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Fairness in the Media Presented to: Canadian Media Research Consortium October 2007 Table of Contents Research Background & Objectives 2 Key Findings 4 Profile of Journalists & Members of Parliament 8 Attributes of Fair Journalism 16 Awareness of Journalistic Guide or Code of Standards 28

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slide1
Fairness in the Media

Presented to:

Canadian Media Research Consortium

October 2007

table of contents
Table of Contents

Research Background & Objectives 2

Key Findings 4

Profile of Journalists & Members of Parliament 8

Attributes of Fair Journalism 16

Awareness of Journalistic Guide or Code of Standards 28

Proportion of News Stories Fairly Presented 31

Personal Encounters with Unfair Media Reporting 34

Canadian News Organizations 42

Influence of Political or Ideological Views on News Stories 46

Fair Media Reporting 52

Media Coverage and Criticism of Political Leaders 59

Influence of Outside Groups on Reporting 64

Knowledge of Journalists 78

Media in Canada & Democracy 83

Regional Viewpoints in National News Coverage 92

research background methodology
Research Background & Methodology
  • POLLARA was commissioned by Andre Turcotte and the Canadian Media Research Consortium (CMRC) to conduct one-on-one telephone interviews with journalists and Members of Parliament on issues regarding fairness in the media.
  • Results are based on 64 one-on-one telephone interviews with Members of the Press Gallery in Ottawa, and 61 one-on-one telephone interviews with Members of Parliament. Interviews with journalists took place between March 21st and April 18th, 2007, while interviews with Members of Parliament took place between March 21st and June 13th, 2007.
  • Due to the small sample sizes and corresponding margins of error for both journalists (+/-12.4%) and Members of Parliament (+/-12.8%), it is important to interpret findings with caution.
    • Only statistically significant findings have been reported.
  • Where appropriate, results are compared to data obtained in a previous study – Views of the Public, 2003 Survey, commissioned by CMRC.
    • Please note, comparison, while informative and insightful, should be interpreted with caution as the methodologies, including sample size and sampling techniques, vary between studies.
research background methodology4
Research Background & Methodology
  • Frequencies have been reported for each question from the survey. Furthermore, each closed-ended question was cross-tabulated against the following variables to identify any differences. Where statistically significant, differences between segments have been reported throughout the report.
    • Years worked in politics (MPs)
    • Years in elective office (MPs)
    • Number of terms (MPs)
    • Years worked as a journalist (Journalists)
    • Medium journalist for (Journalists)
    • Aware of journalistic code
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Education
    • Language of interview
    • Province (MPs)
    • Canadian news organisations politically biased vs. careful that reporting is not biased (MPs)
    • Frequency that stories are influenced
    • Political views
    • Political Party (MPs)
key findings
Key Findings

Fair Media Coverage: Consensus & Disagreement

  • Members of Parliament and journalists generally agree about what constitutes fair journalism. Asked in an open-ended question to identify the “attributes of fair journalism”, both MPs and journalists mentioned balance and getting both sides of the story most often (64% of MPs and 72% of journalists).
  • Also identified as important attributes by both groups were impartiality and open-mindedness (36% and 33%, respectively); accuracy (26% and 20%, respectively); well researched reports/well-informed reporters (20% and 19%, respectively); and honesty and truthfulness (15% and 13%, respectively).
  • Journalists place more importance on protecting the confidentiality of anonymous sources and questioning sources vigorously than do MPs.
  • Conversely, MPs view the protection of personal privacy of public figures, the avoidance of using unnamed sources, not reporting off-the-record conversations and avoiding the reporting of information obtained through the use of hidden cameras as more important than do journalists.

Awareness of Guide or Code of Journalistic Standards

  • Awareness of a guide or code of journalistic standards is low among both journalists and MPs. Only one-in-two (50%) journalists are aware of such a guide, compared to one-in-four (23%) MPs. Of the journalists who are aware of a code or guide, less than two-in-five refer to it often (16%) or sometimes (22%).
key findings7
Key Findings

Personal Encounters with Unfair Media Reporting

  • MPs are much more willing to discuss their personal encounters with unfair media reporting than are Members of the Press Gallery. Many MPs have had multiple encounters with what they perceive to be unfair media reporting, commenting on issues of unbalanced, one-sided reporting, comments being taken out of context, inappropriate “spinning” of the story, uninformed reporting with inaccurate information, and misleading headlines.

MPs Critical of Canadian Media

  • Three-in-five (61%) MPs believe Canadian news organizations are generally politically biased in their reporting, while three-in-ten (30%) think Canadian news organizations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased.
  • The vast majority of MPs think reporters let their own political preferences influence the way they report the news often (43%) or sometimes (48%), compared to significantly fewer journalists who admit their own news stories are often (6%) or sometimes (27%) influenced.
  • Two-in-five (43%) MPs think that the media coverage of the personal and ethical behaviour of political leaders is excessive compared to only one-in-ten (11%) journalists.
  • Further, one-in-five (21%) MPs think the media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive, compared to one-in-twenty (5%) journalists.
key findings8
Key Findings

Influence of Outside Groups & Corporate Control in the Media

  • One-in-two journalists (55%) and MPs (49%) think lobby groups influence the news. Journalists (27%) are more likely than MPs (16%) to think politicians and governments influence the news, while a similar proportion agree that public opinion (22% and 16%, respectively) and business and corporations (17% and 15%, respectively) have an impact.
  • Twice as many MPs (46%) as journalists (22%) think that the corporate control of the media often influences the particular news stories that are presented.

Dissatisfaction with Variety of Regional Viewpoints in National News Media

  • Three-in-five MPs are either not very satisfied (43%) or not satisfied at all (18%) with the variety of regional viewpoints reported in the national news media, compared to less than one-in-two journalists (34% and 13%, respectively).
  • When asked about the differences between French and English news coverage, journalists and MPs identify French coverage as being more focused on the province of Quebec, while some, particularly MPs, consider English news media to focus more on national coverage. Other differences that journalists and MPs cite include French news coverage being more “aggressive”, “sensationalistic” and “animated”, while others think the subject matter covered by the two types of media varies.
type of journalism practiced
Type of Journalism Practiced
  • The vast majority of journalists indicate they practice “mostly news” (89%) journalism and only a few are “mostly commentary” journalists (5%).

Q1: Could you please tell me which kind of journalism you practice?

journalism medium
Journalism Medium
  • Two-in-three (66%) journalists say they report for print, while one-in-three (36%) identify television as their main medium. Roughly one-in-six (14%) are journalists report for radio, and 5% for the internet.

