Canadian journalists say advertisers and owners are biggest threats to freedom

When Ezra Levant decided to publish the cartoons that many Muslims found offensive, he justified the decision on the basis that it was a demonstration of the free press in Canada.

But a survey released minutes ago by Compas Inc. suggests that such a demonstration is hardly necessary in Canada.

“Journalists see press freedom as thriving in Canada. They give press freedom an extraordinary 81 score on a 100 point freedom scale. Furthermore, press freedom is not perceived as declining. The level of freedom is the same as 10 years ago, those polled say. Journalists do nonetheless see threats to their own freedom,” writes Compas CEO Conrad Winn in some remarks accompanying the poll results.

The journalists surveyed by Compas say that if there is a threat to press freedom it is not from governments and the regulatory power they possess nor is it from corporate agendas and concentration of ownership. “Concern about owners and governments is dwarfed by journalists’ concerns about the performance limitations of their own profession and the apathy of their audiences,” writes Winn.  “Media ignorance and audience indifference, they say, are the greatest threats, followed by interference by advertisers.”

As one of the 221 journalists surveyed, I tend to agree with Winn’s overall thesis.




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