Journalism Strategies Conference

April 19 – 21, 2012

Montréal, Québec

NOTE: The working languages of this conference are English and French.  Moderators will be bilingual and simultaneous translation will be available at the free events Thursday and Friday evening.

Thursday, April 19


19:00 – Thursday evening panel discussion: “Where to From Here?”

D.B. Clark Theatre, Concordia
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. West 

Do we need professional journalists to help us be active citizens? Is public policy support for journalism a bad idea, or a necessary alternative to market failure? Do we still need public policies to support journalism if everyone has a camera on their cellphone and access to the Internet?

A conversation about journalism and its role in Canadian democracy featuring former professional journalists who are still engaged with conversations about journalism. The broad question underlying the evening: why is this an important moment in Canadian history for supporting journalism that supports democracy?

Welcome by conference co-chairs: Dr. Mike Gasher (Department of Journalism, Concordia) and Dr. Colette Brin (Département d’information et de communication, Laval)

Introductory comments by Dr. Marc Raboy (Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, Media and Communication, and Director of Media@McGill) and Florian Sauvageau (Founder and Director of le Centre d’études sur les médias and co-author of the 1986 Report of the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy)

Panel Moderator:  
Mike Finnerty: Host of CBC Montreal’s, “Daybreak.” Formerly multimedia news editor for The Guardian and editor of Daytime Programmes at BBC World Service.

Tony Burman: Former head of news for CBC and Al Jazeera English. Mr. Burman now holds the Velma Roger Chair in News Media and Technology at Ryerson University. He will speak about changing technologies and professional journalism.
Dominique PayetteDr. Payette is a former Radio-Canada journalist. She now teaches at Laval and recently authored a report on the future of journalism for the government of Quebec. She will speak in the context of her report and the process that followed.
Kai Nagata: Mr. Nagata worked for CBC then CTV. He touched off a debate on journalism in Canada with his blog post. He is now a writer in residence at The Tyee and is experimenting with his own business model.
Judy Rebick:  Ms. Rebick is a writer and broadcaster.  She is the founding publisher of and a former CBC Newsworld host. She is currently on the media panel of Q on CBC radio. Her latest book is “Occupy This”, a Penguin e book.

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.

Coffee reception in lobby after | 


Friday, April 20

***Friday morning and afternoon sessions are for registered participants (Thomson House Ballroom, McGill, 3650 McTavish Street). Presentations by academics and practitioners. These are plenary sessions.***

08:00 - 09:00 Registration and continental breakfast

09:00 - 10:15 Working Definitions (presentation of four papers followed by discussion)

Panel Moderator: 

To be confirmed

Paper Presentations:

- “Who Needs Objectivity? Journalism, Democracy and Global Crisis” (Dr. Robert A. Hackett and Pinar Gurleyen, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University):

Vis-à-vis the unfolding global crisis of governance, violence and environmental decline, we are in need of a journalism that can support the interlinked projects of reinvigorating informed participation in democratic governance, and enabling collective action. In light of this need, and building on secondary literature and work currently in progress, we critically examine the relevance and status of the regime of objectivity’ in Canadian journalism and its implications for crisis engagement. We then examine two emerging “challenger” paradigms– peace journalism, and environmental communication — that are oriented towards non-violent social change, and overlap with the project of democratic empowerment in the media field. We also compare different types of media organizations in Canada in relation to the regime of objectivity, and assess their relative effectiveness in mobilizing democratic participation. Finally, we identify journalism practices, and state policies, likely to facilitate both democratic participation, and effective crisis action.

- “Expanding journalism’s implied audience: Covering cultural diversity and social exclusion in Montreal and New York” (Dr. Greg M. NielsenConcordia Centre for Broadcasting Studies):

My contribution to the conference is to provide a critique of forms of exclusion from the implied or imagined audiences that journalists address and to probe the question of whether or not an emerging public journalism could broaden the traditional audience, and if so what new forms of exclusion it might engender? To develop the point further the paper is grounded in the example of an analysis of reportage on cultural diversity and social exclusion in mainstream papers from Montreal (Le Devoir, La Presse, The Gazette) and New York (The New York Times). I ask if broadening the implied audience would enable more citizens to engage alternative levels of governance (local, regional, national, global) in their preferred ways (as contributors, journalists, activists, artists) and if it is possible to do so while maintaining the same rigor required by the profession?

