Why You Need Trusted News Sources

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Just like the latest Justin fable in the Election thread.  You have to research your research.


The Buffalo Chronicle Is Not A Reliable News Outlet

Yet people who should know better keep sharing their stuff


If The Buffalo Chronicle was sent to us as a test, a latter-day media-literacy exam in the era of fake news, we have failed pretty badly. A please-see-me-after-class kind of failing.

Over the past month, the Western New York-based website has begun publishing a slew of Canadian stories.

One reported that the Bank of Montreal wanted a deferred prosecution agreement over bribery charges it was facing. Another hot tip reported that the NDP was courting ex-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to helm the party. Another scoop proclaimed former puisne justice of the Supreme Court Frank Iacobucci was behind both the proposed deal for SNC-Lavalin and Ottawa’s decision to buy the Kinder Morgan pipeline. And, most recently, a crackerjack exclusive reported that Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould was arm-twisting Google to “curtail political criticism” of the Trudeau government by instructing “Google News to limit Canadian access to foreign press.”

These stories, totalling eight at last count, have been shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook.

Ex-Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella; Newstalk 1010 host and former Rob Ford chief of staff Mark Towhey; former Alberta cabinet minister Donna Kennedy-Glans; Senator Nicole Eaton; Members of Parliament Larry Miller and Todd Doherty — all promoted the stories on their social media pages. Former Dragons’ Den mogul Brett Wilson tweeted out one Buffalo Chronicle story to his 182,000 Twitter followers, gushing that it “only need to be 10% true” in order to prove that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was presiding over a “reign of terror.” (He added that he believes it to be “100% true.”)

This story about abuse of power & influence only need to be 10% true (I believe it is 100% true & that there is “more”) then the dagger to the heart of the corrupt ⁦@liberal_party⁩ has been set – to end it’s one term reign of terror over Canada. https://t.co/dabfCVhqLa

— * W. Brett Wilson * (@WBrettWilson) March 15, 2019


Trouble is, 10% true might be optimistic.

It’s fake news.

The Buffalo Chronicle, until February, did no independent reporting on Canada, instead running news stories from the Canadian Press. The vast majority of its content is local coverage of Buffalo.

It was amid the unfolding SNC-Lavalin scandal in Ottawa that the Chronicle started running bold exclusives about Canada — stories that do not carry bylines, cite no named sources, and do not try and back up any of the claims found within.

Certain assertions are verifiably false. The Bank of Montreal, for example, is not facing criminal charges over the Trans Mountain pipeline, as one story attempts to suggest.

Other allegations — that the RCMP has begun interviews on the SNC-Lavalin affair, that Minister Gould threatened regulation of Google if they didn’t stop negative coverage of the prime minister, that Iacobucci was hiding lobbying meetings — are outlandish and attributed only to anonymous sources, if attributed at all. They have not been backed up by any other reporting because, indeed, the allegations appear quite made up.

Nevertheless, the Chronicle’s writing has begun to pop up elsewhere. Spencer Fernando, a former political staffer who now runs an eponymous blog, cited the Chronicle’s reporting on his site. The Centre for Research on Globalization — a conspiracy-minded site which has been specifically singled out by NATO researchers as being lousy with pro-Kremlin propaganda — also used the Chronicle’s stories in one of its own articles.

It’s not hard to cook up bad information. Come up with a name that sounds like a reputable newspaper. Use a free WordPress template. Republish some photos from the Canadian Press. And then, in a story, roughly summarize other outlets’ reporting, before adding in dashes of nonsense. Voila, you have The Buffalo Chronicle.

I reached the owner of the site, Matthew Ricchiazzi, to ask for details of their reporting, but didn’t receive much. Ricchiazzi says he agreed to keep his writers’ names secret — he says he has two contributors in Canada — and that, while he hasn’t independently verified much of their reporting, he is very confident it is all accurate.

Ricchiazzi is a failed municipal candidate in Buffalo — he couldn’t get enough valid signatures to run for mayor in 2009, and was later rejected as a school board candidate. And he’s gotten in trouble for his work on The Buffalo Chronicle before.

In 2012, Ricchiazzi had a hand in spreading a homophobic mailout targeting a Republican state senator who voted in support of gay marriage. Last January, a Rochester-based company had to issue a statement specifically calling out a story on the Chronicle’s website as false. The website lists the outlet’s corporate name as “The Buffalo Chronicle Media Group,” and yet I haven’t been able to find any corporation registered under that name in New York State.

Many of the names listed on the Chronicle’s website as staff members either haven’t written for the site in years, or deny knowing anything about the operation. The Chronicle’s website has reported that a former municipal Green Party candidate, Terrence Robinson, was its managing editor. Elsewhere, it lists him as its city hall reporter. When reached by phone, Robinson didn’t even know the Chronicle had a website — he thought it was a Facebook page.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Robinson told me. He laughed when I told him that the page lists his email address and phone number. “Oh my god,” he said, adding: “It’s some cover.”

Today, Ricchiazzi lists himself as a consultant with Enkindle Strategies — a company which has no web history to speak of, and does not appear to exist apart from its mention on Ricchiazzi’s LinkedIn page.

On Sunday, I decided to start working up a story on the Chronicle. I pitched a column about the weird saga to the The Globe and Mail (which ultimately passed) and reached out to Ricchiazzi for comment. I wanted to know the names of his so-called reporters, whether he could even try to back up some of the outlandish claims he published, and whether he had been paying the Canadian Press for their photos and stories.

