What can – and should – be done about CBC

Get CBC out of the advertising business on all of its platforms. And make its content available to other media for free within Canada

What can – and should – be done about CBCSeveral years ago, I by chance encountered a backbench member of Parliament who asked in a very straightforward fashion why we at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) didn’t “do something” about CBC. Mildly startled, I replied that if something was to be “done” about CBC, Parliament should just go ahead and do it.…

De Adder cartoon controversy is no laughing matter

Michael de Adder's contract termination by Brunswick News makes one wonder how far free speech and free thought truly go on a modern newspaper page.

De Adder cartoon controversy is no laughing matterMichael de Adder is one of Canada’s most well-known editorial cartoonists. Yet his recent involvement in a cartoon controversy is no laughing matter. His biting, satirical work has appeared in the National Post, The Hill Times, Halifax Daily News and Halifax Chronicle-Herald, among other papers. He’s also syndicated internationally through Artizans.com. De Adder parted ways…

Reasoned skepticism about climate change is healthy

Let’s not deal with the grim science of cynical political marketing and hyperbole. Instead, we should rigorously adjudicate all belief

Reasoned skepticism about climate change is healthySpotting headlines about the recent United Nations report prophesying imminent global extinction of a million species, I immediately wondered at the media response should Donald Trump ever claim to have eaten a million ice-cream cones. Instinct tells me swarms of media fact-checkers would have been at every Baskin-Robbins or Ben & Jerry’s in the United…

Featuring more female sources should increase audience engagement

From entertainment to business to news media, the evidence is clear: audiences want gender diversity

Featuring more female sources should increase audience engagementWhat would happen if news media struggling to survive applied the productivity mantra “What gets measured gets done” to the sources they quote? Business research, Hollywood sales data and anecdotal evidence from the news industry all suggest it’s worth a try. In many western democracies – the U.S., the U.K. and Canada included – most…

Never shirk responsibility for honest, forthright observation

The rules of writing opinion pieces haven't changed through the generations in the Robinson family

Never shirk responsibility for honest, forthright observationOne day in 2004, Doug Firby, then the editorial page editor of the Calgary Herald, took me to lunch. I was the CEO of the Glenbow Museum and I had no idea what we were going to discuss. It turned out that he invited me to write occasional “op-eds” for the paper, on culture and…

Localized and personalized: how to keep culture relevant

The world of arts and culture offers lots of examples of gross expense and imported notions of what’s important. But there are alternatives

Localized and personalized: how to keep culture relevantHow are the National Post and the Globe and Mail doing in your neighbourhood? In Powell River, the big Toronto newspapers are on their last boomer gasp at the newsstands. In their place, piles of the weekly Powell River Peak and monthly Powell River Living fly off the counters and adjacent distribution boxes. The local…

You have not nearly seen everything yet

A 96-year-old mother’s invaluable experiences and insights help put today’s calamitous events in perspective

You have not nearly seen everything yetIt’s tempting to think when you hit your 60s that you’ve seen it all, that your analysis of contemporary issues is tight and complete. I’m here to say it ain’t. That’s because I’ve just checked in with my 96-year-old Mom, Frances Robinson, after being in Mexico for a couple of weeks, forgetfully without a phone…

Using big data analytics for social good and broader perspectives

Gender Gap Tracker makes big data public to motivate media to achieve gender parity among experts

Using big data analytics for social good and broader perspectivesAn Iranian big data engineer, a Spanish computational linguist and a Canadian social activist walk into a research lab. They don’t miss the drinks they could order if they’d gone to the bar, because they’re on a mission to change the world. We hear a lot about how artificial intelligence is taking away jobs and…

Can we restore public trust in journalism?

Too many journalists tolerate peers who, through undisciplined abandonment of standards, undermine their craft’s credibility

Can we restore public trust in journalism?It’s long past time that journalists paid attention to the millions of Canadians who don’t trust the news the way we used to. Sure, we could have lost faith because of the #fakenews narrative that has flowed north across the border. Or from learning that many of the characters influencing public reaction to events on…

Building strong communities with education, innovation – and craft beer

James and Deborah Fallows hopscotched across America to understand what makes the best of Our Towns thrive

Building strong communities with education, innovation – and craft beerMy son, the thoughtful curator of my must-reads non-fiction list, has done it again. For Christmas, he gave me the American bestseller Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America. The book, published in 2018, was written by award-winning The Atlantic Monthly journalists James and Deborah Fallows. The Fallows have made significant public…
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