Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Whig woes

Jamie Swift, the author of 10 books, writes about "the decline of the Kingston Whig-Standard," on this week.

As a Sun Media newspaper, the Kingston author notes, it has a new editor who also serves on the Kingston Chamber of Commerce. That should give you the drift of the rest of her interesting story.

When the Whig was a family-owned newspaper way back when, budding journalist were in awe of its reputation and eyed it as a paper to work for on the way up if we be so fortunate.

But as Swift writes, the conglomerates have used it as a football for almost two decades and its reputation - and resources - have dwindled to new lows.

"Kingston's Whig-Standard once enjoyed a reputation as a quality newspaper," she writes in the independent online newspaper. "Owned locally, the Whig had a big newsroom and reporters could cover specific beats like the Ontario city's famous prisons. No more.

"The Whig-Standard was sold again last year. It may have been just before or just after the passing of a local car dealer made the front page news for two days running.

"In the 17 years since the paper fell into the hands of corporate chains, the Whig has been owned by Southam, Hollinger (Conrad Black and his fellow klepocrats), Osprey and now Sun Media, part of the Peladeau family's Quebecor empire."

Swift's article also includes this quote from Wayne Grady, local author, former magazine writer and incoming chair of the Writers' Union of Canada:

"When a newspaper's senior editorial staff are heading up the local Chamber of Commerce, any sense of independent news analysis goes out the window.

"Suddenly, what is perceived as being good for business automatically becomes good for the newspaper, whether it is good for the community or not. A journalist cannot run with the hares and hunt with the news hounds."

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