Ricchiazzi replied that he would “under no circumstances” respond to a request for comment from any publication that would “allow for the State-sponsorship of its journalism or journalists” and refused comment on my questions. Ricchiazzi then threatened legal action if I published anything suggesting he refused comment.

On Monday morning, Ricchiazzi published a story — written in the same tone and voice as the previous articles — claiming I was a Liberal operative and suggesting I had attempted “political intimidation and extortion.”

The publication’s bizarre reaction aside, it wasn’t exactly difficult to figure out that the Chronicle was an unreliable outlet. All the details I’ve recounted here are relatively easy to find out with a basic amount of Googling. The politicians and social media denizens who amplified the nonsense reporting did none of this. Because the stories suited the political bent of those happily clicking “share,” the conspiracy theories were unleashed.

Just the article alleging Minister Gould was behind a cynical play to censor the media racked up more than 14,000 shares on Facebook, and hundreds of tweets. Ironic, isn’t it, that Gould is the minister responsible for combating fake news and misinformation in Canada’s political arena.

The whole affair is a perfect parable of the harms of misinformation online. While much has been made, rightly, of the dangers posed by the Kremlin’s media-manipulation machine, we should be equally vigilant about our own media illiteracy.

That a failed political candidate like Ricchiazzi has proven himself capable of duping thousands of people — including two members of parliament — goes to show that we’re a long ways off from inoculating ourselves against the scourge of fake news. The allure of damaging one’s political enemies can be more powerful than the need to share accurate information. That base instinct, sadly, doesn’t appear to be changing.

The one heartening thing in this whole affair is that several of those public figures, including both MPs, removed links to the stories from their social media accounts and apologized for sharing the fake news.

But The Buffalo Chronicle’s ability to play so many people as rubes also comes at the tail end of more than a decade of furious brow-beating of the mainstream media, from all sides. Conservatives call the newspapers and public broadcaster front groups for the Liberal agenda, bandying about a proposed newspaper bailout package as evidence of this. Leftists dismiss major media outlets as bagmen for the corporate elite. Even Justin Trudeau’s defenders have recently taken to alleging a conspiracy of journalists to kneecap the prime minister.

It has fomented such distrust in the national media that, when someone notices brave and fearless reporting from a little outlet like The Buffalo Chronicle, the reader is inclined to trust it — maybe even, as some did, sharing the link with the question, “Where’s the mainstream media on this?”

If we are to remain so heavily invested in partisan bloodsport, so hostile towards the professional journalism class, and so unwilling to do a basic amount of research to check into online news, then perhaps we deserve all the fake news we get.

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I’m not defending Trump or his policies, but at least the Potus has open access by the press...he may answer, he may ignore them, he may tell the to F off, but at least he has the guts to be in front

Now we all have to quit quoting him so we never have to see a post from him.

This always saddens me and I think he got it desperately wrong here; the election results reflect it too IMO. I can only speak for myself I guess, but this is the sort of attitude and headline where D

Posted Images

 So we've all heard the Maryam Monsef illegal passport story. The media quickly ran to the defense of Ms. Monsef. 

How would the media react if Maryam Monsef was a Harper Conservative?

A) Defend her like she was a Liberal
B) Call for a public investigation
C) Demand that the law be respected
D) Call for the release of her citizenship application documents
E) Demand that she should be deported
F) Change the law to protect her from any prosecution

Guess which one the media would advocate for if she was a Harper Conservative, and guess which one they're advocating for because she is a Trudeau Liberal !



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Facebook takedowns show new Russian activity targeted Biden, praised Trump

Facebook on Monday said it removed a network of Russian-backed accounts that posed as locals weighing in on political issues in swing states, praising President Donald Trump and attacking former Vice President Joe Biden, illustrating that the familiar threat of Russian interference looms over the next U.S. presidential race.

Facebook said the network bears the hallmark of the same Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 election by sowing social discord, boosting Trump and attacking Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The new disinformation campaign appears to follow the same playbook.

This time, a co-ordinated group of Russian accounts that appears to show some links to the internet Research Agency took largely to Facebook’s photo-sharing app, Instagram, to post content this year about U.S. politics and memes targeting Democratic presidential contenders.


The operation demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the schisms within the Democratic Party as it labours to choose a nominee to face Trump next November. One Russian account, which portrayed itself as a black voter in Michigan, used the #blacklivesmatter hashtag to hammer Biden for his gaffes about racial issues. Some of the accounts boosted one of his left-wing rivals, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The Russian network was one of four takedowns Facebook announced Monday; it also disabled three misleading campaigns originating in Iran. Researchers said the efforts demonstrated how those seeking to interfere in U.S. politics continue to exploit radioactive topics, including racial and religious fault lines. And they said it offered fresh evidence that foreign actors are pursuing new platforms that rely on a steady stream of images, making detection more difficult despite Facebook’s heightened investments in election security.

“We are seeing again that the aim of the Russians is not exclusively to favour one candidate over another but to create divisiveness within the electorate over all,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. “The reason that networks of phoney accounts are drawn to Instagram is because disinformation is increasingly visual in nature, and that’s what Instagram specializes in.”

The disclosure from Facebook served as more evidence of what Trump has repeatedly questioned — that Russian actors not only meddled in the 2016 election, but are continuing their efforts to interfere in American democracy. The task of safeguarding U.S. elections from interference by Russia and other foreign actors has been a source of tension in the Trump administration, with the president repeatedly calling the allegations of Russian involvement in 2016 a “hoax” and top security officials being forced to tiptoe around the issue.


