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If you work on a small, local paper, sure you have to careful what you write. You’re counting on your advertisers to keep you in print. Maybe you’ll cover some stories from a slightly different angle, but generally you’re free to write what you want – let’s face it, not that many people read small, local papers anyway (don’t tell your advertisers that).

But, what if your small, local paper was bought by a corporation that was hoovering up local papers like sawdust?

Corporate news agencies have changed the way that news is presented and how stories are told. Those unfortunate enough to be under the black office tower of

Imageone will likely tell you a few things:

  1. Corporations don’t care about journalism unless they are the subject of a story.
  2. Corporations don’t care about journalism unless one of their major advertisers is upset by a story.
  3. Corporations don’t care about journalism that is fair and true.
  4. Corporations, for the most part, only care about one thing: money.

So, how does an editor or a journalist get the job done with decency and accuracy with so many variables preventing just that? It’s a tough question to answer, because those advertisers? … well, they’re paying you too. They’re just as important to you as they are to the corporation that owns your paper.

In a book review by Carl Sessions Stepp of Arthur E. Rowse’s Drive-by journalism: The assault on your need to know Stepp reminds us that many papers, editors and journalists have fallen “into the clutches of soulless conglomerates who worship profit and neglect public service. This is bad. It is so bad that we now have a huge new genre of literature documenting and bemoaning the trend.”

Imagine that! A new genre of literature the sole purpose of which is to bitch about how terrible journalism is getting (and journalists are professional bitchers) on the leash of profit and “soulless conglomerates.”

Here’s what one so-called expert on corporate news has to say (I’ll warn you in advance … it’s Lionel Fisher:

You build shareholder and customer confidence, strengthen faith in corporate leadership, create pride in your company’s products, foster belief in its mission, heighten employee trust and morale, faith in their intrinsic value and worth.

Yours, then, is journalism with a definite slant, specific points of view, ulterior motives, particular objectives – all tilted toward the company, association, agency, institution, or individual employing you.

Sorry?

Say what, now? That’s the direction that corporate journalism is headed. What’s perhaps more  upsetting is that it’s people from our own team who have betrayed us and gone to the highest bidder.  Where is the honor in that, I ask you?

How do we stem the tide? What’s our worst case Ontario?

I don’t know. But I’m hoping that through this blog we can collaborate on this and other issues touching journalism. I’m especially interested in the opinions of citizens who take an interest is this good and noble profession.

So, here we are. Thanks for reading!

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