Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Convergence from the inside

The Tyee has an excellent piece about the unparalleled glimpse inside the Canadian big media clubhouse the Black trial has afforded. There were details posted to the US department of Justice website that would never have been revealed in Canada otherwise.

Under Asper's plan, press competition in Canada would have been even more severely curtailed, but even he questioned whether Canadians would have stood for such tight news media control. "I certainly agree that there should only be one national newspaper," he wrote to Black. "In order to gain all the synergies of the merger, in effect, you might turn the Globe and Mail into merely a Toronto edition of the National Post."

Asper anticipated that regulatory alarm bells might go off in Ottawa under that scenario, however. "Although we claim no expertise in the newspaper business, we do have a concern, perhaps ill-founded, that there would be an enormous public reaction, and possibly political repercussions, if the two papers simply merged and one disappeared, causing regulators to complain about a lack of diversity and choice, even though none existed a mere two years ago."

David Asper slams own paper

The correspondence also reveals Asper's outrage at the reaction of National Post journalists to a March 2001 column by his son David that criticized their coverage of the "Shawinigate" scandal surrounding then-prime minister Jean Chr├ętien.

The column charged that media coverage of the controversy over Chr├ętien's part-ownership of a golf course in his riding had "crossed a line that delineates solid investigative reporting from adjective-driven innuendo." It even singled out the National Post for criticism: "This newspaper and others across Canada, including other forms of media, have had a remarkably unfair 'go' at the prime minister."

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