May 5, 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 lists the main items of known media coverage from 9 a.m. Pacific Wednesday May 4 to 9 a.m. Pacific Thursday May 5.


  • A worldwide media hit continued for SFU researchers Bruce Archibald and Rolf Mathewes, with a story spreading around the world that an SFU news release on Wednesday headlined: “Giant fossil ants linked to global warming”.
    That 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.”
    It all began in Proceedings of the Royal Society B:
    And an SFU news release”
    Those were quickly followed by stories on BBC News, in the UK’s Daily Mail and on,, WiredScience, and others.
    Archibald’s later media interviews included ones with BBC Scotland and BBC London, and he got e-mail inquiries from journalists in Finland, Spain, and Poland.

  • Then there was a story in the Russian newspaper Pravda: “ The insect . . . lived about 50 million years ago, being one of the largest ant species known to science. . . . Previously, similar fossils were found in Germany. Researchers concluded that the ants migrated between the continents, based on changes in climate. It happened at a time when the continents were closer to each other and connected by a strip of land.”
    Ten other Russian median outlets also ran stories.

  • We saw an account in the Tehran Times in Iran: “The fossil ant is from a well-known fossil site in Wyoming called the Green River Formation, but it had been sitting in a drawer at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Archibald said. When a curator showed him the fossil, Archibald said, he knew he was looking at something exciting. ‘I immediately recognized it and said, 'Oh my god, this is a giant ant and it looks like it's related to giant ants that are known from about this time in Germany.’”
    Full story:

  • There was also coverage on “A winged ant queen fossilized in 49.5-million-year-old Wyoming rock ranks as the first body of a giant ant from the Western Hemisphere, says paleoentomologist Bruce Archibald of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. The new species, Titanomyrma lubei, is related to giant ants previously found in German fossils. These long-distance relatives bolster the notion that the climate of the time had hot blips that allowed warmth-loving giant insects to spread from continent to continent, Archibald and a U.S.-Canada team propose online May 4 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.”

  • In Germany itself, the website of SpektrumDirekt ( noted: “In the Messel Pit, near Darmstadt, (fossilized) winged carpenter ants are known to reach seven centimetres in length. They now have a slightly smaller American relative: Lubei Titanomyrma, a queen ant from Wyoming, approximately 49.5 million years old, at about five centimetres.”

  • Rolf Mathewes, meanwhile, was on GlobalTV. He showed reporter Lynda Aylesworth the fossil ant in the paleogeology lab at SFU Burnaby, and said:
    “There’s a lot of information that can be gained from fossils. It’s not just identifying them and collecting them. There’s a lot of detail. They can tell us a lot of things, including things about climate change.”
    How did this ant get to Wyoming?
    “It probably had to cross a land bridge, because it wouldn’t have crossed oceans. And the only land bridge available at that time would be across the arctic via Greenland and the northern islands of Canada. This is the first hard evidence that a cold-blooded animal that actually made the transition and crossed the Arctic under those conditions (of a warm, almost tropical, global-warming event.). It’s telling us that these . . . global-warming events in the past are real.”
    He added: ”The best evidence we have of how temperature changes have affected life in the past is probably the best guide to how it may also affect life in the future. The past is the key to the future. “
    GlobalTV video:
    (The Matthewes feature starts with 06:40 left on the countdown bar.)

  • Then Mathewes took the fossil downtown so Archibald could use it for an interview with CBC-TV. And Archibald has further interviews lined up with the Quirks & Quarks show on CBC Radio (scheduled for noon on Saturday) and National Public Radio, Wyoming.

  • The story was also well played in blogs around the world. And then there was a sensational tabloid-TV version of the story on Fox4KC News in Kansas City.


  • Many BC media covered a report from an independent provincial panel—whose members included public policy prof John Richards—that found the harmonized sales tax costs the average B.C. family $350 annually.
    The Province, for one,said the panel determined the HST implemented last July is costing families about $350 a year more in sales tax because services previously exempt from the PST are no longer tax-free under the HST. “That includes restaurant meals, haircuts, gym memberships and other athletic fees, real estate and renovations.”
    Full story:
    The Vancouver Sun added: “But there are likely bigger costs to face should the tax be killed following this summer’s referendum according to the independent panel set up to evaluate the tax ahead of the vote.”
    Full story:


  • Historian André Gerolymatos, as an expert on international security and terrorism, did yet more media interviews on the U.S. killing of al-Qaida’s Osama bin Laden, and what may follow. His latest interviews were with CJAD Radio in Montreal, CFAX Radio in Victoria and CKWX News1130 Radio in Vancouver.
    He questioned the U.S. decision not to release its graphic photos of Bin Laden’s corpse to confirm his death:
    “ Photos are important because people are less technically sophisticated in the northwest frontier of Pakistan, Afghanistan and in other parts of the Middle East. They are not knowledgeable about how DNA and face-recognition are used today to confirm the death of someone. They also want the visual evidence to show recruits from al Qaeda and the Taliban, as these areas do the recruiting.”


