The bogus editorial voice in Canada.Occasionally, The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times editorializes on the Yankees, as it did in a piece called "The Likable Yankees" last October. But The New York Times Company, which owns the Boston Globe (and as of January, a stake in the Red Sox), would never direct the Globe to run the same editorial. Sox fans in the Globe's readership would be scandalized.
Or worse, imagine if Knight-Ridder forced its 32 dailies to run an unsigned staff editorial calling for normalized relations with Cuba to stimulate the economy. The proposition, however well-intentioned, would alienate Cuban expatriates in the Miami Herald's readership -- no small constituency -- because their positions are informed by experiences beyond the fathom of writers in Knight-Ridders's San Jose San Jose, city, United States
San Jose (sănəzā`, săn hōzā`), city (1990 pop. 782,248), seat of Santa Clara co., W central Calif.; founded 1777, inc. 1850. office. In Miami, Cuba's sociopolitical so·ci·o·po·li·ti·cal
Involving both social and political factors.
of or involving political and social factors ills might outweigh its possible contribution to the GNP GNP
See: Gross National Product .
The point, of course, is that newspapers -- and especially editorial pages -- should serve their readerships rather than a corporate entity. Major dailies that are unabashed mouthpieces for their owners are anathema to anybody remotely acquainted with the profession's modern ideals.
Not so in Canada. The Southam newspaper chain, owned by the powerful Asper family's CanWest Global Communications CanWest Global Communications Corp. TSX: CGS TSX: CGS.A NYSE: CWG is one of Canada's largest international media companies. The company's head office is situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the tallest building (CanWest Global Place) in the city and it is on the Corporation, decided late last year that its 14 major dailies will run national editorials authored in the Winnipeg corporate headquarters -- as many as three each week.
Moreover, Southam's editor-in-chief Murdoch Davis wrote that the newspapers "should not contradict the core position of the national pieces in editorials of their own," even if the national positions disregard the nuanced politics of the local readership. It didn't matter to the Winnipeg office that Canada, like America, is divided into regions with their own issues, opinions, and voting blocs, instead of being constituted by a unitary state A unitary state is a state or country whose three organs of state are governed constitutionally as one single unit, with one constitutionally created legislature. The political power of government in such states may well be transferred to lower levels, to regionally or locally .
The decision caused no dearth of agitation. Reporters at the Montreal Gazette -- an important voice of Anglophone dissent in a majority Francophone province -- withdrew their bylines to protest their diminished autonomy. They wrote in an open letter, "CanWest will be imposing editorial policy on its papers on all issues of national significance. We believe this centralizing process will weaken the credibility of every Southam paper."
And what value is there in journalism if it lacks credibility?
An editorial in a Southam competitor, the Toronto Globe and Mail, asked, "What does that tell each newspaper's readers about how much stock Southam, and CanWest, put in the people who produce the paper they have been buying?"
The Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning the editorial policy.
But nobody counted on Southam's vicious backlash.
A Gazette sports columnist was briefly suspended without pay for sending a critical e-mail to the company listserv. An internal memo threatened "suspension or termination, against those who persist in Verb 1. persist in - do something repeatedly and showing no intention to stop; "We continued our research into the cause of the illness"; "The landlord persists in asking us to move"
continue disregarding the obligations to the employer."
A columnist's article was bowdlerized and two more in Halifax quit when their pieces, critical of the Aspers, were spiked. Four reporters at the Regina Leader-Post The Regina Leader-Post is a local newspaper of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and now a member of the CanWest News Service.
The newspaper was first published as The Leader in 1883, by Nicholas Flood Davin. were suspended for speaking to the media about the expurgation of an article critical of CanWest, and six more were reprimanded for removing their bylines in protest of the rewrite.
In response to the censorship, one letter writer observed a "total blackout within the pages of the [Gazette] itself of any reporting on this story. . . . Suddenly, the lowly letters section. . . has been elevated to the status of the sole site in which actual freedom of speech still exists within our paper.
Southam had muzzled its dissidents. The writer saw the black irony that a newspaper -- in a country that values freedom of the press -- could squash dissent.
In a defense dubiously titled "Southam Editorials a
Sign of Freedom," David Asper David Asper was born in 1958 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
David Asper is a Canadian businessman and lawyer.
He is currently the Executive Vice President of the Canadian media company CanWest Global Communications Corp. He is also Chairman of the National Post newspaper. pronounced, "Sometimes [the] local view is not always what is arguably best for the nation as a whole."
Interestingly, the first national editorial argued that tax relief for private charities would be "best for the nation as a whole" without also noting that the Aspers control one such charity.
The original policy, which called for national editorials as frequently as three times each week, was recently scaled back. The Winnipeg office now plans to run no more than one editorial a week. It is unclear whether the decision was a response to widespread agitation.
That editorials should be delivered from on high is a perversion Perversion
See also Bestiality.
bondage and domination (B & D)
practices with whips, chains, etc. for sexual pleasure. [Western Cult.: Misc. of legitimate journalism. Fortunately, it's also an unwise business decision, likely to backfire," wrote Fred Fiske, the former president of the NCEW NCEW National Conference of Editorial Writers , in an open letter to David Asper. Readers expect their editorials to interpret issues in accordance with their local and regional concerns.
Could such a disconnect between a newspaper and its readers happen in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. ? Some American media conglomerates provide unsigned editorials to be used at the editors' discretion, but none requires that they be run.
NCEW's current president, Phil Haslanger, told me that "American conglomerates will continue to respect local discretion," because successful newspapers are driven by profits, not ideologies.
Readers will turn to newspapers that better represent them if they feel Southam dailies deliver opinions from a corporate-length remove. After all, why read the local newspaper's editorials if they take the same position as every other newspaper in the country?
Of course, readers in Southam's single-paper markets will not have an alternate daily from which to seek divergent opinions, and the policy is most devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. for them.
NCEW vice president John Taylor John Taylor, or Johnny Taylor may refer to: Academic figures
But if they "dismiss the corporate editorials as of no consequence, they begin to undermine their value -- and the value of those newspapers," Haslanger reminded me.
And irrelevance, ultimately, will be the policy's undoing. An editorial voice whose agenda diverges from its readers' is a voice no reader wants to hear.
Junior Adam B. Kushner is an ancient studies major at Columbia University. He is the managing editor of the Columbia Political Review The Columbia Political Review is Columbia University's undergraduate multi-partisan political magazine. The Political Review is affiliated with the Columbia Political Union, the largest political organization on campus. and the former editorial page editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator Columbia Daily Spectator is the daily newspaper, written by Columbia University undergraduates, servicing the university community and the neighborhood of Morningside Heights. It is published in the Spectator Building at 112th and Broadway in New York, New York. .