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Posted by admin 12 Oct 2012 No Comments »

Guest hosting CBC’s nationally-broadcast The World This Hour, featuring the latest national and international news. Feb. 2014.

Hourly radio newscast, aired nationally in Canada on CBC, in August 2012. The latest national and international news, updated every hour.

Ontario radio newscast, aired on CBL, CBC’s local Toronto station, in January 2014.

Posted by admin 06 Feb 2012 No Comments »

Ben & Jerry’s Shops in France Get Cool Reception, but Firm Sees Pickup

By Genevieve Oger

Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal
(Copyright (c) 1998, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

PARIS — It is Friday night in the busy Les Halles district and young people are filling cafe terraces to enjoy the summer air, but a newly opened ice-cream shop operated by Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. stands nearly empty. However, the U.S. concern is confident that it can fill its French outlets with customers. With successful launches in Japan and Britain behind it, Ben & Jerry’s opened three shops in Paris in June to complement the supermarket distribution it inaugurated in 1996.

Philippe Dailly, the company’s managing director for France, is unruffled by the slow start. “The concept is about fun, it’s about partying . . . the boutiques will probably become neighborhood hangouts in time,” he said in an interview. “We hope to have 30 to 35 shops in France by 2001.”

Ben & Jerry’s, of South Burlington, Vt., targets annual French sales of 150 million francs ($25.1 million) by then, up from 18 million francs last year, Mr. Dailly said. The company aims to carve out a 45% share of the market for super-premium ice cream — the creamiest type, with air content of just 20% — slightly above the share it controls at home. But the company may find France a tough nut to crack, analysts say. Its main competitor, Haagen-Dazs, boasts a solid head start and the ample resources of its parent, U.K. food and drinks company Diageo PLC. In addition, the Ben & Jerry’s concept is grounded solidly in American culture, a factor that could hinder the company’s efforts to win over the French public.

Market-watchers also say the company’s targets seem ambitious, considering the size of the lead enjoyed by Haagen-Dazs, something that will make breaking into the French market an expensive proposition for Ben & Jerry’s. Haagen-Dazs, the only other major player in the French super-premium ice-cream market, has controlled roughly 90% of the segment since its local launch in 1990. “Ben & Jerry’s will have to invest significantly in advertising and marketing” to succeed in France, said Jim Barrett, an analyst at brokerage firm Josephthal Lyon & Ross.

Mr. Dailly declined to reveal the size of the French promotional budget for Ben & Jerry’s, but called it “very substantial.” Some industry-watchers wonder whether Ben & Jerry’s can seduce fickle French consumers with its concept. The company’s hippie founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, are among the best-recognized U.S. business figures. They are known mainly for their offbeat ice-cream flavors, but also for their charitable activities, emphasis on the social responsibility of business and a counterculture image.

However, Ben & Jerry’s plays heavily on American cultural references, some of which may be lost on the French. Flavors such as Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough have developed cult followings in the U.S., but the names may leave French consumers more confused than amused. Analysts also say they are unsure how the company’s distinctive corporate image will play in France. “It all comes down to brand awareness,” Mr. Barrett said, adding that Haagen-Dazs’s more culturally neutral positioning may give it an edge. “Can the brand imagery — good hippie guys, high-quality product — play to the French public? It may or may not be transferable.”

But despite the difficulty of breaking into a market as mature as France, industry-watchers say Ben & Jerry’s is right to look overseas. “Considering that the company has a lot of excess production capacity and the fact that the U.S. ice-cream market is growing very slowly, expanding internationally makes a lost of sense,” said Kim Galle, an analyst at brokerage firm Adams, Harkness & Hill.

He added that Ben & Jerry’s won’t be competing head-to-head with Haagen-Dazs because of the U.S. company’s distinct marketing. “The brand positioning is actually quite different from Haagen Dazs,’ Mr. Galle said, noting that Ben & Jerry’s has a fun-loving image, whereas Haagen-Dazs’ is more formal.”

Analysts also commend the company’s decision to continue producing ice cream at sites in Vermont and shipping it to France. While it means heavy transportation costs, that would prove to be a prudent stance if Ben & Jerry’s were to encounter difficulties in France.

Posted by admin 06 Feb 2012 No Comments »

The angry get even on Internet gripe sites

by Genevieve Oger

Agence France-Presse
(Copyright 2000)

PARIS, Aug 17 (AFP) – When Andrew Marshall gets angry, he gets even. So when the BMW he leased in 1998 kept breaking down, he created a website to protest the poor service he was getting from the German luxury carmaker.”My intent was to embarrass BMW to get them to act,” he says. “BMW UK was so arrogant about this, they wouldn’t even take calls on the issue.”

