From the outside looking in

Sometimes it feels like Canada is decidedly second tier. By that I mean there are often cool new products launched in the U.S. that aren’t readily available on our side of the border. We hear about them, read about them, see what they do. We covet them but just don’t have the access.

Today’s Toronto Star lists several of these technologies including: the iPhone, Kindle, Amazon’s book reader which I really want to try, and streamed TV series.

Intellectual property negotiations aside, this is somewhat of a nostalgic situation for me.

Growing up in pre-cable Winnipeg, there was a time when we were relegated to three television stations, CBC, CTV and KCND (really just a transmitter in Pembina, North Dakota that was loosely affiliated with ABC and later switched to CKND, our Global station).

So while we heard about lots of great shows, and especially ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’, we couldn’t actually watch them unless we ventured to the U.S. or to one of our larger metropolises (Montreal, Toronto) that had the actual stations in closer proximity.

We were even late getting some movies. The Exorcist, for example, opened in Winnipeg a couple of months after its Christmas release, but long after the infamous head-turning scene had been written about ‘ad nauseum’.

And really, it’s this second tierism that made me want to leave Winnipeg in the first place. I dreamed of living at the centre of all things new.

So here I am happily ensconced in the country’s largest city and I find I’m in a similar situation with regards to certain tech gadgets. Only this time, I have no great exit strategy.

And I wonder if waiting a little longer for things is simply part of our national heritage and makes us a little more patient, more cautions, more reflective…Makes us Canadian.

Go Bombers go…


A passage of rites

When I was a kid in Winnipeg and my family went out for a drive, the radio was tuned to CBW, which I found a bit dry and dull (hey, there was no music, no Edison Lighthouse). But even at a young age I recognized that grown-ups liked CBC’s ‘content’. And I thought maybe CBC radio is a rite of passage, something you grow into and appreciate when you’re an adult.

Which brings me to last week when I was lecturing on PR to a group of 3rd and 4th year students at the University of Windsor. I was curious how these young people found their news and information and did an informal poll in the class. Most said they didn’t read newspapers much, which is what we’ve been hearing. They used the Internet to find out what’s going on (and, surprising to me, was one of their favourite sites).

So what does this mean? At first it seemed like yet another example of the impending demise of print. Yes, and this time I’d seen it with my own eyes rather than reading about it in the paper.
But then it occurred to me, they’re tuning into CBC, at a much earlier age than I did. The method of delivery may be changing but the sources are staying the same.

And from what they said, they used social media for socializing (almost all of them blogged on MySpace or Facebook). For news they looked to MSM.

Maybe the newspaper industry has a chance after all. Sure it’s evolving. But that’s nothing new. When was the last time you heard, ‘Extra, extra…’ or read an afternoon edition? Maybe to these students reading the paper is like listening to CBC radio was for me: something you do when you’re older, a rite (or read) of passage.