02.12.2016 02:55 PM

The first anniversary of the death of Sun News

Remembered it’s been a year – time flies, eh? As you may recall, I wrote the open letter thing below, and it attracted about 300 comments. Sun News attracted strong reactions.

Looking at it, there was thing I was right about: media – print and otherwise – continue to die off at a rapid pace. Whether a media voice is right wing or left wing, they’re all in trouble.

**

Dear Sun News folks:

I was on Twitter, past midnight, reading some of the things people were saying about the network’s demise. There was a lot of gloating and awful stuff being said.

I slept for four hours, then got up to watch the network disappear. They showed a promo for Pat Bolland’s show, and then that was it. The screen in my bedroom went black at exactly 5 a.m. I stared at it for a while, and tried to formulate what I wanted to say.

It’s not you who I want to say it to, former Sun News Network folks. It’s to those people on Twitter, last night and this morning, the ones who were gleefully celebrating the end of Sun News.

They’re celebrating, I guess, because they disagreed with the opinions that were found on Sun News. They didn’t like conservative opinions being broadcast, so they think it’s funny that 200 people have lost their jobs. I find that completely insane, for two reasons.

Firstly, folks, I disagreed with those conservatives, too. Plenty. On sex ed, on CBC, on abortion, on niqabs, on social programs, on climate change, on Islam, on gay marriage, on Liberals and liberals, on just about anything you can imagine: I would regularly appear on Sun News Network to argue with those conservatives, face-to-face, on-camera. I would argue, aggressively, against the conservative point of view.

And, over almost four years, a funny thing happened: they kept inviting me back. They asked me to come on much more than my day job would permit, in fact. And they were professional and courteous and fair to me. Only once did they try and shut me down – here – but multiple Sun folks called me afterwards to apologize, and to say that it would never happen again. It didn’t.

That’s the first thing: if you disagree with someone’s opinion, debate them. Present evidence. Argue with facts. Be passionate. Because that’s what Sun News Network gave me an opportunity to do, over and over, for four years.

Here’s the second thing: in case you haven’t noticed, our traditional news media are dying.

There are all kinds of reasons for that: the Internet, Google and Facebook and Craigslist, bad business decisions, whatever. We can debate the causes ad nauseum. But the fact is that the media, as we knew it, is disappearing.

Bloggers and social media mavens will celebrate the mainstream media’s demise, too. But they shouldn’t. Because bloggers and tweeters don’t generate actual news – they just comment on it. They offer opinions on someone else’s work. Someone else’s journalism.

When that journalism disappears, mark my words: our democracy will be diminished, and possibly even in peril. I’m not exaggerating. There is nothing that keeps the powerful in check – not Question Period, not a public opinion poll, not even the police – as effectively as journalists do. I’ve worked on both sides, and I know, I’ve seen it: every time a newspaper dies – every time a TV network dies – the powerful grow more so. You may think that’s okay, but I sure don’t. They are not always benign in the way they exercise power.

Anyway. Those are the two things I wanted to say, this bitterly-cold Friday the Thirteenth: if you disagree with someone, debate them. Don’t let out a cheer when they lose their job, and their ability to pay the rent and feed their kids. Because one day, in this economy, you’re probably going to lose your job, too. And it would be pretty shitty for someone to find that funny, on that day, wouldn’t it?

Remember this, too: every news reporter – every news editor, every news producer, every news technician – is a crucial part of a flourishing democracy. And when we lose them, our democracy loses. The Sun News Network ones, too.

And I guess there’s a third thing I wanted to say: Kory – and Matt and Dennis and others – put together an actual national news network, and they had some good folks there. I may have vociferously disagreed with the opinions they expressed – and you may have, too – but I am so, so sorry that they have lost their jobs, at 5 a.m. this morning. I will miss many of them.

So, don’t celebrate them losing their jobs. Don’t be indifferent to the effect it will have on our democracy. Because if you do, you’re just being an asshole.

Anyway. Back to work. I’m lucky to still have a job – and if you’ve got one, you should be, too.

Sincerely,

– See more at: http://warrenkinsella.com/2015/02/dear-sun-news-network-folks/#sthash.ATpWmMvY.71bFH0sk.dpuf

23 Comments

  1. Gerry Goldlist says:

    Your friend said it well. Your article here is another example of one of my favourite quotes:
    “When a critical thinker disagrees with you, he thinks you are wrong. When an ideologue disagrees with you, he thinks you are evil” — Lorrie Goldstein

    • Ron Waller says:

      What if you’re a critical thinker who concludes Lorrie Goldstein is an ethically-bankrupt ideologue?

