Monday, June 24, 2013

Toronto Star recycles lobbyist's press release and fobs it off as "journalism"

This isn't news and it isn't journalism.

If this article were a first year assignment at a reputable school the writer would be told to consider another career option.

Here is the Star's article  about the purported benefits of privatizing Ontario's government owned liquor stores.

Here is the press release from Strategycorp, which bills itself as "Canada's leading government relations consulting firm."

The Star added a quote from the author of the study, a quote from Tim Hudak, and a quote from the head of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association which paid for the study, and voila, we have a news story!

A few years ago, when the Star was at least a good if not great newspaper, they might have addressed a few obvious questions;

  • does Professor Sen's research, here and elsewhere, have a political slant?
  • is there research available that contradicts Professor Sen's conclusions?
  • will privatization turn the thousands of relatively decent jobs at the liquor monopoly into minimum wage convenience store jobs?
And so on.

The Star is locked into a vicious downward spiral. "Revenue challenges" lead to outsourcing leads to weaker reporting and editing which leads to overtly political propaganda like this being presented as news.

Where does this end?

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