Print

Television

Radio

Internet

Don’t Know/Refused

Q2: Which medium are you a journalist for? (READ LIST; MULTIPLE MENTIONS ALLOWED)

organization of journalists
Organization of Journalists
  • Members of the Press Gallery who were interviewed for this study are journalists for 35 different organizations. One-in-ten (9%) journalists interviewed work for the Globe and Mail.
years worked in profession
Years Worked in Profession
  • On average, journalists have worked in their careers for 20 years, while MPs have worked in politics for 16 years.
  • The vast majority of journalists (77%) and MPs (59%) have been working in their careers for more thanten years.

Q39J: How many years have you worked as a journalist?

Q37MP: How many years have you worked in politics?

number of years in elective office
Number of Years In Elective Office
  • On average, MPs have been in elective office for 9 years. Two-in-five (43%) say they have been in elective office for three years or less.
  • Two-in-five (38%) MPs have been in elective office for more than 10 years.

Mean: 9.2

Q38MP: How many years have you been in elective office?

political party affiliation
Political Party Affiliation
  • Of those interviewed, 34% of MPs are Liberals, 30% are Conservatives, 20% are NDP, and 15% are Bloc Quebecois.

House Composition

30%

36%

17%

10%

5%

Liberals

Conservatives

NDP

Bloc Quebecois

Independents

language of interview
Language of Interview
  • Three-in-four journalists (78%) and MPs (75%) interviewed completed the survey in English, compared to one-four who completed the survey in French (22% and 25%, respectively).
volunteered attributes of fair journalism
Volunteered Attributes of “Fair Journalism”
  • In general, journalists and MPs agree on what they consider to be the attributes of fair journalism, namely balance and getting to both sides of the story, being open-minded and impartial, being accurate, doing research and being informed, and being truthful and honest.

Balance/Getting Both Sides

Being Open-Minded/Impartial

Accurate

Do Research/Informed

Being Truthful/Honest

Desire

Other

Don’t Know/Refused

Journalists

Members of Parliament

Q3: I’d like to talk to you about your perceptions of journalistic “fairness” in Canada. What do you consider to be attributes of “fair journalism”? (PROBE: Anything else?)

volunteered attributes of fair journalism by age gender
Volunteered Attributes of “Fair Journalism”, by Age & Gender
  • Male journalists (80%) are more likely than their female counterparts (50%) to consider balance an attribute of “fair journalism”.
  • Among journalists, those 39 years of age and younger (39%) are more likely than older journalists to believe doing research and being informed are attributes of “fair journalism”.
volunteered attributes of fair journalism by language of interview
Volunteered Attributes of “Fair Journalism”, by Language of Interview
  • MPs (33%) and journalists (24%) who completed the interview in English are more likely than those who completed it in French (7%) to identify “accuracy” as an attribute of fair journalism.
volunteered attributes of fair journalism by years worked in profession
Volunteered Attributes of “Fair Journalism”, by Years Worked in Profession
  • MPs who have worked in politics for more than 20 years (62%) are more likely than MPs with less years of experience to view being open-minded and impartial as attributes of fair journalism.
  • Journalists with 20 years or less experience are more likely than their counterparts with more years of experience (4%) to consider doing research and being informed as attributes of fair journalism.
importance of attributes in news reports commentaries
Importance of Attributes in News Reports & Commentaries

Journalists

MPs

Place information in context

Journalists

MPs

Verify information before reporting it

Journalists

MPs

Quote sources accurately

Journalists

MPs

Include all the relevant facts

Journalists

MPs

Protect the confidentiality of anonymous sources

1 of 3

VeryImportant

SomewhatImportant

Not VeryImportant

Not ImportantAt All

Don’t Know/Refused

Q4-18: In evaluating fairness in journalism, how important to you is it that news reports and commentaries: (PROBE: Is that very or somewhat?) (READ AND ROTATE)

importance of attributes in news reports commentaries23
Importance of Attributes in News Reports & Commentaries

Avoid reporting accusationswithout giving accused opportunityto respond

Journalists

MPs

Journalists

MPs

Question sources vigorously

Journalists

MPs

Resist attempts by sources to“spin the story”

Journalists

MPs

Avoid obvious partisanship or bias

Journalists

MPs

Include all legitimate points of view

2 of 3

VeryImportant

SomewhatImportant

Not VeryImportant

Not ImportantAt All

Don’t Know/Refused

Q4-18: In evaluating fairness in journalism, how important to you is it that news reports and commentaries: (PROBE: Is that very or somewhat?) (READ AND ROTATE)

importance of attributes in news reports commentaries24
Importance of Attributes in News Reports & Commentaries

Journalists

MPs

Represent the broader public interest

Journalists

MPs

Never report off-the-record conversations

Avoid reporting information obtained through the use of hidden cameras or tape recorders

Journalists

MPs

Journalists

MPs

Respect the personal privacy of public figures

Journalists

MPs

Avoid quoting an unnamed source

3 of 3

VeryImportant

SomewhatImportant

Not VeryImportant

Not ImportantAt All

Don’t Know/Refused

Q4-18: In evaluating fairness in journalism, how important to you is it that news reports and commentaries: (PROBE: Is that very or somewhat?) (READ AND ROTATE)

importance of attributes in news reports commentaries25
Importance of Attributes in News Reports & Commentaries

Agreement Among Journalists & MPs

  • When evaluating fairness in journalism, almost all journalists and MPs interviewed agreed that it is very important that news reports and commentaries place information in context (98% and 95%, respectively), quote sources accurately (95% and 97%, respectively), and verify information before reporting it (97% and 98%, respectively).
  • Additionally, a similar proportion of journalists and MPs interviewed agreed that it is very important to include all relevant facts (88% and 82%, respectively), avoid reporting accusations without giving the accused an opportunity to respond (86% and 92%, respectively), resist attempts by sources to “spin the story” (81% and 75%, respectively), avoid obvious partisanship or bias (78% and 84%, respectively), include all legitimate points of view (72% and 67%, respectively), and represent the broader public interest (70% and 67%, respectively).