Marshall’s revenge is part of a growing trend of protest or gripe sites createdby people who want to complain about faulty products, poor customer service or whatever else has angered them. It is difficult to say how many protest sites are out there, but experts estimate they number in the thousands.

Nearly every large corporation has been targeted by Internet griping, but the sites are not always about product complaints. Some are put up by disgruntled employees, others, such as — about Proctor and Gamble’s use of animals for product testing — try to publicise what they see as unethical corporate behaviour. The sites have multiplied exponentially as more people have gone online to tell the stories they would have otherwise shared only with their friends and family.

“People have always complained, but the fact you can tell the world your gripe is something new,” said Dale Hartley, the owner of a site called which links to hundreds of protest sites. “Before you had to picket in front of the company if you wanted to get heard, but picketing is a lot more trouble and reaches fewer people,” Hartley said. It is unusual for internet surfers to go out looking for protest sites, most end up there by chance as they hunt for information about a new car or any other potential purchase.

Marshall said he has publicised his site on every search engine, newsgroup and e-mail address he can get his hands on to make sure he can cost BMW as many sales as possible. “If I can stop one person from buying a new 5-series, then I have exacted my revenge on BMW,” he writes on his site.

Such “word of mouth” activism has gotten the attention of nervous corporations. “Companies are becoming increasingly aware that they need to know what is being said about them on the web and that they can’t be the last to know,” said Nancy Sells, vice-president of E-Watch, an Internet monitoring service.

Corporations have a host of different reactions, ranging from ignoring the protest sites to suing their critics for copyright infringements. But in most countries, such criticism is protected by freedom of speech statutes and unless the protest sites profit from use of a corporate trademark, they are usually free to complain as they please.

“Most companies would be best to ignore the criticism unless the sites feature pornography or are really hurtful to the company’s reputation,” said Thomas Burke, a California attorney who specialises in Internet law at the firm Davis, Wright, Tremaine. “Because if you don’t have a sense of humour and choose to react aggressively, it may backfire in terms of public relations,” he said.

Protest sites aren’t all bad news for corporations and can serve as useful bellwethers. “You can see it as terribly worrying, or you can see it as the cheapest form of market research in the world,” said Paul Edwards, chairman of the Henley Centre, a British consumer consultancy. “They mostly voice the concerns of a vocal minority, but they sometimes bring up legitimate concerns.”

In some cases, targeted companies have taken the criticism head on. Dunkin’ Donuts used a site criticising its service to identify disgruntled customers and pacify them with gift certificates and apologies. The company eventually bought the site outright. In other cases, the Internet has been used as a launch pad for successful class action suits. In 1996, Chrysler recalled 350,000 vehicles following an Internet protest launched by a US resident, Charlene Blake. She had highlighted brake problems in her minivan via a Usenet newsgroup. Once the complaint was out in the open, other car owners with the same problem came forward and the class action suit took off from there.

Protest sites are becoming such a powerful force that ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is considering creating a specific category for them. The organisation’s board voted in July to create new domain names to add to the .net, .com and various other web address suffixes. “Some people at ICANN facetiously suggested the ending should be .sucks,” Burke said. That’s unlikely to happen, but we should see a specific protest site designation on the Internet in the near future, he added.



Posted by admin 06 Feb 2012 No Comments »

Radio Documentary

Posted by admin 13 Jan 2012 No Comments »

2011 radio documentary about the Bocuse d’Or, a biannual competition known as the Olympics of cooking, that is as intense and nerve-wracking as any sporting event. Aired on CBC radio’s The Current.

2011 radio documentary about the Sapeurs subculture in Paris. SAPE is a French acronym that roughly translates as the Society of Revellers and Elegant People. For these modern-day dandies, looking good is like a religion. Aired on CBC radio’s Dispatches.

Radio Features

Posted by admin 13 Jan 2012 No Comments »

2006 World Cup feature on team captain Zinedine Zidane and the hero status he enjoys across class lines in France.

2008 First person narrative on new motherhood aired as part of a Mother’s Day special on Deutsche Welle Radio’s lifestyle show Eurovox.

2009 news feature on the growing pressure to practice Ramadan in French Muslim circles in France. Winner of the 2010 2nd prize for best radio story awarded by the Religion Newswriters Association.

Radio News

Posted by admin 13 Jan 2012 No Comments »
Radio News

2009 story on arrival of Tour de France in Paris (CBC).

2010 story on legal battle involving 89-year-old l’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, her estranged daughter and her photographer boy-toy.