#168 – Wenteing the Bed…Again

Margaret Wente disgraces the name of her so-called profession and points to some wildly toxic bullshit within the Canadian media by plagarizing…again. Yes, again. Wente, for the mercifully unaware is a long-running columnist for the Moan and Wail, a mouthpiece for the ultra-powerful Thomson family which is – surprise! – connected to the law firm that Jody Wilson-Raybould improperly visited a few weeks back. Amazing how these aristocratic caker families don’t like limelight but all seem to mash into one another.

Anyways, the Globe and Mail’s resident “real-talker” can be counted on for two things: saying whatever generates the most butthurt on the caker left (thus making her relevant), and lifting shit from other people’s work without attributing anything to them. The incident arising most recently is by no means the first; once again, journalism takes a back seat to the all-important factor guiding the Thomson Empire – clicks. Because she’s “too big to fire” and generates buzz she can be “really sorry” and keep writing while an author with less star-power would be tossed out to find another, ever-rarer journalism job. In an industry that is already dangerously low on competition the perception that standards are flexible with the flex-point apparently being how many clicks and outraged share/comments you elicit hardly gleans credibility for anyone.

(s) Can’t buy a green Porsche with integrity, friend

In a heavily-controlled and deeply crippled Canadian media scene the oligarchs are firmly in control. Postmedia, a faceless company controlling a terrifying number of Canadian media outlets made a healthy $251,080,000 in the last quarter of 2015. Canadian media is also frightfully dependent on advertising – $2.65B will be spent on print advertisements in Canada in 2016, no doubt with some of that money getting used to create deliberately-misleading “native advertising“. When few companies get to choose which advertisers place ads in their papers, you get even further channeling of narrative to suit the ends of corporate partners and shareholders. Note that nowhere in that phrasing is the term “honesty”.

To punch those ad-tickets you need views – after all, people don’t come to read ads alone. To bring eyeballs to newsprint Canada’s media scene relies on celebrity and catchy headlines. Star writers in Canada are the natural product of such an environment, and they can even be somewhat interesting. I’ll flip through Andrew Coyne’s pieces on the National Post out of personal interest as well as out of interest for what Canadians are reading. Chantal Hébert at the Star, John Ivison (also at the Post) – the whole pile of pundits that one day are worthy enough to appear on the CBC (thus raising their status further) are a key part of attracting readership.

And with oversight and integrity this isn’t even the worst thing on Earth. Coyne certainly has more access to information than I do; a whistleblower can do more damage calling Andrew up than he would giving Shit About Canada an exclusive piece of juicy knowledge. When a famous Canadian journalist does the job properly and with integrity, they can be interesting and valuable. Indeed, these top-tier Canadian journalists should be demonstrating the kind of conduct that assures Canadians of the value of the media and encourages rigorous fact-finding from younger journalists.

But when our stars feature people like Peter Mansbridge, Kevin O’Leary, Amanda Lang, Rex Murphy, and other iffy characters of dubious integrity get away with oily deals, conflicts of interest, and poorly-researched screed it becomes apparent that our media overlords don’t really care who is making the clicks happen and what they’re doing when they aren’t at the click-mines. The only concerns that the formless few who ultimately command the Canadian media scene have are visibility and profit. There’s no room for integriry and journalistic standards in this world, so the pretense falls on the young. We can see this readily with Wente, where the popular columnist gets passes for shoddy work because fuck it, people read it anyways. Who needs integrity when you can make money off of something?

Well, shit. That right there is practically the national motto.


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