Multiple U.S. investigations have confirmed the extent of Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential race. Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, obtained multiple indictments last year of individuals affiliated with the internet Research Agency. This month, a bipartisan report produced by Senate investigators concluded again that the Russian effort sought to boost Trump and undermine Clinton in the eyes of social-media users.

Speaking to the Post last week, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the problem posed by disinformation has worsened since 2016, which he attributed in part to the U.S. government’s poor initial response to the threat. “Unfortunately, the U.S. did not have a particularly strong response to Russia after 2016,” he said, “so it sent the signal to other countries that they could get in on this, too.”

Facebook’s announcements arrived two days before Zuckerberg is set to appear on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are likely to press him on the company’s work to safeguard U.S. elections from foreign manipulation. Members of Congress have upbraided the tech giant for missing key warning signs of Russian interference prior to the 2016 election, then failing to acknowledge the Kremlin’s activities immediately after the fact.

Zuckerberg said in an interview last week that Facebook is in a “much better place now” to stop future disinformation campaigns, citing the company’s investments in tens of thousands of new staff hires and artificial intelligence that can spot fake accounts and dubious posts in real time. The company further fine-tuned its policies Monday, pledging to more prominently alert users when viral content is determined to be false. Announcing the changes, Zuckerberg stressed he now has “some confidence our systems here are working.”

“Elections have changed significantly since 2016,” he told reporters, “and Facebook has changed too.”

On the one hand, researchers said Facebook — in spotting and disclosing the Russian network Monday faster than it had in the past — demonstrated it had improved its digital defences. Companies like Facebook are “building muscle memory around understanding malicious actors on their platform,” said Graham Brookie, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

But Brookie added Facebook’s takedown showed that Russia’s tactics would continue to evolve as well. “To steal a phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words, and meme based content is still extremely effective and much harder to detect,” he said.

The Biden campaign applauded Facebook for disabling the fake accounts, but said Trump’s penchant for falsehoods posed just as great a challenge for the company, which has refused to fact-check political advertising placed by the president’s reelection campaign.

“Unfortunately, like the Kremlin, Donald Trump continues to benefit from spreading false information, all the while Facebook profits from amplifying his lies and debunked conspiracy theories on their platform,” TJ Ducklo, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “If Facebook is truly committed to protecting the integrity of our elections, they would immediately take down Trump’s ads that attempt to gaslight the American people.”

Facebook described the Russian network as a “well-resourced operation,” focused on the U.S. and reliant on sophisticated steps to conceal the identity and location of those behind the fake accounts. It was comprised of 50 accounts on Instagram and one on Facebook, all of which were created this year.

The network appeared still to be in an audience-building phase when it was removed by Facebook: 246,000 accounts followed one or more of the inauthentic Russian accounts, which had collectively made just under 75,000 posts, according to a report from Graphika, a social media analysis firm that examined the operation for Facebook. Only one account, which addressed environmental themes, had more than 20,000 followers.

Much of the content lacked text, consisting only of memes, and the posts often drew from viral content first posted by American actors, including news organizations and prominent political figures, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York firebrand.

The accounts had not yet developed their own voice, which analysts say is critical to achieving a mass following.

“These accounts were trying really hard to hide,” said Ben Nimmo, Graphika’s director of investigations. “The more you try to blend in, the less you stand out. And the less you stand out, the less you’re going to attract an audience. It looks like these accounts were sacrificing engagement for security. That’s a very defensive strategy.”

Nimmo said Facebook’s action was at least the fourth takedown since 2017 of operations targeting the U.S. that seemed to bear links to the internet Research Agency. The apparent connection to the St. Petersburg company and so-called “troll farm,” owned by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, went beyond overlap with the thematic focus and targets of past Kremlin-backed campaigns. Some of the accounts taken down on Monday had posted memes already attributed to previous IRA efforts — but had sought to rebuild them from scratch, rather than simply reposting them, and had made attempts to remove the original IRA watermarks.

A minority of the posts focused explicitly on the 2020 election, according to Graphika’s analysis. Among the accounts posing as backers of political and social causes in the U.S., the largest cluster was conservative and in support of Trump. Numerous accounts aimed their fire at Democratic candidates — namely Biden but also Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Other issues included racial activism, Confederate pride, gun rights, LGBT issues, feminism, Islam and Christianity.

Nearly half of the accounts claimed to be based in swing states, with a specific focus on Florida.

Biden came under attack from accounts that positioned themselves on both sides of the political spectrum. One account reposted a tweet from a right-wing political commentator parroting Trump’s rebuke of Biden, while another posted a meme showing a road diverging, and a car swerving to choose the path representing “Bernie 2020” over “Joe Biden.” Four years earlier, Russian-backed Facebook accounts similarly promoted Sanders during the Democratic primary against Clinton, according to Senate investigators.


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CNN beats Fox News by one important metric, but it may not want to brag about it


'The decades-old rivalry between CNN and Fox News is not especially interesting these days. As anyone who follows the TV industry can tell you, Fox News routinely trounces CNN in prime-time ratings, according to Nielsen, and it pretty much dominates online, too.

