Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Julie Delahanty comments on Canada's crisis of inequality and poverty. And Sean McElwee highlights how the ill-founded belief that income inequality is more a matter of merit than luck tends to lead people to accept far more of it than should be tolerable.

- Susan Riley rightly challenges the myth of "tax relief" - which typically results in tiny individual returns at the expense of any capacity to build a functional society.

- Paris Marx argues that a basic income serves as the most promising support system to allow for the growth of art and culture. And Angella MacEwen points out that employment insurance is the most obvious means of targeting stimulus money toward both social needs and economic growth.

- Finally, Colin Horgan examines the future of media as a public good in Canada, including this suggestion as to how to develop new opportunities for focused discussion of issues:
(T)he CBC’s online division offers the best chance at producing more new, niche-oriented media, given that it continues to receive federal funding — and if the current government has anything to do with it, apparently will receive more. This is not to say that all out-of-work journalists could work for the CBC, but rather that it may be there where experimentation could work, as it bears fewer (though still some) of the pressures of private media.

More specifically, this might mean launching an iPlayer-style TV app, and commissioning programming for it that otherwise might not make it to the main network simply because it appeals only to a small sub-section of viewers. Similarly, expanding its battery of podcasts beyond merely recordings of its radio shows, to include specific — or even random — topics (Video games? TV recaps? Vacations in continental Europe? WHL team coverage? The Aboriginal music scene?) would be inexpensive and, more importantly, allow advertisers more specific audiences to target. Likewise with its journalism: why not open sub-sites? Why not, for example, a data-journalism site akin to FiveThirtyEight? Any of these ventures that proves successful at the CBC might strike out on its own, starting another series of similar shows or podcasts, complete with a website garnered toward those viewers or listeners. Who knows?

There are problems with this idea — I can name a few already. For one, it would take a major shift in the way we conceive of a public broadcaster (as part start-up incubator). But if a varied, engaged, and thoughtful media sphere is indeed a public policy concern, then it might be incumbent of us to at least spitball some ideas about what we can do with the media corporation we all still own.

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