Disagreement Among Journalists & MPs

  • Journalists are more likely than Members of Parliament to view protecting the confidentiality of anonymous sources (86% versus 57%) and questioning sources vigorously (83% versus 69%) as very important for news reports and commentaries.
  • Conversely, compared to journalists, a higher proportion of Members of Parliament view avoiding reporting information obtained through the use of hidden cameras or tape recorders (69% versus 44%) and never reporting off-the-record conversations (66% versus 44%) as very important.
  • Members of Parliament and journalists also place very different levels of importance on the issues of protecting personal privacy and the use of unnamed sources. Members of Parliament are three times more likely than journalists to view protecting the personal privacy of public figures (62% versus 19%) and the avoidance of quoting unnamed sources (51% versus 14%) as very important.
importance of attributes in news reports commentaries26
Importance of Attributes in News Reports & Commentaries
  • When compared to data from the Views of the Public – 2003 Survey, MPs appear to have similar views about the use of hidden cameras or tape recorders in reporting as the public. Two-in-three (66%) respondents of the general public in this survey disapproved of the use of hidden cameras or tape recorders, while in this study, 69% of MPs said it is very important to avoid reporting information obtained through the use of hidden cameras or tape recorders. Only one-in-three (33%) journalists felt the same way.
  • Similarly, findings from the Views of the Public – 2003 Survey and thisstudy also indicate that MPs and the public are more closely aligned in their views of using unnamed sources than are journalists and the public. Specifically, in the 2003 study, 49% of the public disapproved of running stories that quote an unnamed source rather than giving the person’s name, and in this study, 51% of MPs think it is very important to avoid quoting an unnamed source. Only 14% of journalists said this was very important.
importance of attributes in news reports commentaries27
Importance of Attributes in News Reports & Commentaries

Percentage of MPs & Journalists who say …. is “very important”

importance of attributes in news reports commentaries28
Importance of Attributes in News Reports & Commentaries

Percentage of MPs & Journalists who say …. is “very important”

Note: There are no significant differences in responses among journalists or MPs with regards to the importance of

reporting information obtained through the use of hidden cameras or tape recorders, representing the broader public interest, protecting the confidentiality of anonymous sources, verifying information before reporting it, placing information in context, or quoting sources accurately.

awareness of guide or code of journalistic standards30
Awareness of Guide or Code of Journalistic Standards
  • Only one-in-two (50%) journalists are aware of a guide or journalistic code of standards, and one-in-three (36%) say they are not aware of such a code.
  • Seven-in-ten (70%) MPs are not aware of a code of journalistic standards.

Q19: Are you aware of a guide or code of journalistic standards that outlines the definition of fairness and how it applies to media reporting?

awareness of guide or code of journalistic standards journalists
Awareness of Guide or Code of Journalistic Standards: Journalists
  • One-in-two (47%) journalists who are aware of a guide or code of journalistic standards say they seldom refer to it, and one-in-six (13%) report they never refer to it.

Q19: Are you aware of a guide or code of journalistic standards that outlines the definition of fairness and how it applies to media reporting?

Q20: (IF YES) How often do you refer to this guide or code of journalistic standards?

proportion of news stories fairly presented33
Proportion of News Stories Fairly Presented
  • Journalists are more optimistic than MPs about the proportion of news stories in the Canadian media that present news in a fair way, with 44% of journalists saying most stories are presented in a fair way, compared to only 16% of MPs who say the same.
  • One-in-three (32%) MPs say less than half or not very many news stories in the Canadian media present the news in a fair way, compared to less than one-in-twenty (3%) journalists.

Q21: What proportion of the news stories that you see in the Canadian media present the news in a fair way?

proportion of news stories fairly presented by mp s view of canadian news organizations
Proportion of News Stories Fairly Presented,by MP’s View of Canadian News Organizations
  • Almost one-half (46%) of MPs who think Canadian news organizations are politically biased in their news reporting think that less than half (22%) or not very many (24%) news stories are fairly represented.
personal accounts with unfair media reporting
Personal Accounts with Unfair Media Reporting

Members of Parliament and journalists offered many different situation where they have personally encountered unfair media reporting. Specifically, 53 MPs offered a personal experience compared to 34 journalists interviewed. A variety of themes emerged from the responses, relating to such issues as unfair and unbalanced reporting, to misleading stories and false accusations. A summary of the findings follows.

Unbalanced or One-Sided Reporting

  • A common theme emerging from the experiences of Members of Parliament related to their inability to respond to accusations made against them or simply not being asked to tell their side of the story. Many offered examples of times when they had been cited in news stories without being consulted to comment on particular events or issues.

“I felt the journalist had printed information and comments by people that didn’t share my particular view without any opportunity for myself to respond and certainly I felt they didn’t accurately research the situation.”

“I’ve been reported in stories without being given an opportunity to respond or give my side.”

“There have been many times, for example, where an opponent has said something about my position but I wasn’t given the opportunity to respond to his allegations and claims.”

“A journalist misrepresented the facts. He had written a story before he had talked to me and had misrepresented what I had said and he had drawn his own conclusions before he had even talked to me.”

“I had stories written that attributed quotes to me that were inaccurate and I wasn’t asked to comment.”

Q22: Please describe a situation in which you have personally encountered unfair media reporting. (PROBE: What specifically made this situation unfair?)

personal accounts with unfair media reporting37
Personal Accounts with Unfair Media Reporting
  • A few journalists also identified one-sided reporting.

“A person reported on wasn’t given the opportunity to express his view on the story.”

“Someone’s background was put on air, including his religious beliefs, but he wasn’t represented.”

  • One MP identified a time when his side of a particular story was presented only after he approached the journalist. However, he believed this is something most politicians experience.

“In one instance, one side of the story came out. I talked to the reporter and had my side printed. Now, the truth is it came out of the editorial desk. It’s happened, and it’s happened to everybody on all sides of politics, I’m sure.”

  • Journalists also commented on unbalanced reporting in their accounts, especially when it comes to certain topic areas, including the environment and aboriginal issues.

“Presenting only one view on stories. For example, the environment championing the views of environmental groups and dismissing opposing points of view.”

“Almost any story involving government and aboriginal people. Too often journalists take the opinion of one aboriginal person and make it the opinion of all aboriginal people.”

“Reporters have questioned me about my field, which happens to be religion and political reporting. I’ve provided this information to them. Editors made the decision not to include it. It would have made it more balanced in my point of view.”

“I thought the coverage of Canada’s relation to the Tsunami […] because I think the government had good reasons not to send the DART Team. I don’t know if that side of the story was well reported.”

Q22: Please describe a situation in which you have personally encountered unfair media reporting. (PROBE: What specifically made this situation unfair?)

personal accounts with unfair media reporting38
Personal Accounts with Unfair Media Reporting

Context

  • Some MPs provided situations where comments they have made to journalists and reporters have been manipulated and taken out of context.

“Quotes have been taken out of context.”

“I have seen the reporting of a process unfairly reported when we were dealing with the environment. We had got through a process [but] journalists chose not to give context to the report and knowingly skewed the story.”

“A recent newspaper article printed a story about a vote in parliament that was very skewed and took the vote totally out of context. [They] printed this very biased story when all they had to do was make one phone call.”

“Spin” The Story

  • MPs also told of times when journalists and reporters had “spun” stories so as to embellish the facts.

“I have always made it very clear that it is not so much the Wheat Board that I support, rather supporting the right of the farmers to make the choice of the future of the Wheat Board. The press always spins it as that I support the Wheat Board. Well, the truth is I support the farmers and they determine whether the Wheat Board should have a future or not. I guess that’s the media spin.”

“Our local paper is very conservative and no matter what happens on a Liberal point of view or NDP announcement, it comes out as minor reporting on the back page, but when it comes to a Conservative candidate or the Prime Minister, it comes out very positive even if it is very negative. The spin on it is atrocious. That’s done on a weekly, if not daily, basis.”