But there is at least one metric by which CNN comes out on top, albeit a dubious one. Over the last few years, research firm Morning Consult has released its list of the “most politically polarizing” brands, a data set that looks at brands’ favorability with Republicans and Democrats and then measures the “spread” between them. Not surprisingly, news organizations dominate this list of rabble-rousing entities, with the New York Times, ABC News, the Washington Post, and all three major cable news networks appearing in the top 15.

What’s really interesting, however, is when you look specifically at CNN, the most polarizing news brand on the list. (Only Trump Hotels scored more polarizing, although I can’t imagine why.) This year, CNN has a net favorability of 55 points among Democrats, while its net favorability among Republicans is minus 25 points. Yes, minus 25! All told, that’s a staggering 80-point spread.

Fox News, meanwhile, has net favorability of 53 points among Republicans and minus 20 points among Democrats, for a point spread of 73. So you can see, not only is the Fox News brand seen as less polarizing than CNN, it’s also viewed somewhat more positively by the opposing side.'

'news consumers are increasingly living in parallel universes of different, often conflicting information streams'

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It's pretty hard to know what to believe anymore.

If this is true, surely it is grounds for the immediate dismissal of both pilots . If it's made up, it should be grounds for the immediate dismissal of the FA. 


And if it really is a "top secret security measure" the company needs to be sued until the entire MBA crew are in tears from a good spanking.... maybe flogging is a better choice of words. 

If you look at this article from almost any angle, it speaks to a stunning lack of integrity in a world gone mad. I see no upside unless it's an early April fools joke.... then it's just not funny.

Edited by Wolfhunter
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unfortunately I can see this happening in this day and age. I can also seeing it being swept under the rug like that.  Its a sad thing really


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by Joe Durocher

“ I have been disappointed in the recent divide of Canadians. We have been conditioned to accept polarized politics...left vs right...liberal vs conservaties...how about we act responsibly and stop wasting money and time arguing, and actually come to conmon solutions to social and natural problems? History shows us the best way to control a people is to "Divide and Conquer ", which is being successfully done in most countries in the world and also in a global way.  If we all agreed to certain common principles,  we could begin to move forward. 

There is a small number of individuals and families who seek control and power over the masses.  They control the highest seats of governments, central banking institutions, media corporations, social media and search engine companies, etc. 

We need to be wise enough to see beyond the constant pumping of certain stories and narratives that are filtered towards our minds consistently, day in and day out, to keep us divided.  Our goal needs to be to have free minds, that seek solutions to problems instead of bowing to the daily conditioning we receive, to constantly battle one another.   We should be battling things together like political correctness etc., getting offended over everything, and other things that are dividing us and destroying our society.

You have more inside you then you realize and have solutions to the world problems. Make your voice heard, but do it above the chaos of battling each other or arguing about silly issues.  Work on solutionary thinking!  Look to the year 2020 as a year where we begin to see through the smoke screens and begin to see with 20/20 vision. “


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Fox News turning a new leaf?  Even they reported that Trump made a mistake and added another article of impeachment live.


Bret Baier: Hearing 'turned on a dime' after Schiff read the president's tweets live

The second public hearing in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Trump "turned on a dime" when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., read the president's tweets about witness Marie Yovanovitch in real-time, "Special Report" host Bret Baier said Friday.

Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, pointed her finger at Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani while detailing her sudden removal from her diplomatic post during Friday's nationally televised testimony.

During her appearance, Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, relayed her story of being suddenly recalled by Trump in May, saying she believes Giuliani played a key role in telling people she was not sufficiently supportive of the president.

“I do not understand Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” Yovanovitch said.

She argued the efforts against her by the president's allies hindered her work.

“If our chief representative is kneecapped, it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States,” Yovanovitch said.

Appearing on "America's Newsroom" with host Bill Hemmer, Baier said that he had started watching the hearing "thinking that Ambassador Yovanovitch was going to be a sympathetic witness."

"The Democrats would tell her story about how she was recalled," he said.

"But, as we noted, she serves at the pleasure of the president and I started to say that she didn't see the call. She didn't hear the call," he told Hemmer. "You know, this is tangential to the actual argument."

"However, this whole hearing turned on a dime when the president tweeted about her real-time," Baier stated.

He said that when Schiff stopped Democratic questioning to read the president's tweets and get her response, it enabled him to then "characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering with the witness, which is a crime."

"Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors," the president wrote.

Adding: "They call it 'serving at the pleasure of the President.' The U.S. now has a very strong and powerful foreign policy, much different than proceeding administrations. It is called, quite simply, America First! With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine than O."

Trump’s comments ignited an outcry from Democrats: Schiff read Trump's anti-Yovanovitch tweet during the hearing, and called it “witness intimidation.”

"Adding, essentially, an article of impeachment real-time as this hearing is going on," Baier explained. "That changed this entire dynamic of this first part of this hearing and Republicans now are going to have to take the rest of this hearing to probably try to clean that up."

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Nice spin.

Tell the whole story.  Postmedia has been in an even greater decline than the CBC or the Star.  When Postmedia bought the Sun from Quebecor, they started sliding years before the rest.

So right wing media hounds bailed from the truth first.

On top of that, when you complain about the CBC taking handouts, look to the paragraphs I highlighted in the article below.  The right wing press has been at the teat even longer.


TORONTO -- Postmedia Network Canada Corp. (PNCa.TO) cut its third-quarter loss nearly in half to $7.7 million as growth in digital revenue partly offset continued declines in its print business, the publishing company's latest financial report said Wednesday.

