November 30, 2007
Without an informed civil society there can be no robust conversations in a renewed democracy.
“(A) democracy cannot function unless the people are permitted to know what their government is up to (Commager, Henry Steele).”
Citations from Hackett and Zhao’s useful publication (1998 ) entitled Sustaining Democracy? Journalism and the Politics of Objectivity 1
The regime of objectivity refers to an “ensemble of ideals, assumptions, practices and institutions” that is tied to concepts of democracy, public responsibility, public life and public good. There is an assumption that interest groups, social movements, politicians and the media operate under a regime of objectivity (Hackett and Zhao 1998:1).
Mass media has become the leading institution of that realm of social life called the public sphere, “where the exchange of information and views on questions of common concern can take place so that public opinion can be formed (Hackett and Zhao 1998:1).”
Liberal-democratic capitalist mode of governance is the dominant mode of governance in Canada. Quebec has a stronger history of advocacy and participant journalism (Hackett and Zhao 1998:12).
“These recent shifts in media ownership and policy might be seen as the equivalent of a non-violent coup d’etat, a metaphor evoking the inherent link between media power and state power — between the colonization of the popular imagination and the allocation of social resources through public policy and market relations. Communications scholar Herbert Schiller suggests that what is at stake is “packaged consciousness”: the intensified appropriation of the national symbolic environment by a “few corporate juggernauts in the consciousness business.”” (Hackett and Zhao 1998:5)
“The late French social theorists Michel Foucault, during the 1970s, wrote of “discursive regimes” — of how power is imbricated with knowledge, not by directly imposing censorship or coercion from outside, but indirectly and internally, through the criteria and practices that “govern” the production of statements (Hackett and Zhao 1998:6)”
“Scott Lash’s concept of “regimes of significance” is composed of a cultural economy and a specific mode of signification. A cultural economy is comprised “of relations and institutions by which cultural objects are produced and consumed.” Mode of signification is a “typical way by which cultural objects become meaningful to those use them.” “Lash and other theorists make distinctions between discursive and figural, modernist and postmodernist, and cognitive and aesthetic ways of seeing and knowing (Hackett and Zhao 1998:6).”
Foucault collapses all truth claims into power, self-interest and the internal validity rules of particular discourses (Hackett and Zhao 1998:7)
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrined “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication,” subject to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” Legal scholar Harry Glasbeek “predicted that the Charter’s freedom of expression clause could be used “to defend individuals generally and the media in particular from state controls, but not individuals or their defender, the state, from private interests,” thus helping the private press “to retain its sovereignty as a purveyor of information and opinion.47” In effect free speech is interpreted as a property right of corporate entities, not as a human right of individual citizens (Hackett and Zhao 1998:80). “Subsequent court rulings seem to bear out this prediction. Because freedom of the press includes the freedom to be biased, the print media (by contrast with broadcasting) are not legally required to be objective or balanced. Nevertheless, these concepts are often viewed as professionalistic criteria to be respected and relied upon in court decisions protecting media owners’ property rights. Canadian or U.S. citizens have sometimes sought court-ordered access for their opinions or rebuttals in the pages of newspapers or magazines. The courts have consistently refused such a right of reply or access, citing the integrity and responsibility of journalists in producing “balanced” and “objective” reports. ”
Market liberalism describes the right-wing movement that upholds a faith in the market mechanism. “It advocates minimum government, deregulation, privatization of public services, and more economic freedoms for the private sector. It espouses an extreme version of individualism. It displays hostility towards unions, collective bargaining, and the progressive social movements that struggle for economic and social rights for various disadvantaged groups. Market liberalism is also called neoliberal, neoconservative, and the new right. Preston Manning, Ralph Klein, Mike Harris and Newt Gingrich are champions of market liberalism. It is basically a revolt of the rich — the upper middle class — in a crusade against the poor. It is presented as a commonsense revolution. The shift towards market liberalism began in 1980 (Hackett and Zhao 1998:151).
Canadian press has media blind spots. This includes “…tax breaks for the wealthy, Canada’s cosy trade-and-aid relations with regimes, such as Indonesia, that violate human rights and Canada’s substantial participation in the international arm’s trade, contrary to its self-image as a peacekeeper (Hackett and Zhao 1998:182).”
