Joly jilts journalism.

Every government for the past 50 years in Canada has wrung its collective hands over the state of Canadian journalism. We have had studies, expert reports, editorials, analyses, speeches and diatribes over the news media and its state of disrepair. What we have failed to do is come to any answers. We have left it to the marketplace to resolve.

And to put a firm closure on it, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said last week that the Liberal government “has no plan to bail out industry models that are no longer viable.”

Joly wants to show how modern she is by touting Facebook, Twitter and Google. What her and her advisers do not understand is that we have had a stock explanation for that type of news service since the beginning of the computer era. It is called garbage in: garbage out.

Where the state of journalism is really suffering in Canada is in the quality of the output that is trying to compete with the fake news of the Internet. Maybe PostMedia is going downhill faster than the Globe and Mail. With PostMedia really owned by the people in the U.S. responsible for the digital version of the old supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer, we are not expecting much.

But even the over-rated Toronto Star is showing the signs of deteriorating standards as less and less effort goes into the quality of the journalism. An interesting example the other day was a column by national affairs writer Chantal Hébert. It was a seemingly tongue-in-cheek report on the foolishness of Quebec Bill 62 covering face coverings. At the beginning of the second paragraph, Chantal actually wrote that “to declare war on sunglasses is pretty unique in the history of Canada.” Chantal knows you do not qualify “unique.” All it really proves is that the Toronto Star can no longer afford copy editors. And if we wanted to discuss the state of broadcast news media, we would need buckets for the tears.

But Minister Joly needs to be aware of the words of the late Senator Keith Davey when he decided to do a study of Canada’s news media in the late 1960s (The Uncertain Mirror). Keith’s words were that “No reporter can ignore it when their publishers and station owners are coming here to talk about themselves.”


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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