newspapers

Newspapers, Endorsements, and Legitimacy

When a newspaper endorses a political party or a candidate during an election, the public assessment of the endorsement tends to turn on two factors: the reasoning leading to the endorsement, and the perceived legitimacy of the newspaper itself. But, as in any kind of legitimacy judgement of an organization, the perception of a newspaper’s legitimacy isn’t based on a single event or piece of information. It’s based on multiple factors, including the perceiver’s beliefs about whether the organization’s actions “are desirable, proper, [or] appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions”. And that is where the Postmedia newspapers in Canada went so spectacularly wrong with their endorsement of the incumbent Conservative Party in the upcoming federal election. (more…)

Bridging the Gap between Academic Research and Business

The Report on Business section of Canada’s national Globe and Mail newspaper invited me to write a commentary on how business people and management researchers could learn from each other. It has been a very long time since I wrote an article to a specified length and on a deadline, but it was good to use those skills again – even if at times it felt like running a marathon after doing years of five-kilometer races. Here is the finished product as it appeared in today’s paper.

Up Close and Personal with the UK General Election

Last month I spent two weeks in Britain, and purely by chance those two weeks were during the campaign leading up to the UK general election on May 7th. Elections are an incredibly important part of democracy, and I never forget how fortunate I am to live in a country where I get to vote and where my vote can make a difference. Since I became old enough to vote, I have only missed participating in one election that I was eligible to vote in (I had a good excuse – I was in Antarctica). But my trip to the UK gave me the opportunity to see how election campaigns work in another country with a parliamentary system of government – and that being the country whose legislative structure most strongly influenced my own country’s legislative system. (more…)

Small Business letter to the Telegraph; an attempt to defraud the electorate?

I’ve written a couple of blog posts about media outlets mindlessly reporting information without bothering to verify it first. Here, sadly, is another example. The Daily Telegraph newspaper in England ran a letter it claimed was signed by “5000 small business owners” expressing support for Prime Minister David Cameron and the Conservative Party in the upcoming UK general election. Blogger Alex Andreou decided to follow up some of the names of the signatories to the letter, and discovered….that it was not quite what was claimed. And now other bloggers and writers are finding other discrepancies and errors. Good on Alex, and shame on the Telegraph for its carelessness.

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How the letter from small business owners to the Telegraph in support of the Tories fell apart

UPDATE 21:00 The list is back up. Scanning it for changes. It was down for a good twenty minutes, then briefly up then disappeared again and now it is back up. No possibility of mistaken http, as it was open on my desktop when it suddenly refreshed to this. What is going on?

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UPDATE 20:30 on 28/4: The Telegraph has finally taken down the list of businesses which purported to have signed the letter. The link is now dead. The letter is still on their website, but the link to the signatories leads nowhere. No statement or apology has been issued as far as I am aware – from The Telegraph, CCHQ or Karen Brady.

The Charity Commission has become involved now, writing to charities it has identified from the list. A spokesperson…

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Society, Power, and “Hack Attack”

Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack  is a powerful read. It’s the story of Davies’ investigation into the phone hacking conducted by several of the British newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International. The investigation led to a judicial inquiry, several criminal convictions,  and the closure of the News of the World newspaper. And since Hack Attack was released last year, eight victims of phone hacking have filed a civil suit against the Mirror group of newspapers for invasion of privacy – a suit that is currently being heard in a London court.

Davies’ book describes the details and scope of the hacking – and how the hacking gradually became exposed, thanks to several anonymous informants – but also illuminates (more…)

Investigative Journalism: The Media Can (and Should) Do More of It

Recently I wrote a post about new information on the anti-union financial disclosure bill being debated in Canada’s Parliament. This new information was collected by two University of Regina researchers, and was mostly collected from publicly available documents. I also recently watched this segment of the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver TV show – a segment that brilliantly dismantles the Miss America Pageant’s claim to be “the world’s largest provider of scholarships to women in the world” [sic]. The information for this segment was also collected from publicly available documents.

Now admittedly the Miss America Pageant’s misrepresenting its scholarship awards doesn’t have the same potential large-scale societal impact as federal legislation, but the reporting of both sets of information has something in common. They’re both good investigative journalism – and neither was done by journalists. (One commentator calls Oliver’s work “investigative comedy”.) So why are comedians and university professors doing the kind of investigative work that media organizations should be doing, but generally aren’t?

From my own experience, I can suggest a couple of reasons why investigative journalism is not (more…)

Jellyfish Journalism Fail

I’ve written a number of posts about media misreporting of scientific research, and here – sadly – is another example of the same problem, from blogger and oceanographer Dr. Craig McClain. His description of different news sources progressively misreporting his story about a jellyfish – and getting the facts more and more wrong – would be funny if it weren’t so depressing.

And to further contextualize his tale of woe, the Daily Mail website – which was responsible for some of the major errors as the story was circulated – is one of the most visited news websites in the world. So who knows how far this misinformation has spread, and who knows what else out there is so very, very wrong?

Sigh.

(Thanks to science writer Kathleen Raven for her Tweet that led me to Dr. McClain’s article.)

A Look at the British Columbia Government’s Ad in the Teachers’ Bargaining Dispute

In a high-profile collective bargaining situation, it’s not at all unusual for both unions and employers to try to sway public opinion in their favour. And the current bargaining dispute between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the British Columbia provincial government is no exception. The dispute – which has now escalated into a full-out strike  – has been full of seemingly back-to-back press conferences by each side, and extensive use of social media to spread each side’s messages. However, on Friday, June 20, the government took its public relations campaign to a new level by buying a full-page ad on the front page of Vancouver’s 24 Hours newspaper.

I want to take a closer look at this ad – not only because it appeared in one of Vancouver’s highest-circulation daily newspapers  the day after BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender stated “it is not my intent to bargain in the media” – but also because its content includes
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Blog Carnival: My Post-Ph.D. Story

Jacquelyn Gill over at The Contemplative Mammoth blog has put forward a great idea for the month of May: a “Post-Ph.D. Blog Carnival”,  for bloggers to tell their stories of what they did after finishing their Ph.D. degrees. As she notes, there are, and will be, a lot of stories of people leaving academia in disgust or disillusionment after completing a Ph.D.. But there are also stories of people who stayed, and there’s value in learning about wherever Ph.D. graduates end up. I’m one of those who stayed in academia, and this is my post-Ph.D. story.

To understand my post-Ph.D.story, you have to understand the context of the story. I’m proud to (more…)

Dismantling the Creative Routine

Around this time last year,  Thomas Frank put forward some very pointed and accurate criticisms of the popular literature about creativity – namely, that these books and articles discussed the same examples over and over again – and wondered how much this literature could really enlighten us about creativity when it was so un-creative itself.

Now an article in Pacific Standard magazine has similarly critical things to say about another frequently discussed aspect of creativity – the “creative routine”. This, we are told, (more…)