I've been thinking "I ought to say something about the whole Sun TV/Fox News North" racket that's been going on the past few weeks. The problem is, pretty much everybody has already said their piece. Still, I'll offer up a few words on the matter.
In the deep dark part of my soul that still maintains some optimism and faith in humanity, I actually hope this turns into a legitimate new news channel that offers a different voice and coverage of Canadian issues and stories. As a rule, I have no problem with more news. I like news. It's a good thing. When all those newspapers were folding and dying during 2008 and 2009 it felt like little bits of my soul dying. Good news is hard, and you hate to see it just shrivel up and blow away like that.
Which is where my concern comes from with this new channel. Good news is really fucking hard. Starting a news channel, staffing it with good reporters, establishing offices over a wide geographic region and trying to put all of that together in basically six months...not the easiest thing to do. Plus, it costs a lot of money to pull that off. But maybe these guys have deep pockets and lord knows there are lots of hungry reporters out there anxious for a chance to prove themselves. So yeah, maybe they can pull it off.
See, this is where the dark, cynical part of my heart, which occupies a decent chunk of it, to be honest, kicks in. That the people trying to put this station together use words to describe the current state of news in Canada as boring. That the CBC and CTV are left-wing. That they are going to be "Controversially Canadian".
That's where things start to worry me. I'll still be curious to see what they look like when/if they launch. However, the CBC and CTV are not left-wing. It's one of those phrases that causes me concern because it feels very much like someone had the bright idea of saying "If we keep screaming that the CBC is left-wing then eventually people will accept it as being left-wing and it'll make it that much easier to tarnish it."
Except I've never viewed the CBC, or CTV for that matter, as left-wing. They're an equal opportunity pain-in-the-ass. The CBC actually has two problems, and they're pretty much insurmountable no matter what they do. First, they are one of three sacred Canadian cows that people love to hate. The other two being Air Canada and Canada Post. People love to vent about these three groups because the inevitably appear to be disappointing. Your mail is too slow, your luggage gets lost, CBC provide disappointing programs.
However, your mail makes it more often than not, you arrive safely at your destination the vast majority of the time and the CBC does provide good news and programming. Still, it's fun to vent about them. It's what we do. We're Canadian. Everyone thinks we're the most polite nation in the world. No. We're the most passive-aggressive nation in the world. It's just easy to confuse the two from time to time.
Secondly, the CBC gets the vast majority of it's money from the government. That means when they're doing stories ripping the government in power, those same politicians are sitting at home, watching Peter Mansbridge and his ilk rip them a new one and thinking "And we give these motherfuckers the money to do this?"
But if Canadians are masters of passive-aggressive, we've certainly got a least a BA in short-term memory. Because I'm pretty sure one of the reasons why the current government is in power is the lengthy and devastating stories the CBC did about the Liberals during the sponsorship scandal. I read an article where Rick Mercer commented on how much former Prime Minister Jean Chretien loathed the CBC, especially the French side of it.
So yeah, there's that. And then there's this, the phrase "talk is cheap" can also apply to people setting up a TV news network. You can get, literally, any asshole to go on air and vent and rant about the news of the day. Plus, they're reasonably cheap compared to the cost on an hourly basis when compared to having to hire a whole bunch of reporters to fill that hour with news stories.
Fox News in the US actually does have reporters. Some of what I've read and heard indicates they have some decent reporters. There's also been enough reports that some of those reporters really hate people like Glen Beck because he shatters their credibility. It makes it hard for them to be taken seriously and do real news because a certain segment of the US views Fox News as a channel of lunatics, rather than a serious news broadcaster.
Perhaps SUN TV can produce a channel filled with solid reporting. I hope so and I'm willing to give it the benefit of a doubt. However, given the language they're using, you can certainly understand a certain pessimism that they're going to take the bombast and lunatic aspects of Fox News and skip over the actual journalism part of that network. I can always use more news...I've had my fill of lunatics and bombast, though. That you can keep south of the border.
1. The sick bed of Cuchulainn - The Pogues
2. Wicked ways - Garbage*
3. Little child - The Beatles
4. Well well well - Rocky Dawuni
5. Sail way to the sea - Once