The demise of journalism in this city

We’ve all laughed at the Sun for years now. It’s tabloid format, the sunshine girls, the overt right wing slant. Thank god we still have the Winnipeg Free Press,. and its journalistic integrity.

Except we don’t.

For years they had the hyper partisan columnists writing op-ed pieces, columnists like Frances Russell and Gordon Sinclair Jr. But now we no longer know the boundary between reporter/columnist/blogger. Dan Lett and Bartley Kives are apparently reporters and yet the post blogs and columns that show under the opinion header. What they have accomplished by this is made it clear that you can be one or the other, but never both. If you post ( especially on political issues) as a blogger or a columnist and those posts reflect your opinions and political leanings, it is impossible for you to be objective when you report the news or more accurately CHOSE what to report or DECIDE what spin to put on the news. Case in point is this recent ‘opinion’  blog by Dan Lett in which he intends to lay any responsibility for the cost overruns at the CMHR not at the feet of Gail Asper, the bord of the CMHR, the friends of the CMHR, but at the prime minister:

Nice try Dan, but most can see through this. If you want to throw mud at politicians involved in this, how about the city forgiving the tax arrears and penalties of the CMHR? Or how about the province, who decided that instead of funding the CMHR from the taxes of Manitobans would direct MPI, Hydro and MLCC to fund it?

And speaking of throwing mud at politicians, I remember at least 3 columns from you and Bartley chiding the Mayor for not appearing at the Remembrance Day ceremony this year. Strange, I have yet to hear a peep from you regarding the fact the our premier left our ‘acting’ finance minister to answer questions regarding the health care funding announcement from Ottawa, and to answer questions regarding additional flood expenses that will raise the deficit to almost $1 Billion. Is it because Sam Katz is a ‘Conservative’ and not NDP. If you are going to (laughably) call yourself reporters, at least try to act like one.

I was under the impression that part of the mandate of the media was to hold the government to account. The Freep loves this role when it’s a conservative government that is being held to account, but to nobody’s surprise they are dead silent when it comes to questioning the lies the provincial NDP feed out on items like BiPole, and their election attack ads.Perhaps Bob Silver should change the Free Press color from blue to orange. At least there would be no confusion that way.

But it’s not just newspapers, look at the TV reporting as well. Ideally, you should see the identical top 5 stories on CBC, CTV and Global. But how often does that really happen? CBC no longer describes the appearance of individuals involved in crime reports since they were using the term aboriginal too much. And they skip important information in favour of fluff pieces or pieces that are little more than a 30sec infomercial for the person featured in the story.

One would hope that in this age of faster and more immediate information, it would be easy to find fact unbiased information. Just the facts. But it seems like the opposite, it still takes the same amount of time to get correct information as it did 20 yrs ago, but now we have to weed through multiple sources in order to develop a picture that may be semi accurate. We have to dig into sources that some consider overly partisan or fringe just to find FACTS that aren’t being reported in the mainstream media.

I’d love to have a single information source that I can go to for unbiased FACTS in this city. However it looks like that won’t show up anytime soon.



10 thoughts on “The demise of journalism in this city

  1. Keep in mind that one year ago the Free Press was completely in favour of silencing voices asking questions in broadcast media about their ‘unbiased reporting’ and links to the NDP, and CMHR supporter Red River College could not wait to conspire with their “media partners” in radio to do so.

  2. Blogs are just as bad. Only thing the City had going for itself was Marty’s show. But then again , in this town, you can’t yell to loud, it offends those who think themselves so proper.

  3. It seems that the opinion of the editorial board permeates everything now, not just their editorials. As young ‘reporters’, Lett and Kives were both big on digging out the nuances of a story. Now they’re like a professor trying for tenure – all out to impress the masters of the universe at his job. And they are only impressed if their views and values are reflected back at them through the Freep. Is the a left winged Murdock pulling the strings there, a la ‘News of the World’? All the news that’s been made fit to print according to the opinion of the day.

