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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Canada’s Democratic Malaise: Are the Media to Blame?

Choices by Richard Nadeau, Thierry Giasson

Nadeau and Giasson point out that a number of authors maintain a connection exists between media coverage of politics and declining levels of trust in politicians and political institutions. They argue, however, that conclusions about this purported co-relationship are mixed, when an extensive review of this claim is undertaken. The authors suggest that although it is difficult to establish a direct link between media coverage and increasing levels of public cynicism, an ever-widening gap exists between what would be viewed as the ideal way to cover politics and current journalistic practices.

Nadeau and Giasson contend that political journalists are widely criticized for exaggerating the negative aspects of facts, redirecting voters’ attention to secondary issues, and cheapening the image of politics. Accordingly, the authors offer several reasons to explain this apparent drift in political journalism, among them: a lack of resources and pressure from profit-driven employers. Nadeau and Giasson argue such trends have become even more firmly rooted in recent years due to increased media concentration and the weakening of public television.

Nadeau and Giasson propose three possible solutions to what they regards as the negative aspects of political journalism: 1) journalists must promote more meaningful contact between elected officials and voters; 2) the tradition of investigative journalism must be revived; and, 3) the public service news tradition in Canada must be revived. The authors conclude that a serious return to the public service news tradition would well serve the requirements of Canadian democracy.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Richard Nadeau; Thierry Giasson;
Publisher: Institute for Research on Public Policy [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2003; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Media & Communications / Television & Radio
Policy Articles / Media & Communications / Television & Radio / 2003
Policy Articles / Media & Communications / Print Communications
Policy Articles / Media & Communications / Print Communications / 2003
Policy Articles / Media & Communications


Keywords / Tags:

political journalism; media coverage of politics; cynicism; profit motivations; investigative journalism; public service news;