The Wonderful World of Iz... Is 1984 All Over Again
By Stephen Kimber
My fingers hovered over the SEND button while I re-read one more time the words I’d just written. I’d been thinking about writing these words for weeks now, chewing over the pros and cons, trying without success to get the phrasing just right, knowing for almost certain the immediate consequences, knowing not at all what would happen after that.
Would anyone notice?
Would anyone care?
The column was about how CanWest Global Communications Corp., the owners of the Halifax Daily News, the small Canadian daily for which I wrote a weekly column, had been mangling the news and suppressing opinions that didn’t suit its worldview. I’d written that CanWest’s owners, the Asper family of Winnipeg:
“… appear to consider their newspapers not only as profit centres and promotional vehicles for their television network but also as private, personal pulpits from which to express their views. The Aspers support the federal Liberal party. They’re pro-Israel. They think rich people like themselves deserve tax breaks. They support privatizing health care delivery. And they believe their newspapers, from Victoria, BC, to St. John’s, NF, should agree with them.”
If readers were concerned about what was happening at their newspaper, I concluded, they should write to Canada’s Heritage Minister Sheila Copps and demand a public inquiry into the increasing — and increasingly dangerous — concentration of ownership and cross-ownership of Canada’s news media.
I knew the Daily News would not — would not be allowed to — publish the column. I knew I would then have no choice but to resign. And I knew my resignation — and the reasons for it — would become public. After that… well, things couldn’t be worse than they had become.
I pressed SEND.
I’d been a weekly “whatever” columnist with the Daily News for 15 years. It was a great gig. I could write about whatever I liked. And did. From provincial political chicanery to the wonder of taking my son to his first hockey game, from calling for the federal government to legalize marijuana to lamenting the stupidity of Americans and their obsession with Bill Clinton’s sex life.
The column wasn’t my day job. In “real” life, I was a professor and Director of the School of Journalism at the University of King’s College. Sometimes, I got the chance to combine the two callings by writing columns about journalism and journalism-related issues. Occasionally, I’d even take my newspaper bosses to task for some perceived journalistic sin or other.
I got away with that in no small measure because the paper’s various owners — at least until the Aspers came along — were willing to let their editors run their papers, and their editors were more interested in offering readers a range of lively opinions than in promoting a particular political agenda or covering their own asses.
The News had started life in 1974 as a suburban Halifax weekly founded by David Bentley, a British ex-patriate journalist, his wife and another couple. Five years later, it suddenly transformed itself into an urban daily tabloid, puppy-eager to challenge Halifax’s venerable (some might say stodgy) newspaper of record, the broadsheet Chronicle-Herald. Against the odds, it survived.
Bentley’s formula was pure Fleet Street: bold headlines, big photos, delicious dollops of crime, scandal and gossip along with huge helpings of local news and opinion … lots and lots of opinion. I eventually became one of his eclectic stable of columnists.
I was considered to the left on the political spectrum, as were a few others. But we were well and truly counter-balanced by a small army of right-wing columnists. Bentley didn’t care; he was happy enough to have us all stirring the pot.
In 1985, recognizing that he didn’t have the resources to take the paper to the next level, Bentley sold out to Harry Steele, a swashbuckling entrepreneur of conservative bent who hired a respected Winnipeg journalist, Doug MacKay, as his editor. MacKay reined in some of the paper’s excesses and sharpened its journalism but he didn’t mess with its crazy quilt of column and opinion.
Though Steele must have occasionally spit up his morning coffee over his newspaper — especially when its reporters and columnists not only led the journalistic attack on his politician brother-in-law, who’d gotten favourable treatment on some loans from the banks, but also revealed Steele’s own role in helping him out — and though he certainly complained to MacKay from time to time, he never ordered him to publish or not publish a story or opinion.
Steele was more an investor than a real publisher, however, and, in 1997, he sold the paper again, this time to the respected Southam chain, which owned many of the major dailies in the country but which was then itself almost immediately gobbled up by Conrad Black’s voracious Hollinger empire.
Black was a publisher of a different sort. He didn’t get into the newspaper business to offer a public service or even simply to make money; he saw his growing newspaper empire — England’s Telegraph, Chicago’s Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post and now 13 metropolitan dailies in his native Canada — as an ideal vehicle to promote his own conservative agenda as well as serve as his personal entrée into a national and international world of power and influence.
