If there’s one thing I’ve taken from this past week of political foofaraw, it’s that Canada’s media fails at being non-partisan and often is pretty weak on its journalistic standards in a rush to get a story out.
Those words may be a bit harsh, but this is a blog, where I’m expected to be partisan and have little to no standards.
In the past week I saw a National Post article say that “insiders” claimed that Ignatieff would not support a coalition unless he was to lead it. We saw quickly he, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc (the three contestants in “Who wants to be Canada’s
next Prime Minister Liberal Leader? Season 2″ – Season 1 was considered a flop) met and agreed to fully support the coalition with Dion as leader (rather than tear their party any further apart). The Edmonton Journal published a photo on Monday of Dion, Layton and Duceppe with the headline “Hostile Takeover” while the Sun wrote “No No No, This cannot happen.” Global TV Edmonton declared (repeatedly) that the coalition was attempting to “overturn the results of the election” (false). Or how CTV brought out two “experts” to bash the idea of a coalition as soon as it became a rumour.
Even CBC isn’t immune from the weak standards, as they are claiming “sources” have told a reporter that Dominic LeBlanc is dropping out of the Liberal leadership race while those “closer” to LeBlanc deny the rumours. CBC (and others) are all now claiming on nothing but rumours and speculation that Dion will step down on Wednesday. While entertaining, this is not newsworthy, it barely classifies as high school gossip.
One commenter at ottlib suggests the problem of bias (toward the governing party) lies with the majority of the media being controlled by so few companies. He suggests that the government should immediately break up the monopolies in favour of a more competitive and fair market.
However, I see another problem with the growing competition for breaking news. By striving to show the latest, greatest story, media outlets potentially promote sensational stories to the front of the (web) page, even if the sources are a bit weak. I’m not sure how to combat this, other than to train a more sceptical populous.
Through this entire political mess, I’ve been checking the headlines on CBC, The Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Journal regularly, and the National Post semi-regularly. By reading a number of competing vendors, I’m hoping to see a little less bias, but it may be unavoidable by this point.