- “GroundWire: Growing community news journalism in Canada” (Gretchen King, Doctoral Student, McGill University; Anabel Khoo, News & Spoken Word Coordinator, CHRY-FM Toronto; Jacky Tuinstra, Station Manager, CKLN-FM Toronto; Candace Mooers, community radio host; and Chris Albinati, GroundWire):

Launched in 2008, GroundWire is a national community news network of volunteer community radio producers who share its governance and development in addition to rotating the collective production of a bi-monthly national community news radio magazine that airs on nearly thirty campus and community radio stations. This paper will focus on the challenges that national community-based journalism poses to traditional journalism, whether public or commercial, national or local. This contribution will focus on our collective efforts to build a national community news network that prioritizes public engagement in every level of our journalistic practices. We will also assess the political economy of community media in Canada with an emphasis on the problems and potentials of sustainable funding structures for GroundWire: Community Radio News. This view is necessary to understand the challenges GroundWire faces in growing a sustainable, national community news infrastructure in Canada.

- “Journalism on the Ground in Rural Ontario: The Viability of Hyperlocal News” (Prof. Robert Washburn, Loyalist College, Belleville, ON)

: Hyperlocal news presents an opportunity to create alternative news vehicles for underserved communities in Canada. The potential to revitalize the role of journalism within a community via online platforms, using new and emerging technologies by both professional and citizen journalists may present a viable option. Using an action research methodology, a hyperlocal news site ( was created for the town of Cobourg, located on the shores of Lake Ontario, approximately one hour east of Toronto, to answer the question of whether or not a hyperlocal news website is a viable, sustainable format. From here, a series of policy recommendations and public action plan will be recommended.

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.

| Break (30 mins). Refreshments provided |

10:45 – 12:00 Organizational Models (presentation of four papers followed by discussion.) 

Panel Moderator:

Dr. Colette Brin, Université Laval

Paper Presentations:

- “L’intégration sans dessus-dessous” (Dr. Chantal Francoeur, Université du Québec à Montréal, École des medias

)La convergence ou l’intégration des équipes journalistiques dans les entreprises de presse transforme généralement les journalistes en « jack of all trades » ayant un impact négatif sur la qualité du journalisme. Or l’intégration ou la convergence peuvent être abordées différemment. Une façon originale et productive de modifier l’approche de l’intégration est de conserver l’aspect multiplateforme du travail journalistique mais de modifier les tâches des journalistes : avoir des journalistes audio, des journalistes vidéo, et des journalistes texte plutôt que des journalistes multiplateformes radio-télé-web. Ainsi les cultures d’origine sont protégées et les distributions multiplateformes sont assurées. Cette approche ouvre aussi de nouvelles possibilités d’explorations journalistiques. Le journalism multiplateforme audio, vidéo ou écrit permet de modifier des formats journalistiques figés et de découvrir des façons inédites de livrer l’information.

- “The Tweets That Bind Us: A G20 Case Study” (Sneha Kulkarni, Reporter, Sun News Network):

Social media sites are powerful tools in today’s information landscape. This qualitative case study utilizes Hermida’s (2010) framework of ambient journalism and Shoemaker’s (1996) gate-keeping theory to examine Twitter posts made during the G 20 summit protests in Toronto in 2010. This paper reveals how social media impacts the ways in which journalists and citizens react to a breaking news event. Findings suggest Twitter is an important site for citizens seeking and sharing information, and participants unknowingly create a collective sense of understanding in breaking news situations. For journalists, social media sites can serve as key research and publishing platforms. The ability for news organizations to unite collaborative newsgathering with existing professional routines can have broad implications for connecting to existing and future new audiences.

- “The Challenges of Collaborative Storytelling in a TV Newsroom” (Karen Owen, Reporter/Producer, CTV News Calgary/Journalism Instructor, Mount Royal University, Calgary):

This paper will examine how a group of journalists in a local TV newsroom are now looking for and discovering best practices in this new world of collaborative storytelling. If we are to “re-imagine journalism in Canada” part of that re-imagining will come from the working journalists. The presentation will offer an emic account of a traditional news media outlet and the struggle to maintain its role as a gatekeeper of information; a gatekeeper that often relies on traditional authoritative sources. The popularity of citizen journalism means that the audience is no longer made up of passive consumers and as such, the audience is able to impact daily news operations. The goal of the paper is to shed light on current best practices in a working newsroom, thereby adding to the discussion of the challenges and realities of collaborative storytelling.