That, in the end, was probably what saved the Daily News from Black’s often heavy editorial hand. It was too small, too insignificant in the larger scheme of his interests for Black to fret much about anything we wrote. His real concern, it seemed, was how much annual profit the paper could shovel into the fire of his grander ambitions.
Black’s grandest plan was to found his own right-wing national daily newspaper to challenge the not-quite-right-wing-enough Globe and Mail. Which he did in 1998 with the launch of the Toronto-based National Post. A vicious newspaper war with its national and Toronto rivals — and the Post’s ever-mounting losses — kept Black busy enough that he didn’t seem to notice or care what people like me were writing in his other newspapers.
What I was writing, among other things, was a column criticizing cuts Hollinger and its local management had made to the Daily News’s editorial budget — sending what I called “a clear signal that Conrad Black sees the newspaper less as a long-term investment and more as just another profit squeeze” — and another taking Conrad’s columnist-wife Barbara Amiel to task for a “snotty screed” she’d written against the entire profession of journalism, and against journalism schools in particular. In it, I suggested one of the problems journalism schools faced was that they are cash-strapped: “we don’t get a lot of help in improving the teaching of our craft from publishers like your husband, who are happy enough to hire our graduates but not nearly so eager to contribute to their education.”
The editors of the Daily News published both columns and, though I know they took some heat for them, no one ever suggested to me that they — or I — could lose our jobs as a result.
Cue the Aspers, Stage Far Right.
On July 31, 2000, Black — squeezed by those huge, continuing and possibly never-ending losses at the Post — sold most of his Canadian newspaper holdings (minus, of course, a 50% interest in the Post; some dreams die hard) to the Asper family for $3.2 billion. It was the biggest media transaction in Canadian history.
The buyer was the surprise.
Over the previous 25 years, Israel “Izzy” Asper, a flamboyant Winnipeg-born politician-entrepreneur, had built a successful television empire in the highly regulated Canadian broadcasting industry. He accomplished that largely on the strength of his political connections — he was a one-time leader of the Manitoba Liberal party and a confidant of key Liberals, including Prime Minister Jean Chrétien — and on his company’s uncanny ability to identify those new American sitcoms that Canadians would be eager to watch, and then outbid his rivals for the right to broadcast them.
Though his network of eight TV stations made Global Television the smallest of the big three in Canada — the publicly-owned CBC and the private CTV were both significantly larger networks — CanWest had the distinction of being the most profitable. Some critics said that was because the Aspers spent less on news and current affairs than any other broadcaster. There was no national newscast, and not a single Canadian newsmagazine program anywhere in its TV schedule.
If the company had little experience with news, it had none with newspapers.
The drive to expand the company’s reach into newspapers came initially, not from Izzy Asper, who was close to retirement, but from his youngest son, Leonard, the company’s hard-driving 36-year-old CEO who saw the future and it spelled “convergence.”
Though Izzy would joke that the purchase of Black’s newspaper empire was the result of a misunderstanding — Leonard was going out for lunch one day and asked his father if he could bring him anything back, Izzy recalled. “Yeah,” he replied, “would you mind getting me a couple of papers?” — the reality was that the acquisition of Hollinger’s newspaper chain was just one part of Leonard’s much grander plan.
His argument, essentially, was that consumers were about to be inundated with media choices — newspapers, radio, conventional TV networks, specialty channels, movies, DVDs, the Internet — in what was becoming an increasingly unregulated global media world. The only way to succeed in that environment was to take advantage of the “synergies” — “re-purposing” content, relentlessly cross-promoting and cross-pollinating its products — that would be possible if CanWest owned the broad spectrum of media “products.”
With the Hollinger acquisition, CanWest went from being a small but successful broadcaster to being the dominant multimedia player in the country. In addition to the Daily News, CanWest Global suddenly owned half the National Post, 13 daily newspapers in every major Canadian city except Toronto and Winnipeg. In nine of those markets, including Halifax, CanWest’s Global Television Network also owned at least one local television outlet. Not to mention the licences for four other stations in markets where it didn’t have a newspaper, giving its TV network access to 94 per cent of Canadian households. Not to forget six digital cable television stations, a television and film production company, canada.com, the third most popular Internet destination in Canada, 126 smaller daily and weekly newspapers and, perhaps as a sign of even larger ambitions to come, broadcast outlets in Australia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Whatever their corporate ambitions, the Aspers — who held 45 per cent of the equity and 86 per cent of the voting rights at CanWest — clearly understood the power and influence that came with such a massive media presence. Very quickly, they began to make their editorial presence felt at their newspapers.
