Bridge Built At C.D.N.P.A. Press Seminar
Special Editorial Section
by Barrie Zwicker
MONTREAL — "I want to buy your column," London Free Press editor Bill Heine said to Evelyn Dumas, editor of the separatist weekly Le Jour. Dumas's twice-a-month column is syndicated by Southam News Services.
It was not a typical exchange at the seminar on
the press and the confederation debate here Oct. 16-18. But it showed
that the most ambitious national editorial seminar sponsored to date by
the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers Association (CDNPA) and
Canadian Managing Editors Conference (CMEC) was instrumental in
establishing at least one bridge between the two solitudes.
Heine, in a workshop earlier, had suggested his
paper was giving its readers about all they could take on the national
unity question. Another of the 80-odd participants — mostly
senior editors — suggested readers were being "Quebecked to
After hearing and questioning an imposing lineup
of speakers including historian Desmond Morton, former Quebec cabinet
minister Eric Kierans, and Quebec premier Rene Levesque, participants
generally were asking out loud how they could improve the quality, and
even increase the quantity, of copy their papers carry on Quebec and
other regions of the country.
A couple of personal observations:
- A much-heard comment was that
Levesque "certainly has charm" and "is a tremendous speaker." My
impression was that these opinions were a means of avoiding the
conclusion that Levesque has a great deal of fact and consistent
argument to back his views.
- Whether the media in Quebec generally have
favored the Parti Quebecois is a subject of debate. But the behavior of
at least two English-language broadcast reporters following Levesque's
speech to the seminar was shockingly antagonistic.
Of 32 reporters gathered around Levesque, CJAD's
Robert Vairo gained the premier's attention by shouting loudest, then
asserted: "You've crapped all over the media." This provocation was in
response to Levesque's having documented two cases of media distortion
and philosophized on the need for "honesty and modesty" in the craft
Levesque has plied longer than he has been a politician.
Levesque's forbearance in the situation verged on
Published in Content's SOURCES December 1977
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