      • Eric Weiss says:

        An ethical thinker would look at what a person says instead of resorting to ad hominem attacks because they don’t like their politics.

  2. Darren H says:

    Well said Mr. Kinsella. Blog sites are the devils playground for Political Parties to create the news and viewpoints they want us to read. I dislike that rag the Toronto Star intensely but I would feel like shit if they shut down and folks lost their livelihoods. And Warren although I find the left wing progressive worldview childish and naive, I certainly celebrate and admire your passion for it.

  3. Ron Waller says:

    The media is not dying: it is exploding. Just in a different form. For the better.

    Canada’s news media is owned by corporations and is exceedingly corrupt. Violating journalistic ethics is par for the course. Journalists believe their job is to carry out agendas and manipulate public opinion. If there is an election, their job is to alter its course. The idea that they are supposed to uncover corruption in high places is lost on them because they are a party to it.

    Take the global financial bust out of the 2000s. A complex web of fraud including risk-offloading predatory-lending commercial banks, trust-liquidating investment rating agencies, Ponzi-scheming investment bankers, paper-stretching shadow bankers, looting hedge fund managers and market-manipulating Masters of the Universe playing musical chairs with the global financial system. Where were politicians to protect us from all this? On the take. Where were the journalists to expose all this? Flushing their journalistic integrity down the toilet for a paycheck because their editors were on the take.

    Why was there no Woodward and Berstein to uncover this story? Why do people have to be informed through the entertainment media with movies like ‘Inside Job’, ‘Margin Call’ and ‘The Big Short’? Because the corporate news media died a long time ago.

    • R News says:

      Hear, hear to Ron! Corrupt, maybe. Untrustworthy – definitely. And to add some hideous examples – WMDs and yellowcake, coup in Ukraine, climate change, Hillary dictating the news, and more:
      http://www.activistpost.com/2014/03/6-examples-of-media-manipulation.html
      http://gawker.com/this-is-how-hillary-clinton-gets-the-coverage-she-wants-1758019058

      (notice my examples are from both the right and the left)

      • nobonus4nonis says:

        forgot the source. oh well.

        Do you feel optimistic? That your best days are in front of you? That you will marry your heart’s desire, live comfortably in a mini-mansion and do fulfilling work until a well-earned retirement?

        Then chances are your parents were rich and you went to a good school and you’ve leveraged your relationships to get ahead.

        But if you weren’t born on third base, if the guidance counselor in your public school was unaware of need-blind admissions, if everybody on your block was a rapper or a sports star or just doing drugs…

        You’re probably wondering where your future went.

        Used to be the media was on our side. Divining truth, looking out for us. Before Rupert Murdoch bought the “Wall Street Journal” and Judith Miller convinced “New York Times” readers that an Iraq invasion was justified. Now we can’t believe a thing we read.

        As for television, Don Henley had it right, the bubble-headed bleached blond making seven figures wanted us to follow car chases, was more interested in the horse race than truth. It was all fun all the time.

        Only it wasn’t.

        Kind of like this election cycle. I can’t watch another debate, there’s nothing new to be said. Or the candidates don’t want to say it. The media says it’s important but the truth is it sells advertising and there you have it in a nutshell, the media-industrial complex has pulled away from the populace, and now the populace is rebelling.

        It happened in music first, with Napster. Artists and executives couldn’t believe the public would steal music. But the public was sick of being ripped off and saw white collar criminals making double digit millions and not ending up behind bars. Why should they be moral? Especially when the media was constantly flaunting the immorality of artists. Money for nothing indeed.

        And then the techies scooped up all the chips. This is when the artists got pissed. They could no longer sit at home and make a living, they had to get out and ply the boards, which may sound glamorous but is not, especially when you’re already married, and if you think the musicians take drugs for fun, you’ve never tried to sleep after giving it your all until midnight.

        So the musicians hate the techies, who stole their lunch money. And on one hand you can tell them to get with the program, on another you can ask what kind of country are we living in?

        Those musicians who do break through play by the new rules. Which is to do anything for cash and to try and chase the billionaires. They want to fly on their planes, if not buy planes themselves. Meanwhile, those at home are supposed to respect these players, as they have in the past.

