This week’s Social Media Matters column (originally published April 29, 2011)

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, April 29, 2011
Metro section

Metro family’s cancer experience online

There’s a new Moncton-based YouTube channel that will be of interest to those whose families are currently experiencing cancer.

Ali Marr’s A Journey Through Cancer YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/cancerjourney) focuses on her family’s experiences as they deal with her father Harley Marr’s terminal prostate cancer. Diagnosed five years ago, Harley’s cancer has spread to his bones.

Videos will be posted daily and will chronicle everything from the mundane to the dramatic, from the happy moments to the touching moments.

While the content may make some people uncomfortable, this is just another version of true reality TV, so to speak. It stars real people going through something that many of us hope we’ll never have to experience.

I think it’s a very brave thing for the Marr family to do. Harley’s wife Jenn says in a video for Harley’s Heroes – their Relay for Life team (www.harleysheroes.ca) – that she decided that she wanted to make a difference as soon as she found out that Harley had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The YouTube channel is just another way to do that in addition to the money she raises every year for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life.

By all accounts, Harley has been an inspiration throughout his illness. Although it is a very difficult prognosis, they want to share their journey with anyone who wants to tag along. Reality may not always be pretty, but it can be a powerful teacher.

Please take a moment and subscribe to the Marr Family’s A Journey Through Cancer YouTube channel.

City of Moncton seeks social media leadership

If you work in the realm of social media and are interested in a new challenge, the City of Moncton recently posted a competition for a position called new media communications officer.

According to the posting available through the City of Moncton website (www.moncton.ca) or CareerBeacon (www.careerbeacon.com), “the incumbent manages the development and implementation of the City of Moncton’s online and interactive media initiatives and contributes to the City’s overall web and social media vision and strategies. The role encompasses shaping and executing the City’s online presence, ensuring stakeholder engagement supporting outreach to key online influencers, and monitors the City of Moncton’s ‘voice’ in the social media conversation.”

Sounds very interesting! City management is to be commended for their vision and practicality in continuing to develop internal online expertise in the area of social media. The role will certainly bear future importance in media relations, tourism, emergency communications and citizen engagement.

Hopefully, the new media communications officer will also work with elected officials to train them in how to use social media. Except for a few exceptions (notably Mayor George LeBlanc and Councillors Paul Pellerin and Daniel Bourgeois), Moncton’s city council members are generally absent from social media.

Posting election results discouraged

Canadians go to the polls on Monday, May 2, and a law enacted in 1938 is proving to be mighty outdated now that social media is widely in use.

The law was originally intended to prohibit radio stations from broadcasting election results from one time zone into other time zones where polls were still open. When live television broadcasts came into play, the law still applied and was easy to enforce, especially with only two or three networks. As the years passed and multiple satellite and online television feeds came into play, the law began to show its age.

Today, with social media, the law is basically unenforceable unless the government shuts down Facebook and Twitter, something that is inconceivable in a free and democratic society.

Even though Elections Canada has said it won’t enforce the law unless it receives complaints, anyone convicted can be fined up to $25,000 for broadcasting election results into jurisdictions where the polls have not yet closed. This pretty much means that anyone taking a risk and posting results to Facebook or Twitter on election night will be open to prosecution should someone report them to Elections Canada.

I predict that many social media enthusiasts will blatantly defy the law on election night and post election results on Twitter and Facebook.

I also predict that Elections Canada will choose not to pursue any complaints they receive. The law is unenforceable.

Glee Twitter controversy

Glee, the popular Fox network comedy-drama about a high school glee club, has a Twitter controversy on its hands. A former extra on the show recently tweeted the identities of the prom king and queen from the upcoming May 10 episode, much to the consternation of the show’s executive producer who blasted the extra for the spoiler, previously a well-kept secret. The extra says she did nothing wrong and simply heard the news at a dinner party, not on the set, thus breaking no contractual rules. Regardless, her chances of being on Glee again are pretty much zero.

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