Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CanWest slide good for media democracy?

I might be out several hundred dollars, but I’m willing to take the hit if it means the breakup of Canada’s largest news media company, which dominates in the western part of the country, where I come from. As speculated in my Tyee article, and bruited on radio, asset sales may be the only way for the Asper boys to keep their heads above water in this economy. That could mean them selling the National Post, or even the Southam dailies they bought from Conrad Black in 2000. This is good news, especially as this past weekend saw Media Democracy Day marked in several cities across Canada.

Perhaps illustrative of CanWest’s questionable journalism ethics has been the complete lack of coverage in its newspapers of this major business story, as journalism educator – and media blogger – Mark Hamilton pointed out. “This makes no sense to me,” he admitted after barely being able to find any coverage at all online. “It is, perhaps, not surprising that none of the CanWest-owned newspapers appear to be covering this story. What is surprising is that very few others seem to be covering it, either.”

I’ve been tracking this, and the stock has underperformed market averages every day this week. Yet when I do a google search on the words “CanWest” “share” and “price,” the top three hits are news story from January 2007 and July 2008, and a blog post I wrote about this a couple of days ago. Really? We have what appears to be a significant Canadian business story here, and in the general Google search category the results throw up two outdated stories and a small blog post. When I hit the “news” tab at Google I get a single relevant story.
Hamilton’s search efforts later turned up a Reuters article, and a day later he admitted he “may be over-reacting to this,” but he continued to express amazement that not only had CanWest dailies been silent on the subject, but that there had been barely a peep out of the rest of Canada’s business press. “I’m still puzzled why a story about a company of this size and importance to the Canadian media scene seems to have attracted so little attention,” he admitted. Well, it’s just a symptom of the problem, Mark. CanWest newspapers are more than eager to publicize any Asper good deed done for PR value. They trumpet press releases from CanWest headquarters about every deal, donation, and honor the company cares to publicize. But you won’t ready anything negative about the company on their pages. For that, you’ll have to rely on the CBC, the Globe and Mail, and alternative media.


Anonymous said...

Bloody right it's good for democracy, it's good for everybody and everything!

Keith Greveling

Stacy said...

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