Hot off the presses: Media biased

Did you hear some funny noises last week? It could have been the sound of local newspaper columnists honing their agendas and sharpening their axes for the five-week federal election grind. That sloppy slurping noise might have been the editors and publishers of the two local papers festooning the corporate altar with monsoon kisses. That straining noise? Might have been a bipolar race-mentality being forced upon the writers. That fawning sound? Possibly the result of local dailies’ unabashed infatuation with Stockwell Day. That eerie silence? The voice of labour, environment, gender and political reform advocates, silenced by media that professes to represent all Calgarians but instead panders to an elite few.

Yes, it’s federal election time, and you know what that means–get ready to be bamboozled and manipulated by the thoroughly biased and irresponsible mainstream media. While the National Post, Globe and Mail, CBC and CTV are guilty of manipulating and misrepresenting the citizens they serve, the local media is particularly culpable.

In covering this election so far, the two local dailies seem to deliberately pursue biased and misleading journalism–too often masquerading opinion as news and editorializing what is clearly news.

In the case of the Calgary Herald, too often we see something like Don Martin’s "On the Campaign Trail" on the front cover. For clarity and credibility’s sake, a paper should not place news side-by-side with opinion–many readers do not devote sufficient time to distinguish these stories or simply do not appreciate the difference. Many read front page headlines and incorporate the information as fact, or read the editorial page headlines and interpret them as opinion. Could the Herald be using reader confusion to their advantage, unloading the Trojan horse of opinion on the unsuspecting news reader?

However, the Herald is not as blatantly underhanded as the Sun. Editorials are strewn haphazardly throughout the first 10 pages of stereo and tire advertisements along with the occasional news piece. But for the occasional photo, rarely are news and opinion distinguishable. For example, on Oct. 24, a rare pro-Liberal column on page five sits above what might be a news story. Simply prefaced, "Ottawa," the story offers readers insight into Chrétien’s perceived gaffes on the 23rd. But who wrote it? Was this a wire story? Were these 100 words intended to refute Mr. Durkan’s column above it? Are the sentiments expressed therein factual?

Don’t take my word for it–read these papers critically and decide for yourself whether they present information to Joe reader in an impartial, transparent manner. If you feel they do not, you owe it to yourself to voice your displeasure.

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