Our Media Bubbles

January 25, 2020

The latest Pew Research reports include a detailed look at US Media Polarization. The divide in the trustworthiness of various media sources between those tending to the Republican side and those tending to the Democratic side is extraordinarily wide.

Select image for a better view.

As this survey looks only at mainstream media (newspapers, TV, radio), I would imagine that the functional divide is even greater once one factors in the noise from social media.

This is a worthwhile reminder to us all — as we all tend to be guilty of siloing — that the media bubble we choose to exist in is NOT the only one out there.

The Hollowing Out of Press Freedom

December 20, 2019

A new report from Reporters Without Borders shows that, globally, we are losing the battle for free speech in the media.

Most Successful Media Franchises

November 23, 2019

The always interesting Visual Capitalist has produced a list of the most successful media franchises of all time.  It is a list that includes some obvious properties and some, quite frankly, that I have never heard of:


The infographic on their site gives a lot more detail on how these figures are arrived at.  The biggest surprise for me is that Winnie the Pooh makes #3 on the list, ahead of Star Wars and Mickey Mouse!


November 20, 2019

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but there is usually one or two series running that I am keen to watch each week.  Over the last couple of years, these have included The Good Fight, Vikings, NCIS, and Endeavour.  These days, I am most attracted to Stumptown which is on tonight.

Set in Portland, Oregon, Stumptown is about a troubled PI and her bar-owning buddy. We are used to seeing hard-bitten and difficult men with a lifetime of regret playing the lead in this kind of set up. But here, the PI is a bi-sexual woman suffering from PTSD from her service in Afghanistan, who drinks too much and is not altogether clear on her personal relationships. The scripts are good, with enough humour, low-key action, and sexual tension to keep one interested for 47 minutes, and looking forward to the next episode.  I enjoy the ensemble cast and I most especially enjoy Cobey Smulders.

Having really fallen down on my knowledge of local talent, I was not aware until today that Smulders is from Vancouver.  Interestingly, one of my favourite shows from last year — New Zealand’s Brokenwood Mysteries — also starred an actress called Fern Sutherland who now lives in Vancouver.


When “Fuck” Actually Meant Something

November 13, 2019

It is hard to imagine that hearing the word “fuck” used in a casual conversation would shock many people these days. We hear it so much — on TV, in films, on the bus, in the playground — that is has become little more than an annoyance of constant repetition.   However there was a time, in my remembrance, when the word carried real freight.

Fifty-four years ago today, on 13 November 1965, I was part of the audience for a BBC late-night satirical show called BBC-3. On the show was the renowned theatre critic and public intellectual Kenneth Tynan. In an answer to a question about sex in plays, he said: “I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word ‘fuck’ would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden.”

This was quickly recognized as the first deliberate use of the word on the BBC and the event became a weekend sensation for the more lurid media.  In 1988, Paul Johnson called the moment, Tynans’s “masterpiece of calculated self-publicity.”

Times have changed.

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

November 10, 2019

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Sesame Street – a program that changed an entire genre of entertainment. It came along too late for me (although getting really stoned and watching the colourful characters bounce around had its moments) but my kids sure loved it and were taught by it.

One of the reasons it worked so well was also a source of controversy.  The show was originally banned for screening on the PBS station in Mississippi because of its “highly [racially] integrated cast of children” which “the [local] commission members felt … Mississippi was not yet ready for.”

It is a wonder these days that a TV show so acutely focused on the good and happy side of life could survive fifty years in the marketplace.

CNN has a good gallery of early Sesame Street photographs.


Garth Mullins: Best In Vancouver

October 4, 2019

The Drive’s own Garth Mullins and his team’s podcast Crackdown has been named the “best radio to come out of the trenches of the DTES” in Georgia Strait‘s Best of Vancouver issue.

They cover the drug crisis in our City:

“For us it’s a war. And it needs to be covered like a war—by war correspondents. That’s us,”

They won a silver award at the prestigious New York Festivals Radio Awards but “we couldn’t go collect it in person at the awards gala because some of us can’t cross the border,” Mullins noted. That situation, too, is part of the war.

Well done to Garth and his folks!