Q22: Please describe a situation in which you have personally encountered unfair media reporting. (PROBE: What specifically made this situation unfair?)

personal accounts with unfair media reporting39
Personal Accounts with Unfair Media Reporting
  • A few journalists also discussed the problems associated with “spinning” stories and the issues journalists decide to focus on.

“Sometimes you’ll rush in a story before questioning spin or getting the other side of the story.”

“The spin by reporters to increase their perceived importance. It is extremely biased.”

“How the Canadian political media handled the Belinda Stronach story, and how she was very good looking.”

“Coverage of Stockwell Day and his religious persuasion when he was leader of the Alliance in 2000 election.”

Uninformed Reporting, Providing False & Inaccurate Information

  • Some MPs described situations where journalists wrote news stories about them, but with inaccurate or false information.

“Matter of an inaccurate story caused a great deal of problems for me personally. It was reported on CBC that I was getting married but it wasn’t true. Damage was done.”

“A story was published quoting me but the reporters had not even talked to me about it and what was unfair was that with the exception of one newspaper, no one else apologized to me about the inaccuracy of the article.”

“An editorial in the National Post a couple of months ago the writer relied on secret so called anonymous sources and accused me of making political deals.”

“Saying on air that I got surgery for cancer faster than someone else did whenin fact it was longer.”

Q22: Please describe a situation in which you have personally encountered unfair media reporting. (PROBE: What specifically made this situation unfair?)

personal accounts with unfair media reporting40
Personal Accounts with Unfair Media Reporting
  • Journalists also offered instances where reporters have provided false information in their reporting.

“The Maher Arar case – it was government leaked information that defamed the reputation of an innocent man.”

“National Post reported that the Iranian government had introduced a law to force the Jews to wear a badge. It was wrong and a bit of a scandal.”

Not Attributing Quotes

  • A few MPs revealed that they or their party have raised issues or provided information to journalists or in the House of Commons, but by the time the information is transformed into a news story, their names are not attributed to the views expressed.

“In many instances the NDP raises the issues prior to somebody else speaking on them and yet we don’t get any recognition. For instance, when John Baird spoke to the C30 panel, I asked a series of questions. When the CBC reported on it that night, the reporter took those questions and comments and made them into a commentary that he ascribed to himself. Sometimes when you are not a national figure, people will take what you say and use it themselves without recognizing the source.”

“I often get interviewed by some of the print media on a story. They use the content, but not the quotes. They take the angle in the story from our information and discussion, and then no longer attribute any quotes to myself or to my staff.”

Q22: Please describe a situation in which you have personally encountered unfair media reporting. (PROBE: What specifically made this situation unfair?)

personal accounts with unfair media reporting41
Personal Accounts with Unfair Media Reporting

Off-the-Cuff Comments Reported On: Unfair & Unprofessional

  • A few MPs explained that they had made off-the-cuff comments to journalists who later went on to report these comments. These MPs felt as though they had been betrayed, and described the experiences as “unfair and unprofessional” on the part of the journalists.

“During the party convention, I told the reporter that I didn’t think a certain candidate would win the leadership. I thought it was an off-the-cuff statement but it was printed and the candidate felt betrayed and I thought it was very unfair and unprofessional of the reporter.”

“I was coming home from the office when I met this neighbour who is a journalist and he asked me about something that was happening in Parliament. I answered him as you would a friend and neighbour in a casual, candid and funny manner. I never dreamed that he would quote me word for word and publish the article the next day in the newspaper. That to me was both unfair and unprofessional. I am delighted to report that a few years later the same thing happened to him in a letter in the Globe & Mail.”

Q22: Please describe a situation in which you have personally encountered unfair media reporting. (PROBE: What specifically made this situation unfair?)

personal accounts with unfair media reporting42
Personal Accounts with Unfair Media Reporting
  • A few journalists also recalled situations in which people were quoted in a story without knowing that this was the reporter’s intent.

“A story with a quote or a video with somebody that didn’t really know they were going to be used in the story.”

“A politician was talking in a media room and it was quoted. It was a little unfair – she wasn’t in a position where you normally think she’d be quoted.”

  • One journalists cited a time when he was personally blamed for unfair reporting.

“A story that I did – I ended up being on the receiving end as incompetent and reporting unfairly.”

Misleading Headlines

  • A few MPs identified times when the news stories that have been written about them have not necessarily been the problem, but rather the headlines. In these cases, the headlines have been “misleading” and “harmful”, according to these MPs interviewed.

“I was asked if I had voted in a previous election. I said I didn’t remember, but I didn’t think I had voted at all. The next day headline: “Minister Can’t Remember If She Voted Twice in the Election”. I never said that…I objected to it because I had my own tape of what I had said and the radio at CBC corrected the story. The paper never did – they refused.”

“Well I certainly had a story about me where I thought the headline was incredibly unfair and misleading. The story was alright, but the headline was incredibly harmful and misleading.”

Q22: Please describe a situation in which you have personally encountered unfair media reporting. (PROBE: What specifically made this situation unfair?)

phrase that best describes canadian news organizations generally
Phrase That Best Describes Canadian News Organizations Generally
  • Two-in-three (61%) MPs agree that Canadian news organizations are generally politically biased in their reporting, while three-in-ten (30%) say Canadian news organizations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased.

Q20MP: Please tell me which one of these phrases you feel best describes Canadian news organizations generally: (READ AND ROTATE)

phrase that best describes canadian news organizations generally by language of interview
Phrase That Best Describes Canadian News Organizations Generally, by Language of Interview
  • MPs who completed the interview in English (72%) are significantly more likely than those who completed it in French (27%) to believe that Canadian news organizations are generally politically biased in their reporting.
phrase that best describes canadian news organizations generally by frequency of stories influenced
Phrase That Best Describes Canadian News Organizations Generally,by Frequency of Stories Influenced
  • MPs who believe news stories are often influenced by the political preferences of reporters are also most likely to believe that Canadian news organizations are politically biased in their reporting (88%) .
frequency of news stories influenced by political or ideological views
Frequency of News Stories Influenced by Political or Ideological Views
  • One-in-four (27%) journalists indicate that their news stories are sometimes influenced by their own ideological or political views, and one-in twenty (6%) say their stories are often influenced by their views. The vast majority of MPs, however, believe that reporters let their own political preferences influence the way they report the news often (43%) or sometimes (48%).
  • Compared to the 2003 Views of the Public Survey, MPs and the public have similar views about the extent to which reporters let their own political preferences influence the way they report the news.

Q23J: How often, if at all, are your news stories influenced by your own ideological or political views?