The owner of the National Post and other newspapers had $157.1 million in total revenue for the quarter ended May 31. That compares to total revenue of $171 million in the same quarter last year, and a net loss of $15.5 million.

Postmedia's third-quarter revenue included $32.9 million from its digital businesses, such as websites and marketing services -- up 10.1 per cent from last year's third quarter.

Advertising revenue on digital platforms was up 12.2 per cent from a year ago, which Postmedia chief executive Andrew MacLeod said marked the 10th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in digital ad revenue.

"I don't see a lot of other participants in our marketplace who have managed to do that," MacLeod said in an interview after Postmedia's quarterly conference call.

Nevertheless, MacLeod said, "we need that to continue and we need that to accelerate because we have a legacy business that's larger and it's in decline."

This year's third-quarter loss amounted to eight cents per share, compared with 17 cents per share during the comparable period last year.

Revenue from print advertising was down 17.6 per cent to $64.8 million, from $78.6 million in the 2018 third quarter, while print circulation revenue fell 6.3 per cent to $51.4 million from $54.8 million a year earlier.

Last year's loss included an impairment charge and higher restructuring expenses, partially offset by a tax recovery. This year's third quarter included a gain on derivative financial instruments, partially offset by a higher currency loss.

MacLeod said Postmedia has been using various means -- operational cost cutting, sales of real estate and other assets and government tax credits -- to prolong the life of its legacy business.

Postmedia estimates that it will eventually qualify for between $8 million and $10 million per year for five years from a new federal program that's designed to pay some of the labour costs for qualifying journalists, he said.

But MacLeod said the exact timing and details of the federal government's funding have yet to be worked out.

In last year's fiscal third quarter report, Postmedia said it had received $20.4 million from a now-ended Ontario digital media tax credit for the period from September 1, 2012 to April 23, 2015.

MacLeod said media companies generally need the assistance to transition to digital publishing because so much advertising revenue has been captured globally by Google and Facebook.

"Our rate of decline tends to be pretty consistent with what the industry's facing. We do everything we can to support (the legacy) business but there's an . . . an inability to control what's occurring in an industry that's in a structural decline," MacLeod said.

He added that Canadian private sector media companies have an additional problem -- competition from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and, to some extent, Canada Post.

"That's pulling revenue out of the ecosystem that private corporations would otherwise be going after. So I would encourage Ottawa to think about having the CBC emulate the BBC, where they don't take paid advertising."

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What does any of that gibberish have to do with the CBC losing AD revenues while also being on the take for 1.2 billion a year from taxpayers?

For the real truth Reread your own article especially the last 2 paragraphs.

Edited by Jaydee
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What are we to take from the news that not only has the theoretical "president" of the nation has told well over 15,000 documentable public lies since his inauguration, but told more lies during this past year than the previous two years combined?

That Donald J. Trump is getting worse, obviously. That's not a particular surprise. Trump is transparently a malignant narcissist, and is facing a malignant narcissist's single worst fear: being exposed as not the greatest gift to this universe and all who inhabit it, but a fraud. He will remain "impeached," in the history books, forever.

But we can also infer from this news that Trump is lying more boldly and more often precisely because he was successful at it the previous two years. That isn't Trump's doing. That is the doing of journalists, of "pundits," of their editors and outlets, and of, especially, Republican lawmakers.

Donald Trump could not lie to the American public 15,000 times if lying to the public carried negative consequences, rather than positive ones. It doesn't. We can debate whether this was the case in past decades, and in some other context that might be useful, but all can certainly agree that lying to the public right now, in the forms of government-to-public, lawmaker-to-public, pundit-to-public, or media-outlet-to-public is not only commonplace but has been elevated to become a top political strategy.

Did a sitting president get caught asking a foreign government to investigate a political opponent? Lie about it. Outright. Boldly. It is possible to gaslight the public furiously, on basic questions of current fact, without the news anchors of the day sternly pointing out that lawmaker so-and-so has evidently either 1.) lost their grip on reality and needs to be removed from elected office for public safety reasons or 2.) is being so blazingly dishonest that the public cannot, and should not, believe anything they say ever again.

That part, right there, is the catastrophe. If it is possible for a national leader to tell 15,000 lies to the public without being considered unfit for the job, then democracy does not exist.


There is no such thing as candidates making their case for the best path forward, and the public validating which path, collectively, the nation should follow. There is no best path. There is no path. There is only a contest to see who can invent the most self-serving version of reality, upon which we elect the best of the liars, who will continue to lie to the public about what they are doing while, instead, they do anything else.

That Republican lawmakers sought to defend Trump from impeachment with false information, claiming Joe Biden was not referenced in the phone call (despite even the White House's text saying otherwise) or that no pressure was put on Ukraine (despite witness after witness confirming it) is not surprising. It also may not be survivable. If we are two countries, served by two competing narratives and pushed forward according only by who can best sell their version to a public with fewer and fewer means of verifying which is true and which is the lie, with competing oligarchic factions here and abroad funneling cash into the particular frauds that best benefit them, that will be the ball game.

This rather dire but by no means uncommon warning and/or prediction is sometimes described as the nation's epistemic crisis, a turning point at which factionalism (aka being a Republican) trumps regard for facts themselves (such as which laws truly exist; whether the economy is doing well or is not; whether Russia was responsible for election hacking, as all experts attest, or whether the president's pro bono personal lawyer is right that none of it actually happened, according to the testimony of known hucksters). It's less often that anyone comes with a credible scenario for how that end point is dodged.

