Newspapers Don’t Decide Federal Elections: Roger Currie

Paul Godfrey, president and CEO of Postmedia newspapers. (TORONTO STAR / FILE)




By Roger Currie


November 14th, 2015

There’s an interesting discussion going on in what’s left of the newspaper business in Canada. The largest group of papers, including the Leader Post and the Star Phoenix in Saskatchewan, are part of Postmedia. The CEO is 76-year-old Paul Godfrey. He once ran the Blue Jays and the Toronto Sun, and he has been the biggest promoter of trying to get the National Football League to put a team in Toronto.

Godfrey is also a longtime prominent supporter of the Conservatives. In the final days of the recent election campaign, he sent out an order to all of the Post Media papers. They were expected to endorse Stephen Harper and the Tories on their editorial pages. They all did as they were told, but it made very little difference as Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won an overwhelming majority.

At the perennial money-loser known as the National Post, which is also part of the same group, Andrew Coyne quit as director of the editorial page. He wrote a column in which he endorsed Trudeau and the Liberals, and Paul Godfrey refused to run it.

Half a century ago, newspaper editorials carried some importance in the battle for votes at election time. In 2015, their influence is minimal. The diminishing number of people who are regular readers of newspapers, rarely visit the editorial page. If they do, very few of them are looking for guidance on what to do with their vote.

The legendary Roy Thomson once declared that owning a radio or television station was like having a license to print money. He also said owning a newspaper was even better, because a license was not required. How times have changed.

The Thomson family got out of the newspaper business a while back, and they are richer than ever. Roy’s grandson David is the deep pockets behind the Winnipeg Jets. I don’t think he has ever tried to tell anyone how they should vote.

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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.

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  1. It’s not the editorial page that is the problem. The opinions expressed there are no different than the comments that are expressed on stories – or on this site! The problem with newspapers – and other media outlets – are the STORIES themselves. They are supposed to be written by REPORTERS, and therefore should REPORT the news, not slant it in the direction that the writer wants to skew it. A very prominent recent example was the fawning over Justin Trudeau by the top “newsman” for the CBC – Peter Mansbridge. It was always obvious that he and the reporting of the network had a pro-Liberal bias, but his uncontainable gleeful happiness at having them back in power makes the veracity of any stories they do, or that he covers, to be suspect. Do you really think that the coverage of Trudeau’s trip to Europe will be covered fairly?

    Closer to home here in B.C. the local Global and CTV, as well as the local newspaper, coverage of politics were instrumental in electing Christy Clark’s Liberals. Not the editorials – the stories! No wonder the newspapers are going out of business and news ratings for other media are declining. They’re not considered to be unbiased reporters of events any more, but instead are propaganda shills for political parties that reflect the views of the owners.

  2. @Rick

    The reason newspapers are going out of business is PERHAPS, partly due to the lack of good writing and journalism. The main reason is, of course, is the internet and the fact that younger people do not read or buy newspapers anymore, except on line.

    Only old fogies over 40, regretfully, read paper newspapers.

    So, IT DOESN’T MATTER what politicial bias newspapers take, anymore, since everyone under 30 chooses the internet as their favorite news source and lines their bird cages with news print.

    By the way, Peter Mansbridge (whom I don’t really like as a newsman) got a MAJOR scoop over CTV and Global, recently, in getting a “birds eye exclusive” and unfettered access to the PMO office !

    That was a journalistic SCOOP, not a biased story at all !

    So, you and your conservative buddies, such as Craig Oliver and Bob Fife, got their ass whipped (again) ! LOL


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