Month: April 2013

Vancouver Newspapers in Crisis: Not Only the Industry’s Fault

This week, a shock went through the Canadian media world with the leak of an internal memo predicting a very dark future for Vancouver’s two daily newspapers, the Vancouver Sun and the Province. The memo, entitled “Next Steps”, was written by Gordon Fisher, the newly installed president and publisher of Pacific Newspaper Group (PNG) – the division of Postmedia which publishes the two papers. The memo called the business “unsustainable” because of declining revenues, announced yet another voluntary buyout program for employees, and warned that the new “audience-first, four-platform organization” would “continu[e] to aggressively cut costs”.

Full disclosure: I am a former employee of both the Sun and the Province (more…)

Not Again: The “10 Year Collective Agreement” for BC Teachers Should Just Go Away

Back in October of 2012, British Columbia’s premier, Christy Clark, proposed the idea of a 10-year-long collective agreement for teachers in BC’s public school system. The proposal came after a long and bitter round of bargaining, which saw, among other things, a brief teachers’ strike that was shut down by back-to-work legislation, a BC Labour Relations Board ruling upholding the teachers’ decision to refuse volunteer assignments, and, eventually, a mediated settlement that produced a one-year collective agreement expiring in June 2013.

The idea of a 10-year-long collective agreement for the province’s teachers got a mixed reaction. (more…)

Daniel Pink’s ‘Drive’: A Short Journey on a Tiny Piece of Road

Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us is being mentioned more and more as a good introduction to understanding workplace motivation. I’m not familiar with any of Pink’s other work, some of which has been fiercely criticized. But I was motivated (so to speak) to read this book because I teach about motivation in some of my classes, and some of my research deals with it as well. So I am always interested in what someone has to say about this particular topic.

Drive isn’t a textbook or an academic book. It’s a popular press book, and as such it’s clearly intended as a Malcolm Gladwell-style book – research experiments explained in an understandable way, and useful practical advice based on that research. The spare design of Drive’s cover even mimics the design of the covers of Gladwell’s books, and Pink’s writing follows Gladwell’s style of grandiose declarations and confident assertions. But, unlike Gladwell, Pink accurately describes the research he writes about, and I commend him for that.  I also applaud him for explaining how motivation is both intrinsic and extrinsic (and pointing out that each kind has different effects), and for emphasizing that just throwing money at workers isn’t going to make them work harder. These are realities of motivation that often get ignored and which are always worth talking about.

Unfortunately, though, there’s more wrong with Drive than there is right. (more…)

Kate Bush Receives Her CBE

As a huge Kate Bush fan, it delights me to report that yesterday she was officially appointed as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to music”. The appointment was announced this past December in the 2013 New Year Honours List, but the actual ceremony was yesterday.

Kate Bush receives her CBE from Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. (photo credit:

Kate Bush receives her CBE from Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. (photo credit:

Here is her message on her website about the honour, along with a picture of her medal.

Congratulations, Kate!!!

Hooray! The 10th Anniversary of Canada’s Adult Figure Skating Championships

This weekend, the 10th annual Canadian adult figure skating championships are taking place, in Kamloops, BC. It’s a historic occasion for adult skaters in Canada, and since (sadly) I can’t be there, I’m instead going to write about why this anniversary is so important.

As explained on this blog’s About page, I am an adult skater. (more…)

What Being a Professional Really Means

My doctoral dissertation was about workers in semi-professional occupations, and how their identification with their profession’s values affected how they felt about their work. So I’m always fascinated by stories about professionals faced with difficult situations that challenge the values of their chosen occupation.

This article about Geir Lippestad, the Norwegian lawyer who defended mass murderer Anders Breivek, appeared in the Globe and Mail last month. A few weeks later, Doug Christie, a Canadian lawyer who also defended controversial clients, passed away. I’ve been thinking about the contrast between the two and their reasons for doing what they did – and I’m kind of sorry that the article on Lippestad did not get more attention, because to me he represents why professional work is so important. (more…)