Call this Journalism Horror Story # 1, prompted by the scary actions of Kevin Crull, the American-born ‘bean counter’ who runs the Bell Media empire in Canada. A major piece of that empire is CTV.
Last week, Mr. Crull and his team were not at all happy with what the CRTC came up with on the future of television in this country. The head of the Commission is Jean-Pierre Blais. Word came down to the CTV newsroom that Mr. Blais should get virtually no mention in the network’s coverage of the story. Amazingly, that shameful tale did come to light in the Globe and Mail, which is also part of the Bell Empire.
Crull was severely chastised by the CRTC. He issued an ‘apology’ to those who worked in his network newsroom. It sounded almost as sincere as the person in the anonymous call centre who closes with “Have a nice day”.
Many who toil in newsrooms across Canada were stunned and horrified by what happened, but they shouldn’t have been. Except for occasional golden moments like Watergate and perhaps the Edward Snowden story more recently, journalists are regarded by the important decision makers as an enormous pain in the behind, as people who are never to be trusted.
Above all, we are seldom ‘valued’. A classic example happened in Saskatchewan when the last provincial election took place in 2011. Historically on election night, local TV stations offer continuous coverage regardless of how long it might take. They stay with it at least until the two main party leaders have spoken. But that night Saskatchewan viewers did not see live coverage of Premier Brad Wall, nor did they see NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter.
Word came from the office of CTV bean counters that election coverage would last only one hour, then it was back to network programming that was a lot more profitable.
I don’t know for sure if Kevin Crull had a hand in that decision, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
I’m Roger Currie