HOMEABOUTAD RATESLINKSARCHIVESTHIS ISSUE
Having Lousy Local Media
BY FIONA JACKSON-BUSS - The firing of Ottawa Citizen publisher Russell Mills was only the most recent and dramatic example of the Asper media empire censorship, says David Beers
The former reporter for the Global Canwest owned Vancouver Sun spoke on June 12 to a rapt audience of fellow journalists, students and social activists, outlining his experience working with and eventually being fired from the paper for diverting from corporate editorial policy in news coverage.
What I Learned at the Media Circus was a talk sponsored by Campaign for Press and Broadcast Freedom and the Canadian Association of Journalists. Although Beers is an award winning writer, both in his native US and here in BC, last October he was told by Sun management that although he was "one of the best writers at the paper," they'd have to let him go because they needed to save money.
His firing came shortly after he wrote an essay on what he saw as "war hysteria" following September 11 voicing concerns about a possible new McCarthyism.
But Beers' talk did not chiefly concern his firing and how Asper ownership of The Sun has affected content, although he outlined those. Instead he lamented the ongoing poor quality of the paper. "The cost of having lousy local media which feels no pressure to improve is profound," he said. He also shared his vision of what a newspaper should be.
"I like to think of a city's leading newspaper as a kind of mirror that all the city looks into…to see itself reflected back," he said. "If the city is inspired by what it sees, the citizenry is emboldened to tackle big problems, or dream creatively, or get what needs to be done for the benefit of all."
Beers asked for creative solutions. "We need to develop something special, culturally as well as economically, to offer the rest of the nation and the world. Our newspaper of record must act as a trusted forum, giving free play to conflicting views, ideas, and different ways of imagining our future. And it has to be credible in terms of minimal political bias.
"Victoria is experimenting with some pretty radical new political approaches to what it means to create a good society," Beers said. "(In order) to think through the best, most creative and clear-minded solutions to the challenges we face, we need the most grown-up, wide-ranging examination of these issues possible."Here's some of what's happening at The Sun according to Beers:
The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552 Fax: 604-267-3342