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Arrow Heads Aimed At Narrow Eds
Special Editorial Section

by Barrie Zwicker


MONTREAL — If there's one news executive more than any other whose job obliges him to face the realities of regionalism and its effect on news judgment, it is Canadian Press general manager John Dauphinee.

Dauphinee told the national seminar on the press and the confederation debate that he's noticed a "narrowing of interest" among editors. He hears continual complaints from the West that there's too much news from the East, from the East that there's too much Western news and from everywhere except Ontario that there's too much Ontario news.

A number of statements at the seminar underlined obstacles to inter-regional understanding in Canada. ''Newspapers aren't commodities that travel very much," said Le Jour editor Evelyn Dumas. She noted her native Gaspé, for instance, is pretty well ignored by the Montreal dailies. When Le Jour was a daily, a continuing question at editorial

As this was written (Nov. 6), disc jockey Bill Edwards of CFTR Toronto, bellowed cutely: ''Today Rene Levesque returns to Canada. To which we all say 'Who cares.'"

News directors who value the credibility of their operations should push their station managements to ride herd on DJ's with a sub-child understanding of public issues and how to deal with them. Listeners do not always distinguish between emanations from the newsroom and those of planer spinners.

meetings was whether it should be a Montreal or a regional paper, she said.

Conservative Robert Stanfield, in a thoughtful speech prepared for the seminar participants, wrote: "I just don't think you can do the job that has to be done — presenting in a systematic and sustained way the national point of view — and stay alive. To stay alive dailies generally — there may be one or two exceptions — have to reflect the aspirations, and to some extent the prejudices of your readers."

Halifax freelance writer Lyndon Watkins appeared to have the full attention of his audience when he outlined the desperate economic situation of the Atlantic region, its tragically high personal price, and the poor track record of newspapers in covering Atlantic Canada. "I can only be totally critical ... I was the first of the Toronto-based 'foreign correspondents' (two years for The Globe and Mail in Atlantic Canada). The Globe's been in complete limbo for 18 months. The (Toronto) Star gave up. Southam (News Services) gave up also."

Stanfield's opinion is that the national view will be presented by "gifted individuals — orators, writers and artists. There will be periodicals whose constituency is the nation. There will be our political leaders."

But Dauphinee never wavered in his assumption that the nation's newspapers and CP could and should play an important role. Pulling no punches he said: "My guess is that all sorts of significant stories are being ditched ... at the whim of editors fed up personally or who are convinced their readers are fed up.

"Maybe they're right. Our job is to make them wrong, so stories will be ... read, so right decisions will be made, no matter which side of the fence you happen to be on."


Published in Content's SOURCES December 1977


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