“In 1995, according to Project Censored, the U.S. press underplayed or ignored these stories, among others: the massive deregulation of telecommunications; $167 billion in annual subsidies to business, whose elimination could enable the U.S. government to balance its budget without slashing social programs; lax enforcement of U.S. child labour laws, resulting in thousands of injuries and even death of children in the workplace; $100 billion or more lost annually in medical fraud; ABC’s cancellation of a hard-hitting documentary on the tobacco industry at the same time as a tobacco company filed a $10 billion libel suit against Capital Cities/ABC; the U.S. chemical industry’s fight to prevent the banning of methyl bromide, a toxic zone-killing pesticide; the death through error or negligence of up to 180,000 patients in US hospitals each year (Hackett and Zhao 1998:182).”
1700s Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Paine were pioneers of social thought of the Enlightenment. Reason can control nature. All men have natural rights. Rousseau described nature as God’s creation. Rousseau described nature as rational, benign and inherently harmonious.
1700s Thomas Jefferson was one of the early promoters of democracy.
1835 A jury acquitted editor/politician Joseph Howe accused of criticizing the authorities. The law of seditious libel was effectively struck down (Hackett and Zhao 1998:15).
1800s The press was both partisan and sectarian. It did not present the news with honesty or accuracy (Hackett and Zhao 1998:15).
1815 – 1836 The English working class used newspapers as a vital way of contributing to an unfolding class consciousness (Hackett and Zhao 1998:27).
1800s Independent penny press papers were published heralding the age of independent, non-partisan and socially responsible journalism. (Hackett 1998:16)
British Stamp Duty is a government tax on newspaper sales.
1800s The labour press began to publish. (Hackett and Zhao 1998:16) The labour press described a social landscape in which the rights to justice, equality and property of artisans, mechanics, trades people were impeded (Hackett and Zhao 1998:21).
1800s Utilitarianism advocated the goal of the greatest good of the greatest number instead of democracy based on natural rights and reason. Utilitarianism was better accepted by the ruling order, the middle class. They were concerned that democracy would lead to mob rule (Hackett and Zhao 1998:19) Utilitarianism and democracy are held in a long-standing tension in the United States.
1820s – 1830s Craft unions developed in some Canadian cities (Hackett and Zhao 1998:21).
1830s United States entrepreneurs launched daily newspapers in the 1830s. The popular commercial daily papers took full bloom in the 1870s (Hackett and Zhao 1998:24).
1850 – 1867 “Both the Leader and the Globe in their views of democracy expressed the central position of mid-Victorian liberalism. Both declared for a wide, popular electorate but still wanted a qualified franchise to recognize property and intelligence, and to prevent the rule of ignorance and mere numbers…. There was in this mid-century Canadian press little of the spirit of American Jeffersonian or Jacksonian democracy with their faith in the natural worth of the common man.”
1850s – 1900 The trade union movement developed in Canada.
late 1800s The popular commercial daily papers emerged as the first version of journalistic objectivity (Hackett and Zhao 1998:18).
late 1800s Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism foreshadowed the competitive, exploitative laissez-faire market economy. (Hackett and Zhao 1998:18).
1872 The Ontario Workman was founded. The labour newspaper expressed Enlightenment sentiments: “Co-operation is a principal that has shone upon the world through the progress of intelligence, and that it will gradually grow with the intelligence of the masses we have no doubt. It, or some like system, will gradually supersede the serf system of the past(Hackett and Zhao 1998:21).”
1880s The US founded Knights of Labor was spreading across Canada (Hackett and Zhao 1998:28).
1891 T. P. Thompson was Canada’s most prominent labour journalist. He was forced to close his newspaper when his readers turned to the commercial dailies. “It is much to be regretted that the wage earners are so stupidly blind to their own interests that they cannot see the advantage of having a live outspoken journal to plead their cause (Hackett and Zhao 1998:28).”
1917 The Russian Revolution
1920 Walter Lippman and Charles Merza accused The New York Times of reporting the Russian Revolution by “seeing not what was, but what men wished to see (Hackett and Zhao 1998:40).”
1930s Great Depression
1935 Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary Triumph of the Will celebrated the Nazi Regime. It is the classic propaganda film.
