With less than five hours left until launch time, Sun Media’s David Akin is none too happy about some of the coverage surrounding this evening’s Sun News Network debut. Considering both Akin’s involvement in the network and the fact that many news organizations have gleefully repeated Sun TV criticisms, this is, perhaps, not very surprising. However, Akin does raise a valid question: How good is the news biz at covering itself? 

With less than five hours left until launch time, Sun Media’s David Akin is none too happy about some of the coverage surrounding this evening’s Sun News Network debut. Considering both Akin’s involvement in the network and the fact that many news organizations have gleefully repeated Sun TV criticisms, this is, perhaps, not very surprising. However, Akin does raise a valid question: How good is the news biz at covering itself?

In a recent blog post discussing the coverage, Akin compares the ink spent on Sun News’s launch to the coverage of the National Post‘s 1998 entry into the newspaper biz. (Akin helped launch the Post, too.)

He writes:

“Of course, given Black’s well-known political sympathies, all the journalists on his staff — including the two top-ranking political writers at its launch Bob Fife (now with CTV) and Giles Gherson (now working for Dalton McGuinty’s government) — were dismissed by our critics and competitors [who said] that we were about to wreck journalism in Canada, precisely because Black did not have the same kind of political views of the small-l liberal media establishment in Canada. We didn’t wreck journalism in Canada, of course. In fact, I’d say we made it a whole lot better.

“Still, on the eve of the launch of Sun News Network, here we are again. Same kind of critics; same kind of argument.”

While Akin praises The Globe and Mail‘s feature, by Steven Chase, and Kim Covert’s PostMedia report, he takes particular issue with the Canadian Press’s coverage of the launch. While he may disagree with some of the people Chase and Covert interviewed, he says, “the reporting was bang-on.” However, he adds CP freelancer Bill Brioux’s piece “appears to be written in about 25 minutes after he watched one of our promos.”

Akin goes on to acknowledge that, in general, CP reporters work hard to ensure fairness and accuracy in their reporting. He is, he says, reluctant to criticize CP. Despite this, he continues: “In reporting on its own industry, CP has been a big bust and that doesn’t reflect well on the organization or its owners.”

Surely, it would be a stretch to call Brioux’s article glowing. After all, it does include this analysis of the network:

“The challenge for Sun News will be the weeks and months right after the May 2 vote. When the real sun comes out, this new Sun could drop out of sight. Viewing levels for all networks go down as the weather improves, but especially for news networks. On a positive note, Sun News will likely have months to work out the bugs in relative obscurity before Parliament — and higher TV viewing levels — return in the fall.”

Such negativity, Akin suggests, may be the result of CP’s relationship with Sun Media. Akin writes: “Sun Media left CP last summer, a departure that cost CP $7-million a year. No mention of that by Brioux.”

Plus, he adds, the Brampton-based columnist didn’t interview anybody, either. “Maybe Brioux,” writes Akin, “like Chase and Covert, might liked to have phoned someone — anyone! — up to ask them about Sun News Network.”

Is Akin’s assessment fair? Does the media put aside its objectivity when it comes to reporting on itself (and its competitors)? Or is this all just right-wing brouhaha? Well, one thing is likely certain: We’ll have plenty more examples to look at after the Sun News Network launches, tonight.

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