Friday, December 18, 2009

Senator Hugh Segal of Kingston speaks on the MSM

Watching the Steve Paikin show tonight lead me to Paikin's blog where he has posted the entire speech given by Senator Segal.

..... but the media in general and assignment editors in particular might take the odd opportunity to reflect on whether they have fallen into a path dependency in terms of what they choose to cover – a deeper and deeper rut that conversely becomes shallower and shallower the deeper it gets.....

...I have written before about my discussion in the fall of 1991, with a dear friend who was the CBC senior news producer on Parliament Hill when I joined the Prime Minister’s staff. He informed me categorically that in order to keep CBC TV local news ratings up at the supper-hour broadcast – because local CBC stations and affiliates needed advertising revenue – he would always dispatch a negative story about the government as opposed to a positive one. At the time, the government was somewhere between 7 and 9 percent in the polls. However, given the choice between a “good story” about the government and a “negative” one, he would, by local market forces, be forced to choose the negative story. Well, that was the end of my CBC “puts accuracy and balance first” naivety. Surely, I argued, you would choose the most newsworthy story on its merits, good or bad, and send it. He quickly disabused me of that conceit. This was in a sense, the ultimate victory of “congenial” over “real”. It also suggested, but did not confirm, that a story line might on occasion be pursued quite independently with or without factual justification....

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