The Electric Pencil

Posts Tagged ‘media

Does Canada filter journalists, Rendon-style?

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Normally a piece like this wouldn’t make me think twice: of course, as Canadian Press reports, the Canadian government keeps a close eye on what is being written out of Afghanistan by Canadian journalists. The extent of it may seem excessive, but we already know that this government is incredibly tight when it comes to media relations.

What I wonder, though, is what they are doing with all this information once they filter it through six different government bodies? Is there some kind of Rendon-style ranking system carried out by the government? How does it impact who gets embedded, who gets leaks, who’s invited to sensitive press briefings, etc? The article notes that the Privy Office has directly approved or nixed interviews, but doesn’t go so far as to link type of coverage with access.

CP says it got its information through an Access to Information request; hopefully they’ll be digging a little bit deeper…


Written by Tim McSorley

September 14, 2009 at 12:22 am

A Babord 1, Masculinists 0

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A large cloud has been lifted from over the head of Quebec’s largest alternative magazine and one of their contributors.

After over a year, the case brought by Andy Srougi from Fathers-4-Justice against A Babord magazine and feminist activist and writer Babara Legault has been dismissed.

Srougi sued the magazine and Legault for defamation after Legault metioned Srougi by name in an article entitled “Des hommes contre le féminisme” (Men Against Feminism). Legault’s piece dealt with the rising problem of ‘masculinist‘ movements in Quebec, which blames women for taking too much place in society and, as an effect, discriminating agains the needs of men and boys. Srougi’s group Fathers-4-Justice is known for their protests against what they say is a tendency of the courts to grant custody to mothers over fathers – which is a common complaint among masculinist groups.

The victory is an important one because a lawsuit of $25,000 could very well have sunk the magazine which relies premarily on volunteers and a very small budget. Even more so, it’s a vindication of Legault and the magazine in their fight against sexism and to bring to light troubling trends in society at large.

Written by Tim McSorley

September 13, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Challenging the media shouldn’t stop with debate

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Elizabeth May has made it into the debates. The media consortium running the debates changed their tune after Jack Layton and Stpehen Harper, one after the other, backed down in their opposition to May participating. While political hay will be made that it was the party leaders’ fault that May was originally blocked from the debate, it points to a deeper issue that pervades our elections no matter who is running, and that’s the complicity of the media in maintaining the political status quo.

As details came out about how the decision to not invite May to the debates was made, it became clear that this was a pretty clear cut case of blackmail (as Joe Clarke puts it in today’s Globe): Stephen Harper essentially told the debate consortium that if May shows up, I’m taking my ball, or speaking points, or whatever, and going home. Layton then chimed in that since he is only running against Stephen Harper, that if the outgoing prime minister wouldn’t be there neither would he.

Now a debate with only three of five leaders wouldn’t be that great a debate, to be sure. But if the media had said they would go ahead anyway, we could be almost certain that the hold-outs would have caved in. Former CBC news chief and past head honcho of the consortium Tony Burman acknowledges this in a sideways glance kind of way in the Globe today too, but is still content to mostly blame this whole debacle on Harper rather than a media that is two worried about access than about broadening election coverage.

It was heartening to see that this debate about a debate brought up questions over the role of the media in setting the election agenda, but it shouldn’t stop there. As Dru Oja Jay points out over at the Dominion Blog, the media creates the news of the day in the morning and then reports on it as the news of the day in their evening wrap ups.

So when they claim that the major issue in the election is leadership, we have to wonder if that is what the gatekeepers have simply decided will be the major issue. And when they say that campaigns were thrown off track or got negative because of certain campaign ads or candidate missteps, we need to wonder if it’s simply easier to talk about that than whether cutting the tax on diesel or if we should be staying in Afghanistan until 2011.

We need campaigns to be held accountable over going negative or making a campaign about attacks instead of issues, but we need a media that will go beyond that and actually dig into the issues that matter.

Written by Tim McSorley

September 10, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Posted in media, politics

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KI6, Nepal & Bees: Dominion #51 out today

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Fresh off the presses is the latest issue of The Dominion.

Number 51 features:

  • Coverage of several Indigenous communities fighting destructive resource extraction and the political measures that make it possible in Ontario and Quebec.
  • On-the-ground coverage of mining in Colombia and Maoists in Nepal
  • New stories on the Art of Walking, bees in Nova Scotia, Haiti’s recent history, and much more…

The Dominion is a monthly, grassroots newspaper distributed throughout Canada featuring writers and stories from communities across the country, with a healthy dose of international coverage thrown in. Over the past years it has become one of the most important sources in Canada for news not covered by the mainstream press, regularly publishing stories about Canada’s role in Afghanistan, in the internationally destructive mining industry, and important domestic issues such as the government’s continued oppression of First Nations communities and the challenges we face from large-scale industrialisation projects such as the tar sands development in northern Alberta. It also provides a venue to showcase and discuss the powerful stories of resistance, alternatives and victories that are also often dropped from the corporate media’s coverage.*

You can find out more about The Dominion here. To find out how you can support The Dominion, check out the Dominion Media Co-op.

