Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Alberta Media at Election Time 


Here's an interesting article about the Alberta Election in The Globe & Mail

Here we have a conservative paper with an article about Alberta government corruption and misuse of government funds. It also points out some websites that are critical of the Alberta Tory government. They missed Ralph's World but perhaps that is because we are "fair and balanced". Click on the article to have at look at these websites. They represent other voices apart from our Alberta newspapers and other media outlets.

Which bring me to my point. How willing are Alberta media to go after the real scandals of the Klein government? The stories that involve companies and people getting very very rich because taxpayer dollars are directed their way through extremely favorable government policies combined with lack of government policing for abuses. The Alberta Oil Sands Royalty Regime and the unbelievable sloppiness of the Department of Energy in administering it was pointed out quietly by Auditor General Fred Dunn in his 2003-2004 report. Mr. Dunn, unlike the federal Auditor General Shelia Fraser, does not feel the necessity to go to the media with his findings. The Alberta media, it would also appear, does not feel the necessity to ask further questions of Mr. Dunn. This could be a scandal involving billions making Federal government scandals puny in comparison and there is not a peep in the Alberta media.

Why might this be?

Here are my thoughts. The media in this country, apart from the CBC, are all commercial enterprises. They exist to make a profit for their owners. They make money by running ads. Some newspapers make a little revenue from subscription fees but revenue from this is small in comparison. Ad revenues are the lifeblood. The ads are placed by governments and by companies both big and small. One of the cardinal rules of marketing is do not be critical of your customers or they likely won't place ads with you. A self-evident truth I think. So the media is not motivated financially to be critical of the government, the political party running the government, or of companies. Herein lays the problem.

Those of you who disagree will point out that the media is often critical of the government, of Premier Klein, of the Tory party, and often of companies. I would agree up to a point. They have to provide news or they will lose their listeners and readers and the number of listeners and readers is critical to keeping the ad revenues coming in. Also, many individual reporters and editors do have a genuine desire to get at the truth and report it. It's just that I think their bosses, the media owners, the issuer of their paycheques, often have a bigger interest in profits. Let’s face it, the boss calls the shots.

The consequences of this are we get criticism to a point from the Alberta media but not enough to cut off their ad revenues. This leaves the real reporting to come from the CBC and media outlets outside of Alberta who have no financial interest in Alberta. Papers like the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star come to mind although the Globe & Mail is owned by Bell Globemedia which also owns CTV which operates stations in Alberta.

Perhaps one of the Alberta Media outlets would like to respond to this criticism. They can e-mail me at johnnyslow@gmail.com. I will be happy to post what they have to say.

But what I would really like to see is a good old-fashion investigative reporting story. I've given you one idea from the Auditor General's Report. There are many more there if our Alberta media has the nerve to go after them.

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