Let’s see, what was in the news today. . .

Okay. I realize that these days, the media can’t provide context for all the major issues they report on. I don’t like it, and I don’t necessarily agree that it has to be this way, but the atmosphere right now doesn’t allow for it. That realization made, it’s indicative of the sorry state of the Canadian media that so much coverage was given to the whole Jackson case, especially today’s coverage of the verdict. Since I’m MediaScouting today, I was up watching The National and CTV News last night, and they set the tone for today’s print coverage. All told, CBC dedicated almost 15 minutes of their hour-long broadcast to Jackson coverage, while CTV gave seven minutes of their half-hour news show. I happened to listen also to the World At Six on CBC Radio, their flagship news program, where there was a six-minute report dedicated to the case, followed by more coverage during As It Happens. Then there was the print coverage: top story in every major daily; five separate bylines in the and GlobePost; six in the Citizen. . . even the usually-restrained Toronto Star had five bylines on the story.

Now, why can’t we clear that much space for discussions on Haiti? Afghanistan? Bolivia? Lebanon? There are major developments happening right now in all of these countries, yet there’s fuck all to read about them in our papers.

What about the StatsCan report on Native unemployment? The unemployment rate for off-reserve Natives is two-and-a-half times that of the non-Native population, yet only the Globe saw fit to report that.

CBC News uncovered the use of Agent Purple – a herbicide more lethal than Agent Orange – at CFB Gagetown in the 1960s, but despite the Canadian Press putting out a wire story on it, only the Gazette really gave it any play (the Post ran a small brief). See my MediaScout post today for more on this story.

The worst part about all of this is that I’m not even remotely surprised. The Canadian media can rally a small army of reporters and commentators to wax philosophic on what the acquittals will mean for MJ’s music career, but have to rely on wire stories from U.S. and European wire services to discuss Canada’s aid packages to Darfur. They’ll clear space for a timeline of Jacko’s creepiness, but not for more evidence of Canada’s shameful neglect of the Native population.

The world will keep going on around us, and our media focus will shift from Karla, to Russell Crowe, to Michael Jackson. It’s a fucking disgrace.

Oh, and to everyone who had to listen to me speculate on today’s coverage (Hi Amy!), I have to admit I was wrong. I guessed the Post and Sun would run the same headline, but I was totally off. The Sun had “He Beat It!” while the Post went with “Jackson Beats It.” Totally different.

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