Today's discussion:

The media must start listening to the public it serves

Trust in news is plummeting and the media has been busy blaming everyone but the media itself. Just 40 percent of Canadians trust most news most of the time, down from 58 percent in 2018. But in the meantime, the public has been sending a clear message: they don’t trust the news because they think it's biased.

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Comments (19)

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The Hub Staff

Tara Henley proposes solutions to this issue of the public no longer having trust in news media, outlining ways this lack of trust can be mediated and improved on. What do you think of the solutions she proposes?

13th December 2023 at 7:32 am
Linda R

I agree completely with the author’s assessment but would add one more factor that the media needs to stop doing – portraying everyone as a victim. Here is an example of what I mean. CTV (Montreal I think) did a story about a woman who couldn’t pay her rent because of cancer. She said she might only live ten more years. Her landlord was the villain in this story because he needed her to pay her rent. The woman has a partner, was never asked whether she had exhausted her employment insurance benefits or had family to help her out. Instead the landlord was expected to accommodate her. I watched this story with shock that it was aired, talking to the tv by asking the questions the reporter should have asked.

During the pandemic, while Myanmar was experiencing a military coup, the new channels would open with a story of Joe Someone who had to wait on hold for several hours to book his vaccine appointment.

We are not all victims. We have inconveniences and awful things happen to us but they are not news worthy of several minutes on the TV. Tell stories about our resilience, our courage, our industriousness instead.

13th December 2023 at 7:58 am
Ian MacRae

I suggest, as I think the author does, that many journalists see themselves as part of Canada’s progressive elite, along with politicians, academics and (recently) public health officers. Sadly, it seems many judges also see their job as upholding the beliefs and standards of our elites.

Journalists used to be concerned with the “truth”. As discussed in the article mentioning the 3 US university presidents and their Congressional testimony, nowadays truth seems to require context. Rather than wordsmith around issues, I wish journalists had the moral backbone to ask elites hard questions. Where is the “science” about managing COVID? Where was the risk analysis of closing schools or borders? Why were vaccine mandates seen as a good rather than as a punishment? Why do so many journalists seem to report politician’s statements rather then challenge them for evidence?

The best thing our media could do is to foreswear the federal funding as presently delivered and to be augmented by the social media tax soon to be collected. If they need paywalls, use them and explain why to readers. Sell the value of reporting Canadian stories to advertisers, rather than clicks. Please stop copying US stories as clickbait. We have much more interesting stories and we don’t need to report on another mass shooting.

13th December 2023 at 8:12 am
Thor Ragnorson

Here’s an example of poor journalism
The headline misrepresents the data to avoid the real story in the poll numbers. The real story is that 79% of respondents did not think that the carbon tax is effective.

I agree with Tara that you don’t need a university degree to be a journalist.

Honestly I think we may be in a golden age of journalism. Corporate journalism is getting its ass kicked by small players who people trust. Authenticity and truth lead to trust. Trust leads to subscribers. The CBC is disgusting, the media wing of the Liberal party. Journalism schools turn out prostheletizing activists.
I disagree that DJT started the trend of distrust. The manufacture of consent for the invasion of Iraq was the 1st salvo in the era of the big media lie and many others have followed. Trump just had the guts to say the media should put its pants back on.

13th December 2023 at 10:03 am
A. Chezzi

Very often, the public is ill informed. The public do not take time to read and research information on a given topic. For example, many people are parroting comments on the carbon tax which they hear the Con give. The public doesn’t listen to institutions like the Bank of Canada which says that the carbon tax has had little influence on inflation. Yet, Poilievre constantly repeats this piece of misinformation. The media then has the obligation to get the facts out. If there is a persistent threat to democracy, such as Trump, the media has the obligation to make that known. Right now, the media is not showing just how dangerous this man is to the U S and hence to the world.
When journalists who do not agree with what the media is saying, or when conservatives do not like what they hear or read, they have a tendency to blame left leaning journalists who are in control of the media. Yet, there are many right leaning media outlets in this country which are making the conservative view well known.
On social media, there is a plethora of right wing platforms making the conservative view well known and there are many people who take up the cause and repeat over and over, the same talking points without doing any research.
Most people are just too busy to read and research. Some people are just don’t care and just go with what they hear, and many people are just not reading. As a society, we have lost the ability to think critically and engage in civil discourse. Leaving it up to politicians and the media to create what we believe leads to the destruction of democracy.

13th December 2023 at 8:21 am
Wayne out west

Be careful of the institutions you choose as reliable sources. Remember that the Bank of Canada came out very emphatically telling us not to worry, since inflation was only transitory. So when you want to opine on what causes inflation, you should seek out more sources.

You need multiple sources from all sides before you form an opinion. This should be the job of the media – dig out all the information on all sides that you can find, and then present it in an unbiased way to their customers (the public).

Treating the public as incapable (too stupid) to form the “correct opinion” and therefore rationalizing that it is best to have the public simply consume a finished product that has been created by the ever so better informed (smarter) journalist is getting the confidence reaction that is fully deserved.

This article is very well written (my opinion of course) and I have now found a new person to follow for information that I will use going forward – in making up my own mind.

14th December 2023 at 12:48 am

What you seem to be suggesting is radical left wing media good, anything to the right of Stalin, bad. The media has an obligation to present the facts. Something the left doesn’t believe in.

