First published: July 19, 2006
The merger of Bell Globemedia and CHUM received the expected threshold of coverage for a day or two, disappearing until the review process takes place. Commentary was limited in the mainstream media and the blogsphere to concerns around media concentration and consolidation of power over information channels in the hands a few.
Something that is getting missed in all this is a debate over the quality of journalism. Senator Joan Fraser, chair of the committee on Transportation and Communication, raised concerns about journalism, but the issue did not seem to get a fair airing. It is difficult to see how news organizations under this new behemoth media corporation will provide resources to undertake high quality journalism, like investigative reporting. If Canadians are lucky, someone within the organization will be granted a budget to create an I-team that will feed the chain of newsrooms. But don’t hold your breath.
It is time major media corporations directed profits to a foundation for fund investigative journalism at all levels, from weekly to major daily, across the country. While there are many awards for journalism, there is very little that is done to support investigative or enterprise journalism from concept to content. It is great organizations honour excellence, but it is only large newsrooms or dedicated journalists who do this kind of work off the side of their desks that are able to win these awards. There needs to be a way that this important and vital form of journalism gets funded outside organizations with the necessary resources.
The merger provides an excellent opportunity to raise this issue and debate it. Maybe, part of the requirement for this to go forward is the formation of a foundation. And, if Bell Globemedia agrees, then pressure should be put to bear on other major media organizations.
It is time to debate the future of investigative journalism in Canada. Loyalist College is preparing to hold a summit this fall bringing together individuals concerned about excellence in journalism. Stay tuned.