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What passes for journalism in my local area

The local area newspaper was bought by SunMedia a while back, and in my opinion, you can clearly see that when it decides to do a piece related to politics.

The latest example of that which I have a beef with the paper about: the paper decides to do a piece on how the local area is recovering from the downturn. The reporter decides to interview all the local MP’s and MPP’s to ask their opinion of this. In this area, with the exception of 1 MPP, all the federal and provincial politicians are Conservatives. I don’t have an issue with them being asked (Diane Finley amongst others), but where I object to the piece is that not a single counterpoint was offered up to balance the spin of those folks.

If I want to read Diane Finley or Oxford MP Dave MacKenzie telling me their stimulus package is working and such and everything the government is bringing in will help, I can go read that at their local websites or the CPC website. I shouldn’t have to see Conservative talking points being regurgitated in the local paper. (One amusing sidenote, the Conservative federal MP’s were generally more optimistic of the economic recovery then their provincial Conservative counterpoints, which isn’t a shocker, since they aren’t in power in Ontario and don’t want to take away any attack opportunities at Dalton McGuinty).

Is this an example of journamalism, – particularly the “mere retyping of the press release/talking points” part of the definition? You decide.

UPDATE: The reporter who did the story responded to my complaint in email ( I had written to the paper’s contact form complaining about their piece). In effect, he felt that people could then form their own opinion if they agree with them or not, and he felt their political affiliation was irrelevant. I disagree with this: I think it’s very relevant what their political stripe is, and as I said in response to him, the media and reporters should be not allowing one side on a political issue to get their point of view across without some opposing viewpoints to balance that. Just because the local area is more amenable to the Conservative viewpoint on issues doesn’t mean the local media should go along with that and offer no contrary viewpoints.

3 comments to What passes for journalism in my local area

  • I’m a journalist, although not in Canada, and although I know nothing of this particular case I should point out that sometimes you’re restricted not only by political bias but by who picks up the phone to get back to you.

  • Al

    Not really surprising though considering Sun Media is known for it’s Conservative views

  • Frankly Canadian

    I know exactly what you’re talking about; my local papers do it all the time. What makes it worse for me is that our local Conservatives M.P.’s usually write a column a month, not as an advertisement but rather as a news article. The fact that these guys can write what ever they want at no cost to them, well that bothers me. If I wanted to do that it would cost me as an advertiser and if I said anything false, well that would be false advertising. If the opposition wanted to write a column, it would have to go into the opinion section. The Conservative members seem to have certain impunity for anything they say or do and that goes for the way they get their message out as well, add ten percenters in the mix and it gets frustrating.

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