Saturday, March 15, 2008


ASPER NATION book review by Robin Mathews, coming soon

Meantime, here are two quotes from the book:

" ... The ongoing crisis in Canadian journalism reached its zenith in 2002 during the Asper Disaster, which quickly replaced the 1980 "Black Wednesday" newspaper closures as the darkest chapter in Canadian journalism history. It will stand as such until the next crisis of concentrated news media control inevitably arrives.

"A bigger problem is that such a crisis might not even come to public attention if vigilance is not exercised in monitoring media influence. For that, media scholars and media critics play a vital role in the public interest, but they seem to be an endangered species.

"Apart from the occasional column by Antonia Zerbisias in The Toronto Star and the contributions of a small group of academics, largely working in obscurity," noted Globe and Mail television critic John Doyle in late 2006, "major Canadian media organizations, including newspapers, rarely face criticism or analysis."

" ... and when Antonia bowed out of media criticism in mid-2007 ... The departure of Canada's last remaining media critic in the mainstream press went unreported in the Star or any other major daily, but it did not go unnoticed online ..." [pp.262-263]


"The suspicion that [Premier Gordon] Campbell was getting a free pass from the Vancouver Sun grew when the newspaper downplayed news of the premier's 2003 drunk-driving arrest in Maui.

"Here we are a paper that runs massive headshots, we get the headshot of all headshots, the Premier with the [police] slate around his neck, and we run a little thumbnail," an un-named Sun reporter told BC Business. "We essentially tried to bury a front-page story on our front page. No one is going to convince me that that wasn't political."

If there were any doubts, the reporter says they were erased three days later when The Sun spiked a story reporter Peg Fong filed from Hawaii in which she interviewed the inmate who shared Campbell's Maui jail cell. Fong says she can't comment on the issue, saying only that she was told from the outset to direct all questions relating to the story to the senior editorial team. [p. 181]

ASPER NATION, Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company, by Marc Edge. Vancouver, New Star Books, 2007.


And you know what else Mary, not only do they not face criticism in any kind of consistent way, many of the columnists who work for Canada's big media don't take the little bits of criticism that readers do send their way very well.

I have a fairly thick file of trite, rude, angry and generally dismissive responses from the big names at many of Canada's newspapers...and you know something else, most of these writers (with a couple of exceptions) are men.

These people have such a high opinion of themselves - for whatever reason - that they almost never actually come to grips with the critique and turn immediately to throwing mud.

I know you've experienced some of this too. In fact, your recent correspondence with Tom Hawthorn, an otherwise seemingly reasonable man and not a bad writer too boot, was typical of this.

Very strange – and very worrying for a profession that is meant to be involved in investigation, criticism and analysis – not to mention ‘truth’ and openness.

Looking forward to Robin's review...and yours too, btw.
Speaking of biased reporting, I just the CanWest Global news report refer to Liberal Vancouver Quadra candidate Joyce Murray as "Joyce Murphy". I smell a conspiracy.
But the media conspiracy gets worse. Conservative Deborah Meredith, not one of the other candidates got her photo on the cover of Friday's Metro newspaper. Also, on the cover of last week's Georgia Straight, Deborah Meredith was made up to look a lot sexier than she looks in real life. I think the local media is biased towards the Conservatives.
Well, folks, it didn't work!!

Joyce Murphy/Murray even without the fancy make-up won the day for the BC Liberals in Vancouver-Quadra.

Just a doggone shame that the BC Liberals aren't really Liberals. It felt so weird last evening when the "Conservatives" were losing and the "Neo-Conservatives" [okay BC Liberals] were also winning.

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