Peter Stockland argues that despite the legitimate criticism journalism gets for all its institutional failings, abundant first-rate reporters and writers serve Canadian democracy well.
Honesty demands acknowledgement.
In recent weeks I’ve written, and other Convivium.ca writers have contributed, sharp criticism of journalistic performance on a variety of issues.
It’s true that at the institutional level, corporate providers of the ceaseless information that floods our waking hours too often resemble a pooch begging for table scraps while running in ever diminishing circles going yip-yip-yip.
It would be disingenuous, however, if due emphasis is denied the abundance of frontline reporters and writers who are producing first-rate journalism and bringing it to wider audiences than could ever have been imagined 15 years ago.
Here in Canada, the thinnest top segment of a very partial roll call would include the political reportage of the Globe’s Bob Fife and Steve Chase. As a team, in the past 18 months alone, they’ve broken more genuinely important stories than most reporters do in a career.
It would certainly also include GlobalNews Ottawa bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson. She broke and has unflaggingly pursued the story of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. When her interview implicating former Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance emerged last winter, I didn’t get it. It seemed to me like a consensual love affair gone bitterly bad.
But Stephenson, to her everlasting journalistic credit, saw the bigger picture. The result, of course, has been the immolation of Vance’s military career, an obstruction of justice charge (so far untested in court) being laid against him, and revelation of utterly ignominious cover-up behaviour by cabinet and the PMO. That’s the kind of thorough calling to account that journalism working at its best can produce: n...