CFN – Media is a hard biz these days. Even the big guns suffer. Today, on Friday the 13th Sun News Network shuttered down. They flipped the switch to off. I won’t get into the merits of Sun News and it’s fake boobed talking heads or far right Rush Limbaugh wannabees.
I will agree with Warren Kinsella though when he wrote “It’s never good when we lose yet another media voice” in his blog today.
He’s right, but there’s a huge media problem with the fact that real media have lost the ability to function. The scales of balance have fallen too far into the corporate financial/political side. Run a story that reflects poorly on a politician or business and you can see your ad dollars plummet.
CFN lives this as I run a small independent media outlet based here in Cornwall Ontario, a city which has jokingly been called the rectum of Ontario (and worse) including on CBC radio.
Recently we had a national story about the Vincent family Ice rink. The city brutalized the family demanding that the rink, built in October, be ripped down at Christmas. Some VIP’s and former political types used pressure as this particular rink is on one of the snootiest streets in our city. (if we really can have a snooty street in Cornwall…)
It was ugly and the ten days the family was given notice were over the holidays when either City Hall was closed or people were off work. Sure enough the trucks were at the family door along with police on the day on the notice in spite of the Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy telling the family in person that they could have a bit more time.
It was ugly. I know because I was there. This little media outlet got the trucks to leave for a bit and we helped make sure that the Vincent’s could save their ice surface after the boards came down and the ice cracked spilling a ton of water onto the street from under its ice pad.
Over 2,500 people signed out petition and over 4,000 people voted 93% in favor of saving the rink. We also assisted other media outlets like Global and Metro and our video was picked up by Huffpo.
Yesterday a Toronto PR firm, North Strategic sent out an email to another media outlet that essentially attacked the rink and defended the city position that it was a bylaw violation.
The outlet also refused to run when our group formed to save the rink and then reported that there was a small gathering of supporters as opposed to a larger group if all the media in Cornwall notified the public of the event. A quick search in google and on that particular media’s website would show their clear slant.
North Strategic was pimping for their client Canadian Tire who were going to give the Vincent’s a Gold Hose award and wanted to etch their logo into the ice surface next season. For some reason the Seaway News mentioned North Strategic several times in their piece yesterday titled “Controversial rink creator gets award from Canadian Tire”.
The problem is that big Corporations like Canadian Tire are lazy. They don’t do their homework and depend on Toronto centric agencies to buy their ads and send out some of their releases.
So in a city like Cornwall, like other small cities, independent media like CFN get left out most of the time, because cities like Cornwall don’t seem to matter to companies like Canadian Tire, Walmart, Loblaws, Staples, Boston Pizza, Shoppers Drug Mart, Jean Coutu, Freshco, and the list goes on. In our six years we have never had a corporate ad from any of the big box chains and rarely if ever have received a release from them in spite of being an anomaly and leading our market for nearly four years now.
Canadian Tire for example had one of my favorite Ottawa Senators pop up in Cornwall for some event. Barely anyone went and even we only found out about it after the fact as I drove by what looked like about 20 folks milling around a blow up thingy. What’s the point of running an event if it’s a dud? And what, then blame our city for not supporting it?
Of course if media do not earn income we can’t do our jobs. Could that be a reason for example of why neither the Seaway News (TC MEDIA) or The Standard Freeholder covered the latest charges against former Team Cornwall President Gilles Latour? We emailed a few of the editors locally with nary a response as to why they didn’t cover the story. Could it be for fear of losing ad dollars that they didn’t run the story about Mr. Latour being charged with defrauding his own mother for $201,000?
Bottom lines are scary. But both of these media outlets spend more on salaries on their sales and management forces locally than on journalists. It begs to ask what is the role of media in our society any longer?
If the news we get is sanitized or missing how does the public get any idea of how to vote or operate? Are media outlets simply PR firms sold to the highest bidder?
The internet of course has changed things. CFN, has a loyal base of viewers in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and many major cities in addition to our huge market share locally. Maybe it’s time for some of these PR firms and Toronto folk to catch up to the times?
What do you think dear CFN viewers? You can post your comments below.
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