B.C. journalist and blogger Sean Holman takes Peter Legge, publisher of B.C. Business Magazine, to task for an unabashed — and unannounced — promo of the politician Legge supports in the upcoming election.

B.C. journalist Sean Holman, who runs a blog called Public Eye Online, skewered the publisher of B.C. Business Magazine for a March
cover profile of the province’s incumbent premier just weeks before the
May election. It was the second election in a row that the publication
ran a favorable profile of the pro-business Gordon Campbell. 

Holman
had previously blogged asking “whether it was editorial judgment or
political favoritism that put Premier Gordon Campbell on BCBusiness
Magazine’s front page.” Holman was then granted an interview with
publisher Peter Legge — a Western tycoon in Canada’s concentrated
media industry whose company, CanadaWide Media Ltd. says its publications reach six million readers. Holman reported that with the economy a major election issue Legge:

“…was
of the opinion Premier Gordon Campbell deserved a cover story, written
as a Q&A. Mr. Legge did that interview himself. “But, instead of
having a reporter sort of possibly not get the questions answered
correctly, we’ll let him answer them the way he wants to answer them.”


Holman asked, was this article then meant to support the Liberals re-election effort?

“Not
totally,” Mr. Legge responded. “We wanted to ask him what we thought
were reasonably interesting questions – and different questions than
perhaps someone else might ask. And report his answers as opposed to a
reporter’s answers. So I guess you could look at either way.”

Homan
persisted: why didn’t B.C. Business disclose the fact Legge made $7,000
in personal and corporate contributions to Campbell’s party since 2005?

“I
guess, perhaps, we assumed because we’re a free enterprise business –
and I’ve said publicly just about anywhere I go that I support the BC
Liberals, I support their values – we probably assumed that people
would automatically know that. But perhaps not,” said Mr. Legge,
agreeing Public Eye made a “good point” in suggesting those writing
about politics should disclose their partisan connections.

This
example of propaganda selling on newsstands is, I suggest, why Canada
needs a more media-literate, critically-thinking culture — and why
ethical journalists are so desperately needed.

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