Patricia Graham, former editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun, is the new ombudswoman of Irving-owned Brunswick News. 

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

Patricia Graham, former editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun and vice-president of digital at Pacific Newspaper Group, is the new ombudswoman of Irving-owned Brunswick News.

Graham, who retired from the Pacific Newspaper Group in June 2013, said she moved to Saint John, NB, to take the role because she has “respect for an organization that is willing to appoint someone to represent readers and to independently assess its journalistic endeavours.”

“In determining whether I would take this job, I satisfied myself that Brunswick News management is fully committed to their newspapers and wants them to be journalistically sound and to make a positive contribution to New Brunswick,” Graham said in her introductory column to readers.

 


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Graham said her responsibilities will include reviewing readers comments and complaints and maintaining an online blog where she will discuss the process of journalism, her decisions and defend the work of Brunswick News when necessary.

Canada has only a handful of ombudsmen—in the broadcast sector, CBC has an ombdusman for English Services and another for Radio-Canada. In print, only the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail have public editors.

Graham’s job is a bit more unusual given that her employer, Brunswick News, is owned by the Irving family, which owns the majority of media in the province. As a Reuters article notes, the Irvings are also New Brunswick’s largest private sector employer and the family’s holdings span 162 companies in the Maritime provinces. Aside from the CBC, the Irvings have a monopoly on provincial media given that the family owns almost alll the province’s 20 English-language newspapers and a certain branch of the family owns Acadia Broadcasting, which operates 10 radio stations in three provinces.

Graham said the company is committed to providing balanced coverage, including of Irving ventures.

“I am unaware of any facts that demonstrate that the number of papers owned equates to poor journalism,” she said in the Reuters article. “But management at Brunswick News is sensitive to these types of concerns and won’t shy away from considering or addressing them.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Irvings do not own all the English-language newspaper.


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