- “Putting the Public and Community into local news” (Karen Wirsig, Canadian Media Guild and Cathy Edwards, Canadian Association for Community Users and Stations):

Funding and regulatory support dedicated to public and community broadcasting is marginal in Canada relative to other countries (Nordicity 2011, Community TV Practices and Policies Worldwide, TimeScape Productions, 2009) even though Canada’s Broadcasting Act considers both to be key elements of our broadcasting system. Meanwhile, private media have divested from communities across Canada (closure of private TV stations in Red Deer, AB, and Brandon MB; reductions in local news staff at Global; newsroom cuts at the Sun and Post Media newspaper chains; and so on.)  If the market doesn’t generate well-resourced professional media, how might the public and community sectors collaborate to fill the gap? The paper examines how public-service broadcasters can work with community media to improve local media in under-served communities across Canada.

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.

| Lunch – provided |

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch panel “Paying the Bills”

Panel Moderator:

Francine Pelletier independent director/producer. Formerly journalist and columnist with CBC, Radio-Canada, and La Presse, as well as co-founder/editor in chief of the magazine “La Vie en rose.” 


Michel Cormier (Directeur général de l’Information, Radio-Canada)
Lisa de Wilde (CEO, TVO)
Bernard Descôteaux (Directeur, Le Devoir)
Wilf Dinnick (Founder/CEO, OpenFile)
Jean LaRose (CEO, APTN)
Shelley Robinson (Executive Director, National Campus and Community Radio Association)

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.

14:30 – 15:45 Regulatory policies (presentation of three papers followed by discussion.)  

Panel Moderator:

To be confirmed

Paper Presentations:

- “There’s no place like home? Towards the study of Canadian media localism: a comparative international approach” (Christopher Ali, Doctoral Student, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania):
In recognizing the changing role of media regulation in a digital age, this presentation will discuss the implications for a regulatory approach to local media. Digital media complicate a once agreed upon notion of “the local” as being defined by physical territory, as recent innovations and changes in community formation have disrupted (but not rendered obsolete) such a definition. As such, regulators and journalists alike are left wondering who or what is a “local community.” With these questions in mind, this study focuses on media localism in the Canadian context, and asks how Canadian regulators can approach localism in a digital age through an international comparative approach. This is accomplished through a comparison of recent and comprehensive local media studies conducted in the US and UK by the FCC and OfCom respectively, with relevant regulation in Canada. This paper will discuss what a Canadian approach to localism can learn from these studies.

- “Building Safe Havens for Future Journalism: International Initiatives for Media Policy Change” (Dr. Arne Hintz, Department of Art History & Communication Studies, McGill University
In this paper I analyze civil society-based policy initiatives that seek to enhance the regulatory environment for journalism and media, focusing on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI). IMMI tries to make Iceland a “safe haven” for investigative journalism and “protect and strengthen modern freedom of expression”, primarily by preventing content restrictions by private actors through, e.g., libel and prior restraint, and by strengthening source and whistleblower protection. This case study will be complemented by experiences from initiatives in other parts of the world dealing with internet infrastructure, community media legalization, digital surveillance, and changing media laws in North Africa and the Middle East. I investigate the challenges and restrictions that these advocacy initiatives have responded to; the initiatives’ agendas; conditions of their successes and failures; efforts of building international reform networks; and the implications for efforts to reform media policy in Canada.
- “Informing Democracy: Access Strategies for Citizens and Journalists” (Paul Knox, School of Journalism, Ryerson University):
Freedom-of-information (FOI) regimes have long been used by journalists and others to monitor government practices and participate in decision-making. However, both the quality of FOI and its use by journalists have deteriorated over the past decade. Prohibitive fees, unwarranted delays and refusals, and suspected political interference are among the deficiencies widely recognized. Journalists can address this decline by joining and helping to reinvigorate citizen open-government initiatives. Potential strategies include publishing online guides to FOI procedure, inviting citizens to suggest requests, increasing the frequency of request filings, and posting released documents with interactive tools. Advocacy could target the scope of exemptions, the length of wait times, and financial barriers. A more fundamental policy shift would place the onus on governments to show why information collected at public expense should be suppressed. Such initiatives could enhance both the quality of democratic deliberation in Canada and journalism’s ability to contribute to it.

