The Canadian media establishment is hyperventilating over the revelation that Prime Minister Stephen Haper does not, by his own admission, tend to watch Canadian news—he watches American news instead. Observing the media’s “ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod he’s not watching us!?” reaction to that statement should be all the justification that is required.
I don’t watch Canadian news either. Nor American or European news, for that matter. Whether it’s CNN, CBC or BBC, if they happen to provide insightful reporting full of appropriate context, it’s only by accident, not design. Oh, I used to watch Canadian TV news, but then I found that every story left twenty or thirty unanswered questions, and I would have to go online and do more research to get the details that I wanted. Eventually I gave up on TV news entirely, because I would rather save time and get the full details in one go, rather than watch a brief and ill-researched TV segment, then have to go online later to get better information.
If you want detail, context and realistic analysis you have to go to print (hardcopy or digital). Even then, the Toronto Star‘s reportage from Afghanistan is usually poorer and less finely textured than that of Michael Totten or Michael Yon; the Globe & Mail‘s coverage of Iranian and North Korean nuclear profileration is inferior to that of Dr. Jeffrey Lewis at ArmsControlWonk; the big geopolitical issues of our day are rarely discussed in Canadian print media with the same specialist’s detail, intelligence and insight.
To be blunt, if your TV is your primary news source, you’re doing it wrong.
RELATED: We all know the various media outlets claim to be unbiased and balanced in their reporting; some achieve this with a greater degree of success than others. Personally I believe all media has a bias (about anything, politics or otherwise), because all humans have preferences. Identifying the bias and factoring it into your evaluation of the reporting is part of what has to be done as a consumer. Sometimes that task is made easier by parsing the tea-leaves of the commenters.
CBC, for example, has a wad of hand-waving commenters invoking their reflexive anti-Americanism suggesting the PM move south, or comparing him to former president Bush.
CityNews, on the other hand, has commenters who are largely on board with the notion that Canadian television news sucks and blows at the same time, and whose attitude toward the PM’s disinterest is best summed up as “So what?”