1935 The American Newspaper Guild’s code of ethics upheld the value of objectivity: “The newspapermen’s first duty is to give the public accurate and unbiased news reports (Hackett and Zhao 1998:40).”
1937 Quebec’s “authoritarian premier, Maurice Duplessis introduced the Padlock Act to shut down what it considered to be “Bolshevik or communistic” publications. The Supreme Court overturned the Padlock Act in 1957 (Hackett and Zhao 1998:79).”
1950s Alberta’s Conservative Premier Ralph Klein described the 1950s as a Golden Age when Canadians “looked to the newspapers for their information, and … to governments for answers.” Klein and many others were convinced that in the 1950s “The news simply reported on “reality,” and political journalism treated politicians and authority figures with enough respect that they could communicate with their publics without worrying about the distorting lenses of the media (Hackett and Zhao 1998:136).” This cognitive certitude was pervasive. It existed in academia as well.
1958 The C.D. Howe Institute’s origins go back to Montreal in 1958 when a group of prominent business and labour leaders organized the Private Planning Association of Canada (PPAC) to research and promote educational activities on issues related to public economic policy. Under the leadership of Robert M. Fowler, and with a small but dedicated staff, the PPAC soon became the Canadian co-sponsoring organization for the Canadian-American Committee (CAC), which had been established in 1957 to study and discuss the economic factors affecting the bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States.
1960s Conservative think tanks, business, politicians and media scholars describe the 1960s news media as left-liberal and anti-authority. A new breed of journalists was branded as adversarial, “gotcha”, disruptive and cynical (Hackett and Zhao 1998:136).
1960 A French language CBC journalist complained that the CBC reporting was “objective to the point of being virginal (Hackett and Zhao 1998:39).”
1960s Third world national liberation struggle.
1970 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act during the October Crisis. 450 activists, journalists and writers were arrested under suspicion of being sympathetic to the separatist movement (Hackett and Zhao 1998:79).
1970s “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police placed left-wing groups and periodicals under surveillance (Hackett and Zhao 1998:79).”
1970 “The Davey Commission sparks debate on media ownership vs. freedom of the press (CBC Radio 1970).”
1971 New York Times Co. v. United States Decided June 30, 1971.
“I can imagine no greater perversion of history. Madison and the other Framers of the First Amendment, able men [403 U.S. 713, 717] that they were, wrote in language they earnestly believed could never be misunderstood: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom . . . of the press . . . .” Both the history and language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be left free to publish news, whatever the source, without censorship, injunctions, or prior restraints. In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam war, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do.”
1971 Ben Bagdikian predicted that “more independent channels of communication to each information corporation and into each home will end the homogenizing of news that now occurs because it must be prepared for such a wide spectrum of consumers” (Bagdikian 1971, 20).
1973 A bloody military coup, with U.S. connivance, overthrew Chile’s elected Marxist president Salvador Allende…. The new military regime unleashed a reign of terror that saw thousands of Chileans arrested, tortured, murdered, and/or exiled. Political parties were banned, the press was censored, and freedoms of speech and assembly were restricted. The junta pursued decidedly free-enterprise economic policies, but it took sixteen years for some semblance of liberal democracy to be restored (Hackett and Zhao 1998:166).”
1974 The Fraser Institute was established. The Fraser Institute is a pro-business think tank and lobby group.
1978 The Business Council on National Issues was established. The Business Council on National Issues is a pro-business think tank and lobby group.
1980 Canada’s competition law watchdog sparked a federal inquiry into a corporate takeover of two newspapers companies (Hackett and Zhao 1998:5).
1980 – 1981 The Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers reported that “The great majority [of Canadians] believe that newspapers and the mass media in general, have responsibilities to the public different from those of other businesses.” The mass media is expected to function in public interest, not just economic self-interest. (Hackett 1998:1) “It is those newspapers with a large advertising market to protect and with a readership all social classes of society that have taken the initiative of setting up existing press councils…. The various press councils established in Canada until now are seeking to perpetuate the social consensus which has ensured the success of the so-called omnibus newspapers …. Whose formula is specifically designed towards advertising led consumer patterns and whose basic unit is the traditional family (Hackett and Zhao 1998:92).”