Some of that was simply clumsy — running a front-page puff piece in the Post to promote Global’s new national newscast, for example — but there were more ominous portents.
In March 2001, David Asper, Leonard’s brother and the VP of CanWest wrote an opinion piece that was published in all of the company’s newspapers. Under the bully-boy title, Put Up Or Shut Up, it complained that Canada’s journalists were too critical of his father’s good friend, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Ironically, Asper launched his attack at a time when the National Post was winning journalism awards for its persistent, ground-breaking investigative coverage of a scandal in which the prime minister was accused of personally intervening to help out a friend get a loan from Ottawa’s Federal Business Development Bank.
Four months later, CanWest fired its National Affairs columnist, Lawrence Martin, without explanation. Martin, a veteran political journalist who’d already published the first volume of a critical but widely praised biography of Chrétien, later wrote that he’d been told officials in the prime minister’s office “pushed for my dismissal.”
Two months after that, in September 2001, Michael Goldbloom, the publisher of the CanWest-owned Montreal Gazett resigned, citing “fundamental differences” with the new owners. Though he wouldn’t be specific at the time, he would later tell the New York Times, “"There is no question in my mind the Aspers feel they own the newspapers and the newspapers should reflect their views. It's not just what you see in the paper but what you don't see.”
How fundamental Goldbloom’s fundamental differences really were quickly became evident at his former paper.
Gazette TV critic Peggy Curran’s review of a CBC documentary that criticized the Israeli military for targeting media working on the Palestinian side of the Middle East conflict, was held for a day and then altered before being published.
“Usually criticism is criticism and you’re allowed to say what you want,” Curran explained later. “I can’t think of another occasion when this has happened to me.” Soon after, Curran gave up her TV critic’s job and went on a year’s leave of absence. “Whether you know it or not,” she added, “you start censoring yourself.”
Journalists discovered if they didn’t censor themselves, CanWest would do it for them.
During the late fall, word leaked out that CanWest was planning to produce national editorials — up to three a week — which all of its daily papers would be required to run on their editorial pages. Incredibly, the new editorial policy also said that none of the chain’s local papers would be allowed to publish an editorial that contradicted the head office slant.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out what that slant would be. Earlier in the year, for example, after a terrorist attack in Jerusalem, some Israeli cabinet ministers had called for the Israelis to kill Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in retaliation. A standalone editorial at the time, written at Winnipeg headquarters and published in all CanWest papers, declared: “Howsoever the Israeli government chooses to respond… (it) should have the unequivocal support of the Canadian government.”
In early December, more than 50 reporters at the Gazette protested the company’s new national editorial package by removing their bylines from their copy.
The paper’s Editorial Page Editor asked to be reassigned.
Political columnist Don MacPherson wrote a column in which he argued that “a policy that forbids a newspaper from deciding for itself where the interests of its readers lie is not only bad journalism, it’s also bad business.” By the time it was published, the column had been rewritten in Orwellian CanWest newspeak: “A uniquely Canadian policy,” began the revised version, “that allows for editorials written from both local and national viewpoints, and occasional lively disagreement between the two, could be good for business.”
Terry Mosher, the Gazette’s award-winning editorial cartoonist, produced a cartoon spoofing the new homogenization policy: “Imagine,” the caption read, “a newspaper that looks just like, ummmm, Global Television…” The cartoon was spiked. So was a second that took a similar position.
When 54 reporters and other staffers at the Gazette signed an open letter criticizing the policy — the letter was published in both the Globe and Mail and the French-language La Presse, but not in the Gazette or any other CanWest paper — David Asper hit back with a public speech in which he described the journalists as “riff raff” and, borrowing R.E.M. lyrics, boasted: “It’s the end of the world as they know it, and I feel fine.”
His speech was followed the next day by a “Reminder/Advisory” to all staff, informing them of their “obligation of primary loyalty to the employer,” and warning that revealing what was described as confidential information or even gossip could lead to nasty consequences. “Case law,” the memo explained blandly, “supports sanctions, including suspension or termination.”