14th December 2023 at 12:34 am
Paul Crawford

I have beaten this one to death, and never any response from any news outlet, during the pandemic in Canada, 5000 people were able to fly into Canada each and every day of the pandemic, while us “ordinary” citizens couldn’t cross borders for Thanksgiving and Xmas to see our great-grand children, unable to visit dying relatives in hospitals or seniors homes, in Nova Scotia it was so ridiculous that we could not cross a (county) line to go trout fishing, even if we were completely alone (by ourselves) (not near a human soul!!!!!!!!) Air Canada broke every covid rule to get foreigners? into Canada, by landing in Buffalo, Seattle, etc etc and arranging limousines and buses to take their passengers across the border, they were rewarded by the Cdn taxpayers to the tune of 8 billion dollars ($8,000.000.000) of Cdn covid rewards for ignoring the rules and being creative!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First going off, permits to break the travel rules could be obtained by Corporations or friends of the government to bypass the rules,by simply filling out a form. Irving Executives in Atlantic Canada were granted such a certificate, they were above the disease,by government decree! We were importing Covid, only because SPECIAL people from around the world were allowed into Canada,while Cdns were locked down solid ,in most cases, . I think a national inquiry (Senate) should be convened for this major twisting of the rules, for the rich, elites, etc, etc, WE DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING APPROACHING EQUALITY IN CANADA,and it was proven by this importing of Covid. I wish some news company would dig even deeper on this special treatment of Air Canada and people that can afford to fly! Thank you,I have sent this to many news outlets and never get ack. or reply, I hope for different from the Hub.

13th December 2023 at 8:07 am
Lynns Tuff

Thanks for sharing. There is so much here I knew nothing about. More failure on the part of media!

13th December 2023 at 2:12 pm

Pigs will fly before journos change.

13th December 2023 at 7:55 am
Paul Crawford

We have always had our alternate press, we have always had our sensational press, we have always had our salacious press, etc etc, news outlets like the Hub for example just have to give honesty, clarity, integrity ,etc etc and the public will catch on. As Bruce, commenting before me says, bad news will always be with us, in the same way rumours will ALWAYS carry the day.

13th December 2023 at 8:15 am
Gregory Lang

From daily Hansard to the Kardashians, of course it’s the news media’s fault.
Instead of being the press, that estate, and imperative to democracy, news media ran blindly to compete with social media, even before social media.

The term News has lost its meaning, even in the mainstream media. Once upon a time it referred to the information we all needed to know. These days the irrelevant, the trite, and the passingly curious are presented side by each with tidbits of real news, undermining the distinction and importance of the latter.
The medium is the message.

The press as a pillar of democracy is only true if the Press is responsible. That variety station called Fox News was the accelerant or culmination of accepting an irresponsible press.

The rise of celebrity journalists in place of staff reporters produces more of what we like to hear in place of what we need to hear – a thumbs-up and likes driven model.
Live coverage of a Ford Bronco driving down the highway – seriously? though this seems to be the go to model for CBC News Network.

To be relevant and to be trusted, the news media must be responsible. That means being very strict with themselves about what is news, how it is reported, and the technical accuracy of the words and terms they choose. First Past the Post is not a system of democracy anywhere in the world. The SCC decided that the price on carbon is not a tax. The average uninformed person can use these terms, the news media cannot – it is misinformation.

The news media misinforms and misreports on our electoral democracy as a matter of certainty. In doing so they made local news irrelevant and are making themselves obsolete. To be a pillar of democracy, the press must accurately represent and report on democracy in Canada – but they don’t and they don’t care that they don’t.

Words matter, context matters, and facts matter. If the news media reclaims and acts on their responsibility for these, they have a chance to survive and be relevant to democracy once again.

13th December 2023 at 9:32 am
Richard Burzynski

The article missed the mark and failed to highlight the complexities in a meaningful way. Was this just another attack on the CBC?

14th December 2023 at 6:41 am
Kim Morton

There are two things the left wing media must do to become believable.
Report the facts. People can make their own judgement calls. When you live on an island off the west coast your reality is not necessarily the same as some kid in Toronto.
Get off the government tit. As long as lamestream media is collecting welfare, they will continue to print whatever the party paying them tells them to print. You are no more than party flacks as long as you are on welfare.

14th December 2023 at 12:40 am

When you work in a sector and are intimately involved with the details yet the media consistently misrepresent that sector, same story across different outlets. I just think that the distance from what I know and what is reported is the same across all things. Meaning for the most part it isn’t accurate or truthful so why would you trust it?

13th December 2023 at 3:18 pm
Zoe C.

I sometimes feel that friends who work in legacy media are the only ones who don’t understand what’s obvious to most of the rest of the country. I want the best for journalists and couldn’t agree with Tara more. Respect your audience enough to listen to them and above all, “show, don’t tell”. Here’s to those who see how simple and doable, this fix, really is. Excellent article.

13th December 2023 at 3:03 pm
Lynne Tuff

What a great read. It’s true we have no democracy if journalists don’t listen or talk to the public.Our news is
too much about politics and not enough about how to actually deal with things like climate change and poverty.There are many people who study these problems and have great ways to solve them but we never
hear about these things in the news. I have found many on U Tube. From fertilizers from seaweed, to tiny homes and condemned homes for the poor.Save the world with natural gas. None of this came from our
news media.The CBC is the worst and does need to be defunded. This company should not leach off of tax payers!

13th December 2023 at 2:05 pm
Michael F

Interesting choice of image embedded in the article. It doesn’t show the logo of the one media company forced to settle a lawsuit by shelling out almost three quarters of a billion dollars to avoid a trial. And funny that this article is partially sponsored by the very company that should shoulder most of the blame for the issue of trust in media. Meta doctored their algorithm to squeeze as many eyeballs and clicks they could out of posts that were full of misinformation and conspiracy theories and sat on their hands when called out on it. I was recently travelling and noticed that the Facebook block on news content magically disappeared. Interesting how they on the one hand can curate content so specifically but yet can’t stop the racist garbage and lies that gets posted daily.

13th December 2023 at 12:21 pm
Richard Burzynski

Fully agree.

14th December 2023 at 6:36 am