Hi everyone! Everyone’s just settling in for this next panel. We’ll get started in a few minutes.
Bosquet is kicking off this discussion with a slideshow presentation called "How the news media suck: A case study"
"I'll be speaking from the perspective of someone who is a municipal reporter."
Why does news media suck? There are three categories he has for why this is.
First is lazy reporting. Bosquet recounts a story of when Nova Scotia Business Inc gave BC firm FCV Technologies $1.2 million in payroll rebates to open a Halifax office. Most outlets re-ran the press release or didn't dig further.
Second is advertorial. Brings up a World.Oyster.Go advertorial program that runs in the Chronicle Herald that NSBI paid $34,900 for. Content was written by a freelancer, appeared in the paper's business section, and appeared in exactly the same format as business news appears in on the paper.
Third: Blurred lines of conflict. Mentions a Halifax journalist who runs a column called Entrevester. The journalist and his wife also run a company by the same name, which works with many of the companies he writes about.
Bringing those four categories together. Brings up an example of the Chronicle Herald's coverage of Unique Solutions, the firm that produces body scanners that can be used in contexts outside of airport security.
From 2005-2009, the NSBI loaned this company $5.9 million. The minister overseeing the NSBI ended up being a member of the company's board.
Entrevestor covered this, despite one of the principal investors in the company having a small stake in his.
"We all know what we're in this business for. We're not here to help the comfortable, or whatever that quote is."
"We'd make a whole lot more money going into PR. And if that's what you want to do, go for it."
"But our job as reporters is to call people out on their bullshit—we should be doing more of that."
And now, for Jesse Brown's presentation.
"I'm going to run through the past year and a half of what media criticism has been in our application of it."
The big concerns being: who cares about Canadian media? Is anyone going to talk to you if the industry is so small? And is there enough material?
What began as a weekly conversation evolved. Rather than talk about those specific conversations, I'll talk about how it evolved.
Shows us his first video, talking with writer Alexandra Molotkow about how Canadian media treats millennials as subjects—especially the Globe and Mail.
Canadaland's first news story in February 2014: how Rex Murphy was paid by oil sands industry interests for speaking at an event, something not disclosed by the CBC.
This led to another news story about Rex Murphy and the National Post.
This eventually led to his well-known scoop on Peter Mansbridge and speaking fees.
Points out that the headlines they ran at the time weren't...great. For example: "CBCecrets: Mansbridge's Oil Pay Makes the News."
I'd re-write that headline if I could, he says.
"No one has been able to effectively discredit on whole a story we've run. We get two arguments instead."
First: "There's no story here. Nobody cares."
Brown had wanted to introduce another Canadaland feature called "Spiked," which would cover stories that got held back or pulled for political reasons. Problem: people can't really submit tips about that anonymously, since the management that spiked the story will figure it out.
Brown's now describing the circumstances under which he and the Toronto Star published the Jian Ghomeshi stories last fall, after Ghomeshi heard Brown promising a "monster story" in an upcoming week and posted the Facebook letter that would prompt the Star to go forward with publishing its reporting.
Brown's now describing Canadaland investigative reporter Sean Craig's reporting on Amanda Lang's conflict of interest with RBC in January earlier this year.
This brings him to the second thing people bring up to discredit his stories: They've been covered or headlined too sensationally.
Our stuff gets criticized very closely. I don't think we could survive a story falling down the way, say The Star's HPV coverage fell down.
We've had to issue corrections like everyone does. But nothing we've published we've had to fully retract.
Q: As a critic of media, but also someone who's published stories in praetorships with other media organizations, how can you continue to do that without a conflict of interest?
Q: Tim, how did the Chronicle Herald respond to your reporting on its coverage?
Bosquet: Before I publish something criticizing, I contact the people I'm writing about for comment. Their initial response was OK—the people he wrote about got back to them. One of the writers left the paper. "Now I still make perfunctory emails to the business editor and publisher of the paper, but they just ignore me."
Q: Do you think you have enough material now, with newsrooms and resources shrinking?
Bosquet: I think the problems have gotten worse *because* of newsroom shrinking. This re-writing press release stuff. Every time I see it, I call out the reporter.
Brown: I don't romanticise the past; I think there's always been enough material to do this work. But having blogs, Twitter, more ways of aggressively questioning people in public and more ways of people to leak information, it's become more possible.
Q: If the point of media criticism is to improve the industry—have you seen that happen?
Brown: I don't know if Canadian journalism is *better* because of Canadaland. But things now get called out. Or it's known now that even things that are open secrets can be talked about.
Brown: For example: Ghomeshi story opened up the conversation about harassment at work. Also: the radical disparity in job security, between contract and staff employees.
And that wraps up this panel. Thanks for tuning in!