National Newswatch

Who is a journalist?

Oct 17 2019 — Paul Adams — It is hard enough deciding who is a journalist without delegating the decision to a judge in the midst of an election campaign — or for that matter the Parliamentary Press Gallery. Last week, a judge ordered that three men from two far-right outfits, Rebel Media and the True North Centre for Public Policy, be […]

In politics, a photo can carry powerful subtext

Oct 9 2019 — Paul Adams — Frederick Douglass was arguably the first person – I hesitate to say “politician” – to use photography for a political purpose. Douglass was an enslaved man who at about twenty years of age escaped a plantation on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, where he had endured brutal whippings alongside all the other […]

The revenge of expert sources in Election 2019

Oct 4 2019 — Paul Adams — Expert sources drawn from academia and elsewhere are playing an important role in Election 2019, and at a time when expertise itself is under attack. Election 2019 has provided an illustration of what the American journo-wonk Ezra Klein once called the “revenge of the sources.” Whereas experts, including academics, were once dependent on journalists to […]

Why election coverage neglects climate change

Sep 25 2019 — Paul Adams — In March of 1935, Adolf Hitler announced the rearmament of Germany in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. It had been just 17 years since the First World War had ended, a war that had resulted in roughly 700,000 British deaths and many more casualties. And yet, when the UK held an election eight months […]

Four things to watch in the media’s 2019 election coverage

Sep 12 2019 — Paul Adams — The four years between elections is time enough for the resources, technology and tactics available to both the media and the political parties to change significantly. That alters the relationship between them in sometimes unpredictable ways and affects the coverage we rely on to make our decisions as citizens.

How can we be smarter about horse-race polls?

Aug 26 2019 — Paul Adams — The media should help voters make sense of polling, sift through the methodologies and come to terms with inherently uncertain statistical info. Much of what is wrong with political polling occurs at the nexus between the firms that produce the surveys and the media industry. It is worth bearing that in mind as we approach […]

Four anchors and a big, ugly desk: Watching the new National

Nov 7 2017 — Paul Adams — No newscast can be judged by its first edition. CBC-TV’s The National re-launched last night with a fleet of new anchors, cool, modern-looking graphics — and the usual first-night glitches. However, its character will be defined not just by the months of planning that went into Night One but the reaction of audiences (and perhaps […]

Are journalists going easy on Trudeau?

Apr 17 2017 — Paul Adams — I was struck by something Andrew MacDougall wrote about reporters the other day as he grappled with something that seemed strange to him: the fact that, despite Justin Trudeau’s many misfires and outright fails, his popularity is undiminished. MacDougall offered many explanations, including the enduring power of Trudeau’s “sunny ways” narrative and his good looks […]

When columnists go rogue

Mar 28 2017 — Paul Adams — There are lines you don’t cross. It’s just that no one will tell you where they are. Whenever they sit down to write, columnists are working between invisible lines. The columnist can’t know exactly where the lines are. In fact, no one ever points to them until they’re crossed. And then, everyone but the bewildered […]

How the Star got its O’Leary poll story dead wrong

Jan 25 2017 — Paul Adams — It isn’t always the polls getting it wrong. Sometimes it’s the journalists. Here’s a newsflash: The polls in the election that delivered us Donald Trump weren’t the problem. The journalists and commentators who reported on them — they were the problem. You won’t hear that from most of the media, of course. In fact, these […]

Could Tom Mulcair actually win?

Apr 9 2015 — Paul Adams — In the middle of the 2011 election campaign, Jack Layton gave a remarkable interview to Peter Mansbridge. Layton’s campaign had looked shaky at the start, with much of the media coverage focused on his recent bout with prostate cancer (which is probably what came back to kill him just a few months later). He recovered […]

Can Harper stoke fear and still woo the ethnic vote?

Mar 11 2015 — Paul Adams — One of Stephen Harper’s most remarkable achievements in politics has been to navigate his way from the nativist, turban-queasy, anti-immigration policies of Reform to those of a modern party, supporting immigration and wooing the ethnic vote. With his sidekick Jason Kenney scarfing perogies and papadums with equal enthusiasm, in 2011 Harper led the Conservatives to […]

Would Trudeau govern from the right or left?

Mar 4 2015 — Paul Adams — There’s a simple mathematical explanation to the Trudeau Liberals’ current rightward tilt. Every former Conservative voter that the Liberals are able to woo is a two-fer, not only increasing the Liberals’ vote tally but decreasing the Conservatives’ at the same time. For hockey fans, the best analogy would be the four-point games that loom so […]