Nagata: better at spitting rhymes
or dropping knowledge?
We report, you decide.
1) The lack of enterprise journalism in TV media
2) There's no Jon Stewart-like comedian in Canada (Jean-Renée Dufort being the French-Canadian exception)
3) There's no Canadian Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow as a counterweight to the Right's commentariat.
Let's begin with the last two points.
Political comedy is difficult to pull off. I don't think Canada can manufacture a Jon Stewart of Stephen Colbert nor should it try to do so. An audience can tell when things are forced or artificial and bad political comedy demoralizes rather than galvanizes the public. That being said: I, for one, welcome our progressive Canadian comedic overlords.
As for a left-leaning opinion-focused TV news channel like MSNBC; that doesn't evoke much enthusiasm in me. I do enjoy Lawrence O'Donnell mocking Donald Trump's attempt to convince the public that - this time - he's serious about running for President. I also smirk as Rachel Maddow pokes fun a Rick Perry's crazy religious associates. However, I find Olbermann a bit of a blowhard and quite the demagogue while Ed Schultz just doesn't interest me. Overall, I enjoy a cleverly worded and incisive opinion piece but I don't think this is what's the greatest need for Canadian media.
This brings up to Nagata's first complaint: enterprise journalism is lacking in Canada's media market. The business expenses aren't rewarded by the ratings they garner. TV networks therefore have all but eliminated it from their budgets.
The solution I propose is the development of a Canadian ProPublica.
It is entirely web-based, dedicated to investigative journalism and intent on serving the public interest. You won't find stories about Will and Kate there but you will find award winning stories about how a single hedge fund was able to magnify the entire 2008 economic crisis through dishonest dealings. They are able to make very technical and specialized language accessible to the general public. They use graphics effectively to foster a clearer understanding of complex stories and doggedly pursue the news over a long period of time.
While the CBC and the Globe and Mail are the most active in using graphics on their web pages, they pale in comparison to ProPublica and The Guardian. The latter provides a treasure-trove of time lines, interactive graphics and charts that highlight their stories in such a way that the reader can understand the wide-ranging scope of a news story.
Even if you haven't hear of ProPublica, you've heard of the media outlets they've teamed up with for stories. They've partnered with "60 Minutes" and PBS on TV to newspapers including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Chicago Tribune, to NPR News, "This American Life" and "Marketplace" on public radio, to Politico, Slate, Salon and The Daily Beast online, and to the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Newsweek and BusinessWeek magazines.
Wouldn't it be great if such a news organization in Canada could team up with the likes of La Presse, APTN, the Globe and Mail, CTV, the Vancouver Sun and all the other media outlets? Certain issues just need greater emphasis than others. When Access to Information requests are riddled with delays and arrive almost entirely blacked out, there needs to be long term strategy to pressure the government to do better. The current TV news format just doesn't allow this to happen.
How does ProPublica stay afloat financially? Very wealthy charitable contributions. Who knows? A few veteran journalists with the aid of various charitable organizations in Canada could get something underway with a bit of work. Sounds impossible? It's more likely than CTV or Global dedicating large amounts of funds to investigative journalism.
Putting together the most dynamic, cooperative and informative news website out there? That sounds very Canadian to me.
I'm curious about other opinions, though. Is there a greater need for a clarion call to wake Canadians from their apathy through a left-leaning opinionated news channel? Or is great comedy the only way to rouse Canadians from their indifference? While you ponder that, here's Kai Nagata rapping.