1982 Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrined “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication,” subject to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” Legal scholar Harry Glasbeek “predicted that the Charter’s freedom of expression clause could be used “to defend individuals generally and the media in particular from state controls, but not individuals or their defender, the state, from private interests,” thus helping the private press “to retain its sovereignty as a purveyor of information and opinion.” In effect free speech is interpreted as a property right of corporate entities, not as a human right of individual citizens. (Hackett and Zhao 1998:80).
1983 REAL Women organization was created.
1984 Brian Mulroney elected Prime Minister of Canada.
1984 Robert Hackett wrote an article in 1984 on the limitations of using objectivity and bias as evaluative standards for journalism. He worked with Newswatch Canada (then called Project Censored Canada) that covers blind spots in the media.
1988 Brian Mulroney elected Prime Minister of Canada.
1989 Yuezhi Zhao’s 1989 MA thesis was on the discourse and politics of objectivity in North American journalism. Zhao grew up in a peasant family in rural China.
1992 Barry Mullin’s column criticized his own paper, the Winnipeg Free Press, for its coverage of the Los Angeles riots. The continent’s major news story was carried on the back pages while front page carried soft stories. Mullin had been an ombudsman for the Winnipeg Free Press. But the new Thomson appointed publisher disagreed with Mullin’s level of independence (Hackett and Zhao 1998:93).
1994 The response of the Mexican government to the Chiapas rebellion may have been more moderate because of the Zapatistas’ use of the Internet to communicate with their sympathizers world wide (Hackett and Zhao 1998:191)
1995 Sovereignty Referendum in Quebec
1995 “In 1995, according to Project Censored, the U.S. press underplayed or ignored these stories, among others: “In 1995, according to Project Censored, the U.S. press underplayed or ignored these stories, among others: the massive deregulation of telecommunications; $167 billion in annual subsidies to business, whose elimination could enable the U.S. government to balance its budget without slashing social programs; lax enforcement of U.S. child labour laws, resulting in thousands of injuries and even death of children in the workplace; $100 billion or more lost annually in medical fraud; ABC’s cancellation of a hard-hitting documentary on the tobacco industry at the same time as a tobacco company filed a $10 billion libel suit against Capital Cities/ABC; the U.S. chemical industry’s fight to prevent the banning of methyl bromide, a toxic zone-killing pesticide; the death through error or negligence of up to 180,000 patients in US hospitals each year (Hackett and Zhao 1998;182).”
1995 – 1996 There were unprecedented multibillion-dollar-mergers in North American media.
1996 The US Congress passed The Telecommunications Act that “raised the ceiling on the size of national TV networks and virtually removed restrictions on the ownership of different types of media in the same market (Hackett and Zhao 1998:4).”
1996 Hollinger took over Southam, Canada’s largest newspaper chain.
1996-05 “The Winds of Change conference, which took place in Calgary in May 1996, brought together approximately 70 leading right-wing thinkers and activists in an effort to bring unity to conservative forces before the next federal election, expected in 1997. The goal, according to organizer David Frum, was to discuss the prospects for a merger between the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties. The stark reality facing Conservatives is that a continued fracturing of the right-wing vote is likely to ensure not only a victory for Jean Chretien’s Liberals in 1997 but that the Liberals remain in power indefinitely. Frum believed that a vigorous airing of views behind closed doors, steps to develop a common agenda, and the bon amie of personal contact would create the momentum that was needed. . . . First, in the 1980s and 1990s the corporate community has funnelled considerable resources into so-called think tanks. The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute (1974), the C. D. Howe Institute in Toronto (1958), and the Canada West Foundation (1970) in Calgary are among the most influential policy-oriented research institutes. They often make headlines with timely and sometimes controversial reports on public policy issues, do contract work for governments, hold conferences and seminars, and do their own community outreach and media liaison work. Right-wingers might argue that the left in Canada has its own think tanks in the form of some university-based research centres. Of course, even the most objective scholarship might seem threatening to those who hold strong ideological views. These centres lack both the financing and the muscle that is available to the corporate-sponsored institutes. Indeed, as university budgets and federal funding for basic research have been cut back, corporate money has become more important in financing research. Corporations tend to support projects from which they can benefit directly (Taras 1996).
Late 1990s The Federal Government cut the CBC budget dramatically. CBC cut its workforce by a third.