There is only one such scenario. Lying to the public—propagandizing—must be punished. We can leave the moralizing out of it; you will not get far with the claim that telling 15,000 lies is bad or wrong. Surely, however, surely we can as a matter of journalistic convention agree that telling 15,000 lies makes you untrustworthy. It renders you unfit for public service. No matter which moral stipulations we might attach to the post, from marital fidelity to paying your damn taxes, the matter of lying repeatedly to the public as means of obtaining and extending public power defeats the principle of democracy itself, and must be shunned.

Fox News will not do that. But The New York Times could, if the editors truly believed their paper had public responsibilities commensurate with its public footprint.

If CNN inflicted a penalty upon liars, rather than hiring them on and giving them salaries to perform their antics, circus-style, much of this would end. If other networks chose to ignore the frothiest of propagandists when putting together panels, the professional liars would have fewer places to go. That would be a start. The airports of the world do not need to broadcast blaring lies, day after day and month after month, and there is nothing about the travel experience made better by hearing from known liar Kellyanne Conway. You could replace every television with a fish tank and the traveling public would come out better informed. It would probably cut airport drunkenness in half.

And yet here we are, still, and there seems no inclination to upset a status quo in which lawmakers and paid propagandists can lie, outright, to the American people and be granted the same conventions of pseudo-respect as honorable counterparts. Why wouldn't they lie, then? There is literally zero downside. The not-liars, in the meantime, are hopelessly constrained by having to live only in one reality rather than dozens.

It is evident the press favors the thrill of conflict and believes itself to have no public responsibility in these matters whatsoever. It is obvious that Republicanism itself will not right itself, not after collapsing completely into a cultism in which the Dear Leader of the moment can not only do no wrong, but that if he does do wrong, that thing is now retroactively right and good and was commonplace at all along.

So we know what must happen—but there seems no way to get there. None. It would require a great many very powerful Americans to all do the right thing, all at once, while sliding into kleptocratic pseudo-democracy requires no action at all and comes with substantial tax cuts.

Surely, it cannot be as hopeless as that. Surely.

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59 minutes ago, deicer said:

But The New York Times could, if the editors truly believed their paper had public responsibilities


If CNN inflicted a penalty upon liars, rather than hiring them on and giving them salaries to perform their antics, circus-style, much of this would end.

WOW...  :thumbup:  :Clap-Hands:  :thumbup:

Edited by Jaydee
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Social media hosted a lot of fake health news this year. Here’s what went most viral.

Brandy Zadrozny

GP: Measles Makes Comeback, As Outbreak Happens In 22 States 1

A nurse holds up a one dose bottle and a prepared syringe of measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine made by Merck at the Utah County Health Department on April 29, 2019 in Provo, Utah.
George Frey | Getty Images

A cabal of doctors are hiding the cure for cancer, berries are more effective than vaccines, and eating instant noodles can kill you: These are some of the claims from the internet’s most viral fake health news in 2019.

Health misinformation was a big deal this year. Facing pressure from lawmakers, doctors and health advocates, social media platforms made sweeping policy changes to ban or limit the spread of false health information that had gone unchecked for over a decade.


To get a sense of the landscape of fake health news this year, NBC News compiled a list of the most viral health misinformation and analyzed the data to see where it spread and how people engaged with it.

The most viral pieces of fake health news pushed far-reaching conspiracies between governments and medical communities and suggested ditching common medical treatment of life-threatening diseases for unproven cures. The top 50 articles garnered more than 12 million shares, comments and reactions this year, mostly on Facebook.

NBC News’ analysis was modeled after the methodology used in two recent studies: a 2018 study in which researchers from the Medical University of Gdansk measured the most shared stories containing health misinformation in Poland and a 2019 study in which Stanford researchers tracked the online activity surrounding the false idea that cannabis cures cancer.

NBC News used social media analysis tool BuzzSumo to search for keywords related to the most common diseases and causes of death in the U.S. The search was widened to include health topics routinely targeted by misinformation campaigns: vaccines, fluoride and natural cures. Only articles with more than 25,000 engagements were considered; 80 made up the final list.

Though researchers do suggest poor health journalism can misinform the public, this count does not include articles from legitimate news outlets that may reach false conclusions, cover flawed studies or inflate the findings of single studies, as is often the case with conflicting news articles concerning the health benefits of red wine, chocolate and coffee, for instance.


Cancer, unproven cures and vaccines

Eighty percent of people online are using the internet to search for health information. An NBC News analysis raises concerns for just what information people might have found in 2019.

The most viral health misinformation in 2019 was on the topics of cancer, unproven cures and vaccines, according to NBC’s review. In some cases, including on the topics of cancer and fluoride, fake health news dominated overall news about the issue.

The most engaged-with article about cancer in 2019, for example, pushed a stew of medical conspiracies, including that “Big Pharma,” a nebulous group that includes doctors and federal health organizations, is hiding a cure for cancer. The April article, “Cancer industry not looking for a cure; they’re too busy making money,” garnered 5.4 million engagements after being published on Natural News, a website owned and operated by Mike Adams, a dietary supplement purveyor who goes by the moniker “The Health Ranger.” The article found its widest audience on Facebook, where Natural News had nearly 3 million followers until it was banned in June for using “misleading or inaccurate information” to attract engagement, according to a statement Facebook sent Ars Technica.

The next closest article about cancer was a legitimate (though overhyped) report from a Florida Fox affiliate on an experimental breast cancer vaccine. The article was shared by 1.8 million users.

