May 4, 2011

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Media Matters, a report on Simon Fraser University in the news, is compiled and distributed by SFU Public Affairs & Media Relations.
This edition is a daily roundup that lists the main items of known media coverage from 9 a.m. Pacific Tuesday May 3 to 9 a.m. Pacific Wednesday May 4.


  • BBC News, the UK’s Daily Mail and were quick to work up stories that an SFU news release headlined: “Giant fossil ants linked to global warming”.
    The release announced: “Four paleontologists, including two at Simon Fraser University, have discovered the fossil of a gigantic ant whose globetrotting sheds light on how global warming events affected the distribution of life some 50 million years ago.”
    The authors include Bruce Archibald and Rolf Mathewes from SFU. And the release included a photo by Archibald of the fossilized ant, compared in size to a hummingbird.

  • BBC News reported: “A giant ant growing over 5cm (2in) long crossed the Arctic during hot periods in the Earth's history, scientists say, using land bridges between continents. The ant, named Titanomyrma lubei, lived about 50 million years ago and is one of the largest ant species ever found. Fossils were unearthed in ancient lake sediments in Wyoming, US. The new species appears very similar to fossils found in Germany and in the Isle of Wight in southern England dating from the same period.”
    The BBC interviewed Archibald: “‘We don't have any [fossils of] workers from this new species, we only have a queen,’ said Bruce Archibald from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. ‘It would have been very impressive—the one in Germany was estimated to have a body weighing as much as a wren, and this would have been of similar size,’ he told BBC News.”
    The Daily Mail used Archibald’s photo. “Dr. Archibald (said): ‘There was plenty of life transferring between Europe and North America at that time—mammals, trees, all sorts of things. And plenty of insects are similar between British Columbia and Denmark—but they could have lived in a cooler climate and crossed at any time. This is the first example we have of something that would have needed warmth in order to make the crossing.’”

  • also used Archibald’s photo, and reported: “These giant bugs may have crossed an Arctic landbridge between Europe and North America during a particularly warm period in Earth's history. . . . The researchers aren't sure whether the ants started in Europe and spread to North America or the other way around.”
    The Switzerland-based science website Insciences.Org picked up SFU’s release. The news-and-commentary website of based a story on the report. also did a story.
    BBC News:
    Daily Mail:
    SFU release and photos:


  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith of SFU’s Beedie School of Business was in two post-election stories in Coquitlam Now.
    • On the Conservative majority: “"Certainly there will be some tax breaks on that (business-friendly) side. I hope he (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) doesn't get too crazy and go too far down that road because Canada already has some of the lowest business taxation among all eight [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries. Don't get stupid and keep throwing one bone after another into that dog pen. Look after your consumers—the voters—because if that Canadian demand takes a dive, he's up the creek. There goes his deficit plan and everything else."
      Full story:
    • On the NDP's jump in popularity: “What happened was the centre vote split and ran left. That's not to say the NDP got a free ride, because nothing gets dumped into your lap. Layton campaigned hard and he did a pretty good job of overcoming what the NDP have often suffered from, which from a marketing standpoint, has been being seen as too far left. Layton and his people worked hard at presenting more of a centrist position, which is why they were effective in beating on the Liberals."
      Full story:
  • Political scientist David Laycock was on the news website of, talking about the crash of the Liberal party in the April 2 federal election.
    “David Laycock, professor and chair of the political science department of Simon Fraser University, believes the crushing defeat of Canada's historic ruling party did not happen overnight.
    “‘The Liberal Party was allowed to become both poorly organized and thin on the ground, and poorly-financed during a period where (former prime minister) Jean Chrétien had no credible opposition.”
    What of the talk of a potential merger of the Liberals with the NDP?
    “‘(The Liberals) are used to being somewhere near power. The idea that they would be in the wilderness for a very long time is not going to be terribly appealing to a lot of them. I think there will be a substantial opinion within the senior ranks and the activist ranks of the Liberal Party that is inclined to explore the merger option.”
    Full story:

  • Yahoo!News Canada looked at how Canada’s big pollsters fared in predicting the election results (none predicted a Conservative majority) and quoted SFU political scientist Andrew Heard:
    “‘Heard believes the difficulty in predicting seats has to do with Canada's first past the post electoral system. ‘The whimsies of Canada's single member plurality electoral system produced some rather strange results in the 2011 election," he wrote on his website. ‘The Conservatives increased their share of the Ontario vote by 5 percentage points but saw their share of the seats grow by 20 percentage points. The NDP increased its share of the vote in Manitoba, but its number of seats was cut in half.’"
    Full story:
    Heard’s website:

  • SFU Communication prof Peter Chow-White was on CKWX News1130 Radio, talking about how Twitter users tried to get around Canada’s law that bans the broadcast of election-night results into a region before that region’s polls have closed.
    “‘People in the Twittersphere used code-words and other clever ways to get around a ban on Tweeting results before the polls were closed.
    “‘Something like apples for Greens, oranges for NDP. If you saw strawberry that meant Liberals and if you saw blueberries in Twitter feeds that meant the Conservatives,’ says SFU Communications Prof Peter Chow-White.  . . . Chow-White explains the old Elections Canada law is hard to control within the digital environment. “
    Full story:

  • The Vancouver Sun’s education reporter, Janet Steffenhagen, noted that two BC educators are new NDP MPs: Jinny Sims, former president of the Teachers’ Federation and Kennedy Stewart, an SFU public policy prof.
    “Although he’s never worked as a federal politician before, Stewart has ample experience with policy issues, having been an adviser to national and international groups as diverse as the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council and the Great Bear Rainforest Solutions Project.
    “Stewart said he expects his main job, representing his constituents, will be similar to his academic career. ‘The role is almost a pastoral role, in a way. You’re helping people with problems and that’s really what you do a lot in university. That doesn’t change. But I think the Ottawa politics will be quite different—question period and scrutinizing the [government].’”
    Full story:

  • Stewart was also in a post-vote story in the Burnaby NewsLeader: “It’s an absolute honour to be chosen as the MP for Burnaby-Douglas, huge shoes to fill if you think Tommy Douglas, Svend Robinson, Bill Siksay. . . . The national results are overwhelming. It is a turning of the tide for Canadians. They’ve picked the NDP as the second party, we’ll be the official Opposition, it won’t be long before we’re government.”
    Full story:


  • Prof Peter Chow-White of SFU Communication was in the Georgia Straight, in a story about the use of facial-recognition technology to identify and “tag” images of people online.
    “(Chow-White) warns that people should be aware that scanning and tagging photos isn’t just for friends. Marketing companies also have a keen interest in the technology, because they can mine personal data for market research.
    “‘There are privacy concerns with every bit of information we put out there, including with facial-recognition software,’ Chow-White told the Straight in a phone interview. ‘Face tagging can be used by marketing companies to see how close we are to certain mentions of words or advertisements. It’s all a way of collecting as much information as possible and data mining this information to try and segment the population.”
    Full story:


  • The Province told readers that bhangra’s 40-year-old history in BC is chronicled in an exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver. And the story noted: “Bhangra’s come a long way  . . . from a little-known art form in the west to a dance and musical genre liberally referenced in TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and offered as a credit course at Simon Fraser University.”
    Full story:
    SFU release on bhangra course (September 2010):


  • SFU Athletics told media how the Clan women’s softball team lost both ends of a doubleheader in Ellensburg WA, losing 6-4 and 11-3 to Central Washington University. SFU thus fell to 12-23 overall (12-19 Great Northwest Athletic Conference).
    Clan news release:

  • Meanwhile, The Province noted that the SFU and UBC softball teams will square off against each other in Carlsbad CA. “The defending NAIA champion Simon Fraser Clan face the UBC Thunderbirds on Thursday (9 a.m.) in the opening round of the Association of Independent Institutions conference championships, a six-team double-elimination event that wraps up Saturday at Cal State-San Marcos.”
    Full story:

  • The Province also did an advance story on the B.C. boys Triple A high school soccer championships, and featured Ryan Dhillon of the North Delta Huskies. The paper noted: “Ryan Dhillon is contemplating life in business school this coming fall when he joins the powerhouse Simon Fraser Clan soccer program.”


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