I watched all of this with growing unease. Unlike Black, the Aspers took a proprietary interest in what any and all of their papers were publishing, including the Daily News.
When I wrote a column playfully mocking the National Post’s fawning front-page coverage of the launch of what was a relatively pedestrian national newscast on its sister Global Television Network, I got a call from my editor, Bill Turpin. Turpin, who had succeeded Doug MacKay as the paper’s editor, was a principled journalist, so it was clear he was uncomfortable with what he had to say, but clear too that he had to say what he had to say. Under the dictates of the new ownerships regime, he told me, he paper couldn’t run such column.
I let it go. Partly because it didn’t seem like a big deal — it was just a TV show, for God’s sake — and partly because Bill was both an editor and also a friend. I didn’t want to make his life any more difficult than I realized it already was. I understood — though I didn’t understand the half of it at the time — that he and other editors across the chain were fighting a losing battle with head office against the corporate line.
A few weeks later, I smacked up against this official corporate line once again. This time, its un-crossable Middle East line. It was just after 9/11 and I, like columnists everywhere, was trying to make sense out of what had happened. I wrote a column in which I cited the failure of Israel’s policy of escalating revenge in response to acts of terror as an example of why George W. Bush’s single-minded war on terror was also doomed to failure.
In the published version, that argument vaporized. Over the next month or so, I poked and prodded at what I thought might be edges of what I could write about Israel, the Palestinians and terrorism, and found there wasn’t much.
I was far from alone, even at the Daily News. But because I was a freelancer, I didn’t know much of what was really happening inside the paper.
I knew the paper had suddenly stopped carrying Peter March, a Saint Mary’s University philosophy professor who’d been writing a weekly column for the paper for 10 years, for example. But I didn’t know he’d been dropped because of a column he’d written that criticized Israel.
I also didn’t know that staff columnist David Swick had been informed he was “no longer allowed to write anything to do with the Middle East. The reason,” he explained much later: “I was not perceived to be adamantly pro-Israel.”
Or that Parker Barrs Donham, the province’s premier investigative journalist and an award-winning columnist for the paper, had decided to abandon journalism for public relations, in part because of the ways in which his columns were also being sliced and diced.
By the time of the brouhaha at the Gazette, I was steering clear of those subjects I knew would cause trouble. But the courage of the Gazette reporters — and the Aspers’ oppressive retaliation — forced me to rethink my too-comfortable position.
For starters, of course, I was a journalism prof, which meant that I should not only know better than to acquiesce in such blatant censorship and manipulation but also that I had a tenured job at a university.
Unlike fulltime journalists who would be risking jobs, houses, even families, if they spoke out, I had the luxury of not only being able to quit my column at the newspaper but also to do so publicly.
I decided to write the column.
I warned Bill Turpin it was coming and turned it in a full day before my weekly deadline so he could try to stickhandle it past Winnipeg. He couldn’t. Our phone conversation was brief. We both understood our roles.
The paper, he said, wouldn’t be running this particular column but he’d be happy to have me continue as a columnist.
I respectfully declined.
He said he was sorry, thanked me and wished me well.
Secretly, I knew, he was hoping my resignation might finally force the nasty story of what was happening inside CanWest papers from coast to coast onto the public consciousness.
It didn’t take long for the floodgates to burst. The next morning’s Globe and Mail carried a story about my resignation, which was quickly picked up by the Toronto Star, the CBC, CTV and private radio talk shows across the country… though not — not surprisingly — by any CanWest outlet.
But I was inundated with messages of support from journalists inside other CanWest papers, including one from Doug Cuthand, an aboriginal columnist for CanWest’s Regina Leader-Post, who’d just had one of his own columns spiked for daring to compare the plight of Canada’s aboriginals with Palestinians.
Readers called and emailed too, telling me they were canceling their subscriptions to CanWest papers in protest.
CanWest’s Winnipeg head office, for its part, insisted it had had no played role in what happened to me; my column, CanWest’s VP of Editorial Murdoch Davis claimed, had simply been “declined by management” at the local paper because it was “poorly researched” and contained unspecified “factual inaccuracies.”
