election news turn to comedy, not to CNN
American comedy show provides more incisive election coverage
than most media outlets in that country, you have to agree a
great democracy is going down the tube.
All last week,
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
, seen on Canada's Comedy
Network, was in Washington doing its "fake news" thing with "Indecision
2002." Tonight at 11, it's going live. (Bits from last week are
available at http://southpark.comcentral.com
is, it's almost more credible than CNN, which has gone with SniperVision
rather than intelligent reporting on the tight races for control
It's no better
at the local level. Studies by the USC Annenberg School of Communication
and the University of Wisconsin reveal that political candidates
get 9.5 seconds to make their points and two thirds of local newscasts
had no coverage at all.
isn't good for ratings. Which is why I didn't know whether to
laugh or cry at CNN's promo, a 90-second trailer that has been
running between Winona Ryder and Posh Spice reports. It features
CNN stars pumping up tonight's coverage, warning viewers that
"everything hangs in the balance" with the vote.
And it does.
So why didn't CNN give it more attention?
Gotta admit: We're a breed of bitchers, always complaining and
my surprise when, Saturday night at the opening gala of The
17th Gemini Awards
, the CTV News crew was all smiles. Not
because they took home armloads of awards — CBC scooped
them there — but because, with CTV News vet Robert Hurst
now chief of the department, things are starting to look up.
What a difference
a year makes. Last year at the Geminis, many CTV journos were
too scared to be seen with me, thanks to a critical column I had
just written about their former boss Kirk LaPointe.
But on Saturday,
two giants of Canadian journalism, both household names, could
not contain their delight when I asked them how it was going now.
They, and others, regaled me with LaPointe horror stories. Ratings,
especially for Canada AM
, were tanking; no replacement
for co-host Rod Black had been named; national bureaus were unstaffed
and, in a time of terror, there was nobody in the Jerusalem correspondent
Just a few
weeks into the job, Hurst has already hired talktv alumnus Seamus
O'Regan to join Lisa LaFlamme on the Canada AM
announcements will follow soon.
the Geminis, a glowing Beverly Thompson was one of Saturday's
presenters. She returned to the Global anchor desk last night
after a four-month absence — and a battle with breast cancer.
From the look of her, she won.
Not everybody is wining the newspaper war. It just seems that
who pored over last Saturday's papers might have been puzzled
as to how it is that circulation numbers for The Star, The Globe
and Mail and The National Post are "on the rise" and "continue
to soar." All three papers reported on the latest ABC (Audit Bureau
of Circulations) numbers, which cover the six months ending Sept.
30, 2002, with some front-page play pointing to detailed stories
in the business sections.
But even the
most determined statistician would have found it tough to determine
who was really up or down, and in comparison to what — at
least based on those newspaper stories.
So were the
news war combatants cheating, comparing apples to oranges, massaging
the numbers to put up the best face possible?
"No, they can't
cheat; it's one of the rules," says ABC senior vice president
Bob White, explaining that all three newspapers are members of
the non-profit association.
All of them
have agreed to compare apples-to-apples in their coverage of the
numbers. That means comparing specific time periods with specific
time periods and specific types of circulation, paid or bulk (which
includes freebies), with specific type of circulation. That's
where the spin comes in.
the weekend news reports, White observes: "Each newspaper has
heightened the strength of its own circulation story."
might have had a harder time than others doing that. Which could
explain the rumours that Conrad Black is hoping to buy back The
Post from the Aspers — for 55 per cent of what he sold it
for a couple of years ago.