  • The Vancouver Sun covered an SFU Vancouver event at which 13 entrepreneurs pitched their early-stage business ideas to an exclusive audience of angel investors.
    “The session is a regular event, staged by the Vantec Angel Technology Network, with the objective of connecting entrepreneurs and investors. Sponsors include SFU. . . . The leader is Mike Volker, a fixture on Vancouver’s angel investing scene, who is director of SFU’s Innovation Office as well as chairman of GreenAngel Energy Corp.”
    The Sun added: “ ‘A lot of companies have come through, hundreds of companies, and hundreds of those have been funded. Typically they get not just the money they need to get started, they also get help from the investors and others,’ Volker said in an interview.”
    Full story:

  • The Vancouver Sun made a story out of an SFU news release on how an SFU group of Students in Free Enterprise are heading to Toronto this weekend to vie for awards at an entrepreneurship competition.
    “The 30 students will be among 1,000 from 60 universities participating in the Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship competition. . . . In addition, SFU student Jordan Gutierrez is in the running for an individual award as national student entrepreneur of the year, for his online medical bookstore.”
    Full story:
    SFU release:

  • The Financial Post section of National Post picked up a news release from SFU’s Beedie School of Business that says managers in business need to understand and get on top of “the social media ecology” and develop strategies.
    “‘This is a social media world, and yet a lot of middle managers know very little about it, and as a result they are feeling the pressure,’ said Ian McCarthy, Beedie School of Business Professor and Canada Research Chair in Technology & Operations Management. ‘There is an abundance of evidence indicating that it can significantly impact a firm’s reputation, sales and even survival. Even if you are in the potash industry, you need to be aware of how social media impacts your organization.’”
    Also named were co-authors Jan Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens and Bruno Silvestre.
    Full story:
    Their paper in Business Horizons (PDF):


  • The Vancouver Westender quoted political scientist Marjorie Griffin Cohen in a story about the role of social media in Monday’s federal election.
    “It was touted as Canada's first social media election, but the nation's 41st parliament seems to be the result of old-fashioned door-knocking and electioneering rather than tweeting and blogging, says one political expert. ‘It looks like social media is just what it is: social media. It doesn't translate into votes,’ says SFU political science professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen.  . . .
    “’‘The parties didn't use it and that may have been the problem,’ she says. ‘Unlike the Obama administration where his party really used it, they didn't know how to do it here and so I think it didn't translate in the same way as it did in the U.S.’"
    Full story:


  • SFU students Katie Raso and Katie Nordgren starred in a Vancouver Westender story about the May 15 Slutwalk Vancouver—an event that is “expected to draw thousands of women and men to the Granville Strip in a bid to combat victim-blaming in sexual assaults.”
    The story noted recent remarks from police officers to the effect that “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The Westender continued:
    “But Raso and Nordgren insist SlutWalk Vancouver isn’t targeting police, it’s targeting the underlying societal belief relayed in their comments that women are somehow responsible for preventing sexual assaults and can do so by simply dressing modestly, staying sober and traveling in groups in well-lit areas.”
    Full story:


  • The Canadian Medical Association Journal cited a report by public policy researcher Terry Kalaw in a story on how the federal government will move to protect foreign workers who have been brought to Canada to be live-in caregivers.
    “‘Many caregivers work unpaid overtime because of their visible presence in the employer’s home and fear of job loss,’ Terry Kalaw, a researcher at the school of public policy at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, states in a report.’”
    Full story:


  • Scientific American quoted fisheries biologist John Reynolds in a story about a study that suggests a mysterious pathogen, working in concert with other stressors, could be behind the collapse of sockeye salmon runs in the Fraser River.
    The story said: “Salmon with a certain pattern of gene expression in their gill tissue were 13.5 times more likely to die than those that didn't carry the ‘you've not got long to live’ signature.”
    And it added:
    "‘The possibility of a disease affecting these fish has been on the table long before this paper came out and the usual suspect has been fish farms,’ says John Reynolds, a salmon conservation scientist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. ‘My impression is that the hard evidence isn't there yet to either implicate fish farms or to let them off the hook.’”
    Full story:


  • SFU Earth scientist Brent Ward talked to delegates and media, at the 2011 meeting of the Risk Management Society in Vancouver, about the chances of a major earthquake hitting BC and the Pacific Northwest.
    He explained the kinds of damaging earthquakes that could hit the region, triggered by different geological causes, and added: “The biggest concern here in the Lower Mainland is liquefaction (of the ground) and that causes buildings to sink, and it’s very common in water-saturated sands.”


  • The Vancouver Sun’s education reporter, Janet Steffenhagen, said in her blog that SFU had scrapped plans create a masters program for teachers who wanted to become union leaders. She quoted an e-mail from Robin Brayne, director of graduate programs in SFU's education faculty:
    "‘For the record,’ he wrote, ‘there is no such Masters program at SFU. While such a program was mooted and proposed for the Faculty of Education in 2009, it was never put into place. There was, at the time, insufficient expressed interest to provide such a program.’"
    Full blog:


  • The Mission City Record reported on a book-launch, set for this weekend, by Elizabeth Elliott, co-director of the Centre for Restorative Justice in Criminology. The book is Security with Care, Restorative Justice and Healthy Societies.
    "‘Canada is one of the major world contributors to the re-emergence of these old ways of responding to harm in a community or society, and I felt that our story also needed to be told,’ explained Elliott. ‘That said, the influence in the book comes more from west coast approaches to restorative justice, influenced strongly by the critical contributions of aboriginal traditions and beliefs, and the recent influences of Mennonite practices of conflict resolution.’"
    Story not yet online.


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