Intriguingly, there was even more response from beyond Canada’s borders. I was surprised but, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been. Globalization had made media concentration and cross-media ownership… well, a global issue. Media outlets from as far away as New Zealand called for interviews. In the U.S., the AFL-CIO and the Consumer’s Union invited me to be their “canary in the mine shaft” for a campaign they were launching to showcase the dangers of the Federal Communication Commission’s plan to deregulate the broadcast system in that country and allow for cross-media ownership. I also got an email from an Australian journalists’ group called Friends of Fairfax, inviting me to tell my story to a parliamentary committee, which was also looking into loosening its media ownership rules too.
While all of this provided a welcome boost to my frequent flyer points, it had little almost no effect on the Aspers’ behaviour.
In March 2002, editors at the Regina Leader-Post rewrote the lead on a story by one of its reporters. Michelle Lang had been sent to cover a speech to students at the local School of Journalism by the Toronto Star’s Editorial Page Editor Emeritus, Haroon Siddiqui. Lang dutifully returned to the newsroom, wrote her story and filed it.
The story began: “CanWest Global performed ‘chilling’ acts of censorship when it refused to publish several columns containing viewpoints other than those held by the media empire, a Toronto Star columnist said Monday.” By the time the story appeared in print the lead read: “A Toronto Star columnist says it’s OK for CanWest Global to publish its owners views, as long as the company is prepared to give equal play to opposing opinions.”
Incredibly, the paper’s editor-in-chief told Lang her original story had had to be changed because he wasn’t comfortable with her use of the word “censorship.”
In the wonderful world of Iz, it was 1984 all over again.
When 10 reporters at the Leader-Post withheld their bylines in protest, CanWest handed out suspensions and warned all of its journalists across the country that the company would no longer tolerate such byline protests.
CanWest’s response to the Regina revolt, coincidentally, helped shed new light on what had really happened to me three months earlier.
In a letter to the editor of the Leader-Post, CanWest’s top editorial spokesperson, Murdoch Davis, defended the decision to change Lang’s copy by claiming it had been a local editorial decision in the same way that my column had been “declined by management at the Daily News in Halifax.”
Bill Turpin had had enough.
In a letter to the editor of his own in reply, Turpin begged to disagree: “I and other [CanWest] editors had been repeatedly urged by Mr. Davis to get his advice on any prospective commentary that might run contrary to [CanWest’s] rapidly changing editorial policies. To my profound regret, I did so in Mr. Kimber’s case. Mr. Davis told me in colourful terms that publishing the piece would be a career disaster.” Davis himself later confirmed that he’d told Turpin to go ahead and publish my column “if you’re looking for a hill to die on.”
Turpin’s courageous letter to the editor did not appear in the Leader-Post, of course, but it became required email and bulletin-board reading in newsrooms across the country. He quit a month later.
It only got worse.
On June 1, 2002, during what had been an especially bad week for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien — he’d had to fire one cabinet minister and demote another for ethical breaches — CanWest’s Ottawa Citizen published a toughly-worded feature on how the prime minister had responded to recent parliamentary criticism of his personal business dealings. After laying out the evidence, the Citizen’s Graham N. Greene wrote: “Our survey of his own words leads to only one logical conclusion: He lied.” The feature was accompanied by an equally tough editorial urging Chrétien “to step down for the good of your party and of the country. If you will not, we urge the Liberal party to throw you out.”
Two weeks later, David Asper flew in from Winnipeg and fired the Citizen’s long-time publisher, Russell Mills. Though Mills himself said he was told it was because he’d allowed the Chrétien editorial to run, Canwest would later insist it was because … wait for it … Mills didn’t display
”an openness to all points of view.”
After Mills firing became public, more than 3,000 Citizen readers cancelled their subscriptions to add their voice to the growing public protests over CanWest’s draconian editorial policies.
Despite the growing controversy, the Aspers’ friends in the federal Liberal government did almost nothing about the fact the Aspers’ dominance of the Canadian media marketplace was affecting what Canadians were reading and seeing.
Early in 2001, in fact, Canada’s broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission, tacitly accepted cross-media ownership when it approved TV license renewals for CanWest and CTV. Since both broadcasters had recently acquired key newspaper properties (CTV’s new parent company, BCI Inc., bought the Globe and Mail), those decisions naturally raised questions about Ottawa’s policy on media ownership.
Ostensibly in response to those concerns, Sarmite Bulte, the parliamentary secretary to the federal Minister of Heritage, told Canadian Press in March 2001 that Ottawa would be appointing a “blue or red-ribbon panel of experts” to examine the impact of media concentration and cross-media ownership.
