Monthly Archives: February 2014

SECRET WORLD OF POLITICS EXPOSED ON DVD

You can now enjoy Whipped on DVD! (Graphic by VICTOR CRAPNELL, Art Department Design)

You can now enjoy Whipped on DVD! (Graphic by VICTOR CRAPNELL, Art Department Design)

Today, I’m extremely pleased to announce DVDs for Whipped: the secret world of party discipline have been finally been printed. You can check out the cover — created by Victoria-based graphic designer Victor Crapnell — above. The first copies have been ordered by Alberta’s Legislature Library, Douglas College and Fair Vote Canada’s Waterloo region chapter.

SHOULD PAPERS SHAME READERS’ POOR NEWS DIETS?

USA Today reflects (!) on its audience's reading choices. (Graphic by USA Today)

USA Today reflects (!) on its audience’s reading choices. (Graphic by USA Today)

USA Today may not be the most high-brow of newspapers. But — unlike some Canadian news organizations — it did raise an eyebrow when it reported on which stories its readers were choosing to read.

Earlier this week, I mentioned how political news wasn’t among the 25 most read stories on the Victoria Times Colonist’s Website in 2013 — even though it was an election year in British Columbia. Nor did such stories make the list of the 10 most read Gazette stories on the Montreal newspaper’s Website.

It was a phenomenon that was repeated to a somewhat lesser degree at the Globe and Mail — and could be seen at other Canadian news outlets.

Stories about politics were also nowhere to be found on USA Today’s 10-most-clicked-on stories list, which included news about everything from the Boston bombings to Kim Kardashian.

But this is how the American newspaper framed those results:

Take a good long look in the digital mirror. These are the stories you clicked on most in 2013. Yes, you. (And thousands more like you.) Some of the stories that made this list might surprise you. Some may not. Some of them may even be a bit shameful. Should we care that Miley Cyrus’ antics broke into the top 10? Twice? The incredible rescue of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus from captivity inside a Cleveland home didn’t make it. Nor did any news about the government shutdown. But Kim Kardashian having a baby is up there. Media organizations decided daily how to balance what you need to know and what you want to know. But no matter what, the readers’ actions tell the story, too.

THE WEEK THAT WAS — FEBRUARY 1, 2014

How representative of us are our elected representatives? A new study will help answer that question in the United Kingdom. (Graphic by University College of London)

How representative of us are our elected representatives? A new study will help answer that question in the United Kingdom. (Graphic by University College of London)

• Courtesy of University of Toronto doctoral candidate Paul Thomas comes news that the University College London’s Constitution Unit has launched a study to “understand how the socio-economic [characteristics of] Britain’s political class has changed from 1945-2015.” In response, Samara Canada research manager Jane Hilderman tweeted that the Toronto-based non-profit has collected similar data for Canada’s 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Parliaments. Meanwhile, those interested in the makeup of the 41st Parliament may want to look at this statistical breakdown from Canada’s Public Policy Forum.

Does this book hold the solution to Canada's political problems? (Graphic by Cambridge University Press)

Does this book hold the solution to Canada’s political problems? (Graphic by Cambridge University Press)

• More powerful parliamentary committees are the cure for what ails democracy in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. That’s the prescription advanced in Democratic Decline and Democratic Renewal. In a recent review, Queen Mary University of London doctoral candidate Jack Simson Caird writes that the book’s authors argue citizens need to be better connected with the formal political system, with parliament having an opportunity to take a look at issues before final choices are made by the government. According to Caird, “the authors envisage ‘committees with a substantive role in the policy process (particularly at the emergent or strategic end of the process), supported by powers and procedures that sustain this role.'”

• The workers of the world may finally unite, according to Centre for Global Development senior fellow Charles Kenny. Writing in Foreign Policy, Kenny speculates that “as technology and trade level the playing field and bring humanity closer together, the world’s projected 3.5 billion laborers may finally realize how much more they have in common with each other than with the über-wealthy elites in their own countries.” And that may result in collaborative pressure to shut down tax havens and prevent the weakening of labour regulations and corporate taxes cuts.

• Last week, I spoke with CKNW’s Simi Sara about why more Canadians aren’t paying attention to political news. You can listen to the complete interview here, along with call-ins from the station’s listeners:

• I also spoke with Global BC 1’s Jill Krop on the same subject. You can find that interview here.

Have a news tip about about the state of democracy, openness and accountability in Canada? You can email me at this address.