Canadian University Press plays to the grandstands

By Rick Hiebert. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission

Please permit me to address a bit of a different topic for myself.

As an old student press hand back in the day, I was stunned to see something on the Internet yesterday. Something that has caused a bit of an Internet stir, so it merits brief mention. So I hope that Bene D will indulge.

It was my experience back in the day that it was usually students with progressive views who wanted to do the self-sacrificing work of being a student journalist. I would imagine it to be the same today. So, as the years went on, it made sense that I was never made an editor of the student newspaper I worked for.

Not to fault my friends. I made dear friends, some of whom I retain to this day. Stand up people with great hearts, who just think differently than I do.

I became the BC stringer for Canadian University Press, and at the 1990 CUP National conference, I lost an election to become the top editor for CUP, their National Bureau Chief. It wound up being all good, as during the next year that I would have been working in Ottawa, I found both my church and where I would work as a journalist.

I gather that in subsequent years, CUP has ambled along, only to find that as budgets are shrunk at student newspapers, a wire service like CUP is seen as an unnecessary frill.

Given the historical point of view of CUP, I was frankly amazed to see this, namely that the very conservative Sun News TV host Ezra Levant delivered the keynote address at the recent Canadian University Press conference in Edmonton.

Now, I like Ezra. I even blogged for his magazine, The Western Standard.

But I have to ask CUP, at least on behalf of my old student press pals:

Are you insane?

Commenters on the Internet are wondering this too. Montreal Simon, a McGill Daily alum, was Flummoxed. A student journalist at the link went “Whaaa?”.

Back in November, when the choice of Ezra, was announced, CUP found that it had to explain why. Their explanation is here

As a student journalist who became a conservative journalist, I’d like to make a couple of observations.

The first choice of CUP’s who-should-we-ask canvas was Robyn Doolittle of the Toronto Star. Ezra came second. This should have said that CUPpies would have liked to hear a keynote from a somewhat liberal reporter known for her coverage of Rob Ford.

But CUP picked Ezra Levant. Now I like Ezra, and have heard him speak. But I think that most CUPpies would not be fans of his. Just a guess, looking at their preferred first choice for the keynote speech.

The organizer who helped pick Levant added that:

More importantly, Levant exemplifies a brand of journalism that is proving more relevant than ever. Politics and ideology are seeping into contemporary journalism and consumers are eating it up. It begs the question, what is considered journalism today? Or better yet, does objectivity still exist? How do politics factor in? Levant is one of Canada’s most recognizable partisan commentators and people are familiar with his work. We feel he’s highly suited to tackle these questions.

 

How could student journalists not already be savvy about this? I was, even before joining my student paper, was aware of related memes on the subject.

These memes are up to 40 years old. The progressive meme tends to be that corporate interests and big money bias the news.

I’m more familiar with the conservative meme that the news has a liberal bias. Having read “Hysteria 1964″, which argues that there were pot shots taken at Barry Goldwater, and Edith Efron’s “The News Twisters” before I started working for my student paper, I knew that these ideas dated back to the 1960s.

Ezra Levant, I’d say, believes in the conservative meme. His concerns that the “Media Party” has a pronounced liberal bias are a frequent feature of his show.

So, I could have predicted that what Eye On A Crazy Planet kindly notes for me would happen when Ezra Levant spoke at the CUP conference. He attacked what he saw as the liberal bias of the Canadian news media, so much so, per Eye….that he had angry delegates confronting him.

Who woulda thunk it?

Perhaps CUP thought that the Edmonton Sun would have covered Ezra’s remarks? Doesn’t seem to have happened.

I wonder if any CUPpies thought to report on it? I did a full page report on Mark Starowicz’s remarks to a conference I attended, but I guess I was an odd bird.

A hat tip to my old student press pals. I was dismayed on their behalf. I’ll get out a mop and bucket for their barf, if needs be. :)

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2 Responses to Canadian University Press plays to the grandstands

  1. Rick Hiebert says:

    Rabble.ca notes that Doolittle did speak at the Conference. Why did CUP not have her speak twice, or move the keynote speech?

    http://rabble.ca/news/2014/01/cups-nash-conference-and-business-journalism

  2. Frederick says:

    ALL journalism in all times and places has been saturated with politics and ideology. Anyone who pretends otherwise must “live” in zombie land.

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