Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Canada's 'Newspaper Of Record' Further Debases Itself

Currently, The Globe and Mail, the hubristically self-proclaimed newspaper of record and Canada's national newspaper, is embroiled in an ugly labour dispute with its workers.

In a statement issued last week, Unifor, the union representing the workers,

recommended members reject the company’s offer because it would weaken job security, reduce base pay for advertising sales staff and require certain newsroom staff to work on “advertorial” articles paid for by advertisers.

The later concept forms the crux of this post. As explained by Wikipedia, an advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content. The term "advertorial" is a blend of the words "advertisement" and "editorial."

Advertorials differ from traditional advertisements in that they are designed to look like the articles that appear in the publication.

For an excellent examination of this sad devolution in journalism, take a look at Alison's post the other day, with links to a variety of examples that amply demonstrate their insidious nature.

But the Trojan Horse of propaganda can take many forms, not all of which are obvious. Take, for example, an article appearing in yesterday's Globe, purportedly written by Mike Harris, arguably the worst and most divisive premier that Ontario has ever seen. Bearing all the earmarks of a public relations offensive carefully crafted by one of the many arms of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the piece, entitled Work together on Gateway, for prosperity’s sake, is eerily reminiscent of the advertorial written recently by Martha Hall Findlay, who, with a straight face, conflated the Northern Gateway with national-building.

And, like Findlay's, the Harris advertorial is clearly written with the assumption that the public is infinitely malleable and has a collective memory that is virtually non-existent.

Consider the first paragraph:

Canada is a resource nation. In every region, its natural resource sectors, including mining, forestry, energy and oil and gas, support vital social programs and provide stable, well-paying jobs.

Despite the fact that it evokes a nineteenth-century version of Canada as drawers of wood and hewers of water, it equates resource development with things most Canadians consider vital: jobs and social programs (the latter despite the egregious contempt Harris showed for the concept during his tenure as Premier).

The next part is even more redolent of the kind of revisionism the right-wing is addicted to:

Consider, as just one example, the Northern Gateway pipeline, recently approved by the federal government. Since being proposed more than a decade ago, the project’s journey hasn’t always been easy. It has faced tough criticism. But thoughtful debate has taken place and ideas have been exchanged that have resulted in a better pipeline proposal.

As a former premier, I know first-hand the experience of fighting for economic development for your province and its people, but not to the detriment of local communities and the environment. Receiving social licence for resource projects must be the leading objective for proponents; public input and consultations are paramount.

Yet another bald-faced lie, which this link will amply attest to.

The rest of Harris's encomium for 'prudent and thoughtful' development goes on in a similar vein, and to parse it in detail would make this post far too long. But I hope you will check it out for yourselves; as both an indictment of contemporary journalistic standards at the Globe and as a skillfully wrought propaganda piece that demonstrates what money will buy these days, it is a peerless example.

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