Overall, cancer was the subject of the most popular kind of health misinformation, with viral articles promoting unproven cures for cancer making up roughly a third of our list. Marijuana was one of the most popular alleged cures in the genre, which correlates with audience demand: Stanford University researchers recently found that online searches for cannabis and cancer had grown at 10 times the rate of other standard medical therapies.

Dozens of viral articles hosted on rings of click bait health misinformation sites suggested we should fear processed foods (300,000 engaged with “Scientists Warn People to Stop Eating Instant Noodles Due to Cancer and Stroke Risks”) while embracing other so-called natural cures without medical evidence, often sandwiched between ads for the very supplements proposed as miracles. “Ginger is 10,000x more effective at killing cancer than chemo,” reads the headline of an article that generated over 800,000 engagements. Papaya leaf juice, elderberry, dates, thyme, garlic, jasmine, limes, okra, and other herbs and exotic fruits were all offered this year as cures for cancer, diabetes, asthma and the flu.

But not all the year’s fake health news was hopeful; a more sinister message misinformed the topic of vaccines. Though vaccines are considered safe by the medical and the scientific community at large, a few well-funded anti-vaccination activists without medical training or expertise have promoted the false claim that vaccines cause harm and death. The three most popular creators of this kind of health misinformation in 2019 were Adams’ Natural News; Children’s Health Defense, an organization led by anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy Jr.; and Stop Mandatory Vaccination, a website led by self-described social media activist, Larry Cook. Their anti-vaccine content generated over a million engagements on our list.

The viral Children’s Health Defense articles misinterpret existing research to stoke fears that vaccines might be dangerous for children and pregnant women. Stop Mandatory Vaccination’s articles are accounts from parents who claim a baby’s death was the result of a vaccination. Many of those viral articles have been debunked with official, medically supported explanations that include SIDS, pneumonia and accidental asphyxiation.

A representative from Children’s Health Defense disputed their inclusion in the list in a statement to NBC News calling their articles “meticulously researched.” NBC News reached out to Adams and Cook but did not receive a response.

Facebook said it’s been working diligently to reduce the spread of health misinformation on its site. “While we have made progress this year, we know there is more work to do. We hope to continue our partnership with health organizations to expand our work in this space,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Consequences of misinformation

The impact of health misinformation can be enormous.

The most common concerns among health professionals when it comes to misinformation online is compliance with health treatments or prevention efforts, said Nat Gyenes, who leads the Digital Health Lab at technology nonprofit Meedan and researches technology and health at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

“It can lead to vaccination levels below herd immunity, harmful impacts on minors whose parents are responsible for their health care and well-being, engaging in alternative or homeopathic treatments as a primary approach and only complying with necessary medical treatments at a time where effectiveness is decreased,” Gyenes said.

But like the more general “fake news” category, health misinformation spread online can also erode trust between people and institutions, doctors and patients, and citizens and governments.

“Of course, mistrust in health institutions and pharmaceutical companies can be legitimate, especially for communities that have been targeted by unethical research, for example, in the past,” Gyenes said. “Often, consumers of medical treatment-oriented conspiracies online are reoriented towards homeopathic treatment, and the regular ‘health maintenance’ that involves vitamin supplementation. Health misinformation online surrounding the effectiveness of homeopathy provides a welcoming, and costly, alternative that is compounded by conspiracy-related content and misinformation about treatments and cures.”

While the problem of health misinformation online is becoming clear, the solution is still being considered.

Fact checks for health misinformation are rare and can’t compete with the virality of the claims they seek to correct. Part of the solution, Gyenes said, will come from public health communities doing a better job at digital outreach, creating more engaging content, memes, visualizations and storytelling.

“False health information has existed since the beginning of the medical profession,” Gyenes said. “Focusing on mitigating the impacts of health misinformation is a productive way of thinking about the challen


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2010s = 1984: The decade we finally understood Orwell


Saying George Orwell's 1984 is my favorite book is like saying Star Wars is my favorite movie franchise. It would be more accurate to call them obsessions. I consume both in their entirety at least once a year, and have read everything there is to read about their creators. Their styles couldn't be more opposite – naive space fantasy vs. ultimate hard-nosed dystopia — but both are exquisite examples of worldbuilding. 

And both returned to our world with a bang in the 2010s, when they were needed more than ever. Star Wars topped the all-time box office charts; 2016 happened, and 1984 came back to the bestseller lists, where it has bounced around ever since. (It has also cropped up in protest signs around the world.) 

In a talk I gave mid-decade, ironically named The Lighter Side of 1984! (spoiler alert, there's no light side, not even in the tale of its creation), I noted the world Orwell built has staying power for one reason alone. It's so airtight that it puts all subsequent dystopias to shame. 

There's no poking holes in the Party's control, no loose thread for any opposition to pull. If there is a Resistance, it vanishes halfway through. The book is designed to make The Party and its machinery of oppression look entirely infallible. You accept, like the protagonist Winston Smith, that it can never be overthrown. This isn't The Hunger Games. There is no cartoonish YA villain like President Snow for a defiant Katniss Everdeen to topple. Even Margaret Atwood, in The Handmaid's Tale, destroyed Gilead in a far-future postscript. 

But 1984? So far as we know, it's boots on human faces all the way down. 

Big Brother is gaslighting you

"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear": George Orwell graffiti in Belgrade, Serbia, 2018.


