International news organizations ignore Canadian tragedy

NDP leader Jack Layton

Jack Layton. Picture: NDP

I’m surprised and disappointed that at least two major international news organisations still have not reported the death yesterday of Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s official opposition.

More than 36 hours after Mr Layton’s untimely death at the age of 61, searching the websites of CNN and Al Jazeera English turns up nothing. (Screenshots here and here.)

And if the websites don’t have it, then I’d be surprised if the TV channels mentioned it at all.

Mr Layton died just three months after leading the New Democratic Party to a record-breaking result, including a virtual sweep of seats in Quebec. During the cross-country campaign, he looked to have made a remarkable recovery from prostate cancer. Then last month, looking gaunt, he announced that he had another form of cancer and would be stepping aside while undergoing treatment.

His family announced his death Monday morning, Toronto time, shocking the nation and triggering a public outpouring of grief.

Regardless of one’s political views, I think it is fair to call this a Canadian tragedy. Mr Layton was widely respected as a man of integrity, optimism and goodwill. His party has been responsible for some of the most cherished Canadian institutions, including pensions and universal health care. The NDP was to be a vital counterweight to the majority Conservative government in the new Parliament.

I’m not surprised that Fox News ignored his death. But the indifference of bona fide news services CNN and Al Jazeera only compounds this tragedy.

Yes, the events in Tripoli deserved top billing. But CNN had plenty of room for Ms Kardashian and endless football reports.

Here in New Zealand both TV newscasts led with bloated coverage of rugby, before moving on to the war in Libya. But that was no surprise, I’m sad to say. Some things never change.

Read Jack Layton’s remarkable letter to Canadians, written just two days before he died.

Video of Rick Mercer visiting Jack Layton at his eco-home




Iran coverage boosts CNN’s iReport traffic

Andy Plesser of Beet.TV quotes a statement by CNN that page views for its user-generated iReport site reached one million on Monday, driven by coverage of post-election protests in Iran.

To put this in perspective, iReport (which was launched in February 2008) averaged 316,000 page views per day in 2008 (9.6 million per month) according to Nielsen Online data reported by CNN. The main news site, cnn.com, averaged about 35 million page views per day, according to comScore numbers quoted by TechCrunch in November.

Plesser says that over the past week, “some 5,000 Iran-related videos and photos have been uploaded to iReport” and that “about 150 of these citizen contributions have been used on the air or on CNN.com after being vetted and verified by the network.”

In a video interview Wednesday with Plesser, iReport senior producer Lila King talks about how the network uses multiple iReports to corroborate information, and how iReport has become part of its world news coverage.

Twitter reschedules maintenance to keep Iran news flowing

Protest in Iran

From Anderson Cooper’s blog at CNN.com.

…senior officials say the State Department asked Twitter to refrain for going down for periodic scheduled maintenance at this critical time to ensure the site continues to operate. Bureau’s and offices across the State Department, they say, are paying very close attention to Twitter and other sites to get information on the situation in Iran.

and

…officials say the internet, and specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are providing the United States with critical information in the face of a crackdown on journalists by Iranian authorities.

Twitter, as vital national security infrastructure?

» Cyberwar guide for Iran Elections

» June 20 update: Twitter on the baricades: Six lessons learned

» Photo by Hamed Saber on Flickr, June 15, 2009