January 15, 2022
Big Tech has no hope of keeping itself out of the public eye during an election year in American politics. Democrats attack Facebook for its enabling role in the Stop-the-Steal lie and the Capitol insurrection. Republicans routinely blame Big Tech for almost anything. No less than four Big Tech bills are before Congressional committees.
This week’s most interesting Big Tech news was a federal judge’s ruling that the Federal Trade Commission’s re-filed anti-trust lawsuit against Facebook for its competition-squelching acquisitions of Instagram (back in 2012) and WhatsApp (2014) can proceed. No trial date has been set.
All of this bad publicity for Big Tech will surely colour public opinion on the federal Liberals’ promised legislation against online harms. So far its mostly Facebook and Google’s YouTube getting attention for toxicity on their platforms as befits their market share of online media, however the Globe’s Joe Castaldo spotlighted one of the right-wing up and comers: Toronto-based Rumble competes with YouTube, sans algorithm, and has successfully positioned itself as an alt-right platform.
Speaking of Trumpish politics, former CBC lifestyle journalist Tara Henley got the notoriety she sought by publishing a slam-the-door-on-your-way-out denunciation of CBC newsroom culture.
Her accusation that the CBC is preoccupied with “woke” issues and that journalists are discouraged from pitching hard news stories included the following counterfactual statement:
“It is to endlessly document microaggressions but pay little attention to evictions; to spotlight company’s political platitudes but have little interest in wages or working conditions. It is to allow sweeping societal changes like lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and school closures to roll out — with little debate. To see billionaires amass extraordinary wealth and bureaucrats amass enormous power — with little scrutiny. And to watch the most vulnerable among us die of drug overdoses — with little comment.”
Henley immediately attracted the admiration of “defund the CBC” Erin O’Toole. Henley then agreed to an excoriating interview by Canadaland’s Jesse Brown who demanded she explain her accusations. Worth a read.
Some industry news of importance to local newspapers in both the US and Canada: the New York Times dropped $700 million (CAD) to buy online sports site The Athletic with 400 journalists covering 250 major sports teams in 50 local markets.
How much of a threat does the Times-Athletic super-team pose to local newspapers? Not one bit, says Joshua Benton.
And finally yet another episode in the Rogers family drama. With former CEO Joe Natale sent packing with a mega-severance package, rival Tony Staffieri was confirmed as his permanent replacement.
A number of other C-suite departures followed in this changing of the guard, including broadcasting VP Jordan Banks, replaced by back-in-favour Colette Watson.
But the most memorable scene was the life-imitates-art video starring Succession’s Brian Cox congratulating Ed Rogers on his victory and profanely mocking the departed Natale.