Monday, November 09, 2015

Honderich Rips PostMedia's Godfrey a New One.

Toronto Star chairman, John Honderich, is calling out PostMedia CEO, Paul Godfrey, for gagging his papers' editors and forcing them, all 16, to endorse Stephen Harper in the last election.

“Since God made babies, I think (endorsement editorials) were always made that way,” longtime Conservative Godfrey explained later, reacting to the uproar. “If anyone thinks otherwise, I think they were dreaming in Technicolor.”

Really, Mr. Godfrey?

You might want to examine the policies of other newspaper chains that tell an entirely different bedtime story of the so-called “proprietor’s prerogative.”

No one can dispute the tradition of an individual publisher or owner calling the election shots for their local paper. Godfrey did that regularly when he was publisher of the Toronto Sun.

But to dictate the choice across an entire chain – and nation. That is an entirely different tale.

Consider the previous owners of Postmedia papers, the venerable Southam family.

It went to great lengths to emphasize individual publishers in each city were responsible for all editorial content, including election endorsements. “It was even in my letter of engagement,” remembers veteran Southam publisher Clark Davey. “It said what appeared in the (Vancouver) Sun rested on my conscience.”

The reason, of course, was self-evident. What was important or relevant to readers in Vancouver might not be so in Montreal, Ottawa or Windsor.

Owning a newspaper, in my view, is a privilege not a right. Nor is it the same as owning a pizzeria or car wash. Newspapers are an essential informing part of the democratic process and their first responsibility must be to the local readers they serve.

The old Thomson chain in Canada, owned by the richest family in the land, had a similar practice of non-interference in local editorial issues.

South of the border a similar tradition has existed for decades. In the last presidential election, America was a patchwork quilt of competing newspaper endorsements.

The huge Gannett chain states that “diversity is strength. By encouraging and expressing a mix of opinions, backgrounds, stories and ideas, Gannett improves results.”

An executive for the large Knight-Ridder chain put it more pithily. “We bought them (newspapers). But we don’t own them.”

Godfrey's integrity is wobbly at best. Some point out that PostMedia was in the bag to the Harper government for approving a de facto takeover of the chain by American vulture capitalists. Then there was the decision that PostMedia would 'partner' with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and begin peddling petro-propaganda.

We can only hope that The Guardian is right and PostMedia is on a one way path to the graveyard. When it comes to PostMedia and its newly acquired Sun chain, Canada can do without quite nicely.


Northern PoV said...

Godfrey has f**ked himself and his misbegotten propaganda properties.
And I hope/think the execrable G&M (now worse than the NYTimes) will suffer too.

The lopsided, inane endorsements caused massive cognitive dissonance in the dying days of the campaign ... old media lost all credibility and folks stampeded to the first mainstream politician (worldwide?) to adopt the occupy language about the wealth of the 1%.

(If Trudeau doesn't deliver some relief on the inequality scale then he will have his own cog. dis. issues to deal with down the road.)

Northern PoV said...

some relief on inequality

means a lot more than minor tax-tinkering which is only a first step (and very Harper-like tactic they used to get elected)

The Mound of Sound said...

I won't lament the day when PostMedia's vulture capitalist lenders begin flogging the office furniture. Godfrey has tried and tried to turn PM around and has fallen on his face each and every time. It's a garbage product that won't leave much of a hole in Canadian journalism when it finally collapses. If anything, PostMedia and the Sun papers have so depleted the markets that good startups can't take hold.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Canadians stop subscribing to all of these junk wastes of trees (or megabytes, take your pick), but something tells me that won't happen.

Instead, I expect there will be a lot of push back from all of these Cons in sheeps clothing, constantly applying more scrutiny than they ever would have with King Steve.

And when the advertising budgets dry up? Expect it to get worse and then ... don't be surprised when they crawl to the government for handouts and subsidies, crying about international competition and claiming they are Canadian content.

F*#k 'em. Let them die the nasty death they created for themselves for being such ludicrous, back-stabbing morons.

the salamander said...

.. Props to John Honderich for calling out Zillionaire weasel Paul Godfrey for revisionist 'history' fabrications regarding his blatant sellout of Canada, Canadians & our Values.. it was rancid shrill partisan cowardly.. but then anyone informed knew Godfrey was a wealthy loser.. meddler & political weiner.. but who knew how low he could stoop ? Thanks for the link.. I'd already spotted Honderich's alert & accurate correction.. and was truly impressed.. wowed !

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah, Sal, it's a bit of a smackdown but being denounced by Honderich won't affect Godfrey one bit. People aren't readily shamed any more at least not those who ought to be.