2000 The Sarejevo Commitment At the beginning of the 21st Century men and women of the media register their commitment to integrity and public service. This document was launched at a World Media Assembly, SARAJEVO 2000, and signed by participants on 30 September 2000.
We, men and women of the media – professionals at all levels, from publishers and producers to cub reporters and students of journalism; from the print and digital media, television and radio, book publishing, cinema and theatre, advertising and public relations, music and the performing and creative arts – met here in the bruised, historic and beautiful city of Sarajevo, pay our homage and respect to the millions of humanity whom we inform, entertain and educate.
2001 In the wake of 9/11 there was a dramatic increase in the number of blogs.
2001 The producers of the series West Wing created a pivotal episode entitled Isaac and Ishmael where real, virtual and everyday embodied real were inextricably linked. The series exists in the liminal space occupied by docudrama, fictionalized journalism, news as fiction, psychodrama, realpolitical analysands, flesh and blood real and the imaginary real. The series reveals behind-the-scenes ethical sell-offs of the fictional (or nearly real) political epicentre of the planet. The Democratic President capable of blinking has a real world Ivy League CV . He is an economist trained in the London School of Economics.
2006 in An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Davis Guggenheim, Al Gore described how the mass media provides misinformation about consensus in the scientific community regarding climate change 2004 showed. He contrasts the findings of 928 Science magazine survey of all peer-reviewed scientific studies of climate change in which there were no articles questioning the fact that global warming caused by increased carbon dioxide in the earth’s environment is occurring at a rate and speed greater than any climate event in the past. Concurrently 53 percent of articles, etc in the mass media articles concluded that there is conflicting and/or inadequate evidence regarding global warming. Until Gore’s film was released consumers of the mass media who relied solely on them for information regarding climate change received deliberate misinformation preventing them from responding democratically to environmental risks.
2008 Guardian journalist Nick Davies published Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media in which he critically examined the changing face of journalism in the UK since the 1970s. This reporter with a distinguished record in investigative journalism claims that “the British newspaper industry, its regulators and the PR machine that supplies it” accept, report and spread “lies, distortions and propaganda” in a culture of “churnalism” not objective, investigative reporting (Riddell 2008). “Il documente les règles permettant à n’importe quel rédacteur d’usiner une « information » sans chair, sans risque et parfois sans vérité — mais respectueuse des principes du marketing : privilégier les enquêtes au rabais, éviter de froisser les institutions, se porter au devant des désirs supposés du lecteur, alimenter la panique morale… (Davies 2008-07).” He revealed how the public has come to accept misinformation (the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) as it is so widely spread by a mass media culture in which fewer journalists are hired and those that remain are discouraged from taking the time to verify the credibility of sources.
Webliography and Bibliography
Bagdikian, Ben H. 1971. The Information Machines: Their Impact on Men and the Media. New York: Harper & Row.
Bagdikian, Ben H. 1997. The Media Monopoly. 5th ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Barlow, Maude; Winter, James. 1997. The Big Black Book: The Essential Views of Conrad and Barbara Amiel Black. Toronto: Stoddart.
Bird; Roger?; Winter, James. 1998. “The End of News: How the News Is Being Swamped by Information, Manipulation and Entertainment. And How This is a Threat to Open, Democratic Society.” Canadian Journal of Communication [Online], 23(4). January 1. Available: http://www.cjc-online.ca/viewarticle.php?id=493.
CBC Radio. 1970. “How free is Canada’s press?” March 23, 1970.
CBC. 2007. “Media Ownership in Canada: a timeline.”
Chomsky, Noam. 1989. Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies. Toronto: CBC Enterprises.
Davies, Nick. 2008. Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media. London: Chatto & Windus.
Davies, Nick. 2008-07. “Qui veut en finir avec le modèle de la BBC: L’émotion n’existe pas? Alors, inventez-la!” Le monde diplomatique.
Franklin, Ursula. 1990. The Real World of Technology. Concord, ON: Anansi.
Grant, George. 1969. Technology and Empire. Concord, ON: Anansi.
