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November 21, 2003 — 8 PM

What We Don’t Know Won’t Govern Us

Continuing Canadian political week here at Attaboy, I refer you to another rant against the content and style of political coverage in the nation, except this one is from the mouth of a member of that very press.

It’s Paul Wells, and his rant was actually a speech given to senior federal bureaucrats and political scientists about how the Canadian media has, for the last several years, all but ignored the legislative work of the executive branch.

The cynic might say that’s because our federal government hasn’t been doing anything for years, and that cynic might very well be me. But Wells augments my argument about the trouble with the Paul Martin affair. We don’t know what our government has done, or is doing, or will do. We don’t know because what little attention we give to politics focuses on scandal and spectacle. Who is in Cabinet? Who had thousand-dollar lunches at taxpayer’s expense?

I would argue that it’s the Clinton–Lewinski effect. Canada has had no similar scandal to inflate headlines and inflame talk shows, but that hasn’t stopped our media outlets from digging to find those scandals anyhow.

Newspapers crave readers. TV news craves viewers. To satisfy this insatiable need, each has turned to a new style of political coverage, one rooted in the events and political polarization south of the border, but which has the same deadly effect here in the Great White North. Content, comprehension and debate are the great losers in our journalistic battle for ratings.


Previously: In Spanish, El Gato In A Sombrero

Subsequently: Local Geekery

November 2003
the Archives