That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Media malaise? It’s a Canuck thing

I’m going verbatim copy-and-paste here (pretending I’m Jane Taber with a CPC memo to members, of course) and reproducing the comment I placed on the murky swamp of the Globe and Mail’s comment boards beneath Lawrence Martin’s article: Has the fourth estate lost its tenacity?

I refrained from replying to the argument with the a single word – "duh!" – and thought instead I'd beat a drum I often beat. Sorry if it comes off as too familiar…

THANK YOU for this critique. As you must know, Lawrence, the Globe is among the worst offenders in the Canadian media universe. The Globe seems to run more copy on Ruth-Ellen Brosseau than it does on Kevin Page. It’s pathetic with a capital P.

You say: “The stories (or contempt, corruption etc) don’t stick, it is said. The reason may well be, to cite Mr. Thomson’s cautionary words, because we in the media don’t stick to them. It’s episodic journalism. We report one story, then move on. We don’t probe deeply. If a Watergate was happening, the public would never know it.”

It is worth remembering, I think, that this is not a global problem. We can’t only blame the “24-hour news cycle” and the pressures of online publishing. It’s a particularly Canadian problem – the Canadian media, bar a couple of exceptions, is uncritical, unimaginative, and doesn’t investigate. It’s a lukewarm media culture where, bizarrely, no one’s speaking truth to power.

Compare Britain. The British media are relentlessly investigative; more diverse, with at least nine national dailies; each of them are openly subjective, and they engage in debate from clear positions; and, crucially, British journos do *not* suffer fools. I’ve said many times, as a Canadian in the UK: if Stephen Harper were a politician in Britain, he would have long ago been eaten *alive*

I’m imagining David Cameron redacting the budget for a crime bill. Or stacking the House of Lords with defeated MP candidates, and delivering the news through a memo, and not through a live press conference. I’m imagining him limiting reporters’ questions to five-a-day during an election campaign. I guarantee you he’d be toast – absolute dead meat. The British media demand accountability, whereas too much Canadian media simply parrot government talking points.

It’s awful news for Canada that the media culture is so tepid, shallow, and almost disinterested in fostering public debate. Too many journos appear happy to just eat what they’re fed by the PMO.

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , ,

One Response

  1. codester says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I would also add the lack of investigative journalism and tenacity to chase down the real news is the exact reason for declining readership and plummeting revenues across the country.

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May 2011

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