  4. And the list of what is overlooked seems to be endless:

    -If you’re gonna get on Katz for not being around for remembrance day, why has nothing been said on Selinger being MIA for most of December?

    -The outright lies ( incorrect hansard references) in their spring 2011 attack ads?

    -The complete fabrication about east side bipole putting the UNESCO designation at risk?

    -Numerous bogus claims around the photo radar debacle?

    – A city council candidate that would be in clear conflict of interest sitting as a councillor if elected

    As for blogs – I expect them to have some sort of built in bias. However, it’s usually pretty obvious from the tone and writing style what the inherent bias of the writer is.

    Perhaps it’s a naive idealism, but shouldn’t our newspapers be unbiased? Shouldn’t they report news and facts as opposed to operating as a propaganda arm for governments and special interest groups?

  5. I guess you’ll just have to read both papers to get both sides of the story. Besides, the entire concept of the CMHR is ridiculous. Why are we constructing a monument that glorifies all the bad things humans do? How about a museum dedicated to all the great things humans do? Like toboggans, & pop rocks, & blowjobs!

  6. The notion that any newspaper can be unbiased is laughable. We all bring our slice of the world to the table and that’s going to manifest itself in what we say and write. What we put emphasis on and what we don’t communicate comes through sometimes loudly , sometimes in a more subtle form . Add in the requirement of having to sell newspapers or advertisement minutes only makes it that more difficult to have any semblance of being unbiased. Incidentally Brian, your “slice of the world” comes through loud and clear.

    Now regarding our “left leaning” media. Have you listened to CJOB for a spell ? Have you been reading columnists such as right wing dinosaur Tom Oleson , “lock em up and throw away the key” Robert Marshall, Colin Craig from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation , regular articles from the conservative “think tank” the Fraser Institute, regular columns from “The Economist” ? And that’s just the WFP ! We are surrounded by conservative and right wing media .

    • I’m not sure what you mean by “my slice of the world”, but I assure you, it’s probably not what you assume it to be.

      Sure there are biases from columnists, I could just as easy point out the left wing spew that Frances Russell continually writes or any of Gerald Caplan’s columns in the Globe. But that’s what they are – editorial columnists.

      The main function of a newspaper is to report the news and for that they employ reporters whose job it is to provide unbaised facts. columnists (as you have listed) provide opinion, and the reader should be able to discern the two. But what we are seeing is reporters blurring the line between their function and the function of columnists. And what we are seeing from the free press recently is that their reporters have stepped so far over that line that nothing that’s written by their staff can be described as anything other than editorial opinion.

  7. Regarding your “slice of the world” . I can only go by what I’ve read in your previous blog entries and you do seem opposed to the current provincial government. I do agree that being critical of the current government does not necessarily mean you are on the “right” side of things politically or even anti-NDP in general.

    Your point is well taken regarding editorial content versus investigative reporting . What you’re saying ( I think ) is that the reporting , especially in the WFP, is rather selective . I might ask why certain ‘conservative’ issues are not reported on more frequently or followed up . Take Tony Clemens spending spree in his riding , Harper’s debate closures,etc… Is it deliberate or maybe these issues just don’t resonate with Canadians.

    • But are certain ‘conservative’ issues not reported on more? It seems like the media is fine taking the federal conservative government to task, but refuses to do the same with our provincial NDP government. And why the vitriolic hatred spewed by the left wing commentators? You only need look as far as Caplan’s columns to see that in full force. Maybe I’m not looking, but I don’t see the same level of hatred in right wing commentators.

      Am I opposed to the current provincial government? I’m opposed to blatant lies and disregard for the electorate. If you have a position or policy, you should be able to support it with a well thought out argument. I don’t have to agree with it, but if you can at least support the position, I’ll respect it. Too many recent provincial government positions are not supportable by even the thinnest of arguments, but only lies and stretched truths, and I do have a huge problem with that.

  8. Pingback: Dec 28 2011 Winnipeg Free Press pro-CMHR propaghanda rejected by blog-reading readers - The Great Canadian Talk Show

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