Taylor Crazy

Our niece Courtney can’t get enough of Taylor Swift. 

She has been to Swift concerts, listens to her songs and surprisingly can lip sync in costume and does a good job of it. She is a fan.

The entertainer has earned the adoration of millions of people worldwide. Regardless of preferred genre, most everyone can respect her talent and business savvy. Some might even argue she is a good role model for young women everywhere.

In recent days the internet exploded with inappropriate images. Having not seen them we understand from reports that they were explicit and shared about on the dark web and X, formerly known as Twitter. 

The truth, however, is those images of her were fabricated using artificial intelligence (AI). 

She isn’t the first, nor will she be the last, celebrity to suffer from dirty deeds like this. It is a regrettable example of why there is a policy issue for governments of all stripes, which never seems to get addressed. 

Newspapers and broadcast news need to follow rules or suffer legal penalties. How is it then that websites and social media channels can publish whatever they want with no legal protection for afflicted parties? Even the most strident of free speech advocates must see a flaw in a system where unregulated media can function without rules or consequence.

Currently online companies now seem to react on a case-by-case basis. With Swift’s popularity and economic heft, X reacted by blocking the posts and closed off search options related to her. 

This remains a sticking point for us that although not classified as publishers and exempt from rules publishers follow, social media operations do in fact unpublish. 

While we have great sympathy for Swift, it provides an easy-to-follow example of the dire need to regulate the festering “wild west” nature of the internet. Why are governments not engaged in remedying the situation?

For families here, it offers another example of why parents need to educate children on the perils of unregulated media and the dangers of AI moving forward. Establishing privacy settings and encouraging good online habits will help alleviate risks of images being doctored in ways most would find obscene and inappropriate. 

It’s a hurt we need to avoid.

Ring a-ling

Word that school boards are looking to ban phones during the school day is welcome news.

Marketing campaigns have done a great job promoting the indispensability of smart phones, but the tide is turning after years of data and anecdotal examples.

By their nature, apps and online services are all about grabbing attention. Notifications are often accompanied with a sound or a vibration depending on settings. Without fail, hard-core users will set aside the task at hand to see what important update just came in.

For classroom settings it must be dreadful. Students in the midst of a lesson are easily distracted by it. Very rarely, as in almost never, is it something of importance that affects their lives in any meaningful way. In the meantime, they need to get back to attention, as do other students and the teacher.

Efforts to rid the school day of this menace are a net positive in our books. Yes, a calculator function or quick check on Google Classroom provides some value within education, but the distractive nature of social media needs to be brought into check.

It’s a strategy parents should embrace and support.

Flyers and the mail

We have had numerous inquiries in recent weeks about flyers. 

This remains a sought-after shopping aid for many households. 

For marketers, print flyers are a relatively inexpensive way for national brands to promote products in their stores. The ability to target those flyers and improve market share is a bit of a science.

Readers will note in the past few months that traditional flyer customers have been sending their material out with Canada Post and newspapers. 

While Canada Post clearly begrudges the work by not delivering in a timely fashion, traditional carriers like ourselves have been disrupted by corporate marketing offices making regional choices rather than taking the time to understand local markets.

This is why you may receive a flyer one week in our paper and not the next. For newspapers involved in the flyer delivery business this segment can account for up to 25% of revenue that is used to help offset delivery and printing. 

Hopefully these market disruptions subside, bookings become normalized and we can return to delivering what we believe to be an essential package for residents interested in news and shopping information each week