoiler Etiquette Revisited

In the season four episode of The Simpsons "Marge in Chains" Mayor Quimby spoils the twist of The Crying Game. The episode originally aired on May 6, 1993, less than eight months after the movie's release.

From a Simpsons podcast I subscribe to I learned about how Gene Siskel spoiled this same twist when reviewing the movie for Siskel & Ebert's If We Picked the Winners for 1992. You can watch that episode here. Roger Ebert was none too pleased because he knew the secret was key to enjoying the film. I'm on team Ebert. [side note: man do I miss Siskel & Ebert]

Today, spoilers are everywhere. I was watching a CBC series on Tuesday night that contained a very specific Game of Thrones spoiler. Game of Thrones is a show I haven't seen a minute of but would one day like to view in its entirety. I already know too much.

When Roz Weston appeared on my podcast he spoke about revealing a Grey's Anatomy spoiler the morning after it first aired. He simply doesn't care if he spoils it for you because you could have seen it the previous night. Personally, I think that's a selfish move.

I'm fighting a losing battle. I'm still hesitant to spoil a plot twist in The Usual Suspects, a movie released over twenty years ago, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone who might one day see it for the first time. I want you to enjoy it the way I enjoyed it, completely spoiler free.

Do you follow a code when it comes to spoiler etiquette? Is there a period of time after which you think it's fair game? Are you pro-spoil or anti-spoil?

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McDonald's Makes Nutty Choice

I have four children and so far there's no evidence any of them have a tree nut allergy. Two are quite young, so there's still time for such an allergy to manifest itself, but I'm hopeful we've avoided it.

I do have a nephew, however, who is allergic to peanuts. It means when we host a party we have to buy the ice cream that is completely nut free, and when we bake cookies or a cake, all labels must be read! A McDonald's Happy Meal, you'd figure, would be a safe choice.

McDonald's Canada has added a Skor McFlurry to its menu, and that means they can no longer be sure their other products have not "come in contact with peanuts, tree nuts or other allergens".

In my mind, this is a poor trade. McDonald's adds one more flavour of McFlurry to its menu and the cost is telling every family with a child with a nut allergy that their restaurant is no longer safe. Based strictly on my unscientific sniff test, it hardly seems worth it.

In fact, I think it's nuts.

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My Thoughts on Shootouts that Decide Hockey Championships

I have a serious issue with hockey championships being decided by a shootout. Last night, most of us watched a thrilling gold medal game decided by a shootout. Yes, we lost to the USA in that shootout and ended up with the silver medal. Here's why that sucks.

When you lose in a shootout, it doesn't feel as bad. Had the US scored in OT, it would have felt like we lost the hockey game. This just feels like we lost a skills competition.

But, when you win in a shootout, it doesn't feel as good. It just doesn't. You want it to feel like it felt when Crosby scored against the US in 2010. Winning in a shootout means you won, but not in the fair way you wanted to win. It takes a lot of the shine off.

So if this method of deciding a championship dulls the edges, making the lows feel less low and the highs feel less high, it's taken the best part of sports out of the mix. As a lifelong fan of sports, that sucks.

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The Problem with Chief Wahoo

Cleveland swept the BoSox and will face our Jays in the ALCS. It all starts Friday night.

I've been intentionally referring to their team as "Cleveland" and not by the nickname "Indians" because I'm not comfortable with it. I know the story of Louis Sockalexis and understand it's meant as a tribute, I personally just choose not to use it.

The bigger issue is Chief Wahoo. I grew up with Cleveland in our AL East division and watching Major League, and Chief Wahoo always seemed wrong, but in my adult years he seems outright offensive. Chief Wahoo is a racial caricature.

Cleveland_Indians_logo.svg

Even if Cleveland doesn't change their nickname, the time to retire Chief Wahoo as their logo has long passed.

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