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.


| Break (30 mins). Refreshments provided |

16:15 – 17:30 Financial Policies (presentation of three papers followed by discussion.)

Panel Moderator:

Paule Beaugrand-Champagne

Paper Presentations: 

- “A Decade of Online Success: The AllNovaScotia Business Model for Local News” (Kelly Toughill, School of Journalism, University of King’s College, Halifax, NS): is one of the few successful hyperlocal news sites on the continent. It has operated at a profit for more than 11 years and has a fulltime staff of 10 professional journalists. The editorial content is widely respected. The site regularly breaks stories and has become a key media of influence in the Halifax region. The site has also exhibited a level of sustainability that most other hyperlocal sites have found difficult to achieve. It has operated without government subsidy of any kind, and relied mostly on subscription revenues. This paper will examine the best practices that led to’s editorial and financial success. It will examine whether the business model could be duplicated in other jurisdictions and what policies should be developed to explore and foster that potential.

-   Potential and Challenges of the Cooperative Model (Dru Oja Jay, co-founder of the Dominion and the Media

Dru Oja Jay will present on the prospects for reader-funded news from the perspective of the Media Co-op, a member-owned media network with locals in Montreal, Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver, and 700 members across Canada. The presentation will also discuss more generally the cooperative model in financing democratically-run media organizations.

 -  (Re)Definir la fonction economique du journalisme dans un groupe mediatique: Quebecor, Internet et le public (Arnaud Anciaux, Doctorant en Sciences de l’information et de la communication à l’Université Rennes 1 – Ph.D. en Communication publique à l’Université Laval)

Les deux dernières décennies ont vu le développement de technologies numériques, dont l’utilisation croissante par les producteurs médiatiques comme par les citoyens est venu redessiner le paysage de l’information. Les difficultés économiques rencontrées par certains médias ont renforcé l’idée d’une «crise » du journalisme, bien qu’elle soit annoncée depuis l’existence de la pratique. Dans ce contexte, on peut s’interroger sur les répercussions possibles et imaginées du numérique sur les modèles de financement. Il est possible d’établir les caractéristiques et évolutions du modèle d’affaires d’un groupe canadien de communication, pour ensuite étudier la place accordée au journalisme et à l’information médiatique. Pour cela, nous proposons une analyse reposant sur des données économiques du groupe ainsi qu’une approche des discours portés par l’organisation et les acteurs la composant.

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.


6pm Friday evening panel discussion: “Insights from Abroad” (McGill Faculty Club, 3450 McTavish Street)

What can community radio in Australia teach us about fostering citizen participation in public life? What can we learn from the role civil society played in creating Tunisia’s new media laws? What can an U.S. non-profit teach us about building momentum behind the idea of a national journalism policy?

Panel Moderator: Anne Lagacé Dowson, Journalist and political analyst.

Craig Aaron
Michael Meadows
Joan Barata Mir

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.

| Short reception – Thomson House |


Saturday, April 21

***Saturday: for registered participants only (Thomson House Small Conference Rooms and Ballroom, McGill)***

08:30 Continental breakfast

09:00-10:15 Case study in media policy advocacy: OpenMedia

This presentation will consider OpenMedia in the context of the conference themes – focusing on  how it has garnered the attention of the press and journalists through social media campaigns for digital policy in the public interest.


Dr. Leslie Shade
Dr. David Skinner
Robert Hackett
Karen Wirsig

** To view the archived livestream of the panel discussion click here.

| Break (30 mins). Refreshments provided |

10:45 – 12:30 “Next steps” breakout sessions based on panel themes.

There will be four concurrent sessions. Participants will have to list their priorities – from 1 to 4 – when they register. We will try to accommodate, but priority will be on making sure groups are roughly the same size.) Each group will produce two recommendations for concrete action that can be taken in next 12 months.

| Lunch – provided |

14:00 – 16:00 Presentation and discussion of recommendations

** To view the archived livestream of part 1 of the presentationa & discussion click here.

** To view the archived livestream of part 2 of the presentationa & discussion click here.

| Break (30 mins). Refreshments provided |

16:30 – 17:00 Mobilization plan (create committees based on panel themes)

** To view the archived livestream of the mobilization discussion click here.

17:00 - 17:30 Conference wrap (closing remarks by conference chairs)