Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Woodward? Bernstein? Anybody?

This Magazine Staff

So the National Post’s Don Martin believes Adscam is Canada’s Watergate. Insomuch as it represents the extreme level of corruption within the governing party, I suppose he’s right. But I can’t help but note one significant difference: Watergate was uncovered by investigative journalists, while Adscam was busted open by the Auditor-General, and the recent damning allegations of kickbacks and malfeasance were revealed in a somewhat orderly, government-mandated inquiry.

So my question is this: What is wrong with investigative journalism in this country? Does it even exist? Seems to me this was a story just asking for some heavy digging, and… nothing. It seems a little too easy to just lay the blame at the feet of our (heavily concentrated) mainstream media for failing to invest in investigative reporting, but maybe that’s a good place to start. When was the last time the Globe or the Post, or CTV or CBC news, or any significant daily in the country really uncovered a big story? For me, nothing comes to mind.

Trouble is, the independent media is not much better. Indeed, even This Magazine isn’t the haven for investigative reporting it used to be. The Tyee breaks a good B.C. story once in a while, and Straight Goods digs as well, but for media outlets like these, with limited resources to say the least, only so much can be expected.

If anyone has the resources to pursue investigative work, it’s the mainstream media. Unfortunately, it seems the investment problem is compounded by another problem in Canadian journalism: the pack journalism mentality. Every major story in the country is basically reported the same way by every major media outlet, and commentary seems to be all that separates them.

Is that any way for a country’s media to behave?

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