World's Media Model

By Carlin, Vince | Canadian Speeches, May-June 2003 | Go to article overview

World's Media Model


Carlin, Vince, Canadian Speeches


Canada's journalistic skills and public-private mix are a model for the world that must be maintained and enhanced. Excerpts from evidence presented May 13.

Given Canada's size and location, next to our friends in the south, there is a demonstrated need for the public and the national interest to be protected. Additionally, given Canada's social and political needs, there is no need for government to get involved in content. Looking around the world and around this country, there does not appear to be a compelling argument for allowing cross-ownership of media, particularly not in the same city. There does appear to be a need for a mechanism to allow fresh capital to enter some of our media fields. This should be done, I submit, without allowing control of vital public trusts to slip out of Canadian hands.

Broadcasting remains an area where some regulation is necessary to preserve space for Canadian voices amid the cacophony of aggressive non-Canadian enterprises. The position of the CBC, one of the best broadcast journalistic enterprises in the word, must be preserved and enhanced. Canada's journalistic experience and unique public-private mix is actually a model for other countries. Our journalists are sought out as trainers around the world. That is a resource to be treasured and husbanded.

I came to Canada as a foreign correspondent in 1970 in the middle of a Quebec election, an election that brought to power a young technocrat named Robert Bourassa. I have been involved as a journalist, a journalistic manager or a commentator in most Quebec and Ontario elections since then, in many other provincial elections and in all national elections since 1970.

I was transferred to Canada originally by Time magazine. I learned most of my journalistic practice at Time. It was back in the days when Time Incorporated was an immensely successful unconverged publisher that urged its journalists to have nothing to do with business people -- not the business community but its own business people. I was actually once reprimanded by an editor at Time Canada for chatting with an ad salesman. They believed in the notion -- which was sort of a Time-coined phrase for the publishing business -- of the separation of church and state. Journalists were considered the church, although there is some irony there.

I think I have lived through a renaissance in Canadian journalism, both at the CBC and elsewhere in the country. In the last 30 years, I have seen Canadian journalists finding their own voices, divorcing themselves individually from party affiliations, and emulating some of the better practices from the U.S. and other countries without embracing some of the seedier elements of American or British tabloidism. …

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