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media watch

By David Broadland, December 2010

Voters gave the City authority to borrow $49.2 million to replace the Johnson Street Bridge. But did they have all the information they needed to make this decision?

We’ll never know whether the Times Colonist’s last-minute, anonymous editorial endorsing replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge had any impact on the outcome of the November 20 referendum in which electors gave the City authority to borrow $49.2 million to replace the bridge. But it’s a fine example of the misinformation the paper provided citizens on the issue over the past year and a half.

by Sam Williams, October 2010

Is Postmedia placing a new bet on global warming?

According to a story in the September 15 Times Colonist, “Climate change could make Canada’s North an economic hothouse.” The article was based on an interview with UCLA geographer Laurence Smith, author of the new book The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future. The story quotes a “UCLA summary of Smith’s vision” as saying “While wreaking havoc on the environment, global warming will liberate a treasure trove of oil, gas, water and other natural resources previously locked in the frozen North, enriching residents and attracting newcomers.” This same story appeared in Postmedia’s daily papers across Canada.

by Rob Wipond, September 16, 2010

Which is worse: Corporate perks or a plan to defraud us of billions?

Today's Times Colonist and The Globe and Mail illustrate two decidedly different directions with which to take the same story.

by Rob Wipond, August 16, 2010.

The problem isn't any one story--it's all of them together.

A lot of the coverage of the ship of immigrants from Sri Lanka has been predictably prejudiced and inflammatory. But one of the more rational stories I saw appeared on CBC TV--one expert noted that these 490 immigrants represent less than just an average week in Canada's normal refugee processing activities. Which made me wonder, so then, what is it that is driving news editors to think this situation is worthy of such extensive, constant coverage? Because these refugees arrived on a boat instead of a plane? Because they came in one day instead of over several days? Because the initial point of landing was Victoria instead of Vancouver?

by Rob Wipond, August 11, 2010

Is the purpose of TV news to report responsibly or reinforce beliefs?

CHEK's August 10 evening local broadcast was a classic example of how mainstream television news tends to simply reinforce our society's dominant opinions and beliefs. Here's how it went:

By Sam Williams, August 1, 2010

Is the local daily's coverage of City Hall influenced by the financial support it receives from the City? 

Times Colonist reporter Bill Cleverley, in a story filed on July 31, asks “What’s best for the Blue Bridge?” Cleverley’s 2000-word piece starts with “The answer seems like a no-brainer,” and goes on to detail the City’s thinking behind its decision to replace Victoria’s iconic 86-year-old Johnson Street Bridge. Cleverley, who appears to be angling for one of those cushy communications jobs down at City Hall, promotes the official line on the bridge without so much as a blush. But isn’t this just a new take on “integrated journalism,” where a newspaper provides a major advertising client with supportive editorial without disclosing the financial relationship between the newspaper and the client?

by Rob Wipond, July 29, 2010

Is The Tyee too influenced by the nurses union?

Ordinarily progressive, BC's Tyee just released a one-sided article filled with misdirected, prejudiced hate. In "Protect Us from Assaults, Say Psyche (sic) Nurses", staff at Victoria's Eric Martin Pavilion complain about sometimes being victims of insult or abuse from their psychiatric patients. The inflammatory article predictably provoked further fierce rants in the comments section attacking people diagnosed with mental illnesses.

Notably, not a single ex-patient was interviewed. Yet after, say, a prison riot or protest blockade, reasonable journalists naturally ask "Why did they riot? Why did they blockade?" In this case, it's assumed people diagnosed with mental illnesses are commonly violent.

by Rob Wipond, July 27 2010

What we learned from coverage of Ryder Hesjedal

Weeks of infatuation with Ryder Hesjedal are wrapping up this week. Though the locally-grown cyclist's climb in the Tour de France rankings was mirrored by a rise from occasional, brief passing mentions in the latter parts of sports reports to full, prominent, daily news coverage in local media, I still feel like the most important aspect of the story has never once been reported.