On Thursday, July 4, Mr. Gordon Fisher, publisher of the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province, printed a full page letter to subscribers, telling us that the cost of the papers will increase on August 1, then gave us the economic reasons for his decisions. He wants us to stay subscribers and pledges rather vague changes that will take place.
Mr. Fisher, we will be cancelling subscriptions in September and think you should know the reasons.
Mr. Fisher – If I don’t want a critical look at fish farms; if I don’t want a critical look at highways tearing up farmland; if I don’t want sharp investigations into the private river power policy that has driven BC Hydro to the brink of bankruptcy; if I don’t want an evaluation of what is called “fracking”; if I don’t want a sharp-eyed evaluation of pipelines; and if I don’t want a careful and questioning evaluation of tanker traffic, then I don’t need to pay you for not getting these things when I can sit in front of my turned-off computer and not get the same non-coverage for free.
I understand your money problems but I would like you to tell us why all of the matters I’ve just raised have not had one line written about them by Mike Smyth and Vaughn Palmer, two excellent writers.
I just want you to be fair, sir, and evaluate what excellent work these and others did on the NDP during their decade and why they have given the Liberals a free ride since 2001.
On the face of it, if these writers were to be “muckrakers”, in the best sense of that word, you would surely increase your readership substantially. Moreover, it would not cost you a dime. But that’s not the reality, is it Mr Fisher?
The truth is that these writers and others have been muzzled, because otherwise you would lose huge sums from advertisers.
Look at another related subject. The day was when op-ed pieces were parcelled fairly between proponents of a scheme and this opposed. Your editorial sheet is run by a Fellow of the Fraser Institute, Fazil Mihlar, and while that shouldn’t deprive him of his position, surely it places a heavy burden on you to make sure he gives fair play. The fact is that private power producers, pipeline and tanker people seem to get an op-ed piece whenever they so wish.
To level that playing field costs you nothing – unless it’s advertiser support.
Wayne Moriarty, editor of the Province called me after I had made observations similar to those above and he asked, plaintively, “Rafe, you don’t think I tell my writers what not to write do you?”
My response was, “You don’t have to, Wayne”.
I have pretty good personal experience in this department having been fired three times in my radio career and by countless papers and magazines. Please don’t take this as whining – I’m proud that I stuck to my guns and I acknowledge firstly that the media bosses have a right to use whomever they please and, secondly, sometimes I may have been fired for incompetence.
I don’t yearn for the impossible – Alan Fotheringham, Jack Webster, Jack Wasserman and Pat Burns are gone. Yet what they did wasn’t rocket science but sound journalistic skepticism – a commitment to holding the feet of all in authority’s feet to the fire.
You won’t permit this sort of criticism, although Vaughn Palmer especially did much to expose NDP errors such as the “fast ferries” and looked with a jaundiced eye at all propositions put forward by those in authority. One might, I think, fairly infer that you dare not make things difficult for a “business-oriented government.”
You feel obliged to cater to the wishes of advertisers and spike your own guns and expect us to help you stay afloat. Count us out.