Blog by John Miller

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Under new owners

May 28th, 2020

Twenty years ago, when newspapers were still strong enough to go to war against each other, David Asper went out of his way to take a shot at the Toronto Star, which he said printed "irrational tirades" and was where "a dead owner is controlling the show."

The Asper family at the time owned Canwest Global, which had gobbled up Southam's chain of newspapers to join Izzy Asper's Global TV n ...

The paper killer

May 13th, 2020

That great showman, P.T. Barnum, once said: “He who is without a newspaper is cut off from his species.”

Welcome to the new normal in Canada: Since March 11, when the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic for COVID-19, tens of thousands of us have been cut off from our only sources of local news.

In a startling finding, the Local News Research Project at Ryerson’s School ...

Bad whitesplaining

February 18th, 2020

Call it the shameful ‘whitesplaining’ of the Wet’suwet’en protest.

As Canada’s crippling rail shutdown reaches into its third week, an overwhelming majority of voices in the country’s mainstream media have spoken: The Aboriginal demonstrators, who claim they are defending their lands from a natural gas pipeline they do not want, are lawless thugs or fringe activists and it’s time for actio ...

Trumping truth

January 26th, 2020

Mary Louise Kelly has been a journalist for 25 years. She anchors the American daily news show All Things Considered on National Public Radio, and usually asks tough questions but, in my opinion, fair ones. She is an experienced reporter, previously for CNN and the BBC, and has a masters degree in European studies from Cambridge University.

Mike Pompeo, the oil-rig salesman who Donald Trum ...

The wrong horses

November 22nd, 2019

The Toronto Star has never been good at saying goodby. Not only that, it has a long and disturbing tradition of choosing to do it just before Christmas.

I was reminded of that this week, when parent company Torstar announced the closing of its five free commuter newspapers across Canada, and cynically characterized the move as part of “our national expansion plan.” Seventy-three employees, m ...

A shameful failure

October 1st, 2019

One year ago today, at 1:14 in the afternoon, American journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, where he’d been told he could be issued papers to marry his fiancé.

We now know that the Saudi-born columnist for the Washington Post was lured there under false pretenses. Waiting for him was a 15-person elite Saudi hit squad with orders to assassinate him ...

How to cover hate

September 29th, 2019

How should the news media identify and report on extremist groups in Canada? Should they report on them at all?

Across North America and Europe, there is no doubt that extremism—especially by right-wing groups like white supremacists and anti-Muslims—is on the rise. In Canada, the number of reported hate crimes skyrocketed 47 percent in 2017, according to the latest figures available from ...

It's about race

September 27th, 2019

Why should the outrage over Maxime Bernier being granted an audience with the Toronto Star editorial board remind us of the outrage over Justin Trudeau dressing up in brownface?

Because ... it misses the point.

The point we should be debating is evident if you read between the lines of Shree Paradkar’s remarkable column in the Star questioning her paper’s judgment. It was headlined “Givin ...

How not to do it

September 15th, 2019

How would you like it if you had to face Harold Munro’s problems when you woke up this morning?

The Vancouver Sun and Province, the newspapers he edits, published something he had to apologize for and expunge, after the poorly researched and xenophobic views of a freelance columnist slipped into print and sparked outrage among readers.

His own award-winning reporting staff courageously jo ...

When right is wrong

September 10th, 2019

Perhaps we ought to call it the Full Right Rudder problem.

When a ship makes a turn like that, the vessel is engineered to execute the radical change in direction safely. Everything is welded together, and the captain has his hands firmly on the tiller. But when such a manoeuvre is attempted at an organization with a lot more independently moving parts—like Canada’s largest newspaper chain ...

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