Sunday, October 05, 2014

History of journalistic integrity in Canada (as in, it ain't got much future)

The Saturday Globe & Mail examined the sidelining of broadcaster Ron MacLean by the new regime at Hockey Night in Canada, linking it directly to MacLean's failure to tug forelock sufficiently in the presence of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
MacLean and Bettman usually butted heads over labour-management issues in the NHL. MacLean consistently took the players’ side during interviews because, he said, he firmly believed the league was better off with a strong NHL Players’ Association.
The Globe goes on to show that the pressure to tout for the league came most directly, not from Bettman, but from the CBC
"That pressure was always there to acquiesce, to toe the company line and in some cases that might have been the league line,” MacLean said. “But I felt strongly about the importance of a healthy NHL Players’ Association. That was a difficult thing for both the CBC and the league to accept, always was. Nobody [at the CBC] was ever happy when I was treating a partner [with skepticism], a partner that thought they were more important than the NHLPA."  
It is a good thing that hockey is gone from the CBC, given the corruption of journalism it always encouraged there, though I don't really have much hope for a blossoming of integrity at the CBC. For previous comments on integrity and the CBC, put "gutted like a fish" in the search box at top left of this blog.

On the other hand, we can expect even less from the NHL's new "partner," Rogers Communications, which has a huge amount invested in hockey and seems set to trample on every bulwark of journalistic independence in the rush to generate hockey revenue. Content in all Rogers' scores of magazines, for instance, is about to become native advertising for the NHL. So, for instance, the Globe reports that every issue of Today's Parent magazine (owned by Rogers) will now have at least one hockey story, and you gotta guess it will not be about concussion dangers or violence in kids' leagues.
The company will be awash in hockey, with every corner of the business expected to leverage the rights somehow. 
Even Maclean's, ostensibly a newsmagazine, has been substantially repurposed to promote the NHL. As Paul Wells recently described in a tweet:

Maybe the editor of Maclean's thinks covering something else might be a better use of the mag's resources this week? Tough, evidently...  Gotta make back the boss's investment.

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