Q21MP. How often do you think reporters let their own political preferences influence the way they report the news? Is it...? (READ LIST)

slide49
Frequency of News Stories Influenced by Political or Ideological Views, by MP’s View of Canadian News Organizations
  • Two-thirds (62%) of MPs who think that Canadian news organizations are politically biased in their reporting think that reporters often let their own political preferences influence the way they report the news (versus only 11% of those who think Canadian news organizations are not politically biased).
slide50
Reasons Why Personal News Stories Are “Often” or “Sometimes” Influenced by Own Political or Ideological Views
  • The main reason for why journalists say their stories are often (6%) or sometimes (27%) influenced by their own political views is because of their inability to remain completely objective when reporting on issues on which they have opinions and views. Some of the verbatim responses offered include:

New Stories Often Influenced

“I don’t think you can write without being influenced by your ideological point of view.”

“It is impossible for my views not to be in the story.”

“They are. It is unavoidable. If not directly, at least the way you phrase yourself in your writing.”

News Stories Sometimes Influenced

“You can’t help it. You don’t do it on purpose.”

“If I’m writing, personal bias comes into it. I can’t help that. It is inescapable, otherwise you’d be a tape recorder.”

“It is human nature. I don’t think anyone can be completely objective.”

“I’ve got views, and when I’m writing, it is inevitably influenced. You try to be fair.”

“I don’t think you can separate them out. The point is to be fair and balanced.”

“Sometimes it is inevitable. You’re human.”

“I don’t think it is possible to write without your views impacting the story.”

Q23J: How often, if at all, are your news stories influenced by your own ideological or political views?

Q24J. Why do you say that?

reasons why personal news stories are seldom influenced by own political or ideological views
Reasons Why Personal News Stories Are “Seldom” Influenced by Own Political or Ideological Views
  • Many of the journalists who say their news stories are seldom (47%) influenced by their own ideological or political views say this for reasons largely associated with it being their responsibility and job to maintain a level of professionalism and being committed to reporting on the facts, and not their own views or opinions related to the topics or issues being covered.

News Stories Seldom Influenced

“A news story is a news story. You cannot influence it, you just report it.”

“I am driven by occurrence of events rather than a particular agenda.”

“Your job is not to represent your opinions. It doesn’t matter what you think. It’s not a matter of opinion but a matter of what people say.”

“I make an actual effort not to do so.”

“They aren’t. I do political reporting.”

“I try to keep my personal views out of the paper.”

“I try to maintain a high level of professionalism.”

“I have certain political beliefs. I hope they are not apparent in the work that I do. It is difficult to fight bias.”

“It is asking a lot to think they never have an influence – it is inevitable.”

“I try to remain neutral. Nobody’s completely neutral.”

“We’re all influenced by our views. There are times that the stories are affected by our views.”

“At times there are cases were the knowledge of my particular audience impacts on how I cover and how I am delivering to my audience.”

Q23J: How often, if at all, are your news stories influenced by your own ideological or political views?

Q24J. Why do you say that?

reasons why personal news stories are never influenced by own political or ideological views
Reasons Why Personal News Stories Are “Never” Influenced by Own Political or Ideological Views
  • Again, journalists who claim their news stories are never (16%)influenced by their own political or ideological views say so for reasons associated with it being their job to maintain a high level of professionalism, and having been trained to be impartial.

News Stories Never Influenced

“I’m a professional and a professional doesn’t do that.”

“Part of my job is how I feel personally in an issue and to be aware of that when covering the story.”

“My views aren’t important in the context of a news story.”

“You should be non-partisan. That is our mandate here.”

“That’s our job and is what we are trained to do, and I’m not sure what my personal ideology is.”

Q23J: How often, if at all, are your news stories influenced by your own ideological or political views?

Q24J. Why do you say that?

sources rely on most often for fair reporting on political matters
Sources Rely on Most Often for Fair Reporting on Political Matters

Government/Politicians/Bureaucrats

Newspaper/Magazines/Written Media (NS)

Globe And Mail

Experts/Advisors

Primary Sources

CBC/Radio Canada

Word Of Mouth/Eye Witnesses

Documents/Official Documents

News Coverage/Media (NONSPECIFIC)

Le Devoir

Toronto Star

TV/Radio

National Post

Other

None

Don’t Know/Refused

  • One-in-four (23%) journalists relyon government, politicians or bureaucrats most often when looking for fair reporting on political matters, while MPs do not rely on them at all (0%).
  • MPs rely most heavily on newspapers, magazines and the written media (33%), compared to only one-in-five journalists (19%).
  • One-in-four MPs (23%) rely on the Globe & Mail, compared to one-in-six (14%) journalists.
  • Three times as many MPs (25%) as journalists (8%) rely on CBC or Radio Canada.

Journalists

Members of Parliament

Q25: What sources do you rely on most often when you are looking for fair reporting on political matters? (PROBE: Any other sources?)

sources rely on most often for fair reporting on political matters by medium journalists report for
Sources Rely on Most Often for Fair Reporting on Political Matters, by Medium Journalists’ Report For
  • Journalists who report for print media (31%) are more likely than those who report for television (4%) to say they rely on government, politicians and bureaucrats when looking for fair reporting on political matters.

Q25: What sources do you rely on most often when you are looking for fair reporting on political matters? (PROBE: Any other sources?)

Table has been reversed

types of media most susceptible to unfair news reporting
Types of Media Most Susceptible toUnfair News Reporting
  • Two-in-five journalists (38%) and MPs (39%) think that television is most susceptible to unfair news reporting. The same proportion of MPs also think newspapers are most susceptible (38%).
  • One-in-ten journalists (11%) and MPs (11%) identify the internet as most susceptible to unfair reporting.
  • About one-in-four journalists (22%) and MPs (25%) identify other types of media as being most susceptible to unfair news reporting. While “other” mentions for journalists included blogs, broadcast outlets, tabloids, and private radio, other mentions by MPs included visual media, large corporate entities, and a concentration of ownership.

Television

Newspapers

Internet

Magazines

Radio

All Equally Susceptible

Other

Don’t Know/Refused

Journalists

Members of Parliament

Q26: Which types of media are the most susceptible to unfair news reporting? (DO NOT READ LIST; PROBE: Any others?)

types of media most susceptible to unfair news reporting by medium journalists report for
Types of Media Most Susceptible toUnfair News Reporting, by Medium Journalists’ Report For
  • Journalists who report for television (30%) are more likely than those who report for print (10%) to consider newspapers most susceptible to unfair news reporting.

Q26: Which types of media are the most susceptible to unfair news reporting? (DO NOT READ LIST; PROBE: Any others?)

Table has been reversed

challenges faced in making reporting or commentary fair
Challenges Faced in Making Reporting or Commentary Fair
  • Almost one-in-two (45%) journalists say that access to information or sources is among the most important challenges they face in trying to make their reporting or commentary fair. One-in-three (28%) also identify time constraints and deadlines, while one-in-five (20%) say getting past the spin of stories or finding the truth is among the most important challenges they face.

