Last updated by The POOG on September 19, 2020.

Independence in MSM News Reporting

The question to consider is does the concentration of the large majority of news media in a handful of corporate owners afect the independence of news reporting? Consider these short clips. The first is 1:21 minutes long.

Also, this one at 3:24 minutes. Start at the 1:50 mark.

Bias in MSM News Reporting

Although I expect most people would agree that there is bias in the media and that they would have their favourite examples, I have seen very little legitimate studies on the topic. The one that stands out is the 2017 study by the Shorenstein Center of Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard.

Comparing media reporting of various MSM sources on Trump’s first 100 days in office compared to past presidents, they found that CNN was most heavily biased against Trump at 93% of articles versus 52% for Fox[3].

The MSM in Canada

Government Influence

The minority Liberal government in its fall 2018 Financial Statement[2], pp. 42-43, pledged to provide $595 million in support to ‘qualifying’ media sources over 5 years. In the preamble to the details, the report lathers on platitudes such as:

A strong and independent news media is crucial to a well-functioning democracy. …

… providing them [citizens] with the information they need to make informed decisions on important issues.

strong and independent journalism serves the public good …

Canadians have a right to a wide range of independent news sources that they can trust …

Concerns have been expressed that, without government intervention, there may be a decline in the quantity and quality of journalism available

[2], pp 42-43.

It sounds good until government intervention is introduced due to ‘concerns’. What concerns? Who raised these concerns?

The result is a program to provide an estimated $595 million in refundable and non-refundable tax credits to eligible individuals and organization. And here is the catch: it’s available to “eligible‘ parties or to “qualifying news organizations“.

In the matter of Canada’s attorney General testifying before a Parliamentary committee go to the 1:43 mark in this video

Jody Wilson-Raybould states that Prime Minister Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, told her that “we would of course line up all kinds of people to write op eds saying that what she [Raybould] is doing is proper.” In other words, the government has influence over the media and the message that it communicates. The influence increases with the financial support.

The Eligibility Catch

To create the appearance of impartiality, the government has set up an “arms-length and independent [panel ] to define and promote core journalism standards“. This panel is formed “from the news and journalism community to define eligibility for this tax credit”[2].

Immediately we see two problems. The first is that the government, in choosing the panel members or a group to make such choices for them, maintains control of the process. The second is that such a panel will represent only its members and not the independent alternative media that is a growing public source of news and opinion.

Effects of Program

FP News, which lobbied the government for the program, reported in their 2020 Q2 financial statement “that 38% of their revenue comes from the government”, according to Blacklock’s Reporter[1]. We call this ‘bought and paid for’.

References

  1. Newspaper that lobbied government now gets 38% of revenue from taxpayers. True North Wire, September 3, 2020.
  2. Fall Economic Statement 2018. Department of Finance Canada.
  3. Thomas E. Patterson. News Coverage of Donald Trump’s First 100 Days. Shorenstein Center, Harvard, May 18, 2017.