"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear": George Orwell graffiti in Belgrade, Serbia, 2018.

Image: OLIVER BUNIC/AFP via Getty Images

How come? The Party doesn't get its power from spying on its citizens, or turning them into snitches, or punishing sex crimes. All were presented as mere tools of the state. How did it come to wield that control in the first place? 

Orwell, aka Eric Blair, a socialist freedom fighter and a repentant former colonial officer who had a lifelong fascination with language and politics, knew that no control could be total until you colonized people's heads too. A state like his could only exist with loud, constant, and obvious lies. 

To be a totalitarian, he knew from his contemporary totalitarians, you had to seize control of truth itself. You had to redefine truth as "whatever we say it is." You had to falsify memories and photos and rewrite documents. Your people could be aware that all this was going on, so long as they kept that awareness to themselves and carried on (which is what doublethink is all about). 

Don't call him Winston Smith. Call him Mr. 2019.

The upshot is, Winston Smith is gaslit to hell and back. He spends the entire novel wondering exactly what the truth is. Is it even 1984? He isn't sure. Does Big Brother actually physically exist somewhere in Oceania, or is he just a symbol? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Winston is what passes for well-educated in his world; he still remembers the name "Shakespeare." He's smart enough not to believe the obvious propaganda accepted by the vast majority, but it doesn't matter. The novel is about him being worn down, metaphorically and physically, until he's just too tired and jaded to hold back the tide of screaming nonsense. 

Don't call him Winston Smith. Call him Mr. 2019. Because it's looking increasingly like we live in Oceania. That fictional state was basically the British Isles, North America, and South America. Now the leaders of the largest countries in each of those regions — Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro — are men who have learned to flood the zone with obvious lies, because their opponents simply don't have the time or energy to deal them all. 

As we enter 2020, all three of them look increasingly, sickeningly, like they're going to get away with it. They are protected by Party members who will endure any humiliation to trumpet loyalty to the Great Leader (big shout-out once again to Sen. Lindsay Graham) and by a media environment that actively enables political lies (thanks, Facebook). 

All the Winston Smiths of our world can see what the score really is. It doesn't seem to make any difference. But hey, at least we're all finally aware of the most important line in 1984, which is now also its most quote-tweeted: 

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

- George Orwell, 1984 https://t.co/gvVqtbxxrB

— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) December 22, 2019

It's not just the surveillance, stupid

In the decades following its 1949 publication, the message of 1984 became corrupted. Popular culture reduced it to a single slogan — Big Brother is Watching You — and those with only a vague memory of studying the book in school thought the surveillance state was the main thing Orwell was warning against. 

That was certainly where we were at in 2013, when Edward Snowden released his treasure trove of documents that proved the vast scale of NSA spying programs. "George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information," Snowden told UK TV viewers in his "alternate Christmas message" that year. "The types of collection in [1984] — microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us — are nothing compared to what we have available today."

Which was true, but also beside the point. Orwell doesn't actually claim the surveillance system in Oceania is all that strong. It would have strained credulity to have a Party that watched all of its members all of the time. It sounded like a bad science fiction plot. (In China, where the growing state systems of facial recognition and social media post ranking make NSA programs look like amateur hour, it no longer does). 

In 1984, the only time we definitively know a telescreen is watching Winston is when he's doing morning exercise and a female instructor calls him out for not pushing hard enough. Here in the real future, people pay Peloton $2200 plus $40 a month for the same basic setup.

It isn't that Big Brother is watching — that too is another Party lie. It's that he may be watching, just as knowing there may be a speed camera around the next bend keeps your mph in line. Against that possibility, citizens can still rebel. For much of the book, Winston and Julia are able to escape all cameras, out in the post-atomic countryside. Avoiding surveillance doesn't matter. What causes their capture is the fact that they fell for a lie (the "Brotherhood," a fake Resistance operation run by the Inner Party member O'Brien). 

We are invited to consider whether we too are falling for The Party's lies. The book-within-a-book that explains the shape of Winston's world turns out to be written by O'Brien, the master liar. The rocket bombs dropping on London are dropped by the Party. All the in-universe truth the reader has to go on is Winston's word, and by the end — as he is tortured into genuinely seeing O'Brien hold up three fingers instead of two, then thinks he hears news of a final victory in the endless war — even that isn't reliable. 

By the end of this decade, even words like "Orwell" and "Orwellian" had become ambivalent. I realized this in 2017 when my wife, knowing my love of the book, had bought me a cap that said "Make Orwell Fiction Again." I loved it until I found it had been made in a state that voted for Trump, by a company with a line of libertarian merch. We saw the cap as a riposte to the MAGA mentality, but it was also possible to see it as a reinforcement: Make Orwell fiction again by helping Trump fight Deep State surveillance, man!

If there is hope for Oceania in the coming decade, it may come from uniting people under the banner of all that 1984 warns against — starting with the bare-faced lies that Orwell was most concerned about. The lies that social media gatekeepers have taken way too long to notice, if they notice them at all. 

If we can't agree on basic facts of science and history, we're lost. But if we the people can do that, there's no surveillance system or endless war or sexcrime we can't dismantle. "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four," Winston wrote in his diary. "If that is granted, all else follows." 

By remaining skeptical about all we read, but still reading widely and clawing our way back to a world of truths that are as simple and as objective as math, we can prove that we finally learned Orwell's lesson. And we can make 1984 merely a masterpiece of fictional worldbuilding again. 

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