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While we are frequent critics of the Postmedia corporation, recent conduct by the Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, and Calgary Sun has sunk to such ethical and professional lows that we feel compelled to speak out with particular urgency. Please consider the following thread.
The two examples we would like to discuss are from the Sun's Rick Bell (“Kenney Blasts Drug Site Disorder,” Jan 21) and the Journal’s David Staples (“Preaching that fossil fuels are the enemy of humanity has no place in classrooms, Jan 29)
Bell’s Jan 29 column, which aggressively promotes the UCP administration’s anti-safe-consumption-site position, embraces dehumanizing language to demonize a marginalized population.
Bell describes vulnerable people struggling with addiction as “an invasion of meth-heads” causing “mayhem” and “horror,” citing bloody and gory anecdotes to depict Calgary’s Beltline neighborhood as, in his own words, “a zombie movie.”
For the Sun to give column space to content deliberately intended to whip up hate already strains any reasonable definition of journalistic ethics. The ethical breach is compounded by the appearance of collusion between the newspaper and the UCP administration.
The afternoon that the Sun published Bell’s cruel and dehumanizing screed against people struggling with addiction, the UCP held a press release to announce potential policy changes around SCS. The timing of Bell’s column was, to the say the least, convenient.
The public has good reason to worry that Bell and other right-leaning pundits are coordinating with the UCP administration and the Premier’s office. There is a wealth of evidence pointing to collusion between the Postmedia platforms and conservative governments.
In 2018, media critics working with Canadaland acquired planning documents that laid out a deliberate and focused strategy at the Toronto Sun to discredit the Ontario Liberals and promote the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.…
Further research by Canadaland revealed that Postmedia editors were given firm directives from corporate leadership in 2018 to put their papers and column space in the service of Canada’s federal and provincial conservative parties.…
Until 2018 one of Postmedia’s key investors, Chatham Asset Management, had David Pecker of American Media Inc. as their representative on the Postmedia board of directors.…
David Pecker was a vigorous Trump backer who used his control over American media outlets like the National Enquirer to drive pro-Trump content--and to kill stories that were critical of Trump.…
Last May, the CBC reported that Postmedia had hired Jason Kenney’s former chief of staff, Nick Koolsbergen, to lobby the government in the hopes of securing a deal to use their newspaper platforms to support the UCP’s anti-environmentalist ‘war room.’…
In July 2019, one of Postmedia’s most right-wing voices, former Western Standard editor Kevin Libin, was appointed executive editor of politics for the Postmedia network, a move broadly understood by critics as an attempt to enforce a right-wing position across Postmedia papers.
More recently and locally, documents acquired by the AFL detail efforts by the UCP administration to get a ghost-written op-ed, ostensibly attributed to ‘blue ribbon’ panel chair Janice MacKinnon, placed prominently in the Calgary Herald.…
In light of the mountain of evidence detailing Postmedia’s owners’ and directors’ desire to put their newspapers in the service of conservative power, how are we to interpret David Staples’ recent column vilifying climate activist Chris Gusen?
Gusen, an Edmonton-based climate organizer, has a modest public profile but is not an elected official or politician. To see a high-profile hit piece targeting him in the Journal this week was odd, to say the least.
We reached out to Gusen to ask whether he was approached for comment. According to Gusen, Staples did not make serious efforts to seek comment from him; the most he did was Tweet at Gusen around 10:30pm, the night before the hit piece was published.
We do note that Staples appears to have had plenty of time to seek comment from UCP Minister Adriana LaGrange who he quotes at length. Perhaps Staples’ editor and supervisor @BreakenridgeYEG can explain why Staples had time for LaGrange but not for the subject of his hit piece.
Blasting a private citizen in a prominent column without allowing them to comment strains the definition of journalistic ethics too. But as with the Bell column, we also have serious concerns regarding the appearance of coordination between Staples and the UCP administration.
The meme that “left-wing alarmists” are “indoctrinating” children in schools was prominent in last year’s UCP election platform and has been amplified by Postmedia. Danielle Smith, for example, was given space in the Edmonton Journal to promote this view.…
The purpose of the free press is to challenge power, criticize authority, and reveal truth. In our estimation Alberta’s Postmedia platforms are shirking this responsibility in favor of currying favor and serving the power of the UCP government.
Given the intensity of their recent ethical lapses, we can only conclude this thread with a strong call to action. It’s time to cancel your Postmedia subscriptions. Stop contributing to what is increasingly becoming an absolutely shameful shadow PR office for the UCP government.
We understand that these are the papers of record in many cities, and that cutting them out means you will have to make a significant effort to keep informed. But if Postmedia’s conduct continues to decline, you’re getting as much misinformation as information. It’s not worth it.
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