But it seemed she misspoke herself. Within days, her boss, Heritage Minister Sheila Copps herself, was backpedaling desperately. The panel of experts suddenly became just a study by the Commons’ Heritage Committee. And the promised wide-ranging examination… oops, did not include newspapers.
(In the end, the all-party committee bucked its masters and, in a massive 2003 report, concluded that dramatic action was needed to “protect the integrity of editorial independence and journalistic freedom.” It recommended, among other things, a moratorium on future acquisitions of broadcast licenses by companies with existing TV or newspaper holdings. But the committee’s report received scant attention in CanWest’s papers. The Montreal Gazette didn’t even run a story about it, for example, while the Vancouver Sun dismissed it with a 71-word brief. The report’s recommendations, perhaps not surprisingly, have not been at the top of any political party’s agenda.)
Orwell would not have been surprised.
Much has changed in the since I pressed SEND. But more remains the same.
Within a year, CanWest Global, staggering under the weight of the $4 billion in debt it had taken on, largely to finance its Hollinger acquisition — and facing continuing losses at the National Post, which it now owned totally — began peddling some of its newspapers.
In July 2002, Transcontinental Media, a growing printing and publishing company based in Montreal, bought 10 of CanWest’s small dailies, including the Daily News.
The following April, I resumed writing my weekly column. Six months later, Transcon announced plans to acquire Optipress, a smaller regional publisher that owned a chain of 17 community weeklies in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The Daily News’ fluffy lead story on the purchase, which appeared under the self-congratulatory headline, Here We Grow, failed to raise the issue of media concentration even though the new combined company would have a virtual stranglehold on the print media in the region.
I decided I should write about that in my next column. Suggesting that the News had “flunked the test” of full disclosure, I wrote that “readers have a right to worry if their newspaper isn’t more forthcoming.”
The column, I’m pleased to report, ran as I wrote it.
In February 2003, the Aspers good friend Jean Chrétien retired from politics. His successor was the Aspers’ other good friend, former Finance Minister Paul Martin. CanWest contributed $100,000 to Martin’s Liberal leadership campaign. There is no indication that Martin’s government is any more eager than its predecessor to tackle the issues of media concentration and cross-media ownership.
In October 2003, Izzy Asper died. His sons, Leonard and David, and daughter Gail, CanWest’s Corporate Secretary, pledged to continue in their father’s corporate and editorial footsteps.
And they have.
On Sept. 17, 2004, for example, an intrepid Ottawa Citizen reader pointed out in a letter to the editor that the paper had changed a number of words in an Associated Press dispatch from Iraq. The original words were “insurgents” and “fighters.” In the Citizen version, both words became “terrorists.” The word terrorist was inserted into the story seven different times.
It turned out that editing wire copy from Associated Press, Reuters and other international news agencies to conform to the Aspers’ narrow world view was part of a recently instituted CanWest policy for all its papers.
The same day as it published the letter, in fact, the Citizen carried another AP dispatch, this one from Jerusalem under the byline of Mark Lavie. The Citizen version began: “An Israeli helicopter fired a missile at a car in the West Bank town of Jenin yesterday, killing three terrorists… The three were members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a violent terror group linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.”
The original story used “people” where the Citizen had inserted terrorists and while it confirmed that one of those killed was from the Brigades, which AP’s reporter on the scene called an “armed resistance group,” the story added that “two others killed with him were not identified.”
Despite protests from AP and Reuters — “Terrorist is an emotive term that we don’t use in the way that they used it,” explained a Reuters spokesperson — and calls from the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations and the Canadian Arab Federation for a provincial press council to investigate CanWest’s “biased reporting against Muslims and Arabs” — CanWest was defiant.
And as Orwellian as ever.
“We’re editing for style,” Scott Anderson, the editor of the Citizen insisted.
The National Post in an editorial on the issue, dismissed the news agencies’ “misleading gloss of political correctness… We owe it to our readers,” the paper said, “to remove it before they see their newspaper every morning.”
George himself couldn’t have explained it better.
Excerpted from Silenced: International Journalists Expose Media Censorship.
Edited by David Dadge. (Prometheus Books, 2005)
Copyright 2009 Stephen Kimber