Any chance the media bailout would not be politicized has now vanished
On Wednesday the government announced the names of the organizations it had chosen to be represented on the “independent panel” it has struck to advise it how to give money to newspapers, out of the nearly $600 million set aside in the budget for the purpose.
They included the organization that lobbied for the money on behalf of the country’s newspaper publishers, the union representing many of the journalists whose salaries the money would underwrite, plus sundry other unions, publishers and activist groups,
The presence of the journalists’ union, Unifor, on the panel served as a red flag for the Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, given the union’s history of campaigning against the Conservatives and its promise to do so again in the coming election. He demanded Unifor be kicked off the panel.
That prompted an accusation from Unifor that Scheer was engaged in a “Trump-style attack” on the media. The president of the union, Jerry Dias, wrote a column assailing Scheer for putting “the very principles of truth and democracy at risk.” It appeared in one of the newspapers that hopes the government will subsidize it.
The government, for its part, is unapologetic about the choice of its objective allies in the union to help it decide how to hand out the cash. “After all,” said a spokesman for the heritage minister, “who is (better) placed to advocate for the future of journalism than journalists themselves?” He accused the Conservatives of attacking the independence of the media and “the professionalism of journalists.”
Just so we’re clear, then: as if it were not bad enough that the country’s newspapers will be taking money from one of the parties they will be writing about in the next election, we are shaping up to be a central issue in the campaign we are covering.
But no big deal. Doubtless we will continue to bask in the high level of public trust we currently enjoy.
It is a disaster that is now unfolding. If there were ever the slightest chance the process would not be politicized, that has already vanished. No, the panel will not be directly choosing which organizations to fund — that’s left to a later panel. But it will be setting the criteria for that panel to apply. Until now the understanding had been that this would be assigned to a panel of independent experts of unimpeachable reputation. There had been no mention of these being drawn from the ranks of its intended recipients.
Not that this really changes matters. It is no more objectionable that Unifor should be represented on the panel, on the grounds that it is sympathetic to the Liberals, than it is that the publishers, who tend to support the Conservatives, should be. It is objectionable, rather, that either of them should be anywhere within grasping distance of the public’s wallet, and it would be just as objectionable if the panel were made up of Walter Cronkite, St. Francis of Assisi, and the secretary general of the United Nations.
Because the whole point of this effort is to choose which sorts of news organizations should be eligible for public funding, and which should not. Do we really think this will have no implications for the independence of the press? No matter how this is done, no matter how arm’s-length the process, it intrudes the government into areas it has no business being in. – Post Media
read full article here
Another scandal brewing for the Trudeau Government. There is nothing independent or impartial about Unifor. Nothing unimpeachable about Unifor’s reputation. They are going to lead the resistance against the Conservatives during this election. They said so themselves.
Trudeau manages to reach a new low on a monthly basis.
previous related posts here