Progressive politics, ideas & culture


All the news that’s fit to asper, I mean alter

This Magazine Staff

I know in Andrew’s absence, I should pick up the baton and say something witty and wise about the new health care agreement in this country, but I’ve simply lost the battle to stay interested in it. I’m glad everyone seems to be in agreement. I have as much faith in all parties staying uncomplainingly “on side” as I do that NHL hockey will be played this winter.

Instead let’s revisit the recent freedom of expression discussion. I heard a report on CBC radio this morning that a prominent news wire service is upset about a large media chain purchasing their copy, and then altering it to fit their “house style.” It seems this publisher’s definition of “style” is broad enough to include “opinion.” Instead of just commas and semi-colons shifting around, entire words and their meanings are being replaced. This, understandably, becomes an issue for the original author of an article when, for instance, the word “revolt” changes into the phrase “terrorist action.” If this re-characterization of the news is actually happening, it seems a clear case of infringement on the “moral rights” of the original authors. Do Canada’s media conglomerates actually believe that once they’ve bought content, they can alter it however they like? Surely not (somebody break out that Copyright Act…).

As I said, I heard this item on the public broadcaster. So far, no luck finding mention of it in any of the newspapers. What’s that all about?

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