Posted by: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe | July 4, 2011

Media objectivity: a timeline of critical events


2011-02-23 Doughton, Sandi; Heim, Kristi. “Does Gates funding of media taint objectivity?” Seattle Times.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 1994. By 2007 they were listed as among the US most generous philanthropists. “Better-known for its battles against global disease, the Gates Foundation has also become a force in journalism. The foundation’s contributions to nonprofit and for-profit media have helped spur coverage of global health, development and education issues. But some people worry that its growing support of media organizations blurs the line between journalism and advocacy.”

Davies, Nick. 2008-07. “Qui veut en finir avec le modèle de la BBC: L’émotion n’existe pas? Alors, inventez-la!Le monde diplomatique.

2008 Guardian journalist Nick Davies published Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media in which he critically examined the changing face of journalism in the UK since the 1970s. This reporter with a distinguished record in investigative journalism claims that “the British newspaper industry, its regulators and the PR machine that supplies it” accept, report and spread “lies, distortions and propaganda” in a culture of “churnalism” not objective, investigative reporting (Riddell 2008). “Il documente les règles permettant à n’importe quel rédacteur d’usiner une « information » sans chair, sans risque et parfois sans vérité — mais respectueuse des principes du marketing : privilégier les enquêtes au rabais, éviter de froisser les institutions, se porter au devant des désirs supposés du lecteur, alimenter la panique morale… (Davies 2008-07).” He revealed how the public has come to accept misinformation (the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) as it is so widely spread by a mass media culture in which fewer journalists are hired and those that remain are discouraged from taking the time to verify the credibility of sources.

Riddell, Mary. 2008-02-03. “Failures of the Fourth Estate: Flat Earth News by Nick Davies turns the spotlight on the workings of the press.” The Observer.

Davies, Nick. 2008. Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media. London: Chatto & Windus.

Ligaya, Armina. 2007-09-07. “Media monopoly: Media consolidation: Can Aussie model stop the moguls? CBC News in Depth.

CBC. 2007. “Media Ownership in Canada: a timeline.”

2006 in An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Davis Guggenheim, Al Gore described how the mass media provides misinformation about consensus in the scientific community regarding climate change 2004 showed. He contrasts the findings of 928 Science magazine survey of all peer-reviewed scientific studies of climate change in which there were no articles questioning the fact that global warming caused by increased carbon dioxide in the earth’s environment is occurring at a rate and speed greater than any climate event in the past. Concurrently 53 percent of articles, etc in the mass media articles concluded that there is conflicting and/or inadequate evidence regarding global warming. Until Gore’s film was released consumers of the mass media who relied solely on them for information regarding climate change received deliberate misinformation preventing them from responding democratically to environmental risks.

2001 In the wake of 9/11 there was a dramatic increase in the number of blogs.

2001 The producers of the series West Wing created a pivotal episode entitled Isaac and Ishmael where real, virtual and everyday embodied real were inextricably linked. The series exists in the liminal space occupied by docudrama, fictionalized journalism, news as fiction, psychodrama, realpolitical analysands, flesh and blood real and the imaginary real. The series reveals behind-the-scenes ethical sell-offs of the fictional (or nearly real) political epicentre of the planet. The Democratic President capable of blinking has a real world Ivy League CV . He is an economist trained in the London School of Economics.

Hackett, Robert A.; Gruneau, Richard. 2000. The Missing News: Filters and Blind Spots in Canada. Ottawa: Centre for Policy Alternatives/Garamond Press Inc.

2000 The Sarejevo Commitment At the beginning of the 21st

Century men and women of the media register their commitment to integrity and public service. This document was launched at a World

2000-09-30 Media Assembly, SARAJEVO 2000, and signed by participants on 30 September 2000.

We, men and women of the media – professionals at all levels, from publishers and producers to cub reporters and students of journalism; from the print and digital media, television and radio, book publishing, cinema and theatre, advertising and public relations, music and the performing and creative arts – met here in the bruised, historic and beautiful city of Sarajevo, pay our homage and respect to the millions of humanity whom we inform, entertain and educate.

Late 1990s The Federal Government cut the CBC budget dramatically. CBC cut its workforce by a third.

Hackett, Robert A.; Zhao, Yuezhi. 1998. Sustaining Democracy? Journalism and the Politics of Objectivity. Toronto: Garamond Press Inc.

Bird; Roger?; Winter, James. 1998-01-01. “The End of News: How the News Is Being Swamped by Information, Manipulation and Entertainment. And How This is a Threat to Open, Democratic Society.” Canadian Journal of Communication [Online], 23(4). January 1. Available:

Barlow, Maude; Winter, James. 1997. The Big Black Book: The Essential Views of Conrad and Barbara Amiel Black. Toronto: Stoddart.