Access To Info/Access To Sources

Time Constraints/Deadlines

Get Past Spin Stories/Find The Truth

Space Limitations/Format

Remove Personal Bias

Balance The Story

Editor

Obligations Towards Readers

Other

Don’t Know/Refused

Q27: What are the most important challenges you face in trying to make your reporting or commentary fair? (PROBE: Are there any other challenges?)

challenges faced in making reporting or commentary fair by aware of journalistic code
Challenges Faced in Making Reporting or Commentary Fair, by Aware of Journalistic Code
  • Journalists who are aware of a journalistic code (22%) are significantly more likely than those who are not (0%) to view space limitations and format as the biggest challenge they face in making their reporting or commentary fair.

Table has been reversed.

media coverage and criticism of political leaders61
Media Coverage and Criticism of Political Leaders
  • Journalists overwhelming agree that neither the media coverage of the personal and ethical behaviour of political leaders, nor the media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders, is excessive (84% and 91%, respectively). MPs are far more divided in their views, with 43% believing that the media coverage of the personal and ethical behaviour of political leaders is excessive, and 21% saying that the media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive.
  • Findings from the Views from the Public – 2003 Survey indicate that MPs are more closely aligned with the views of the public than are journalists, with one-in-two (52%) members of the public saying that they think the media coverage of the personal and ethical behaviour of political leaders is excessive, and one-in-three (32%) saying that the media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive.

Journalists

MPs

Views of the Public (2003)

Do you think that media coverage of the personal and ethical behaviour of political leaders is excessive or not?

Do you think media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive or not?

Journalists

MPs

Views of the Public (2003)

Q28: Do you think that media coverage of the personal and ethical behaviour of political leaders is excessiveor not?

Q29. Do you think media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive or not?

media criticism of political leaders by gender mps
Media Criticism of Political Leaders, by Gender (MPs)
  • Male MPs (25%) are more likely than their female counterparts (<1%) to think that the media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive.
media criticism of political leaders by political party mps
Media Criticism of Political Leaders, by Political Party (MPs)
  • Conservative (28%) and Bloc Quebecois (33%) MPs are more likely than other MPs to think that the media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive.

Note small ‘n’ sizes - interpret with caution

media criticism of political leaders by language of interview
Media Criticism of Political Leaders, by Language of Interview
  • Almost three times as many MPs who completed the interview in French (40%) as those who completed it in English (15%) think the media criticism of the policies and proposals of political leaders is excessive.
outside groups influence the news
Outside Groups Influence the News

Lobby Groups

Politicians/Governments

Public Opinion

Business/Corporation

NGO/No Governmental Organizations

Public Relations

Bloggers/Internet

Labour Unions

Media Owners

Advertisers

Other Media

Other

Don't Know/Refused

  • One-in-two journalists (55%) and MPs (49%) think lobby groups influence the news.
  • One-in-four (27%) journalists identify politicians and government as outside groups that influence the news, while 16% of MPs say the same. Public opinion is also viewed as influencing the news (22% and 16%, respectively).
  • One-in-six journalists (17%) and MPs (15%) identify business and corporations as groups that influence the news, while one-in-ten also mention Non-Governmental Organizations (11%, respectively).

Journalists

Members of Parliament

Views of the Public (2003)

Q30: Apart from journalists and editors, what outside groups, if any, do you think influence the news? (DO NOT READ LIST; PROBE: Any others?)

outside groups influence the news67
Outside Groups Influence the News
  • Findings from the Views of the Public – 2003 Survey suggest that a greater proportion of the public (42%) believe that politicians influence the news, compared to journalists (27%) and MPs (16%) .
  • Additionally, according to data from the Views of the Public – 2003 Survey, a higher proportion of the public also believes that large corporations (27%) influence the news compared to 17% of journalists and 15% MPs.
types of outside groups that influence the news by language of interview
Types of Outside Groups that Influence the News, by Language of Interview
  • Journalists who completed the interview in English are more likely than those who completed it in French to view politicians and government, business and corporations, NGOs and other media to be outside groups that influence the news.
  • Conversely, journalists who completed the interview in French (43%) are more likely than their English (16%) counterparts to view public opinion as an outside group that influences news.
  • There are no significant differences among MPs on this issue with regards to the language of interview.

Table has been reversed.

extent influence of outside groups is a problem
Extent Influence of Outside Groups is a Problem
  • The majority of journalists believe that the influence of outside groups, other than journalists or editors, in the Canadian media is a small problem (56%), and 46% of MPs feel the same way.
  • One-in-four (25%) journalists think this is not a problem at all, compared to 15% of MPs.
  • Twice as many MPs (18%) as journalists (9%) view the influence of outside groups in the Canadian media as a very serious problem.

Q31: Do you think the influence of outside groups, other than journalists or editors, in the Canadian media is a very serious problem, a small problem, or not a problem at all?

extent influence of outside groups is a problem by number of terms in office
Extent Influence of Outside Groups is a Problem, by Number of Terms in Office
  • One-third (31%) of MPs who have been in office for two terms think the influence of outside groups in the Canadian media is a very serious problem.
extent influence of outside groups is a problem by language of interview
Extent Influence of Outside Groups is a Problem, by Language of Interview
  • MPs who completed the interview in English (20%) are more likely than those who completed it in French (13%) to view the influence of outside groups in the Canadian media a very serious problem.
extent influence of outside groups is a problem by mp s view of canadian news organizations
Extent Influence of Outside Groups is a Problem, by MP’s View of Canadian News Organizations
  • MPs who view Canadian news organizations as politically biased in their reporting (24%) are more likely than those who think news organizations are not politically biased (6%) to think that the influence of outside groups in the Canadian media is a very serious problem.
frequency of corporate control influencing news stories
Frequency of Corporate Control Influencing News Stories
  • Twice as many MPs (46%) as journalists (22%) think that corporate control of the media often influences the particular news stories that are presented.

Q32: How often do you think corporate control of the media influences the particular news stories that are presented? Is it...? (READ LIST)

frequency of corporate control influencing news stories by influence of outside groups mps
Frequency of Corporate Control Influencing News Stories, by Influence of Outside Groups (MPs)
  • MPs who believe that corporate control of the media often influences the particular news stories that are presented are also most likely to think the influence of outside groups is a very serious problem (64%).

Note small ‘n’ sizes - interpret with extreme caution

frequency of corporate control influencing news stories by influence of outside groups journalists
Frequency of Corporate Control Influencing News Stories, by Influence of Outside Groups (Journalists)
  • Similar to MPs, journalists who believe that corporate control of the media often influences the particular news stories that are presented are also most likely to think the influence of outside groups is a very serious problem (83%).