*I have written for and am currently a copy-editor with The Dominion. Just so you know…

Written by Tim McSorley

June 11, 2008 at 11:03 am

Écosociété ramps up its solidarity campaign

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Les Éditions Écosociété, the small book publisher facing a $6 million SLAPP lawsuit from Barrick Gold (the world’s largest gold-mining company) over their book Noir Canada, is increasing its public appeal for support. Today they launched a new website, calling on people to:

Background information here, here, here.

Written by Tim McSorley

May 22, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Montreal Gazette victim of a hoax?

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That’s what Daniel Marc Weinstock, professor of philosophy at the Université de Montréal and member of the advisory committee for the Bouchard-Taylor commission, muses in today’s La Presse. Weinstock tells the paper he has difficulty recognising the report in what the Gazette reported over the weekend and wonders if maybe the paper was taken for a ride. Weinstock is backed up by Rachida Azdouz, a vice-dean at UdM and also on the advisory committee, who thinks that the Gazette’s report most likely distorted the final report’s recommendations.


« Il faut lire ça avec circonspection. La question linguistique a été mentionnée, mais la façon dont cela a été rapporté est vraiment démesurée », résume Mme Azdouz. « Ce que j’ai lu dans The Gazette était extrêmement distortionné, à un point tel que je me suis demandé si le journaliste n’avait pas été victime d’un canular », de renchérir le professeur Weinstock qui lui aussi avait eu à commenter le projet de rapport peu après Pâques.

Written by Tim McSorley

May 20, 2008 at 10:20 am

Reasonable Accommodation? Not our problem…

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Well it’s official:

The Bouchard-Taylor Commission submits its final report to the Québec government

MONTRÉAL, May 19 /CNW Telbec/ – The Consultation Commission onAccommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences (CCPARDC) today officially submitted its final report to the Québec government.

Commission Co-Chairs Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor will make public the report at a press conference in Montréal on Thursday, May 22, 2008. Details of the press conference will be announced Wednesday morning.

On Saturday, the Montreal Gazette broke with exerpts of the report, although without the full list of recommendations that Bouchard and Taylor will put forward. Originally it was reported that the report would be issued on Friday, but has been pushed up one day – most likely in response to the leak and the subsequent calls to just get it over with and release the report immediately to avoid several days of speculation based on the fragments released so far.

Like Gilles Duceppe, I’m going to reserve my final opinion on the report for when it actually comes out. But from what has been released so far, I’m not optimistic. Not that I ever really was: while it’s obvious that as a society we need to make a greater effort to address underlying issues of racism and inequality, going about it through a knee-jerk commission — based on media-hyped incidents of accommodation and an on-the-rise political party making it’s niche in appealing to the fear of immigrants — didn’t strike me as the best plan. But we’ll see what they have to say on Thursday.

For the time being, though, I think it’s important to look at least at how the Gazette has covered it’s exclusive story. And to be honest, it doesn’t look good. What resurfaces again is something I’ve noted a little bit throughout the Gazette’s entire coverage of the commission and the reasonable accommodation debate: while the paper is more than willing to use the controversy to pick up readers and make front page exclusives, they (and what I think is a fairly large segment of the English Montreal population) have refused to recognise that we have a role in how the reasonable accommodation fiasco has played out. We see it again with the weekend coverage. While they received the report without the entire set of recommendations, the major one they do release is that the solution to our provincial dilemma is that Quebeckers need to learn English and get to know Muslisms and Arabs better.

Wait, did I say Quebeckers? I mean Quebeckers of French Canadian descent. You see, the rest of us Quebeckers of English Canadian descent are doing quite well, thank you, not like the Francophones of the province. An excerpt from the Gazette’s editorial:

The roots of the “reasonable accommodation” furor that has gripped Quebec in recent years grow from deep in the soil of French-Canadian insecurity…
Bouchard is a historian, Taylor a philosopher. Together they had no trouble recognizing that “the insecurity of a minority” has been a constant in the history of French-speaking Quebec. Worry about the hijab, the kirpan and so on are, we are told, natural heirs to centuries of anxiety about la survivance. That explains the potent emotions around such questions, emotions that generate “unfounded objections” to some religious and cultural practices.

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Written by Tim McSorley

May 19, 2008 at 11:42 pm