Bagdikian, Ben H. 1997. The Media Monopoly. 5th ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Herman, Edward, and Robert McChesney. 1997. The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Global Capitalism. London, UK: Cassell.

Winter, James. 1996. Democracy’s Oxygen: How Corporations Control the News. Montreal: Black Rose Books.

Menzies, Heather. 1996. Whose Brave New World? The Information Highway and the New Economy. Toronto: Between The Lines.

1996-05 “The Winds of Change conference, which took place in Calgary in May 1996, brought together approximately 70 leading right-wing thinkers and activists in an effort to bring unity to conservative forces before the next federal election, expected in 1997. The goal, according to organizer David Frum, was to discuss the prospects for a merger between the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties. The stark reality facing Conservatives is that a continued fracturing of the right-wing vote is likely to ensure not only a victory for Jean Chretien’s Liberals in 1997 but that the Liberals remain in power indefinitely. Frum believed that a vigorous airing of views behind closed doors, steps to develop a common agenda, and the bon amie of personal contact would create the momentum that was needed. . . . First, in the 1980s and 1990s the corporate community has funnelled considerable resources into so-called think tanks. The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute (1974), the C. D. Howe Institute in Toronto (1958), and the Canada West Foundation (1970) in Calgary are among the most influential policy-oriented research institutes. They often make headlines with timely and sometimes controversial reports on public policy issues, do contract work for governments, hold conferences and seminars, and do their own community outreach and media liaison work. Right-wingers might argue that the left in Canada has its own think tanks in the form of some university-based research centres. Of course, even the most objective scholarship might seem threatening to those who hold strong ideological views. These centres lack both the financing and the muscle that is available to the corporate-sponsored institutes. Indeed, as university budgets and federal funding for basic research have been cut back, corporate money has become more important in financing research. Corporations tend to support projects from which they can benefit directly (Taras 1996).

1996 Hollinger took over Southam, Canada’s largest newspaper chain.

1996 The US Congress passed The Telecommunications Act that “raised the ceiling on the size of national TV networks and virtually removed restrictions on the ownership of different types of media in the same market (Hackett and Zhao 1998:4).”

1995 – 1996 There were unprecedented multibillion-dollar-mergers in North American media.

1995 Sovereignty Referendum in Quebec

1995 “In 1995, according to Project Censored, the U.S. press underplayed or ignored these stories, among others: “In 1995, according to Project Censored, the U.S. press underplayed or ignored these stories, among others: the massive deregulation of telecommunications; $167 billion in annual subsidies to business, whose elimination could enable the U.S. government to balance its budget without slashing social programs; lax enforcement of U.S. child labour laws, resulting in thousands of injuries and even death of children in the workplace; $100 billion or more lost annually in medical fraud; ABC’s cancellation of a hard-hitting documentary on the tobacco industry at the same time as a tobacco company filed a $10 billion libel suit against Capital Cities/ABC; the U.S. chemical industry’s fight to prevent the banning of methyl bromide, a toxic zone-killing pesticide; the death through error or negligence of up to 180,000 patients in US hospitals each year (Hackett and Zhao 1998;182).”

McQuaig, Linda. 1995. Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths. Toronto: Viking.

Silva, Edward. 1995. More Perishable than Lettuce or Tomatoes: Labour Law Reform and Toronto’s Newspapers. Halifax, NS: Fernwood.

Hackett, Robert; Gilsdorf, Bill; Savage; Philip. 1992. “News Balance Rhetoric: The Fraser Institute’s Political Appropriation of Content Analysis.” Canadian Journal of Communication. 17:1: 15-36.

Kellner, Douglas. 1992. The Persian Gulf TV War. San Francisco, CA: Westview Press.

Hackett, Robert. 1991. News and Dissent: The Press and the Politics of Peace in Canada. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Franklin, Ursula. 1990. The Real World of Technology. Concord, ON: Anansi.

Chomsky, Noam. 1989. Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies. Toronto: CBC Enterprises.

Hallin, Daniel. 1989. The “Uncensored War”: The Media and Vietnam. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Herman, Edward, and Noam Chomsky. 1988. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon.

Postman, Neil. 1985. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness. New York: Penguin.

Bagdikian, Ben H. 1971. The Information Machines: Their Impact on Men and the Media. New York: Harper & Row.

1970s “The late French social theorists Michel Foucault, during the 1970s, wrote of “discursive regimes” — of how power is imbricated with knowledge, not by directly imposing censorship or coercion from outside, but indirectly and internally, through the criteria and practices that “govern” the production of statements. [] Foucault collapses all truth claims into power, self-interest and the internal validity rules of particular discourses (Hackett and Zhao 1998:7) (Hackett and Zhao 1998:6)”

Tichenor, Phil. 1970s.

CBC Radio. 1970. “How free is Canada’s press?” March 23, 1970.

Grant, George. 1969. Technology and Empire. Concord, ON: Anansi.


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