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Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.


Jeffrey Dvorkin

Friday, October 18, 2013

Getting the News Elsewhere

I spoke yesterday to a group of citizens in Markham, Ontario about journalism, journalism education and the future of media. It was held under the auspices of my university, as an outreach project with the various communities around Toronto

Markham is a well-to-do suburb and the people who came were well-informed, curious and skeptical about what has happened to the news organizations they used to know but still support (albeit grudgingly).

I decided to talk about how media is becoming less serious and more trivial as they seek ways to buttress their flagging economic futures. I called the chat "Rob Ford and the Problem of Journalism in Toronto."

(For those of you outside of southern Ontario who may be unaware of Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his alleged involvement with a seamy side of the city, it's worth a moment to google him).

What impressed me most about the 200 or so people who showed up over a lunch hour was how concerned they are and how disappointed they have become about the media.

Granted, it was a small audience and a particular demographic. But these were once the core of any journalistic audience. They have (as far as I could tell) kept up with some technology through Facebook and Twitter. Many said they now rely on overseas media websites to keep them informed.

Their disappointment with mainstream and local media was intense.

They are angry at the amount of time devoted to crime reporting. They do not feel unsafe living in Toronto or the suburbs. Their sense of community is undermined every time they watch local TV news and read the Toronto Star (their newspaper of preference). They appear not to be Globe and Mail readers particularly. No one mentioned the National Post (conservative) or the Toronto Sun (tabloid).

One person asked why there was so little international news especially on television.

Another asked why their particular issues and concerns were never acknowledged by media that seems overly enamoured with a younger and more "downtown" crowd. 
And they asked me about how journalism schools were training the next generation of reporters and editors.

Good questions all 'round. For which an hour over lunch was not enough time.

Local media (and journalism schools)! Take note.


4 comments:

  1. I live in Toronto but sometimes feel more like a New Yorker because I depend more and more on the New York Times to bring me the world. My sense is that your Markham lunch-time crowd would wish that Canadian media emulate the New York Times, not only in its international coverage but also in its comprehensive, non-sensational in-depth reporting and contextual commentary on the local and regional scene.

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  2. Re: your comment " (For those of you outside of southern Ontario who may be unaware of Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his alleged involvement with a seamy side of the city, it's worth a moment to google him)."

    For a guy who grew up in Edmonton, you have forgotten that Toronto news is national news, at least in Canada. You can be certain that nobody reading this blog in Canada is unaware of the Ford wars.

    MB

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    1. Dear MB - My readers also are in the US. They are astonished when they learn about our "dear leader" aka "300 lbs. of fun" (his term for hizzoner).

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  3. Mr. Dvorkin,
    May I use your photo from your post in my soon to be new website. The website is for our newly established nonprofit organization called The Kids' Reading Room located in Houston, TX. We set up rooms in apartment communities. Once we get news coverage, I may replace the photo with photos of our own.
    Thank you,
    Trish Schappell
    www.facebook.com/thekidsreadingroom
    thekidsreadingroom@gmail.com

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