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Canada's coverage: how do you know?

Reader comment on item: [Beslan Atrocity:] They're Terrorists - Not Activists

Submitted by Greg Hannigan (Canada), Sep 7, 2004 at 21:29

Perhaps sharing some current Canadian news converage of the Beslan horror would serve to emphasize that much more than the issue involves more than politically correct sanitization of news coverage. For example, on Sat Sept 4 The Toronto Star ran a front page photo of a mother in Beslan, cradling the bloodied body of her young daughter. This photo was honest reportage, the reality of the hostage taking was, and is, indeed horrible. Nonetheless, the photo caption read "A mother grieves over the body of her child killed yesterday when Russian troops stormed a school seized by militants in the town of Beslan, in southern Russia. More than 200 people, scores of them children, were killed in the bloody end to the hostage drama." The same spin was repeated in The Star's online version of Saturday's paper. On Monday Sept 6, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio (CBC = baby BBC) network newscast "The World at Six" informed listeners that hundreds of people died in the school at Beslan as a result of the 'botched Russian rescue attempt.' It is at least right that they acknowledged a rescue was in order. However, the shifting of blame for the deaths to the Russians is nothing short of dishonest reporting. These two, highly subscribed news providers are quite representative of mainstream media in the Great White North.

Distressingly, both The Toronto Star and CBC claim to provide balanced and rational coverage of World News. More distressingly, millions of Canadians believe this to be the case. 'Balanced' coverage is held to be sacred here, though clearly no one can or should provide balanced and neutral news. With respect to electronic (non-internet based) newscasting, the control of radio and television content broadcast over Canadian airwaves is the mandate of the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission, CRTC. They have recently granted a licence to Al Jazeera to broadcast in Canada, in Arabic, however refuse to license Fox News. Because we get Fox Entertainment network, the excuse to deny Fox News is that there is no 'need' for Canadians to view a second Fox channel. CNN, however, has three CRTC licenses and I can access all three CNN channels on basic cable. Of course, Fox News provides a conservative news coverage that is contrary to the liberal spin which emanates from our mainstream news agencies. Clearly, in the eyes of these elites, it is dangerous to expose Canadians to a populist, conservative viewpoint. As a result, Canadians honestly believe they form their opinions after thorough consideration of all sides of an issue. Without awareness of this deficit of choice, it is frustrating and generally pointless, to ask the simple question, "But, how do you know?" I am hopeful the blogosphere will serve a vital role, in helping to erase that deficit.

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