The Media Isn't Running in This Election
Correct me if I'm wrong, but on October 21st, we won't be voting for which media outlet has covered the federal election the best will we?
You wouldn't know we'll actually be voting for politicians by scanning social media since the election was called. Tons of people think the CBC is giving Trudeau and the Liberals an easy ride, while others think various media outlets are letting Scheer and the Conservatives off too easily.
It's really the same as being a sports fan. Depending on who you cheer for, you believe the refs are conspiring against your team in an effort to get them to lose. It really gets tiring.
Maybe I follow what’s said on social media too closely. I fully understand there are people with strange views, which quite often are influenced by who they hope will win the election. Despite that, it’s really been amazing to watch how people haven’t been happy with the media coverage they’ve been getting in this election and it usually gets down to the same themes.
I’ve seen people attack the CBC throughout the campaign, quite often because the feeling is they’re going soft on holding the Liberals accountable, while criticizing Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives. I’ve seen people attack the CBC for not being tough enough on Justin Trudeau for the blackface scandal. Others have wondered why exactly did Trudeau leave that job at that private school in Vancouver halfway through the term in 2001. Why hasn’t the media been all over that, especially since there are so many rumours out there?
Then last week I saw others on social media wonder why Scheer was getting off so easy for having dual citizenship (Canada and the US). Again, people were saying the media should have come down much harder on Scheer for this, some even wondering how somebody can really be Prime Minister when he also has citizenship in the US. They lament how the media should make a bigger issue of this and while it is at it, why wasn’t there more information on why he didn’t get his insurance broker’s licence?
Do Something About These Guys!
The reality is these comments are driven by partisanship and not fact or reality. During election campaigns people treat the news media much like they do the police when they see somebody driving recklessly. Why is there never a cop around when you need one?
People want the media to spend more time investigating and reporting on the dirt involving the leaders and parties they want defeated.
We saw this in the US election in 2016 as comments about the media became polarized based on the beliefs of Republicans and Democrats. When reporters ran negative stories about Trump, Republicans wondered why the media wasn’t spending more time running more stories about Hillary’s emails.
In my opinion, reporters and the media in general in Canada do their best to cover elections like any other story. They look for the news in any campaign appearance and report on what they think the public would find interesting. With few exceptions they don’t think “How can I make Trudeau look better”, or “How can I make Scheer look worse.”
That won’t stop people from finding gaps or perceived bias in coverage. I saw people complain that five women were selected to handle Monday night’s Leaders' Debate. Political correctness running wild they claimed. I also saw comments from people pointing out all five were from the east, once again suggesting a media bias against the west. Global TV’s Dawna Friesen lives in Vancouver by the way.
The Real Concern
If there is a political bias in this election I think people should take a much closer look at Postmedia. There have been stories in the media about how Canada’s biggest newspaper chain wants to see more of a pro-business, right wing slant to its political coverage. Postmedia’s President and CEO Andrew MacLeod basically admitted that in a weekend interview that ran in Postmedia papers across the country. He said “We looked at the media landscape in Canada and found there was a shortage of viewpoints that come from a pro-innovation, pro free-market, smaller tax, smaller government perspective.” In other words, the start of Fox News North.
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about a racist rant that appeared in one of Postmedia's Vancouver newspapers and why it likely wasn't a mistake that the opinion piece made it into print.
After the leaders' debate on Monday night, the headline in the Edmonton Journal was TRUDEAU IN HOT SEAT and there was a photo of Andrew Scheer speaking to Trudeau and looking at him while Trudeau looked away.
A quick check of the front page of the National Post section (which runs in all Postmedia dailies in Canada) revealed another interesting headline. It read Trudeau in debate hot seat, with a sub-headline that screamed in capital letters SCHEER TAKES AIM AT LIBERAL LEADER, CALLING HIM “A PHONEY AND FRAUD.”
Let’s remember reporters write stories and editors write the headlines. A headline, backed by a catchy sub-headline can often have more impact on the reader than the actual story, assuming people read the story and don’t just scan the headlines.
Maybe I’m being like many others and looking at political coverage and trying to find a boogieman controlling what’s reported. However, I think there’s far less political bias in Canadian media than many people perceive there to be. However, the Postmedia coverage does concern me. Two days before the election I expect every Postmedia daily in the country will endorse Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives in an editorial and explain why.
I suspect they could have written that endorsement a month ago and maybe they did.
Photo credit: Rosemary Barton (@RosieBarton)