Friday, October 21, 2016
Postmedia Spin and the resignation of Dan Murphy
The Financial Post is reporting that "Postmedia holds the largest audience in Canada, with a nationwide readership of 11.1 million people on all platforms, dominating all other Canadian newspaper groups." The exact same article was in the Vancouver Province. At first I thought it was a joke but it wasn't in the comic section, it was in the news section. The reason why Postmedia has the largest readership in Western Canada is because they are the only media outlet. They now own almost all the newspapers here.
We've talked about media mergers and how it is concerning when all the media is owned by one entity because it becomes easier to control. Well, wait until you see where I'm going with this.
Here we have a news agency reporting on itself. The article states "According to a new study by Vividata, Postmedia leads the Torstar network by more than 2.9 million readers and the Globe and Mail by more than 5.2 million readers." Ah so Toronto still have two independent newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Globe an Mail. Time will tell how long before they too buckle and cave into the hostile takeover killing the freedom of the press once and for all. Honourable mention goes to the CBC who are also independent. For now.
In all fairness, the Toronto Sun confirmed the findings in this new report. Oh wait, they're owned by Postmedia as well. Same article, same media outlet. While this propoganda piece hit the airwaves, the Globe and Mail reported that Postmedia to cut more jobs as net loss spikes. At the same time, the CBC is reporting that Postmedia Network Canada Corp. says it intends to reduce staffing costs again as the company reports lower revenue and a deeper quarterly net loss.
I was joking when I said Postmedia could fire Keith Fraser now that Kim Bolan writes for the Vancouver Province as well as the Vancouver Sun. Shockingly, it looks like that just might be a reality in the new media order. Kim Bolan recently wrote an article that was printed in the Vancouver Province and instead of saying the Vancouver Sun has learned, she now says Postmedia has learned. Well let's take a look at what the new media empire did to Dan Murphy.
The Death of Political Satire
Yesterday it finally dawned on me that I hadn't seen an editorial cartoon in the paper for quite some time. My employer subscribes to the Vancouver Province so there are always several copies in the lunchroom at work. In 2015 the Vancouver Sun reported that "A longtime British Columbia editorial cartoonist described as a survivor among his Canadian colleagues is a victim of budget cuts after more than three decades at the same newspaper. The Victoria Times Colonist announced Tuesday that it can no longer afford to employ cartoonist Adrian Raeside."
I remember him. Budget cuts... The Victoria Times Colonist isn't part of the Postmedia empire as it was sold to Glacier Media in 2012 but it shows a disturbing trend. Political satire has been a long standing Canadian tradition. Removing political satire is another step towards eliminating the royal opposition and turning everything into one homogeneous machine of royal assent.
Now for the shocker. In 2015 the National Observer reported that editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy lost his job with the Vancouver Province for printing a cartoon that upset one of it's corporate advertisers. The story as also in Huffington Post and the CBC.
He claims he reigned after management said it was time for him to move on. Dan Murphy claims that after he made a video spoof of an Enbridge commercial, it was taken offline out of fears of upsetting the corporate advertiser. The story made the New York Times.
The National Observer reported that "In his meeting with Moriarty, Murphy says he was told Enbridge had complained to the Toronto head office of The Province’s owner, Postmedia Network Canada Corp., Canada’s largest newspaper chain. He says the order had come down to pull Murphy’s satire off the paper’s website – and that $1-million in Enbridge advertising was at stake."
Wayne Moriarty has a different recollection of the conversation but the fact remains, the spoof was pulled and Dan Murphy resigned. This has been one of the public's primary concerns with media mergers. When the news becomes censored because it may offend and affect advertizing revenue from corporate sponsors, the freedom of the press is diminished.
So what happens when all the editorial cartoonists are done away with though attrition and budget cuts? Will that be the end of political satire? Will that be the end of dissent? Does the media then simply become the mindless propaganda tool of the state? Heaven forbid.
I like Wayne Moriarty. He treated me fairly once. Years ago the Vancouver Province printed an article form the National Post mocking 911 truthers. I wrote in to complain that the article said 911 truthers concerns were unfounded yet the article didn't cite a single fact. Wayne and I started to argue back and forth about the issue. I cited Conrad Black's ownership of the National Post and other media outlets claiming that when he was in charge, if a reporter printed a labour friendly article they could lose their job. He passionately disagreed that was the case and we agreed to disagree.
I kept saying the bottom line is that you're only printing one side of the debate until finally he said fine, you write an article and I'll print the other side. I was shocked. I wrote an article and he printed it. Truthers were contacting me and ask how on earth I got that article published. I honestly said I'm not sure. One minute I'm in a heated argument with this guy and the next minute he says he'll print my side of the debate. That was fair. Sadly I don't see it happening again.
I understand the pressure to make money. I just think political satire is a Canadian tradition worth preserving. The public has to be able to question government polices. That is the fundamental aspect of a democratic society. Peace.