Vancouver’s two highest rated evening news programs, on Global and CTV, added insult to injury Monday night … giving Opposition Leader Carole James second-class treatment in the days leading up to two major by-elections in the city.
There are more than 100,000 voters in Vancouver Fairview and Vancouver Burrard eligible to vote Wednesday in what many see as a test of the popularity Premier Gordon Campbell and his Liberal government.
Last Wednesday, less than a week before the vote, Global and CTV (and a couple of lesser lights as well) WITHOUT KNOWING ANY OF THE CONTENTS IN ADVANCE turned over part of their major evening news hours to allow the Premier to make a 12 minute speech … free of charge, right on the evening news!
It was an unprecedented horrible journalistic mistake that I believe cast a dark shadow over the integrity and impartiality of both the news shows and the networks involved. And judging by the reaction, many members of the public agreed with me when I said so (except some politicos, who think one-sided partisan broadcasts, as long as they are from their own far right or far left wing perspective, are great!)
On Monday night, NDP Leader Carole James delivered her own address to voters at the same hour (6:15 p.m.) that Campbell had given his. But both major stations refused to give the Opposition Leader the same privilege they had given the Premier.
CTV covered the Opposition Leader’s address the way all news shows should have done originally with the Premier: Legislative Reporter Jim Beatty delivered a news report, listing in written graphic point form 14 of James’ key points/promises, supplemented with a couple of clips from the NDP … and then Beatty’s own analysis of the contents.
And, to CTV’s credit, it was all turned around and aired at the same time in the program that Campbell had delivered his free 12 minutes.
Global, in my view, really treated James unfairly. Not only did they not run her address, but they didn’t report on its key points/promises until the back half of their show.
And even then, they offered up Legislative Reporter Keith Baldrey verbally detailing only one of James’ specific points and then they just ran clips of her listing others … and, unlike CTV, no graphics to augment the presentation.
And although both stations gave the story the kind of coverage that kind of story should normally get … they were BOTH terribly unequal and unfair in this case, because with two possibly very close by-elections only days away, Jane should have received the same air time and treatment they had awarded the premier.
Even The Province newspaper … in my opinion, no great friend of the NDP … came out in an Editorial saying James deserved equal treatment… and her News time air time.
What we ended up with reminded me of what we see on government-beholding television stations in those “new” democracies that still don’t get it quite right: a long uninterupted, unedited speech by the Glorious Leader in prime time … followed much later by coverage of the Opposition Leader, but showing only selected clips, all cut up and dished out in pieces.
And the worst part of it all: some will defend that as meeting the proper standard for political coverage in B.C. in 2008.