Monday, May 28, 2007

Hard to argue with Gore on this

Al Gore says the press now reports far too much celebrity gossip and other such trash. And he's right, as far as it goes. In many ways, the mainstream media has taken on the role of Confidential and the rest of the 1960s movie magazines. It tries to find common ground with its readers -- an audience that is rapidly fracturing on gender, class, race, and generational lines -- by harping on the vacuous activities of Hollywood actors and anyone else with a high enough Q rating to be notable across the fracture lines. In Canada, political reporting has been reduced to commentaries based on personality and poll results, with enough ideological bias tossed in to prevent anyone from straying too far from their pre-set thought boundaries. Our politics is corrupted both by a lack of quality coverage of important issues and by governments that believe they can censor and manipulate public information for political gain. Readers have tuned out the cynicism of the political media and the elected officials they cover. In fact, they're tuning out all media -- newspapers, serious radio, TV news, current events magazines -- altogether.
Just a few facts to keep in mind:
* Canada's National Newspaper is read by 1 in 30 Canadians.
* Its competitor, the National Post, is read by about half that number.
* The major national newscasts -- all of them, CTV, Global, CBC -- reach about 10% of Canadians.
* The largest newspaper in Canada, the Toronto Star, is read by about 20% of the people in its coverage area.
* Canada's National News Magazine, Maclean's, is read by about 3% of Canadians (the "read by" rate includes the fact that these publications are passed around by people, and I'm being generous by accepting the ludicrous idea posited by newspapers and magazines that each copy is read by about three people).

There isn't a single Canadian print pundit who's read by any more than about 300,000 people -- say, 1 in 100 Canadians. Most of the top political writers have readerships in, at most, the five-figure range. So who's reading them? Mostly, I'd argue, each other.
Still, the Canadian media has enough clout left to taint public opinion, to instill ideas that lead to the development of public image. Taken together, they can influence the public mood, especially during election campaigns, when Canadians actually do focus rather carefully on public affairs.

1 comment:

nomdeblog said...

We seldom see any stats on this, so that is helpful thanks.

The media situation is like the multiplier effect in the expansion of the money supply .. Eco 101.

Therefore by subsidizing the CBC with a billion dollars a year conservatives are allowing a multiplier effect of several times that amount to be wasted propaganda into the minds of unsuspecting Canadians.

That’s because many news outlets will use the lead story of the CBC to put their own personality on it. But the fact remains not many news outlets can afford to send their Peter Mansbridge to Afghanistan. So the multiplier over time has quite an impact