We got a new pope! We got a new pope! We got a new pope!
And so ends my impression of the Canadian media today (thanks for the idea Dan).

Did I mention we have a new pope?
For years now, the mainstream papers in Canada have demanded a new foreign policy statement and a new defence policy. It’s been a major theme. The last defence white paper was drafted in 1994, they were fond of pointing out, the world has changed since then. We need guidance in the era of terrorism.
Yesterday, a new foreign policy statement (including a defence policy section) was released, and the Toronto Star and Montreal Gazette saw fit to run just two news stories on it. And that’s twice what the rest of the heavy-hitters ran.
That’s right, according to the Globe, Post and Citizen, all that was in the 116-plus page document can be summed up in a single story. New direction for the military? New rules on foreign aid? New structure in DFAIT? Trade issues? One story. Throw in the commentaries and editorials and there were 16 pieces on the policy statement in the Globe, Post, Citizen, Gazette, Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Star combined.
For a comparison, let’s count hits on the naming of the new pope from the National Post alone: 15.
Now we’re going to play the context game that I know and love.
According to the 2001 Canadian census, 12.8 million Canadians identified themself as Roman Catholic. That’s 43 per cent of the population.
According to the 2001 Canadian census, just over 30 million Canadians existed. That’s 100 per cent of the population.
Each and every Canadian will be affected by the new foreign and defence policy guidelines. How can the corporate media bigwigs justify this imbalance in coverage?

Remember that World Bank report on poor kids
The Post pulled another “UN report on Arab democracy” stunt and rather than report on the World Bank’s findings, it published excerpts from the report a few days after the fact. Context? Quotes? Nah, just toss in the report, let people figure it out for themselves.

Border scare! AAAAAAHHHH!!
The Post also continued its border security fear-monger-fest with an opinion piece from an important U.S. congressman talking about Canada’s weak performance on border securit. . . wait a minute. . . that name looks familiar. . . Mark Souder? Wasn’t he the one quoted in that story last week. . . yes, yes he was. So essentially, they gave him an opinion piece in which to reiterate the comments made in a news story last week. What’s the matter, Post, couldn’t find anyone else to spin your line for you?

Sorry about yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to repost my rant after my computer decided to take a nap. My new iBook should be here today, but in the meantime, I’ll keep posting from work. Oh, and I added a link to a cool new blog by my good buddy Ryan. It’s a megalomedia-esque take on the world of advertising. Check it out here.


  1. Counterpoint: The election of a new, extremely hardline pope affects billions of people around the world, as well as millions of Canadians. The issuing of a policy statement by the Canadian government only affects Canadians, assuming the government lasts long enough to adopt its contents.

    Second counterpoint: The impact of the new foreign policy is going to be diffuse and further in the future, but Ratzinger is pope right now. A lot of people feel his decisions will directly affect the futures of their immortal souls, but I doubt many Canadians feel that strongly about our foreign policy. Some Canadians have accepted the prevalent world opinion that Canada isn’t that important. I’d like to change that, and I hope that a stronger military makes us a stronger world presence.

    Second counterpoint: It’s really dangerous to judge the news value of a story based solely on the percentage of the population it affects. If we did that, how would we ever report on ethnic minorities, or on important criminal trials that only affect handfuls of people?

    Unrelated point: I’ve always been puzzled by your use of the phrase “corporate media.” What would be an example of non-corporate media? Every newspaper, TV station and radio network is run by a corporation of some kind, even if it’s publicly funded. How is calling the media “corporate” a pejorative?

  2. I didn’t mean to imply that the new pope wasn’t worthy of coverage, it’s the amount of coverage that gets me. Many papers ran stories about the confusion about the smoke, for example.

    My issue is that there were so many elements to the foreign policy review that it benefited nobody to put them into one story with little detail.

    It doesn’t just affect Canadians, either. A great deal of what was left out of the stories surrounded where, when and how Canada will intervene in other countries, financially and militarily.

    Also, the media made this their issue. Whether or not Canadians care is, to some degree anyway, irrelevant. It’s irresponsible to ignore the conclusion of something you’ve pushed for for years.

    Finally, I’d argue that the impact of the new pope won’t be as immediate or wide-ranging as you suggest. The church is bogged down in bureaucracy the same way governments are. Things don’t change quickly. And as we’ve seen time and time again, much of society is becoming secular, the decree of the church means less and less these days.

    And on the corporate media question, I understand that most media outlets are owned by a corporation, I use the term more as a way of describing their bottom line. The Charlatan, for example, is governed by a corporation, but the financial bottom line is not what dictates coverage. With many outlets, it is.

  3. My hope – and it’s a slim hope, mind you – is that the newspapers who’ve called for this foreign policy review will do what we did with the Rae Review: take the time to read it before analyzing and critiquing it exhaustively. That seems more responsible than doing a quickie review in under 24 hours.

    As for the impact of the new pope, I recommend you check out the discussion thread on PoE about that. Some of the posters are just goofing off, but others are making cogent points about how this is going to be a really big deal for the Third World. I’ll agree that Church policy is less important for Canada, because we’re pretty secular, but the impact on Africa and Latin America is a different story. I don’t know what this new papacy is going to do for, say, Western foreign aid for HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa.

    And God knows how it’s going to mess up the U.S.

  4. And who knows how it’s going to


    Also, click on my name for amusing link.

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