On The Left Side

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Richard 'Hub' HughesNewspapers are folding, merging, disappearing and even the survivors  are often becoming largely irrelevant.

Locally of course the Black Press demonstrated just why we are in the depths of void with our once locally owned and operated newspapers.

Following years of cutbacks, reduced coverage, a stressed out staff they hit the picket line in hopes of negotiating a new contract.


David Black Media Tycoon

Newspaper mogul and cheapskate David Black refused to bargain in good faith and simply bought out the competition Cowichan Citizen and shut down the Cowichan News Leader throwing all the staff out of work.

It is all about advertising revenue and very little else.

Nature abhors a vacuum and you can expect a new newspaper to hit the streets of Duncan before long.

In Nanaimo David Black slammed the door on the Nanaimo Times and now has another monopoly  going for him with the Nanaimo Bulletin. Those left working at these advertising sheets do their best but they are spread too thin to do the jobs that they could given adequate staff and budgets.

It is happening at an accelerating rate all across Canada and the United States.



Why Feds Should Step In To
Help Democracy’s Watchdogs




“I think newspaper readership is strongest among people who are soon going to be dead.” John Miller-former senior editor at The Toronto Star

Nick Filmore, an award-winning investigative reporter and a founder of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), wrote this two part article. It is one of the best that I have seen on the state of todays media and what needs to be done to provide the necessary journalism so essential in a functioning democracy.

By Nick Filmore

A flourishing, capable news media is the oxygen of democracy. In Canada, our traditional oxygen-providers, the mainstream corporate-owned newspapers, are dying. We need to come up with something better to serve our communities.

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen papers in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa bizarrely merged; a potentially disastrous strike in Halifax. The Guelph Mercury’s last print edition. The closure of The Toronto’ Star’s printing press, and gradual shaving back at every paper in the country.

Not all papers are losing money, but none is flourishing. And none still provides the scope or depth of balanced news essential to a citizenry that wants to be engaged.

First, corporate news, as a product, has been debased beyond recognition. Newsrooms are so short-staffed that in many communities they don’t report even important civic events. There’s as much fluff as news. Pages are filled with slapdash opinion pieces that are cheap to produce. For most papers, good analysis and investigative journalism are things of the past.
Second, with good reason, people no longer trust what their papers say. I could find no recent independent survey that gauged Canadian opinions of the media. But I assume that our opinion of our papers is likely only slightly better than Americans’. A 2013 Gallup poll reported that fewer than 25 per cent of the Americans surveyed had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in their newspapers.
All the dailies – with the exception to some extent of The Toronto Star espouse  – corporate values that cater to the rich and powerful and help determine what is considered newsworthy. So right-wing policies detrimental to the general public are praised, unions and social change opposed. There’s much more, but you get the idea.



How has this happened?





1 comment to Nick Filmore-MEDIA IN CRISIS

  • Peter W. Rusland

    Nick Fillmore has nailed it. It the wake of the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial’s sad, unnecessary closure April 2, 2015, I told folks in our June 4 town-hall meeting — dubbed Who Killed The News Leader Pictorial? — among other things, to demand strong press-monopoly laws from our local, provincial and federal leaders.

    The press — be it newspapers, radio, online press, or TV — is not simply a coffee shop; it’s our democratic voice. The New York Times does not cover the Cowichan Valley; we can’t just Google local news. That said, if people want local news coverage, they must demand it from editors and press owners, or go tell their advertisers to pull their ads that are largely are buried in flyers and other advertisements — plus lazy, press-release reporting. Furthermore, despite blogs (no offence), Facebook, Buzzfeed, and other sources, it’s clear people still want local news, and so do advertisers.

    That means Canadians may have to actually compete — something we’re generally poor at — by opening new papers and stations, maybe as co-opertives, to supply that news and ad space, with a deserved profit — but not gouging. The old model of press barons and big dailies seem doomed. But most people still want hard copy, plus news posted to websites.

    Only real reporters can provide that. Some papers could stay alive by going from, say, daily publication to 2-3 times a week, to save overhead while still covering their community.

    Weeklies could go monthly. Sadly, public apathy is rampant; we generally take what we’re given, news-wise, until an issue, such as Shawnigan Lake’s soil-dumping crisis, threatens us immediately. Until then, most folks are busy working, shopping, using cellphones and watching hockey. We can blame corporations and governments all we want, but we’ll get the press coverage we demand. Thanks, Peter W. Rusland, Cowichan reporter

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