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Monday, February 7, 2011

LFP, Sun Media, Canoe, QMI: All scooped!

In the end, Kinsella got it wrong.
The headline read: "Beware the Culture of Exaggeration." It was a warning from Warren Kinsella of Quebecor Media and I read it on the Comment page of The London Free Press.

At first, I agreed with what Kinsella was saying. He mocked the media overreaction to the recent snow storms and to over-blown winter storm stories in general. "It's February! We live in Canada, people! It snows here," Kinsella wrote.

Somehow he segued from this into a discussion of today's media publishing virtually anything out of fear of being scooped. If it's inaccurate or exaggerated, no matter. The important thing is not to get scooped.

Kinsella called this the 'Culture of Exaggeration.' As an example, the QMI Agency writer mentioned the "widespread claims Fox News owned or controlled the forthcoming Sun News Network." Kinsella pointed to the "Stop Fox News North" petition signed by tens of thousands.

Whoa! I believe Kinsella may just have slipped over the line into the Culture of Exaggeration himself. Oops!

I've read about the Stop Fox News North movement and I have even gotten some mail asking me to join, but it was always clear that attack was against the soon to launch Sun TV News channel. Referring to the Sun TV News channel as Fox News North was a bit of a joke; It was a way to tar Sun TV with the same right-wing brush as is used on the U.S. Fox News channel.

In Kinsella's defence, he was not alone in not getting the joke. Apparently Margaret Atwood didn't see the humour either. "Of course Fox and Co. can set up a channel or whatever they want to do, if it's legal etc.," she told The Globe and Mail in an email. To underscore her point the Globe told us that the literary icon had signed an online petition aimed at keeping a "Fox News North" channel off the air in Canada.

Both Kinsella and Atwood should read the Wikipedia entry on the Sun TV News channel. Atwood especially should read the piece as she got a lot of 'ink' in the Wiki report.

I thought Kinsella would have been on safer ground if he had talked about the alleged luncheon meeting held in New York and attended by Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and by Chairman and CEO of News Corporation Rupert Murdoch, and by the creator of the Fox Broadcasting Company and the President of Fox News Roger Ailes and by Kory Teneycke, a Harper aide who led the Pierre Karl Peladeau move to launch Sun TV News, the Fox News-style network, in Canada.

I read about the meeting on some Internet blogs and pooh-pooh the story. If true, this would be an amazing story. I searched The London Free Press and drew a blank. It appeared nothing about such a meeting had been reported by The Free Press.

Until I read Kinsella's column today, I hadn't given the Harper-Murdoch-Ailes-Teneycke meeting story a moment's thought. It never happened, right? Wrong! To write this blog, I had to do some research and I discovered that the story is true! The story was broke by Canadian Press investigative reporter Bruce Cheadle.

The London Free Press was scooped! Sun Media seems to have been scooped! Canoe didn't apparently carry the story. Scooped again! But the Calgary Beacon didn't get scooped. Read its story: Harper's Meeting with Rupert Murdoch.

I guess this disproves Kinsella's argument that the important thing today is not getting scooped. But all this does leave me wondering, just what is important to the papers under the Sun Media/Quebecor umbrella? And maybe, "Fox News North" is not a joke.

Addendum:

After writing this post, I got up the next morning and wondered if I googled "Fox News North" and "The London Free Press" if I would discover that the once fine little paper was being unjustly maligned. I had simply used the paper's own search field earlier.

I wasn't being unfair. The meeting of Harper and Murdock, et al., appears not to have been reported and the phrase Fox News North apparently only appears in stories and columns defending the right-wing news organ from criticism.

I did find this little post (Propaganda, Inc.: The Dawn of ""Fox News North") on the blog This Way to Progress by a former intern with the Kingston Whig Standard. And I found lots more online addressing the issue.

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