        Forget the prepubescents adoring wet behind the ear singers with little talent. That’s been going on forever. But an entire generation of music lovers, the baby boomers, and to a great extent their Gen-X brethren, have abandoned the scene. Sure, it’s dense and complicated, but there’s nothing that appeals to them, that satiates their souls, that is music for music’s sake. Everybody’s bitching they’re working too hard and can’t get paid.

        Just like the rest of America.

        But the rich move their corporations overseas to avoid taxes, not knowing there’s no such option for the public.

        The entertainment business keeps telling us to partake of their wares when the truth is we’re disconnecting, not only in music, but film. Sure, grosses may be good, but only for a few flicks. We need cultural touchstones, we don’t need much else.

        Like cable television or tablets or…

        Cord-cutting is real. We’re sick of paying six bucks for ESPN we don’t watch. And why do we need the latest tablet, which is just product envy at best anyway, the old one is just fine. But the truth is the phablet, the large smartphone, is good enough.

        And next we’re abandoning cars. Uber is just a start. Whilst boomers purchase six figure automobiles and prance around in their iron (aluminum!) showing off, youngsters don’t even get their licenses, and are looking forward to the days of self-driving cars.

        Talk about change.

        And it is all about change. We’ll embrace that which is easier and exciting… But we’re sick of being told we are inadequate and to do it the old way, ordained for the benefit of the rich.

        Music labels still trumpet sales when streams are everything, and you can’t stop hearing that there’s not enough money in music. But why should the consumer care, he’s struggling too! And why should the consumer believe this, since everything that was nothing turns into a juggernaut, like computers.

        The book business killed digital, sealing its fate as a marginal enterprise.

        Those at the top want the status quo and those at the bottom are hungry for real leadership, that speaks to them and watches out for them.

        But there’s no story to follow. Kanye West is all about himself. Justin Bieber is a nitwit. And reporters want to hang with their subjects, their publications full of hype to make us feel envious of what the subjects have got.

        But we know the truth, we can never have what they have, no matter how much we put our noses to the grindstone, opportunities are scarce, the game is rigged. Some of us have given up, the rest of us are hoping for a revolution.

        That’s what happens when there’s too much injustice. And the injustice in this case is institutions and groups who want to maintain the status quo to the detriment of the rest of us, and make us pay fealty and become wannabes to boot. You know why Oscar ratings are tanking? NO ONE CARES!

        The public needs food and sex and shelter and entertainment.

        But it also needs hope.

        Right now what we’ve got is mainly false hope. Duplicity. Bait and switch. Envy. And as a result, disillusionment reigns.

        That’s the story of Donald Trump, that’s the story of Bernie Sanders. They’re speaking a truth to their constituents that listeners don’t hear elsewhere. It’s thrilling to have politicians looking out for you as opposed to guarded corporatists always plotting to get ahead in the future, benefiting themselves, not caring about anyone else. Mark Zuckerberg tweaks Facebook algorithms for himself, not for you, not even for corporations. But we can’t stop hearing about the triumphant social network.

        Sure, there are idiots spinning falsehoods trying to become social media stars. And the media whips out winners to keep us playing the game, as if everyone could win the lottery.

        But the truth is the game is rigged and no one is on our side. The artists jettisoned us long ago, when MTV could make them rich, when Napster made it harder to make money. The media is like the musicians, complaining of lost advertising and thinner margins. The websites say we have to endure click-bait to pay their bills. Every entity in America is desperately trying to climb and survive, meanwhile we’re at home out of options.

        So when you see the shiny show on TV, when you read about the rich and famous, don’t buy it. Know that there are more just like you, that the power lies with the people, not the corporations.

        It’s morning in America, and the entrenched are about to get a huge wake-up call.

  4. patrick says:

    No one watched the Sun News. It wasn’t informative. It wasn’t entertaining. Levent, Lily, and the rest were unwatchable, posing as beacons of controversy but came off as pointless hysterics. The Sun had a very small base to build from and couldn’t. It died of it’s own accord and no one else’s. It wouldn’t have lasted in the heyday of journalism, never mind one that is in a torrent of change.

  5. Tim says:

    SUN News failed because it was bad TV, not because the CRTC signed their death certificate. If you look at Ezra’s youtube numbers, it’s clear that, still, nobody cares to hear what he has to say. I feel bad for the guy almost; creates a 45 minute episode and maybe gets 5000 – 10000 views as a result. There’s not even enough ad revenue off of that to order a pizza.

