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Letter to the editor... Media change is inevitable

John W. Parker | Opinion | March 30th, 2009

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
RE: “Bleeding ink all over a dying industry” by Rob McGarry and “Apparently we don't need media anymore” by Nathan Swinn. Volume 41 Issue No. 26 March 23, 2009.

As a PR flack in training I have read the articles by Rob McGarry and Nathan Swinn with great interest. The tones were quiet different, where Rob was more of the dark and dreary lament, Nathan was more reminiscent of that famous line from that movie that I can never remember the name of. The movie when one character says, “I'm mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore!” Both are bemoaning what they see as the slow death of media in one form or another. This is not a new issue, its funny these guys only seem to be picking up on what's going on now.

Several years ago, various eminent business people realized that it is possible to make a great deal of money if one owned a majority of the newspapers. The trick was that one had to reduce the size of newsrooms in each paper in an effort to make them more economically viable. The focus was on articles that could be written by flacks of a different nature, the type in the head office of the various newspaper chains. The majority of newspapers and news media chains are now held by just a few companies such as Sun Media and Quebecor Inc, as a result, questions of bias tend to circulate.

Let me make something clear about bias. I have no doubt that if Nathan has actually read to this point he thinks I'm going to start talking about the fact that the media in Canada is more conservative than the majority of Canadians. He will roll his eyes and think I'm nothing but a disciple of Darius. I don't think that CTV is war mongering, Darius might, but I honestly don't know what he thinks on the matter. It is of course of note that a host of a popular CTV program was recently made a Conservative senator by the Prime Minister. I will miss his show, I truthfully enjoyed it a lot.

Bias is a reality; even the best journalists are prone to it. As a result one cannot limit oneself to one source, as both Rob and Nathan have suggested. I agree completely. I regularly read the online versions of the CBC, BBC, ABC, Washington Post, New York Times, Globe and Mail, CNN and Time magazine. I also have a weekly subscription to the Economist. If I were to actually purchase subscriptions to the Washington Post, New York Times, Globe and Mail, it would be rather expensive. Frankly why would I bother spending the money? I can view these three papers for free. When I want and where I want to.

We do live in an information age, but it is our own responsibility to read the information that we do. Of course journalists will continue to have a role, but I refuse to infuse them with the quality of infallibility. Reading opposing views allows us to come to our own conclusions; unbelievable but very true.

Many of my instructors have backgrounds in journalism. They have taught me the importance of staying connected with what is going one because the industry is constantly changing. I may be a PR flack in training but I also am able to adapt to the changing times. Do I miss daily delivery? The mornings when they forgot to deliver it? Or perhaps when it was wet or caked with mud? Perhaps the daily newspaper is evolving as opposed to getting over the irony of writing its own obituary.
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