January 7, 2019

Daphne Bramham of The Vancouver Sun on Women in Politics, Legacy Media & Survival

If you’ve kept up with regional news on BC’s south coast over the past 35 years, chances are you’re familiar with Daphne Bramham’s work, and its impact.

Starting out at the Regina Post-Leader, Bramham moved to the west coast as political reporter for The Canadian Press, until eventually joining the Vancouver Sun. From beat and investigative reporter, to associate editor and columnist, Bramham has helped BC readers understand more about power and politics at all levels of government, and difficult stories about immigration and citizenship, polygamy and abuse, drug addiction and tragedy on our streets.

In this deep-dive discussion, Bramham talks about being a woman in politics and media, some of her favourite stories over the years, and the prospects for news and journalism in Canada going forward.

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OMG traffic cones are all the rage. The revolution has begun and it has bounced off Twitter onto our streets.
First, I recommend following AwarenessCone on Twitter. A silly Philadelphia-based account, it mocks the traffic cone’s responsibility to protect us from danger with overqualified cones placed in menial, dead end positions. Their bio sums it up well:

AwarenessCone: a cone placed at the site of damaged infrastructure; a cone marking construction; a cone forgotten. Be aware.

Two examples are better than one.

Secondly, The Man systemic car culture wants everyone outside who’s not in a car to be dressed in clothing with high visibility (hi-viz). We all know black is the most slimming colour. Drivers are jealous of our active lifestyles. They want us to look chubbier than those in vehicles. They also want to take no responsibility for hitting and killing us with their cars. Activist people on foot and on bike and on board refuse to wear reflectors or bright clothing day or night in protest. Active transportation moderates get mocked as sell outs for having reflective trim on any clothing.
Moschino, always known for its tongue-in-cheek, society mocking designs, has a new line out for Spring/Summer 2016 called Dangerous Couture featuring ridiculous, high fashion, hi-viz clothing and their version of street signs (including little Do Not Enter signs as earrings).

Which all leads me to the third trend for cones. People are using them to control their streets. Call them safety heroes or vigilantes, drivers don’t know if they are City-issued or not and are slowing down. These movements are cropping up in various cities. PDXTransformations in Portland, OR was separating cars from bike lanes with traffic cones recently. Now its members have put up (illegal) 20mph speed limit signs and are getting local media coverage for their antics. (The Portland Bureau of Transportation has said publicly removing the signs is not a high priority with limited resources.)


We are not a “bike advocacy group.” We are a Transformation Action Group. We want our streets to serve everybody.
Our dream is that the people of Portland stand up to unsafe drivers and say ENOUGH. You can’t do that here anymore.

They are inspiring others.

If these rogue antics were organized in your town, would you be tempted to make a request? Is there a dangerous spot near you? Have you reported it to the City?
Clearly cones are trending and improved safety for all on our streets can’t be far behind.

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Good to have Ken back in town, not only for his images but also his opinions and observations.  Like this one:


Media Thoughts

The death spiral of Postmedia and its newspapers is well-documented. But here’s some useful perspective from an odd source on the decline, and the rise of new media (particularly in Vancouver), and its effect on the Alberta oil industry. And some perspective from Vancouver and elsewhere.
Markham Hislop writes in the industry trade mag “Alberta Oil, the Business of Energy“.  It’s almost funny, because he complains (at first) about “how the Vancouver School is distorting media coverage of the energy sector”. But there is something to be learned here, he writes.
“A cynic might argue that traditional media already do a pretty good job framing energy news to favor industry’s interests. But the B.C. experience suggests a well-organized environmental opposition coupled with alternative media trumps traditional news and advertising. If industry is looking for new strategies as it seeks approval for Energy East, it could do worse than emulate the Vancouver School.”
It is my belief than among the forces leading to the upcoming demise of Postmedia are its obvious fealty to business interests, a right-wing point of view, and continuous framing of “news” to serve these interests. Even as the audience is changing, getting hipper, and not buying the 1950’s paradigms of what’s important, who we are and how we live. But now, here are new media outlets serving this new audience, who have a fresh set of concerns, and a very different idea of who we are and what we want in our future.  And you don’t have to be a cynic to get this narrative.
Here’s Linda Solomon, publisher of the Vancouver Observer, responding in an e-mail newsletter to Hislop’s article:

The sunset industries (fossil fuels and old media) are heavily invested in fading values, attacking sunrise new media companies like National Observer that embody forward-thinking values . . . .
. . . As Lawrence Martin wrote in his article entitled ‘Canada’s media: A crisis that cries out for a public inquiry’ published yesterday in The Globe and Mail,  “…it’s a joke to think a healthy democracy can be restored given the continuing depletion of the one industry that holds business and government to account.”
For those who want to dig in a bit deeper, the Walrus has published THIS article by Margo Goodhand, former editor of the Edmonton Journal.  It’s a chilling business and public interest perspective on the rapid downward slide at Postmedia. And a clear explanation of the danger – consolidation of the source for content, with a few exceptions:
People may not notice. How do you measure the slow gutting of a metro newspaper, the largest newsroom in town?
Court and crime and car crashes stay in the headlines because they are cheap and easy to cover. What disappears is the substantive stories that contribute to a community’s sense of self and worth; programs that require a spotlight, business and arts trends, political coverage and context.

I think that people do notice, and are turning to new sources for opinion, spotlighting and information about this new world we slowly realize will have to emerge.


Expect more from Ken on Price Tags, as he broadens the base of interests you can find here, notably media and energy which he nicely combines in this post.

And further to the post above, why can’t CBC TV help fill in the vacuum created by the decline of advertising-based media which, in the case of PostMedia, are being sucked dry for their remaining asset value by hedge funds.  CBC has done well on radio, but it can’t seem to break out on TV news.


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