Happy Press Freedom Day!

I never thought it would get to the point that I’d lose sympathy for Juliet O’Neill. But after a solid 16 months of the Citizen parading her across their pages at every minor milestone in her legal battle, I’m pretty tired of it all. Yes, what happened to her was brutal and offensive, but how can the Citizen expect to report on it unbiasedly?
Today, it’s front page news that O’Neill won a press freedom award from the National Press Club. Accompanying the story is a photo of the Citizen’s front page from the day after the raid. There are elements to the story that are worth reporting, such as the comments from the award jury, the fact that the raid sparked international attention and it’s probably even worth updating the legal battle surrounding the raid on her home and office.
But the first quote in the story shouldn’t be from the editor-in-chief of the paper. Nor should the second quote be from the executive editor.
The story gets more twisted on the editorial page, however, where the lead editorial compares O’Neill to the editor of a Chinese paper who received a UNESCO award for his work. The Chinese journalist spent five months in a Chinese jail and can no longer work. O’Neill had someone go through her panty drawer.
The opening lines of the editorial ooze with the sort of self-indulgence that makes me loathe the mainstream press: “Chen Yizhong works in China; Juliet O’Neill works in Canada. Both are journalists, and both have suffered intimidation and threats, just for doing their jobs. The are comrades in a fight for freedom that never ends.”
The kicker really cracks me up though.
“Press freedom is a right, not for journalists, but for all people. Free and independent media are an essential component of democracy – and anyone who cherishes our democracy has a duty to help defend that free press.”
An independent media? I guess they have a different definintion than I do.

Southern Sudan is a-okay, let’s just move on
This National Post story baffles me. “Peace deal clears way for massive rebuilding: Southern Sudan.”
The story opens: “In the rugged plains of southern Sudan, Africa’s longest war dashed the simplest hopes of two generations. Yet the signing of a peace agreement between Sudan’s regime and southern rebels has at last cleared the way for one of the most ambitious reconstruction and development schemes in recent history.”
With that lead and headline, you’d think the situation is southern Sudan was pretty good eh? Oh wait, the context comes later. Rampant poverty, no paved roads, landmines strewn across the dirt roads rendering them impassable, illiteracy, high infant-mortality rates and a lack of direction from government officials . . . the article concludes that “Until this is resolved, southern Sudan will be incapable of absorbing the huge sums promised by international donors.”
So, how has the way been cleared for rebuilding, exactly?
To further the frustration, this is a reprint of a Daily Telegraph story from London, so there’s not even any Canadian content such as the amount of money Canada has contributed or the fact that Canadian soldiers will be deployed there.
I think there’s also a responsiblity to clearly articulate that southern Sudan is NOT Darfur, which is in the west. I don’t know that the distinction is clear and writing that there’s a peace deal in Sudan could lead people to believe that the genocide in Darfur is over. It most certainly isn’t.

The Post outdoes itself
Early in my Megalomedia days I took some shots at the CanWest papers for ensuring a pretty lady above the fold as often as possible. Please don’t mistake my lack of follow-up posts to a change in practice, they still do it. Today’s Post even manages to get two famous hotties – Sandra Bullock and Pamela Anderson – on A1. Bullock is in an above-the-masthead teaser to an arts story, while Anderson is a standup teasing to a story in the business section about her KFC boycott.
Makes you wonder if the choice of a bunch of phallic-looking carrotts for the teaser to the antioxidants story was a coincidence.


  1. Oh yeah, and speaking of the Post’s Pamela Anderson dealings, check out the story in the Financial Post. The headline is “KFC SAYS ‘FACTS STACKED AGAINST’ PETA’S ANDERSON,” the cutline says Anderson will be “kept abreast” of Peta’s actions, and the subhead says, “Veteran actor claims its chickens are top heavy.”

    In other news, the FP senior editors were seen gangbanging an intern yesterday in some strange hazing ceremony.

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