It’s time we all stood up for Julian Assange

What message do we send dictators and the people who live under their tyranny if we don’t have the courage to live up to our own ideals?

It’s time we all stood up for Julian AssangeIt’s very rare to hear Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and scholar Noam Chomsky agree on anything but a largely underreported topic brings both ends of the political spectrum together: the Julian Assange affair. In a recent interview, Carlson’s guest Glenn Greenwald pointed out that efforts to silence Assange go back to the administration of…

Mainstream media glosses over Indigenous issues

Media need time and resources to understand the issues and seek a range of views within the Indigenous world

Mainstream media glosses over Indigenous issuesYears ago, I was given a great opportunity to be the lead reporter and edit for a national Indigenous newspaper based in Winnipeg, the Drum/First Perspective. The paper no longer exists but the job changed my life in so many ways. I learned much and encountered many Indigenous people across Canada. I profiled many leading…

Troubled Postmedia reports $3-million quarterly loss

Print advertising continued to slide, but the company pointed to an increase in digital revenue of $2.8 million or 8.7 per cent in the quarter as a hopeful sign

Troubled Postmedia reports $3-million quarterly lossPostmedia, the owner of major daily newspapers across Canada, reported Thursday a net loss in the fiscal quarter ended November 30, 2019, of $3 million. A year before, the loss was $1.4 million. The company stated in a news release that revenue for the quarter was $156.7 million compared to $171.3 million last year, representing…

Alberta needs the ‘war room’ to challenge energy ignorance

Too many reporters have bought into poorly-conceived advocacy positions and fail to provide readers with balanced information

Alberta needs the ‘war room’ to challenge energy ignoranceThe Canadian Energy Centre – also called the “war room” – is online, publishing featured stories, reports, briefs, analysis, perspective and even an Energy IQ quiz. It’s all aimed at distributing information about energy (primarily oil and gas) in Canada. The topics are diverse, ranging from pipelines and oil products to climate, renewables, people stories,…

In search of truth in the face of political lies

These untruths reflect badly on candidates, and much more on the ability of the electorate to make thoughtful and informed decisions

In search of truth in the face of political liesWe live in a society of law and order, of values and mission statements, oversight, accountability, and in which transparency is highly valued. Witnesses at judicial hearings are held in contempt if they lie, individuals who knowingly make false and harmful statements can be held libellous, advertisers can’t lie about their products, students can’t cheat…

Donor-supported CBC is a model worth pursuing

CBC has become tediously missionary rather than journalistic. And the last thing Canada’s private media needs is to compete with a subsidized entity

Donor-supported CBC is a model worth pursuingCBC Radio was once a national treasure. From Peter Gzowski through Arthur Black, Shelagh Rogers and Danny Finkleman, a turn of the knob rewarded the listener with information, entertainment and humour. But now, a push of the button is more likely to bring on someone eager to talk about their sexuality, ethnic origin or skin…

The man who brought down Alan Eagleson

Russ Conway was an old-school journalist: principled, detail-driven and thorough to a fault. His tenacity paid huge dividends and taught great lessons

The man who brought down Alan EaglesonThe first time I spoke to Russ Conway, he wanted nothing to do with me. “I’m tired of reporters trying to steal my stuff,” he said in his chowderhead accent. “I don’t need any help.” I’d been recommended to Russ by National Hockey League legend Carl Brewer and his partner Susan Foster, who’d been pursuing…

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…