Canada, Lac Megantic, Media, Montreal, News, Politics, Wordpress

Lac-Mégantic and Asiana Airlines: Public Relations 101

We have recently seen two tragic transportation events unfold and two very different ways the companies in question reacted.

On July 6th Asiana Airlines flight 214, while attempting to land at San Francisco International airport, clipped the ground causing the tail to become dislodged. According to witnesses the Boeing 777 cartwheeled and burst into flames. Sadly two teen-aged girls were killed and many other passengers received serious injuries.

The company took the blame for the accident

The next day, Asiana Airlines President and CEO Yoon Young-doo, as well as other members of senior management and directors didn’t go into damage control. What they did was apologize publicly for the accident by standing in front of a room full of media representatives and bowing. Almost unheard of in modern business practice, the solemn bow and apology preceded any talk of insurance claims or threats of criminal investigations or liabilities. The company took the blame for the accident.

AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Late on Friday, July 5th a train belonging to Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway Inc. somehow, after being parked, came loose and started rolling from the town of Nantes in Quebec toward the larger town of Lac-Mégantic. Very early Saturday morning the residents of Lac-Mégantic were roused from their beds by an incredible explosion as the train derailed in the downtown core of the city. The train was carrying oil and burst into flames. Latest figures indicate that 20 people have been killed and dozens remain unaccounted for.

In other words he started pointing fingers of blame

Five days later, the Chairman of Montreal Maine and Atlantic, Edward Burkhardt, visited the crash site. He mentioned that the engineer of the train had been suspended and that he believed the police were questioning him. In other words he started pointing fingers of blame. In a manic media scrum Burkhardt stated the engineer may not have used enough hand-brakes to secure the train. Yet no investigation has been made public that would back-up his statement. The people of Lac-Mégantic hadn’t waited five days for this kind of reaction.

PHOTO: ALAIN ROBERGE, LA PRESSE

PHOTO: ALAIN ROBERGE, LA PRESSE

I believe Mr. Burkhardt could learn a few valuable lessons from Mr. Yoon Young-doo.

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Canada, Lac Megantic, Media, News, Politics, Wordpress

Chairman of railway company to visit Lac Megantic; make it short then start signing checks

CBC.CA

Edward Burkhardt/CBC.CA

Apparently no longer fearing for his life, Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway Inc. (MMA) Chairman Edward Burkhardt is on his way to Lac Megantic to see the devastation there after one of his company’s trains exploded in the downtown area. If he’s wise he’ll take a car and not one of his trains. The oil-car fueled blast leveled the town and has so far claimed 15 casualties but dozens of people are still unaccounted for. Burkhardt had originally said he’d need a bullet-proof vest if he visited the site, but has since had a change of heart.

The ridiculous vest statement was explained away by MMA President Robert Grindrod, stating Burkhardt  “has a different sense of humour at some times”

The ridiculous vest statement was explained away by MMA President Robert Grindrod, stating Burkhardt  “has a different sense of humour at some times”. He’s a real scream. Perhaps what Burkhardt should consider is that sometimes a sense of humour, different or otherwise, isn’t appropriate. The funny side of a train wreck that destroys a town, costs lives and ruins others escapes me.

The funny side of a train wreck that destroys a town, costs lives and ruins others escapes me

In the few short interviews I have seen with Burkhardt he comes across as totally uncaring and almost annoyed with the whole incident. In one he even made reference to profits and competition. When the interviewer mentioned that perhaps he was being a wee bit less than compassionate, he replied that he was being “realistic”. He gives me the impression that he’s really not all that worried about the loss of a few Canadian lives in a small town somewhere far away from his office in Chicago. One local resident, when told of Burkhardt’s bullet-proof vest quip wonder if he thought all the folks in Lac Megantic are “savages”

He gives me the impression that he’s really not all that worried about the loss of a few Canadian lives in a small town somewhere far away from his office in Chicago

Robert Grindrod/Photo Agence QMI, JOEL LEMAY

Robert Grindrod/Photo Agence QMI, JOEL LEMAY

I understand why the MMA tried to stick with President Grindrod as the human face in this tragedy. He seems to be much more understanding in his statements. Unless of course he’s the “good cop” to Burkhardt’s “bad cop” – care being taken not to admit too much fault with insurance claims about to rain down on MMA.

I suggest he make a visit, say some appropriate words of condolence and sorrow (maybe even a couple in French) then get back to Chicago and start signing checks

I hope that nothing untoward happens to Burkhardt during his stay in Lac Megantic, and don’t believe any more than a few much-deserved shouts will be aimed at him. The people of the town have shown immense strength and courage in the face of this tragedy; they have outclassed Chairman Burkhardt and his foolish attempts at humour. I suggest he make a visit, say some appropriate words of condolence and sorrow (maybe even a couple in French) then get back to Chicago and start signing checks.

