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Southam editorials: Media Giant Silences Local Voices: Canadian Journalism Under Attack

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  • George(s) Lessard
    From: Riga, Andy (mon_exchange) Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 08:38:38 -0500 (EST) Subject: Southam editorials ... - ----------------------------
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 11, 2001
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      From: "Riga, Andy (mon_exchange)" <xxxxxxxxxx>
      Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 08:38:38 -0500 (EST)
      Subject: Southam editorials

      > Thought this might be of interest:
      >
      >
      - ----------------------------
      DECEMBER 10, 2001

      Media Giant Silences Local Voices: Canadian Journalism Under Attack

      Dear Editor,
      We are submitting the text of a letter signed today by 54 journalists*
      at The Gazette in Montreal. We ask that it be considered for publication
      as a letter to the editor or op-ed piece. The names of reporters who
      signed the document are listed at the bottom. For more information,
      visit this Web site: http://gazreporters.tripod.com/


      AN OPEN LETTER

      For two days last week, many reporters at The Gazette in Montreal
      removed their names from the articles they wrote. It was a protest
      against the decision by Southam News to force 12** of its major
      metropolitan newspapers to run "national editorials" written at the
      Winnipeg corporate headquarters of parent company CanWest Global
      Communications Corp. The first was published last week. Another is to
      run Thursday.

      We believe this is an attempt to centralize opinion to serve the
      corporate interests of CanWest. Far from offering additional content to
      Canadians, this will practically vacate the power of the editorial
      boards of Southam newspapers and thereby reduce the diversity of
      opinions and the breadth of debate that to date has been offered
      readers across Canada.

      CanWest's intention is initially to publish one national editorial a
      week in all major Southam newspapers. This will eventually become three
      a week.

      More important, each editorial will set the policy for that topic in
      such a way as to constrain the editorial boards of each newspaper to
      follow this policy. Essentially, CanWest will be imposing editorial
      policy on its papers on all issues of national significance. Without
      question, this decision will undermine the independence and diversity
      of each newspaper's editorial board and thereby give Canadians a
      greatly reduced variety of opinion, debate and editorial discussion.

      Editorial boards at each newspaper exist to debate public policy
      issues, reach a consensus and then present the reasoning to the public.
      They are designed to be largely free of corporate interests. This
      crucial process of journalistic debate is undermined by editorials
      dictated by corporate headquarters.

      We believe this centralizing process will weaken the credibility of
      every Southam paper. Last week's first editorial, for example, calls on
      the federal government to reduce and eventually to abolish
      capital-gains taxes for private foundations. Who would blame a reader
      for thinking the editorial simply serves the interests of the
      foundation run by the Asper family, owners of CanWest and Southam?
      Credibility is the most precious asset a newspaper possesses. When the
      power of the press is abused, that credibility dies.

      Journalists have a duty to be faithful to the interests of their
      readers. Our responsibility is to seek the truth and encourage
      freewheeling debate on a full range of issues and present stories and
      ideas in as dynamic a way as possible. Blatant pressures applied to
      editors by CanWest have damaged this process at major newspapers across
      Canada. The company is narrowing debate and corrupting both news
      coverage and commentary to suit corporate interests.

      A free press is no longer free when competing voices disappear, yet the
      federal government has recently permitted two large corporations,
      CanWest and BCE Inc., to secure a stranglehold on Canada's major
      privately operated television and newspaper outlets. It is time for a
      thorough inquiry into this dangerous situation.

      * A list of signatories can be found at the end of this message. More
      signatures are expected. We will issue an update later today.

      ** Halifax Daily News, St. John's Telegram, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa
      Citizen, Windsor Star, St. Catharines Standard, Regina Leader Post,
      Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Vancouver
      Sun, Victoria Times-Colonist

      -------------


      The following Gazette journalists have signed the open letter:
      1. Bernard Perusse
      2. Jay Bryan
      3. Lynn Moore
      4. Mike Boone
      5. Sheila McGovern
      6. Irwin Block
      7. Alexander Norris
      8. Kevin Dougherty
      9. Monique Beaudin
      10. Charlie Shannon
      11. Andy Riga
      12. George Kalogerakis
      13. Peggy Curran
      14. Julian Armstrong
      15. Basem Boshra
      16. Nick Van Praet
      17. Eva Friede
      18. Sheila Scott
      19. Sue Montgomery
      20. Mark Abley
      21. Leigh Edwards
      22. Paul Delean
      23. Michelle Sarrazin
      24. Richard Arless
      25. Lisa Fitterman
      26. Linda Gyulai
      27. William Marsden
      28. Jan Ravensbergen
      29. Matt Radz
      30. Jeff Heinrich
      31. Jane Davenport
      32. Mike King
      33. Kazi Stastna
      34. Marilyn Mill
      35. Marie Cuffaro
      36. Philip Authier
      37. Paul Cherry
      38. John Kenney
      39. Francois Shalom
      40. Ani Cioffi
      41. Mary Lamey
      42. Michelle Lalonde
      43. Charles Shannon
      44. Levon Sevunts
      45. Terry Mosher
      46. Alan Hustak
      47. T'cha Dunlevy
      48. Jeanine Lee
      49. Susan Schwartz
      50. John Griffin
      51. Lynn Farrell
      52. Aaron Derfel
      53. Doug Sweet
      54. Harvey Shepherd

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