The "free press"

(DECEMBER-JANUARY, 2002) --Stephen Kimber, director of the school of journalism at the University of King's College, has resigned from The Daily News, protesting censorship of his columns by Southam monopoly.

The Asper family have been censoring editorial and op-ed sections of Southam's 15 dailies and 126 smaller papers, plus the National Post and Global TV. The outbreak of the "war on terrorism" has provided a powerful pretext for it and others to concentrate information and compel obedience by journalists.

In December, 55 members of The Montreal Gazette editorial department condemned the policy, and withdrew their bylines in protest.

But when Kimber linked the interests of the Aspers and the Chrétien Liberals, out came the brutal knives –- and the offending column.

Observing that the "Asper family... made its fortune in the television business," Kimber wrote that they "appear to consider their newspapers not only as profit centres and promotional vehicles for their television network but also as private, personal pulpits to express their views.

"The Aspers support the federal Liberal party. They're pro-Israel. They think rich people like themselves deserve tax breaks. They support privatizing health-care delivery. And they believe their newspapers, from Victoria to St. John's, should agree with them."

Kimber also disclosed that he had "more than one recent column sliced and diced", adding: "I've also done some self-censoring too. This isn't unique to me or the Daily News."

The Canadian media presents itself as an enlightened force in terms of its "objectivity". But the facts show that if any journalist stands for the truth, he or she will have nothing but problems. Many journalists, such as myself –- and independent publications such as shunpiking –- have been persecuted in a variety of ways and seen their rights to a livelihood interfered with, all because they write the truth.

The Daily News itself has even descended to printing a letter demonizing Kimber –- one of the few journalists in Halifax to publicly question the war –- as a supporter of terrorism. This is the enlightenment and "freedom" of the media in action.

I am certain that our readers will join with us in condemning this arbitrary and unjust political censorship and discrimination.

The issue remains for the public to build their own press as part of winning the basic right to a free press.

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Copyright New Media Services Inc. 2004. The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of shunpiking magazine or New Media Publications.