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Canada, Lac Megantic, Media, Montreal, News, Politics, Quebec, Toronto, Weather, Wordpress

Lac Megantic: CBCNEWS leads with Toronto rainstorm

The railroad built this city, a train almost killed it

AFP/Getty

AFP/Getty

The heart-wrenching tragedy in Lac Megantic, Quebec has taken a backseat on CBCNEWS to Toronto’s morning commute after yesterday’s floods. God forbid the trek to work should be hampered. Never mind that dozens of people are still missing in the aftermath of the huge train derailment that has now officially claimed 13 fatalities and leveled the downtown core of Lac Megantic; wet and muddy Toronto streets and traffic reports were the top story on the CBC’s national news network. Cover the floods by all means, but leading with it?

I hope Toronto dries out with a minimal amount of damage and no loss of life, but the clean up after a huge rainfall and the effects on rush hour traffic hardly rank with the loss of life and destruction of a city when it comes to the leading news story

Jokes about Toronto thinking it’s the centre of the universe aside, the national branch of the CBC has to get its act together. It has been botching coverage of the disaster in Lac Megantic, from switching back to studio discussions at precisely the point when an on-scene news conference turned to  English questions, to breaking away to commercials at odd times. The best TV coverage of this terrible event can be found on the French-language RDI or on the evening local CBC news broadcast.

During yesterday’s dinnertime broadcast on Montreal’s CBC, anchor Debra Arbec had a great interview with a local resident who was able to put things in perspective in a very poignant manner.

For up-to-the-minute news in this very fluid story, members of the local media have been great keeping us informed via social websites such as Twitter.

I hope Toronto dries out with a minimal amount of damage and no loss of life, but the clean up after a huge rainfall and the effects on rush hour traffic hardly rank with the loss of life and destruction of a city when it comes to the leading news story.

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History, Media, News, Politics, Wordpress

Nelson Mandela’s passing should be solemn not circus

I hope he will be remembered for the great things he accomplished, and not for the circus his last days have become

drum.co.za

drum.co.za

The headlines about former South African President Nelson Mandela range from the respectful to the lurid:

  • Nelson Mandela on life support, court documents show – USA Today
  • Source: Nelson Mandela on dialysis, but responsive – CNN
  • Nelson Mandela’s wife: ‘Although uncomfortable, he is fine’ – BBC
  • Nelson Mandela on life support and facing ‘impending death’: court documents – AP
  • Nelson Mandela still critical but stable and receiving ‘best care’, says Zuma – FM.co.za
  • South Africa presidency denies Mandela in “permanent vegetative state” – CBS/AP
  • Nelson Mandela’s family advised to take him off life support, court records say – New York Daily News

The list goes on and on.

Sadly his last days are being marked by family feuding and media vultures

Of course it’s understandable that the world is interested in the condition of Mandela, and sadly when it comes to a death-watch, if it hasn’t already, no doubt many will be tuned-in. Some for truly emotional and respectful reasons, others out of a ghoulish curiosity. This man is seen as a hero by many, and rightly so, but he is still very much a mortal being. It is a shame that the Mandela family seems to be dissolving into petty factions right before the eyes of the world as international media focus on Nelson Mandela.

Some for truly emotional and respectful reasons, others out of a ghoulish curiosity

This man, who survived unimaginable hardships as a Black person in apartheid-ruled South Africa, as an activist and later during his imprisonment on Robben Island, always showed the world his class and a sense of calm. Was this a facade? Probably, as I mentioned, he is a mere mortal and as such is fallible. But his public persona was always one of diplomacy.

 But his public persona was always one of diplomacy

Sadly his last days are being marked by family feuding and media vultures who make certain the world hears about any lurid stories. When he passes away, and the official mourning and hoopla are over, I hope he will be remembered for the great things he accomplished, and not for the circus his last days have become.

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Canada, Crime, Media, News, Wordpress

Victoria, B.C. terrorist bombing attempt thwarted; Canadian media keep things in perspective

BreakingCNN

Congratulations to all involved in snuffing out this attempt to disrupt, maim and kill, and kudos to Canadian media outlets for taking a big story and providing information, not sensationalism.

I’ve never been there, but they say Victoria, British Columbia is a beautiful city. Without the work of several police forces that could have changed drastically on Canada Day, July first, as two Canadian citizens plotted to blow-up the provincial legislature. Given its laid-back pace and appeal to retired folks, residents of Victoria have often been referred to as “newlywed or nearly dead”. Sadly the latter was almost more than a silly joke.

… “newlywed or nearly dead”. Sadly the latter was almost more than a silly joke

What was the weapon of choice for these home-grown terrorists? What else but the currently trendy pressure-cooker? I suspect pressure-cooker and Victoria are not often mentioned in the same sentence – see laid-back above – but that was the case on Tuesday as the news broke about the thwarting of the bombing attempt. Evidently we not only need a gun-registry, now we need a “pressure-cooker-registry”.

