former journalists discuss a profession in crisis

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

In Canada, a Media Baron Throws His Hat in the Ring, and Raises Concerns

In Blog on March 16, 2014 at 10:47 pm

When media barons use their power and influence to run for political office, the results usually are not pretty.  Silvio Berlusconi  rose to power in Italy, his image burnished by his media outlets. He remained in power long after sex and corruption scandals caused many Italians great embarrassment and likely worsened the nation’s economic woes.

Now, in Canada, that experiment is being repeated, and no one can predict what the results will be.  Karl Pierre Peladeau announced on March 13 that he would run as a Parti Quebecois candidate in Quebec’s provincial election.

It is hard to overstate Peladeau’s status as a media baron. He is the major owner of a media corporation that is the largest broadcaster in Quebec and owns the most  newspapers  in the province. His Sun newspaper tabloid chain is the largest publisher of newspapers throughout Canada.  His Quebecor empire also is the largest magazine publisher in Quebec, and the largest publisher of French-language books in Canada.

Peladeau is charismatic, runs a multi-billion-dollar business, and is well known for his distaste for labor unions, including those representing reporters.  If that weren’t enough, Peladeau is strongly supportive of Quebec sovereignty.  There is talk that Peladeau’s ultimate goal is to be the premier or president of an independent Quebec.

Peladeau’s wife, (they separated last December)  who supports his candidacy, also has a high profile in her own right, producing a raft of reality TV shows.  Beset by her own fertility problems, she convinced the Quebec government to fund fertility treatments for low-income families.  She argued the province needed more taxpayers. 

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Speechgate roils Canadian journalism

In Blog on March 2, 2014 at 6:31 pm

It was my good fortune to graduate from the University of Toronto.  The U of T is Canada’s Harvard, only affordable and without the annoying presence of many young men and women of means who believe themselves to be infallible.

One of the joys of living in a sophisticated city with practically no crime and terrific cultural and intellectual venues was its journalism.  At the top of the journalism pyramid was Canada’s public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Long before NPR, there was CBC News.  For many Americans, it was the source that told the truth about Vietnam long before U.S. news outlets caught on.  It’s been thoughtful, comprehensive and respected for decades – though like almost every news organization around the world, it’s suffered from budget cuts.

The jewel in the crown of CBC news programs is its nightly one-hour prime-time news program, The National.  Peter Mansbridge has been the face of The National for the past 25 years. Interestingly, Mansbridge elected not to join Canadian broadcasters like Morley Safer and the late Peter Jennings at U.S. network news, although he was asked in the 1980s.  He reportedly turned down a million-dollar deal because money was less important to him than staying in Canada and doing outstanding journalism in his own country. At the time, the decision made him a hero to Canadians.

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