Note small ‘n’ sizes - interpret with extreme caution

frequency of corporate control influencing news stories by language of interview mps
Frequency of Corporate Control Influencing News Stories, by Language of Interview (MPs)
  • MPs who completed the interview in French (67%) are more likely than those who completed it in English (39%) to believe that corporate control of the media often influences the particular news stories that are presented.
  • There are no significant differences in the way journalists respond to this question and the language in which they completed the interview.
frequency of corporate control influencing news stories by language of interview mps77
Frequency of Corporate Control Influencing News Stories, by Language of Interview (MPs)
  • Female MPs are more likely than male MPs to believe that corporate control of the media often influences the particular news stories that are presented (80% vs. 39%, respectively).
  • There are no significant differences among male and female journalists on this question.
frequency of corporate control influencing news stories by number of years in journalism
Frequency of Corporate Control Influencing News Stories, by Number of Years in Journalism
  • Journalists who have worked in the profession for 11 to 20 years (30%) are more likely to believe that the corporate control of the media often influences the particular news stories that are presented.
knowledge of journalists on topics they cover in the news
Knowledge of Journalists on Topics They Cover in the News
  • The vast majority of journalists (75%) and MPs (64%) think that journalists are somewhat knowledgeable on the topics they cover in the news. Less than one-in-five MPs (16%) and journalists (11%) think that journalists are very knowledgeable.

Q33: Overall, how knowledgeable would you say journalists are on the topics that they cover in the news?Are they...? (READ LIST)

importance of journalists to be knowledgeable on topics they cover in the news
Importance of Journalists to be Knowledgeable on Topics They Cover in the News
  • Almost all journalists and MPs agree that it is important for journalists to be knowledgeable about the topics they cover in their reporting. Eight-in-ten (84%) MPs and seven-in-ten (69%) journalists agree that it is very important.

Q34: And how important do you think it is for journalists to be knowledgeable about the stories they cover?Do you think it is...? (READ LIST)

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Importance of Journalists to be Knowledgeable on Topics They Cover in the News, by Language of Interview
  • French MPs (100%) and journalists (86%) are more likely than their counterparts who completed the interview in English (78% and 64%, respectively) to believe that it is very important for journalists to be knowledgeable on the topics they cover in the news.
slide83
Reasons Why It Is Important for Journalists to be Knowledgeable on Topics They Cover in the News, by Level of Importance
  • The main reasons provided from journalists for why they should be knowledgeable on the stories they cover include the need to have some knowledge (36%), and journalists not being able to be experts on all topics (22%). The top two reasons offered by MPs relate to fully informing the public (30%) and ensuring accuracy (28%).

Table has been reversed

Q35: Why do you say that? (PROBE: Any other reasons?)

media in canada democracy85
Media in Canada & Democracy
  • Two-in-three (67%) MPs think that today’s news media in Canada lives up to its role as an important component of our democracy.

Q32MP: In general, do you think that today’s news media in Canada lives up to its role as an important component of our democracy?

media in canada democracy by mp s view of canadian news organizations
Media in Canada & Democracy,by MP’s View of Canadian News Organizations
  • Nine-in-ten (89%) MPs who think the Canadian media is careful that their reporting is not politically biased also think that the news media in Canada lives up to its role as an important component of our democracy, compared to only 59% of those who think the Canadian media is politically biased.
media in canada democracy by mp s view of canadian news organizations87
Media in Canada & Democracy,by MP’s View of Canadian News Organizations
  • Three-in-four (73%) male MPs think that the news media in Canada lives up to its role as an important component of our democracy, compared to only 40% of female MPs.
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Reasons Why MPs Think the Media in Canada Lives up to its Role as an Important Componentof Our Democracy

Media Provides Good, Balanced Journalism

  • The main reason why MPs think the media in Canada lives up to its role as an important component of our democracy relates to their belief that, overall, the media does a good job reporting the news and providing balanced journalism.

“Most of us are involved with the media and sometimes we wish they would do a better job, but in general, they are doing a good job and doing it reasonably well.”

“I think by and large we have good journalism, journalists who take their jobs seriously, who want to do a good job and contribute to accurate information being delivered.”

“Well, it is an important role that I believe the media has been fulfilling, although recently there has been some problems and issues, but I suppose that is to be expected.”

“The media has an important role to play in assisting government, etc. Some of them have partisan leanings, which does a disservice, but generally speaking, the media is fulfilling its role.”

“The media is the most accessible form of communication to Canadians and the role that they play is very critical in ensuring that the discourse is presented, analyzed and challenged. And I think that the media does more or less a decent job in doing this.”

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Reasons Why MPs Think the Media in Canada Lives up to its Role as an Important Componentof Our Democracy
  • Although some MPs agreed that generally the media does a good job, they were also conscious of the fact that the media is “not perfect” and that at times the media has not reported on the facts which has contributed to “undermining the public trust” and negatively influenced public opinion.

“I think they are doing a good job but there are occasions, as rare as they might be, when statements from journalists and the media are not factual and undermine the public trust, but that doesn’t happen often, but they are not perfect.”

“In the main, I think it is mainly unbiased and does well but there are those times when I think it’s gone too far and has created public opinion which I felt was not proper. But in the main I think they do it well.”

Canada Doing Better than other Democracies

  • Compared to other democracies, a few MPs believed that the media in Canada is doing a better job of living up to its role as an important component of our democracy.

“We can look to the States – the media has turned into a political circus. Political views of the owners can start to affect political standards.”

“It is better than almost any other press that we have in the western democracy.”

“It is balanced compared to other news organizations that I am aware of – it is more fair, more thoughtful, more in-depth.”

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Reasons Why MPs Think the Media in Canada Lives up to its Role as an Important Componentof Our Democracy

Inform the Public with a Variety of Sources

  • A few MPs agreed that people rely on the media to inform them, and believe that overall, the media is doing a good job of this through insightful commentary and by providing a variety of sources.

“In this day and age, people today lead very busy lives and often the only way they can get insight of the political discourse of the country is through the media, be it the morning news or evening newspapers. That’s very important because they may not have the time to call their MP or send an email.”

“It is a busy life that everybody leads and for Canadians to stay in tune with what is important to them it becomes almost the responsibility and challenge of the journalists to share those stories. So I think that we want an informed electorate and we rely on our journalists to do so.”

“Communication is important. We have good variety and it is up to an individual to get as much information as they can from a variety of sources. We have a pretty good balance across the board.”

“I think that if you take all the news sources together, there is now more of them than their used to be and as a result of all that opinion, generally speaking, we have a better informed electorate and I think there is not a collective abuse of the media.”

Free Media & Participation

  • A few MPs also associated the importance of a free media and public participation with any democracy.

“A free media is critically important for democracy. We should be allowed to have as many points of view as possible and this can only be achieved through free media.”

“There is no other way to communicate effectively than with an open media.”