Evidently we not only need a gun-registry, now we need a “pressure-cooker-registry”

BreakingFOXAs an amateur media critic, what has pleased me has been the lack of US-style frenzy. No wall-to-wall, day after day coverage; no “drilling down” into the backgrounds of the bombers; no constant “BREAKING NEWS” graphics (note to CNN et al., news can only break once, two days later it’s not still breaking, but developing). Not to say there hasn’t been coverage; on the contrary the Canadian news networks have been providing information as it becomes available. However, they’ve also been looking at other stories around the world such as the situation in Egypt. I applaud them for not engaging in panic inducing tunnel-vision.

… note to CNN et al., news can only break once, two days later it’s not still breaking, but developing

Meanwhile as the story continues to develop, and questions are asked, and answered, about the would-be-bombers Canadians are able to keep-up with other events around the world as well as this one in our own backyard.

Congratulations to all involved in snuffing out this attempt to disrupt, maim and kill, and kudos to Canadian media outlets for taking a big story and providing information, not sensationalism.

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Media, Misused words, News, Wordpress, Zimmerman Trial

Zimmerman trial shines light on words

SkittlesWith CNN providing gavel to gavel coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial in Florida the “N word” has been getting more media attention than it has had since the OJ Simpson trial.  Zimmerman, who is accused of murdering Trayvon Martin two years ago, is alleged to have a racist background that may have been the motive for fatally shooting the unarmed Martin – either that or he really wanted Trayvon’s Skittles. This aspect of the case has brought about an in-depth analysis of the “N word” including CNN’s own Don Lemon doing a special on the history of the word and how it has changed.

You’ll have to “use” it to explain the concept

I think one thing that needs to be made clear is that there is a definite difference between “calling” someone the N word and just “saying” it. Let me explain: when asked publicly if they have ever used the N word, people usually trip all over themselves trying to be as emphatic as possible in their “no”. But I doubt that’s true. In fact I’ll bet that during the current discussions people have, on many occasions, used the N word when explaining it to someone. Let’s say your relatives from X-country are visiting, they see the media frenzy and ask you about the infamous N word. You’ll have to “use” it to explain the concept. Next time you find yourself  under oath and are asked if you have ever said it you’ll have to come clean and say yes. However, if on that same witness stand you are asked if you have called anyone the N word, you will be able to, in all honesty, answer no!

I think one thing that needs to be made clear is that there is a definite difference between “calling” someone the N word and just “saying” it

CrackerHow do I know this? From the very same trial of George Zimmerman. One of the witnesses recalled how Martin had referred to Zimmerman as a “crazy ass cracker”. As a white male in my early fifties (okay, mid-fifties) of relatively average intelligence I can honestly say I had never heard of the word Cracker being used in a derogatory, let alone racist, manner. Perhaps it’s the British influence of my grandparents, but cracker was a word used to  indicate a sharp minded person, it was a compliment. In fact there was a very popular TV series starring Robbie Coltrane called Cracker.

I can honestly say I had never heard of the word Cracker being used in a derogatory, let alone racist, manner

So words mean different things to different people in different places and at different times. As the late George Carlin once put it “There are no good words or bad words; only good thoughts or bad thoughts”.

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Humor, Media, News, Politics, Wordpress

CNN’s “New Day” hosts look awkward together

CNN_Morning

They don’t come across as a cohesive team of journalists who want to spend some time in our living rooms each morning, tick-tacking back and forth in an easy manner

It’s been a couple of weeks since CNN introduced its much promoted new morning show “New Day”. During the first week there was a small uptick in the ratings when compared to the same period last year. But the ratings were down a pinch compared to recent numbers. Not what you would want to see from a new show; curiosity alone should have given them a boost at first.

Not what you would want to see from a new show; curiosity alone should have given them a boost at first

So what problems does the new crew face, what kinks have to be ironed out, to make this a ratings contender? The program, like much of CNN’s content, relies on a plethora of contributors: from talking heads beamed in from hot-spots around the world to in-studio experts at the desk or on the sofa. CNN does this as well as anybody, so that’s not the hitch.

The program, like much of CNN’s content, relies on a plethora of contributors … Except it looks more like a doughnut at this early stage in its existence

Think of it as a hub with the supporters making up the surrounding portion and the hosts anchoring it from the middle. Except it looks more like a doughnut at this early stage in its existence.  The hosts, Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira try so hard to convince viewers that they are best buddies that I’ve got to believe they loathe each other. They don’t come across as a cohesive team of journalists who want to spend some time in our living rooms each morning, tick-tacking back and forth in an easy manner. Instead they step all over each other when talking, appear to be trying to look interested in what others have to say, and generally give the impression they wish they were hosting solo.

… they step all over each other when talking, appear to be trying to look interested in what others have to say, and generally give the impression they wish they were hosting solo

But it’s early days yet. A few tweaks and a couple pokes and who knows. I would suggest they skip the “bonding” sessions such as Kate taking her pals to do some skeet shooting. I don’t care how well or poorly they get along outside of the studio, I want to see them coalesce into a smooth group when presenting.

Me DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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