  6. Maps Onburt says:

    Warren, I missed your original note on this a year ago. It’s a very good letter. You are consistent, right or left. You’re also. right about not gloating about people losing their jobs and I was guilty of a bit of that with McGregor at the citizen. Bravo.

  7. Wonder how all those who celebrated the demise of Sun News would feel if CBC was denied its $1Billion plus from taxpayers? CBC would surely go under immediately if not heavily subsidized by taxpayers, many of whom would withdraw support if they had the choice.

    • davie says:

      Yeah, I think quite a few government funded institutions would be gone if the government did not fund them: Foreign Affairs; Canada Revenue; Health Ministry; Armed forces, for sure;…

    • Kelly says:

      The CBC is subsidized by citizens.

      It shouldn’t have any advertising, at all. Leave that revenue source to private for-profit networks.

      The CBC should focus on uniquely Canadian experiences, sharing all of our regions with each other. As a prairie person I get little exposure to Atlantic Canada — let me experience some of it on the CBC. Let me experience the North. Let me experience Quebec City. Let me experience farming in Bruce County Ontario. Ratings be damned. Ratings aren’t the point with something like the CBC. It’s supposed to be there for us the way public services are there for use whether as individuals we use them on any particular day or not. I have learned more about Montreal and Quebec culture from watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations food travel show on T&E and YouTube. That is insane. Enough with Jeopardy. The fact the host was born in Canada doesn’t make it Canadian content.

      • Justin says:

        What you’re proposing is a subsidized travel channel. Um, I’d rather not kelly. It’s not my problem you’re too cheap to buy a plane ticket.

        • Kelly says:

          The problem with many Conservatives is they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

          • The Doctor says:

            Yes, and they’re the sole cause of all the world’s problems. And they poison cute little puppies just for the sheer spite of it.

    • Jack D says:

      Actually Catherine, I couldn’t give less of a shit about the CBC and I celebrate the much deserved death of Sun News.

      I think the CBC doesn’t deserve half the funding it receives and I’m a Liberal. I think the CBC focuses its spending on frivolous things like shows nobody wants to watch, pointless feel good stuff that no one really cares about and whatever David Suzuki. I get the CBC wants to be the standard bearer for Canadiana culture but if theres not demand then why waste the money? I mean, whens the last time Dragons Den was good. Or who are these desperate business-type that watched the Exchange?

      To be clear, I have no issue with subsidizing the CBC to a degree. However, the CBC needs to make content thats more palatable to a wider range of audience and thats A LOT less Toronto centric. As a non-Torontian, I find the CBC to be way over saturated with coverage of Toronto news arts and cultural. My tax dollars are paying for Toronto’s over inflated ego and I’m not too fond of that.

      So, yes, I’m enthusiastically pleased that Ezra Levant finds himself more-or-less unemployed and relying on the donations and subscriptions of red-neck conservatives living in the boonies of Canada. But I also am indifferent to the CBC and don’t care much of its funding.

      • The Doctor says:

        I hadn’t noticed that there are no conservatives living in cities in Canada, and that nobody in a Canadian city had ever watched or supported Ezra Levant. So thanks for pointing that out to me.

    • nobonus4nonis says:

      they feel the same way they felt when Harper spent 1.2 billion dollars fucking over Toronto during the G20 which he got away with so kiss my gazebo’s and leave the CBC hobby horse alone.

  8. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    You did a serious job when you worked full-time for those papers (unlike yours truly who merely dabbled in news reading). By golly, you are extremely lucky to have ink in your veins. You are more committed to truth and freedom of speech than half of the so-called professional journalistic class.

    In my book you deserve a Pullitzer. You are more the conscience of that profession than all the media moguls put together.

  9. Ron says:

    “The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

    ~ Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine (1988)

  10. Aongasha says:

    Here’s one of the more interesting developments in the TV media that hasn’t been touched on very much. That is this new-fangled PVR system. What a boon that is. These days, aside from the straight ahead newscasts, I record everything that might be of interest re the political pundit shows. Then when I sit down to watch them I zip through all that seems to be partisan BS from the hosts or the guests. It’s great and the wife says I don’t yell at the TV nearly as much. Naturally it also allows me to zip by the commercials as well. Just as FB allows me to eliminate everything I don’t want to read. I’m guessing the advertisers are catching on as well, since that loss of revenue is seemingly creating havoc with their employment numbers and thus leading to job losses. More balanced programming might be the answer, but then the folks involved couldn’t pursue their partisan agendas. So the decline will continue.
    But hey, who cares? Not I, thanks to the PVR option.

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