Friday, October 17, 2014

Will Viewing Carmen Start Me Smoking?

   I planned on watching The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Carmen, being broadcast at movie houses next month, but now I’m worried. Will watching it make me start smoking?
   The Western Australia Opera Company believes so. It has banned performances of Carmen because the opera is set in and around a cigarette factory in Seville, Spain. The characters in the opera smoke cigarettes.
   The head of the opera company said she is concerned about the health and well-being of the performers, stage hands and others. However, she also said the performers would not have been smoking real cigarettes.
Opera: Tempting Our Morals?
   The real reason for not staging the opera is money. Fear of losing it. Carmen was banned after the opera company signed a sponsorship contract with a government health agency. The contract is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and the agency believes that depictions of smoking are not a good thing.
   Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the opera company's ban is "political correctness gone crazy."
   It is not known what opera will be staged in place of Carmen. The choices are limited if the opera company and the health agency sponsor are concerned about guarding the morals of audiences.
   Surely they will have to ban Macbeth because it promotes murder. Madam Butterfly is out because its heroine commits suicide. La Traviata and The Merry Widow shouldn’t be staged because they surely would persuade people to drink alcohol. And, what about Rigoletto in which the leacherous duke’s kidnapping of a young lady leads to murder?
   I think I'll skip Carmen at the movie theatre and see one of those Terminator movies instead.
(My Minden Times weekly column is at:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Good News for Journalism

What a shocker! But a very pleasant one.

Postmedia’s purchase of Sun Media’s English language newspapers is the best news the Canadian news industry has had in the last two to three decades.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s the Canadian newspaper industry suffered the appearance of newspaper owners and operators who had no business being in the game. They were bad for the business, people who did not understand, or refused to accept, the traditional principles and practices of newspapering.

What followed were years of turmoil, downsizing and diminishment of good journalism. Editors, who for the most part were dedicated to doing a public good, were told what to do and how to do it by newcomers interested only in boosting profits.

Postmedia has emerged from the turmoil as a company with solid business sense, plus a dedication to building new platforms on which to deliver good journalism. Sun Media was a good idea when it was formed by a group of intrepid journalists. Then it was bought by Quebecor and since then has not done much to improve, or even sustain, good journalism.

Postmedia has a strong core of journalism leaders. Some of the best that I have ever known.

The company says it will operate the Sun papers in major markets where it has competing newspapers. There will be some public screaming about media monopolization, but ignore that. The bottom line is that the Postmedia deal creates the possibility of better journalism in an industry that has been struggling to find its way through the Information Revolution.