“Because democracy is built on free press.”

“Active participation in the public discourse that goes on in the day. It is important to have engagement between media and the public on important issues.”

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Reasons Why MPs Do Not Think the Media in Canada Lives up to its Role as an Important Component of Our Democracy

Bias in the Media

  • MPs who do not think the media in Canada lives up to its role as an important component of our democracy say so largely for reasons associated with the perceived bias in the media, as well as uninformed and misinformed reporting by journalists.

“Reporting has become very, very biased and somewhat unethical.”

“It’s biased. Just look at the election coverage. Certain political parties get more access, more coverage, more favourable coverage on a regular basis during an election. There have been studies on that, so it’s not an unknown.”

“Partially because I believe there is bias in the media and therefore in our democracy we believe all people should be heard equally and I don’t think that is the case.”

“They are not well informed. And most of the time, they are misinformed and are not unbiased enough.”

“I don’t think the Canadian media is unbiased. Huge bias in national, especially TV, news reporting media.”

Ethics

  • A few MPs questioned the extent to which some reporting is ethical in the Canadian news media. One MP noted the influence that corporations have on reporting, and the absence of an “ethical watchdog” as contributing to the inability of the media in Canada to live up to its role as an important component of our democracy.

“Corporate heads and owners of media have their own views and if the reporter doesn’t cover the story as they want it, the reporter can be fired. The media holds everyone else’s feet to the fire except their own. Canada does not have an ethical watch dog.”

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Reasons Why MPs Do Not Think the Media in Canada Lives up to its Role as an Important Component of Our Democracy

Critical Analysis

  • A few MPs also identified the structure of the media and the level of coverage and critical analysis as inhibiting the media’s ability to live up to its role as an important component of our democracy.

“I don’t fault the journalists, but I think it is just the way the media is structure. There could be more coverage on issues in general, internal issues, domestic issues and with more depth, that would strengthen our democracy.”

“Because they don’t do the critical analysis of information that comes out of political offices – either government or opposition – to get to the facts. Very, very poor investigative reporting, especially in the electronic media, let’s put it that way.”

level of satisfaction with variety of regional viewpoints reported in national media
Level of Satisfaction with Variety of Regional Viewpoints Reported in National Media
  • Two-in-five journalists (61%) and one-in-two MPs (47%) are either not very satisfied or not satisfied at all with the variety of regional viewpoints reported in the national news media.
  • Less than one-in-ten (8%) journalists are very satisfied with the variety of regional viewpoints reported in the national media, and only 2% of MPs say the same. One-in-three journalists (39%) and MPs (33%) say they are somewhat satisfied.

Q36: How satisfied are you by the variety of regional viewpoints reported in the national news media?(READ LIST)

biggest differences between french and english news coverage french more focused on quebec
Biggest Differences Between French and English News Coverage: French More Focused on Quebec
  • When asked about the biggest differences between French and English news coverage, three-in-ten journalist (31%) and MPs (30%) were either unsure or could not provide any differences between the two types of news coverage.* Further, about one-in-ten MPs said they could not answer the question because they do not follow French coverage or cannot read French.
  • The biggest differences between French and English news coverage according to both journalists and MPs relates to French coverage being more focused on the province of Quebec, while some, particularly MPs, consider English coverage to be much more national in scope.

Journalists: French More Focused on Quebec

“French focuses just on Quebec views.”

“French is obviously more focused on Quebec.”

“French typically focuses on French speaking issues related to Quebec’s place in the federation.”

“French is unduly focused on Quebec.”

“French tends to be a little more Quebec centric.”

MPs: French More Focused on Quebec

“Quebec focuses more on Quebec related issues.”

“The French media is much more localized. They cover a lot of stories that we never see in the West.”

“French language coverage is centred on one province and the upside to that is that it is much more in-depth, quite thorough, diverse and interesting.”

“French coverage is much more narrowly focused on Quebec.”

“French is just so much more regional. It seems that it’s entire focus is Quebec, whereas the English media attempts to cover the entire country.”

“French tends to cover one province. English tends to be more pan-Canadian.”

Q37: What do you think are the biggest differences, if any, between French and English news coverage? (PROBE: Any other differences?)

*Many English-speaking journalists and MPs are not familiar with the French media.

biggest differences between french and english news coverage subject matter
Biggest Differences Between French and English News Coverage: Subject Matter
  • Some MPs view subject matter as the biggest difference between English and French coverage, while only one journalist identified this as the biggest difference between the two.

MPs: Subject Matter

“Each of them cover topics that are ignored by others. In other words, the French-speaking media are restricted to the province of Quebec where there is a great deal of self-absorption of the French media than the rest of the country where the reporting of Quebec by English-speaking newspapers is not very sophisticated. But unfortunately the reverse is also true.”

“Slant in Quebec is different on a lot of issues.”

“Regional and international coverage and if you listen to Radio Canada and CBC, that’s where you hear the difference. How they cover domestic issues and also international issues is different – more in-depth.”

“Certain news items are given a different priority level, I can see that some items are covered while others are not in English and French coverage.”

“Enormous differences. I find the French media much more open to different views and much more informed and will report on social and other issues in a much more in-depth way. There are a lot of things that they report on that the English media doesn’t bother with.”

Journalists: Subject Matter

“They cover different subject matter.”

Q37: What do you think are the biggest differences, if any, between French and English news coverage? (PROBE: Any other differences?)

biggest differences between french and english news coverage sensationalism bias
Biggest Differences Between French and English News Coverage: Sensationalism & Bias
  • French news coverage is viewed as more “aggressive”, “sensationalistic” and “animated” by some journalists and MPs.

MPs: Coverage More “Sensationalistic”, “Aggressive”, “Animated”

“English coverage is more subdued, while French is more animated.”

Journalists: Coverage More “Sensationalistic”, “Aggressive”, “Animated”

“French is more sensational and aggressive.”

“French tends to be more sensational.”

“Quebec journalists tend to be more aggressive. They pursue their stories vigorously.”

“French journalists tend to be more aggressive.”

“Quebec media has a bit more of an edge, critical from a left wing perspective – more a stomach for the sensational.”

  • Bias in English and French media was identified by some MPs and journalists as among the biggest differences between the two types of news coverage.

MPs: Bias

“We in the West see the national news media as biased against them.”

“I would say that French coverage is more biased towards Francophones.”

Journalists: Bias

“English is more susceptible to bias. French is more independent.”

Q37: What do you think are the biggest differences, if any, between French and English news coverage? (PROBE: Any other differences?)

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Roland Merbis, Vice President, Public Affairs

Stephanie Blenkiron, Senior Research Analyst, Public Affairs

101 Yorkville Avenue, Suite 301

Toronto, Canada M5R 1C1

Tel: 416.921.0090 / Fax: 416.921.3903

www.pollara.com

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