Canadian journalism was always an odd duck from its contemporaries in the US and UK: it never had the same sense of gravitas or understanding of the profession. The UK still has pockets of real journalism. The US had a profession that, at its height, took down the most powerful man in its nation’s political realm.
Canada always had high levels of media concentration. It always had a pathological need to put a sunny spin on every story, from bad weather to a mass slaughter. The appeasement posture of Canadian journalism is meant to pander to a delicate audience, but it is this very bad habit that proved to be the industry’s undoing here.
Because if it “all works out in the end” because “every dark cloud has a silver lining”, then there is no need for journalism. There are no dangers or problems to worry about since that big-hearted altruists known as They will do our work for us.
The Liberal Party in Canada (known sarcastically as the Government Party) is the Marvel Comics of politics: they understand the “They” propaganda and have over the decades, deftly implied they are that They: they will spend big money bribing taxpayers with not just their own money, but the cash they borrow, and then once they borrowed money does its magic, the government will still manage to budget its books.
See? It all works out in the end because They will fix it.
The conservatives in this country could almost never get the idea of They, making them the DC Comics of politics (the “Distinguished Competition” as Stan Lee once quipped). They have some notion of Them — an enemy to fear — but they want Us to fix our own problems.
The Liberal party can exploit the propagandistic narrative of the superhero They, but journalists in this country — who are primarily driven by believing in They — have done so at their own absolute destruction.
Canadian journalists are all about spinning rot as something positive. This narrative spun them out of public necessity. No one needs to know about the reality of the world because they actually believe in the fantasy. Canada is just perfect the way it is, and so, They can keep cleaning up our messes.
So why bother keeping informed? Trump is an obsession in Canada because he is someone way over There. He is a foreigner and foreigners are not as lucky as We are.
The latent chauvinism is not one where we need to fear outsiders because They will make sure no harm or inconvenience troubles Canadians.
And if that is the case, journalism becomes redundant. Even journalists think they are redundant because no matter how bad the reality, they always seem to find hope and a happy resolution that does not require anyone but They to do something about it.
So Canadian journalists conned themselves out of a job — and a profession. Well play, children.
So Canadian journalism developed the least of the Western countries. It never developed a distinctive style, methodology, or voice. It was always an apologist by nature as if that were a hack and shortcut in the profession.
The trouble was that sycophantic model made journalists buy their own hype, and they never pushed or made the necessary changes they needed to survive, let alone thrive.
Journalists and their employers never lobbied for laws to ensure freedom of information was truly free — they always used the obstacles and governmental roadblocks in their narratives to prove to their audiences how hard they had to work to get information.
Even now, the Toronto Star is trying to exploit that narrative by whining that they have to fight to make information public. It is all part of their charade hilariously called the Trust Initiative (if you have to give something a cheesy ABC Afterschool Special or comic booky-sounding title, it is a sign that what you are doing is rubbish).
It is a deliberate misuse to bolster a narrative, but if journalists were sincere about fighting for information, they would fight the government by lobbying to change the laws to make getting that information easier — but then if it was too easy, then maybe regular citizens could get direct access, and then who would read them?
But they don’t lobby for things that matter to society. They do lobby for the government to give them money to keep their sinking ships afloat.
Because the industry honestly believes They will come to the rescue.
Except They is a group that does not actually exist.
Once upon a time, people believed God would do that work, and then God proved wanting.
So now we have migrated our hopes to social media, and of course They.
Social media is feeling the backlash because it proved to be as effective as a deity.
But They are the figments who are still counted on to help clean up the mess.
Journalism is counting on They to save them, and there is no They out there.
They will not do what journalists should have been doing for themselves all along.
Journalists should not exploit bad laws to pretend they are saviours of humanity. Journalists should have lobbied and fought for better access to information.
That would mean bringing more discipline to the profession, and making the case that as an empirical entity, they have every right to have that information.
It didn’t happen, and when push came to shove, when they did lobby the government, it was for money.
It was a horrifying turn of events, and shows journalism is no longer a thing — if it ever was a thing in Canada…