Hackett, Robert. 1991. News and Dissent: The Press and the Politics of Peace in Canada. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Hackett, Robert; Gilsdorf, Bill; Savage; Philip. 1992. “News Balance Rhetoric: The Fraser Institute’s Political Appropriation of Content Analysis.” Canadian Journal of Communication. 17:1: 15-36.
Hackett, Robert A.; Zhao, Yuezhi. 1998. Sustaining Democracy? Journalism and the Politics of Objectivity. Toronto: Garamond Press Inc.
Hackett, Robert A.; Gruneau, Richard. 2000. The Missing News: Filters and Blind Spots in Canada. Ottawa: Centre for Policy Alternatives/Garamond Press Inc.
Hallin, Daniel. 1989. The “Uncensored War”: The Media and Vietnam. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Herman, Edward, and Noam Chomsky. 1988. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon.
Herman, Edward, and Robert McChesney. 1997. The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Global Capitalism. London, UK: Cassell.
Kellner, Douglas. 1992. The Persian Gulf TV War. San Francisco, CA: Westview Press.
Ligaya, Armina. 2007. “Media monopoly: Media consolidation: Can Aussie model stop the moguls? CBC News in Depth. September 19.
McQuaig, Linda. 1995. Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths. Toronto: Viking.
Menzies, Heather. 1996. Whose Brave New World? The Information Highway and the New Economy. Toronto: Between The Lines.
Postman, Neil. 1985. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness. New York: Penguin.
Riddell, Mary. 2008-02-03. “Failures of the Fourth Estate: Flat Earth News by Nick Davies turns the spotlight on the workings of the press.” The Observer.
Silva, Edward. 1995. More Perishable than Lettuce or Tomatoes: Labour Law Reform and Toronto’s Newspapers. Halifax, NS: Fernwood.
Taras, David. “The Winds of Right-wing Change in Canadian Journalism.” Canadian Journal of Communication. 21:04.
Tichenor, Phil. 1970s.
Winter, James. 1996. Democracy’s Oxygen: How Corporations Control the News. Montreal: Black Rose Books.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2002-. “Media Objectivity: a Timeline of Social Events1.” >> Speechless.
[1.] This is a personal teaching learning and research tool using my EndNote 8 and Zotero bibliographic databases compiled over a 14-year period, current events articles from various on-line and print sources. It is available for use under the Creative Commons license which is a license requiring any one who uses copyrighted work to attribute the work to its author, to not use the work commercially, to share any derivative work with the same license as this. For the sake of expediency I am uploading a timeline I developed in 2002. The vast majority of the entries come from a provocative, extremely concise, well-written publication by Hackett and Zhao (1998). For anyone teaching urban studies, critical ethnography, sociology, anthropology, economics, human rights, communications, public policy, history, political science not to mention journalism, this book is a must. It is entirely readable and its logic is impeccable. This has been uploaded in December 2006 to my WordPress blog and it will be updated in slow world time. Last updated July 2008.
I began this particular timeline while teaching First Nations and Inuit adult students in Off-Campus programs. One of the first questions asked of me during an information session on course content was put forward by the grandson of Jessie Oonark. The life and times of Jessie Oonark (1906-1983) Inuit artist, Order of Canada, Royal Canadian Academy member has been a part of my everyday life since the early 1990s I first began to investigate how understanding of her deceptively simple but content-rich work could be enhanced. By the time I met her daughter, a colleague teaching at Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit, Nunavut, had dinner at the Frobisher Inn in Iqaluit, NU with her son, cultural activist, father, political worker, William Noah in Iqaluit and her nephew, I was already confused, ashamed and angered by the stories of social injustice that I had collected. Her progeniture asked me, “Will we be examining the way the mass media portrays Inuit?”
Filed in democracy, philosophy and society, Politics, Social History Timeline, society, timelines
Tags: churnalism, Conrad Black, corporate crime, democracy, democracy's oxygen, disinformation, EndNote, Flat Earth News, fourth estate, Fraser Institute, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Hackett and Zhao, Mary Riddell, mass media, media blind spots, media concentration, media objectivity, mergers and acquisitions, Nick Davies, self-regulation, Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, wikileaks
July 14, 2007
Patrick Watson (1980) vs CTV (2007): the case of Conrad Black: The Canadian Establishment and governance.
