Looking back at media coverage of the G20 Toronto summit

Like many Canadians, I spent part of Saturday afternoon watching the 24 hour news channel, mainstream media coverage of the G8/G20 summits and their accompanying demonstrations. By mid-day the CBC, in particular, was pretty much covering only the melee in downtown Toronto. They were broadcasting the same old tired video loop of someone climbing a tree with a video camera, someone smashing and kicking in a store window, someone dancing a jig on the hood of a police car followed by flames leaping out of the windows of the same car. We heard nothing about what (if anything) had been accomplished at the G8 meeting in Huntsville that was already long over. As well, there was very spotty coverage of the legitimate demonstrations; the efforts of those organizers, including bringing busloads of demonstrators attempting to raise valid issues to the attention of the G20 leaders, was all for naught.

The mainstream media played right into the hands of the Black Bloc and the other fringe players which I presume is at least part of their modus operandi. Their activities or the results of their activities garnered nearly 100% of the coverage all Saturday afternoon and evening with occasional interruptions to hear Toronto’s Mayor David Miller (the same man who complained about the $1 billion spent on security) lament about the out-of-town vandals that had landed in Toronto and who had wreaked havoc on parts of the city’s downtown core much to his surprise. I also found it really interesting that there were basically no demonstrators in Huntsville, in fact, on Friday night, the mainstream media noted that the only arrests made that day were for marijuana possession and shoplifting. Thank goodness that CSIS agents, the RCMP, the OPP and other Canadian police forces were handy to prevent an outbreak of violent shoplifting or joint lighting!

I sincerely hope that if Canada hosts another G8 or G20 summit, or heaven help us a combination of the two again, that the Prime Minister of the day shows a modicum of common sense and holds the meeting either in a remote area (of which there are many in Canada that are very beautiful – no fake lakes required) or on a Canadian Forces base where security is built-in. It seemed that the demonstrators left Huntsville alone; maybe they’ll accord the same respect for the wilds of Canada.

The coverage this weekend says a lot about Canada’s media establishment and their reportage. It reminded me of rubber-necking at a car accident; you know you should keep on moving but you just can’t help but take another peak . This weekend, the mainstream media coverage played right into what at least some Canadians want and what generates the best ratings. The legitimacy of other stories seems to matter very little.

As an aside, just in case we’ve forgotten, here’s a very different David Miller back in November 2009, just before Toronto was designated as the G20 summit city:

 

"Toronto would be ready to host the G20 summit of world leaders if Ottawa chooses to move the meeting here, says Mayor David Miller. Speculation has grown this week that the event will be moved here from Huntsville, because the rural Ontario town cannot handle the security and hotel needs of the delegations. Even though such a gathering would bring heightened security, road closings and possibly large groups of protesters, Miller said Toronto would be able to handle it. "We’re not going to turn into an armed fortress," he said Friday. Toronto is a major conference-hosting city that has just opened the new Allstream Centre at Exhibition Place meant to hold meetings of this scale, he said. "If the G20 is here, we will be known all around the world. We are a place that can host the world because we have the world here," he added."

…and just in case you haven’t heard enough about 
the benefits of holding the G20 meeting in Toronto from Mayor David Miller, here’s a quick quote from another newspaper article on May 22nd, 2010:

"A
fter taking several questions on security preparations, Tourism Toronto president David Whitaker sought to steer journalists back to a discussion about "celebrating" what the city had to offer. "There’s a tug of war between the story being the protests, of the story being the agenda of the G20 or the story being the story of the host community celebrating what we are very very proud of," he admonished reporters. "It’s a real tug of war for hearts and minds and you are helping shape that story. I encourage you professionally and respectfully to have a balanced approach to that story.""
One thing is for certain, it would appear that David Miller is not a prophet.

Click HERE to read more of Glen Allen’s columns.
 

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