newspapers and journalism

apparently someone in our office reads business in vancouver, as it came in the mail with a magazine of lists. there are lists for everything imaginable, but the one that caught my eye was for biggest newspapers in the vancouver area. they listed the top 20 vancouver area newspapers (by circulation), and here are the highlights with a few notes below.

newspaper circulation paid/free # employees
vancouver sun 203,101 (daily avg) paid 1,000 (pacific newspaper group inc.)
province 167,565 (daily avg) paid 1,000 (pacific newspaper group inc.)
vancouver courier 132,650 free 41
georgia straight 120,000 free 60
now newspaper 110,000 free 40
surrey/north delta leader 82,300 free np (40 last year)
north shore news 64,255 free 79
newsleader 61,863 free 15
the now 52,500 free np (last year 25)
tri-city news 52,296 free 65
north shore outlook 50,279 free np
burnaby now 49,000 free 26 last year
westender 46,250 free 17
globe and mail 48,245 (m-f)
68,763 (sat)
paid 30
richmond news 46,137 free 16
national post 45,923 (m-f)
46,611 (sat)
paid 7
richmond review 45,500 free 32
abbotsford news 44,223 free 125 fte
abbotsford times 42,175 free 26
advance news 38,750 free 20

and now for some basic observation:

  • of the 20 papers listed, only 4 have paying readers
  • 11 of the papers are owned by canwest global communications corp.
  • 7 of the papers are owned by black press
  • the 2 remaining papers owned by vancouver free press corp. and bellglobe media
  • 6 of the papers have less employees than they did last year, 3 have more, and the rest were the same or didn’t report
  • the national post dropped 6 positions from last year, while the globe and mail dropped 5. the paper rankings are based on circulation, so it appears canadians are reading the ‘national’ papers less. my guess is that they go online for this info. or they get enough canwest reprint in the local rags so they don’t bother with a national.
  • there are probably many other observations the acute could draw, but i am not on the ball this morning.

my conclusion is that i would never, ever get into journalism. i’ve met a few journalists and none of them seem very happy. the newspaper business has too many power games, too few resources, and too much frustration.

and the jschools keep pumping these poor kids out at a steady clip.

journalism is a profession that has many similarities to the tech industry. tim bray posted some interesting comments lately, and i think there are strong parallels.

age of internet

i used the phrase ‘internet age’ a few moments ago without reflecting on its full implications and it now strikes me that in the future we may refer to the period of time from 1994 – ? as the internet age. if that is the case, what will follow it? and when will that question mark be replaced by a date?

the internet age, in its less public form began decades ago, but i think the term would best fit the era in which the internet received a much-hyped public profile. it is from 1994 onward that the internet has had a tremendous impact on (small parts of) the world.

but what are the characteristics that best represent this age?

  • increased availability and transfer of large quantities of information
  • increased availability of analogue services through electronic means
  • increased instantaneity of information and services
  • increased monitoring of the access and use of this information
  • increased commodification of information and services
  • increased illegal activity stemming from, and relating to, these structures
  • a thousand other things i can’t think of at this moment

my main questions have to do with when this age will reach its apex, what the causation will be, and the social changes (such as infrastructure shift) that will occur as a result.

a guess is that this will happen when the internet is omnipresent on a global scale, with instant access everywhere to both information and services. i’d say we are nearing that age in north america, parts of europe, and the pacific rim due to the proliferation of wi-fi devices and the expansion of broadband (and by this i mean fiber, not dsl). this perception of instantaneity will fully mesh the internet into our lives, with the use of the internet becoming an act that is fluid due to the lack of time lag. by this i mean that a user becomes unaware of their dependence on a resource when its availability is instant. for instance, consider our ability to turn on a tap and have water pour out (or the access to electricity when we plug something in). we take this instantaneous access to resources for granted, marking an age when we seem to have moved beyond it and into another phase. reality is, as with the recent blackout on the east coast, our naïve reliance on technology and infrastructures has created millions of effectively helpless beings (but that is another argument, i suppose).

to return to whatever point i was trying to make, we will be past the internet age when it is absolutely instant, thus invisible to our use of and reliance on.

next question: what will follow this age?

once the internet flows and is utilized like other utilities, that is to say instantly, we will move on to attempt to harness another resource. i would suggest this would be an increased emphasis on the exploration of our boundaries. a greater push to move outward in the solar system, a full study of the deep sea, and more rapid advancements in modifying, maintaining, and extending the biological self. i think the move to instantaneity in regards to biology will be predominant, particularly with epidemiology. this will be exciting and frightening, as disease is destroyed and constructed at a dangerously high pace – dangerous in that fast things have the obvious tendency to spin out of control quickly.

so there’s a look into my cracked and muddy crystal ball. giving any of this stuff serious thought gives one pause as to how our current infrastructures function and how society struggles to transcend basic necessity. however, the thought i always return to is: and millions of people barely have enough to eat, war rages on, and children die due to the lack of basic medical care. perhaps the post-modernized world’s obsession with so-called progress will destroy us, even though we have narrowly escaped death by nuclear age (so far).

if i had the panache of that great social historian eric hobsbawn, i would call this the age of internet.

note: i just did a quick search on that phrase and see that the internet is littered with references to it. i’m completely slow on the uptake.

primates

“Vancouver bishop’s same-sex stand angers Third World primates”

how bloody funny is that? i was having a miserable morning after a crappy sleep, but this headline from the vancouver sun still made me chuckle. call me 12 years old, call me sarcastic. that is funny as hell.

you know that one of the folks at the sun was giving a poke with this one. yes, the fourteen african and asian anglican bishops may technically be primates, but it just sounds so funny. come on, there must be a few anglicans out there who couldn’t help but guffaw.

study proven

after i laughed uncontrollably at her admission to having just been to the tanning salon she informed me that it was ok to use tanning beds because there’s a new study that proves they’re safe. they might even be good for you.

studies make the wheels of progress grind along smoothly. if you need to prove a point, convince the populous that a product is safe (or draw people to your cause to prove it isn’t), studies are perfect. there’s one out there for everyone’s liking. there’s nothing a study can’t prove.

the glass of wine a day debate is a good one: what? liquor is bad for me? i read a glass a day is good. what? liquor is good for me? excellent, i’ll take two!

call for general strike

it was a drizzling day, may 25, 2002. citizens around british columbia dropped in on vancouver to voice their dissent with the present liberal government of gordon campbell. the theme for the event was “call for general strike.”
vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

vancouver call for general strike

eastside

looks as though i may be heading back to calgary sooner than later. at least it will be warmer, although i was told it snowed almost a foot there a few days ago (freakish, i was assured).

in the meantime i scurry through the streets of vancouver, spending far too much time watching people shoot up. the other day my co-worker almost lost his lunch watching a guy shoot up into an open wound on his hand. it’s amazing that if you spend long enough down there the extreme becomes the ordinary. disease and infection nothing more than pedestrian affairs.

everyone has a theory on how to fix it (most involving some kind of mass murder), but no one really considers the root, the social causality. everyone is in the downtown eastside for a reason. the overarching social problem is comprised of these thousands of “reasons”.

i want to document this, observe it, work on it. but how? even after only a year of being down there i’m getting jaded and cynical about the whole mess. the shocking become routine, my empathy turned to disgust.

all i have is words, but they feel useless after i have written them. who gives a fuck what some middle class shit has to say? i’m nothing more than a privileged voyeur.