Canadian Commentary: Media and Culture

What's black and white and Black all over?

June 1997

So Conrad Black is musing about starting up a new national newspaper. The impetus appears to be his frustration that he can't buy either the Globe and Mail or the Financial Post. It is easy to guess what this new paper will be like: based in Toronto, aimed at a business audience, and consistently right-wing (like all of his other "prestige" papers). In other words, just like the two "national" papers we already have.

If Black were truly a businessman, rather than an ideologue and propagandist, he would realize that not every well-educated Canadian who wants to read a national paper works in business or is right-wing. Canadians who want a business newspaper are already well-served by the two that exist at present. But what about all of those other well-educated, professional Canadians? Teachers, lawyers, doctors, civil servants, social workers, managers in the non-profit sector, and many others might be interested in reading a national newspaper that provided a variety of perspectives on Canadian issues, rather than the same tired, simplistic nostrums we get fed from the current business media. This would not be a "left-wing" paper, but rather a serious, moderate, centrist paper, as exists in every other western democracy. These papers thrive in other nations, so obviously there is an audience for them. Here is a market niche just waiting to be exploited by an intelligent newspaper magnate.

Is Black the man to do it? Don't hold your breath. More likely, what we will get is a simple pastiche of Southam stories, with the rantings of Black's various friends and relatives thrown in for good measure. Perhaps he could call it "Canada Today".

(See also Why Canadian Commentary?)

June 17, 1997

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