Throughout the trial of Conrad Black I wondered why Patrick Watson‘s articulate and well-researched CBC documentary entitled the Canadian Establishment (1980), was not viewed on CBC. Conrad Black was known for a strong and effective offensive tactics when dealing with his image management in the press and until the guilty verdict became publicized the media was discouraged from entirely objective coverage. This may change now that the jury has revealed to their decision. CTV coverage reveals a pro-Black bias describing him as stoic, proud, even …onian, in the face of this trial, almost agreeing with Conrad Black that he is somehow above the law. However, he did glare and skowl at the jury when they gave their decision. They describe how he helped every community he was a part of. They admire his rise from his university education to an emerging career with the press to the circle of the uber-wealthy. They expect him to stand up to this and continue to argue for his own innocence. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice where he removed evidence from his Toronto office and of email fraud which hold a combined possible sentence of 10 to 65 years. Charges of racketeering were dismissed. Nonetheless he stole millions of dollars from Hollinger, and continues to feel no remorse. There appears to be a strong empathetic response to the potential of his doing his real jailtime in an American jail where he is actually going to have to do work such as laundry. There is speculation and some relief that since he is so ‘astute’ in terms of money that he will have provided for himself and his family, Barbara Amiel, their son and daughter, Alanna in some ‘legal’ fashion. CTV journalists are comparing the American and Canadian legal systems in terms of fairness and approaches to access to jury information. They mused about whether American courts would be harsher on Black and his co-accused than their Canadian counterparts who would be more influenced by Black’s position of power, wealth and prestige. They seem to admire Black for his intelligence and his ability to write and do research and imagine him using his minimum security prison to study and write. Although others argue that an American minimium security prison is not an exclusive club prison like those in Canada and Black will not have access to a computer. CTV interviewees describe Black as someone very concerned with his place in history. CTV journalists look for ‘silver lining’ in his situation. They wonder how Black will survive from now to his sentence hearing by Judge … in November. He is no longer a Canadian citizen since he abandoned it to become a British Lord. This means he has no rights to go to Canadian jails which are considered to be friendlier to the uber-wealthy. Black is expected to begin quickly to appeal the jury’s findings. This will not be stalling the sentencing hearing.
What makes Watson’s (1980) revelations so compelling at this time is the way in which he reveals Black’s roots as outsider on Bay Street until he was able to take advantage of widows of Establishment members to get his toe in the door. While Black’s father had some wealth through his brewery, his family lacked the prestige and power of the Canadian Establishment. According to Watson, it was during the era of Conrad Black that the Establishment shifted towards an even more self-serving attitude of entitlement. His business ethics predates that of the mean-spirited arrogance of the financeers in the 1990s. He seems to embody that which is dysfunctional and unsustainable in a social world corrupted by extremes of wealth and poverty.
My own concern with Black was the role he played as media mogul in obstructing access to an objective press, a keystone of democracy. Like the the New Brunswick-Bahamas Irvings prior to their ethical turn, mass media moguls adopt Friedman’s motto that their sole responsibility is to make money. Black claimed that he hoped to provide more of a pro-business, economic efficiency viewpoint to counteract the perceived social justice bias of the media (Flynn-Burhoe).
Do we secretly admire white collar criminals and their brilliant lawyers? Conrad Black and three others are accused of stealing $60M from shareholders to fatten their 5- and 7-figure salaries. Prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer claimed in his opening statement that media mogul Black failed to provide the public with objective accounts of world affairs.
CTV News. 2007. Conrad Black. July 13, 2007.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. “Media and Objectivity: a Selected Timeline of Social Events.” >> papergirls. December 6.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007.
“Is the Mass Media Coverage Biased in Favour of Conrad Black?”>> papergirls. May 9, 2007.
Watson, Patrick. 1980. The Canadian Establishment. CBC.
“Patrick Watson.” Museum TV Archives.
Filed in Business & Finance, economic efficiency, Economy & Finance, risk management, Risk Society, Social History Timeline, Social Justice, timelines
Tags: Affluenza, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Canadian Establishment, Conrad Black, corporate crime, corporate social responsibility, economic cohesion and the structure of corporate capita, economic efficiency, facebook, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Hackett and Zhao, mass media, mergers and acquisitions, Milton Friedman, moral mathematics, Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, UHNW, white collar crime