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Misinformation in Canada

The advance of computers into all aspects of our lives and the rising role of the Internet have led many people to call this the Information Age. But with news travelling fast, and often with few checks and balances to ensure accuracy, it can also be seen as the Misinformation Age. Learning how to separate facts from misinformation or so-called fake news has become a critical modern skill as people learn to evaluate information being shared with them, as well as to scrutinize information they may share themselves.

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Media Bias in Canada

Bias means supporting or opposing something or someone in an unfair way, regardless of the evidence. Media bias is when information spread by media or a news outlet reflects the interests and biases of ownership or individuals of that media company. Corporations may have a clear bias for one political party or issue and may influence its media outlets to reflect that bias. Individual journalists or news outlets may favour one side of an issue and reflect that bias — consciously or unconsciously — in the way they cover stories. The fact that a majority of journalists in Canada are White can also lead to biased reporting on minority groups. People can overcome unconscious bias by thinking and talking about it, and especially by listening to people from less privileged backgrounds.

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Fake News (a.k.a. Disinformation) in Canada

Fake news is falsified information created with the intent of misleading people. It aims to shape public opinion by eliciting an emotional and biased response that is divorced from facts but in alignment with a particular ideology or perspective. Fake news can effectively weaponize information. It uses disinformation, misinformation or mal-information to demonize or damage a political foe, or to sow confusion and mistrust among the public. Fake news came to the fore of public consciousness during and immediately after the 2016 US presidential election, though its origins date back much further.

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Media Convergence

Media convergence refers to the merging of previously distinct media technologies and platforms through digitization and computer networking. This is also known as technological convergence. Media convergence is also a business strategy whereby communications companies integrate their ownership of different media properties. This is also called media consolidation, media concentration or economic convergence. (See also Media Ownership.)

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Media Literacy

Media literacy refers to the ability to interpret and understand how various forms of media operate, and the impact those media can have on one’s perspective on people, events or issues. To be media literate is to understand that media are constructions, that audiences negotiate meaning, that all media have commercial, social and political implications, and that the content of media depends in part on the nature of the medium. Media literacy involves thinking critically and actively deconstructing the media one consumes. It also involves understanding one’s role as a consumer and creator of media and understanding the ways in which governments regulate media.

timeline event

Conrad Black Pardoned by US President Donald Trump

President Trump signed a full pardon for Conrad Black, an author and former media mogul who was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007. He served just over three years in a Florida prison. In a statement, Black dismissed his conviction as “nonsense,” writing, “there was never a word of truth to any of it.” Black was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1990 and removed from the Order in 2014.

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Irving Group of Companies

Companies owned by New Brunswick’s Irving family dominate the province’s natural resource industries, as well as its media, engineering and construction industries. The first Irving business was a sawmill purchased in 1881. The family now owns many companies that supply each other from different steps in the chain of production. These companies largely fall under four umbrellas: J.D. Irving Limited (whose many segments include forestry, food, construction and transportation), Brunswick News (newspapers), Irving Oil (oil refining and marketing) and Ocean Capital Holdings (real estate, radio, construction and materials). The Irving family owns Canada’s largest oil refinery, is one of the five largest landowners in North America, and employs 1 in 12 people in New Brunswick. It is one of the wealthiest families in Canada.

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Propaganda in Canada

Propaganda refers to messaging that aims to spread or “propagate” an ideology or worldview. Psychologists have described propaganda as “manipulative persuasion in the service of an agenda” or communications that “induce the individual to follow non-rational emotional drives.” During the First World War, propaganda was used to recruit soldiers and supporters. The Second World War saw it take a dark turn toward using outright lies to spread hateful ideologies and practices (see also Fake News a.k.a. Disinformation). During the Cold War, governments in the West and East used propaganda to try to spread the ideologies of capitalism and democracy, or communism and the Soviet Union. Contemporary propaganda, most often encountered on social media, is used to marshal support for, or opposition to, various political, economic and social movements.

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SARS in Canada

Canada experienced an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Most of the infections originated in Toronto hospitals. The outbreak led to the quarantine of thousands, killed 44 people and took an economic toll on Toronto. It also exposed the country’s ill-prepared health-care system. Confusion around SARS fuelled an uptick in anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Computers and Canadian Society

Canadians use computers in many aspects of their daily lives. Eighty-four per cent of Canadian families have a computer in the home, and many people rely on these devices for work and education. Nearly everyone under the age of 45 uses a computer every day, including mobile phones that are as capable as a laptop or tablet computer. With the widespread use of networked computers facilitated by the Internet, Canadians can purchase products, do their banking, make reservations, share and consume media, communicate and perform many other tasks online. Advancements in computer technologies such as cloud computing, social media, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are having a significant impact on Canadian society. While these and other uses of computers offer many benefits, they also present societal challenges related to Internet connectivity, the digital divide, privacy and crime.