Range War Breaks Out in News Biz

This article was last updated on May 25, 2022

News jobs slashed, reporters arrested,  media barons battling it out. There’s a range war going on in Canada. 

A Media Range War is underway in the Canada over who will report the news. It is not about truth, right or wrong. It’s all about the money. Media barons have all the money but the times they are a changing.

This is a range war no less serious than the US Range Wars that peaked about 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Back then it was farmers, ranchers and land barons shooting it out over range land for cattle in the new country called America. Now it’s about free news on the internet or paid news over cable TV and newspaper subscriptions.  The war is also over who gets to divide the pie among the media barons.

10,000 Jobs lost in Canadian News Media reported onetime-journalist, now journalism-professor Jan Wong. Jan is one of the walking wounded, a victim of Canada’s Media Range War. That’s 10,000 people whose careers did an abrupt end or about turn and so did their paychecks. As elsewhere, in Canada a man or woman without a job is nothing, poor, penniless.

Those 10,000 are just victims, nameless like the sodbusters on the US prairie, in Canada’s range war over who has the right to tell you the news, or a least their version of the news controlled by big money.

Fifty years after the US Range Wars more or less ended, Rogers and Hammerstein could make entertainment out of it in the musical Oklahoma, a musical that asked the question “why can’t the farmer and the cowman be friends”"

In Canada, the battle over the news business is still a blood bath and nobody is writing musicals yet.

Prince Charles quipped about the news media.”

“What’s the difference between a journalist and a reporter?” the Prince asked.

“A reporter is a journalist who has a job.” (Thane Burnett, The Sun)

Journalist, reporter or activist

Mike Howe, journalist arrested and abandoned by Big Media

A Halifax reporter was arrested by the Mounties reporting big-oil interests in fracking oil,  including the Shawn Graham the former Premier of New Brunswick.

He lost his recording gear and camera and was denounced by big-wigs at the CBC and some university professor.

For Mr. Howe, it was like taking a farmer’s tractor and plow. How is he going to do his job? Howe can be assured he is now on the side of the farmers in this battle, the young upstart media types that work for co-ops, write blogs and act as free-lance journalists.

Howe can’t be a journalist

When Mike Howe was first arrested in NB, some people came to his defense, mostly other farmers in new media (co-ops, independent news and bloggers).

However, the ranchers soon ganged up on Howe calling him an activist like Bill the Kid.  ”CBC veteran and retired Halifax Chronicle Herald editor Dan Leger called Howe “a hot-headed fanatic.”

Then the conversation got nasty when a CBC boss called Howe an outlaw activist.  ”David Studer, said CBC couldn’t call Howe one, because “journalists are supposed to be fair, balanced and  neutral.”

In this range war  words are used to define your enemy. Mr. Howe had been a journalist, a person collects, writes, and distributes news and other information.

Now, he was a dirty word – an advocate. No even worse, he was an activist and the conversation changes to what crime is he guilty of: the crime of being a fanatic journalist – a farmer or a rancher.

David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario – once activist, advocate and journalist

In Canada activist journalists lose their jobs. Except reporter and journalist David Onley.

Mr. Onley, now Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, was once a respected journalist and advocate / activist.

“David C. Onley, a journalist and high-profile advocate for people with disabilities will be installed as Ontario’s 28th lieutenant-governor at the Ontario legislature this afternoon.” reported Canada.com. It’s about which side are you on.

“Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.” (Bob Dylan)

News is all about the money

Lest anyone mistake the seriousness of Canada’s News Range War, the news business is all about money.

Rogers deals CBC a mortal wound?

CBC is running out of it, at the rate of $300 million a year and fighting for its life. Rogers just beggared the CBC by stealing their coveted advertising cash cow, Hockey Night in Canada.

Ma Bell Telephone owns the CTV network along with top newspapers like the Globe and Mail. You know it’s about the money.

The Globe is so blatant about their love of money, management announced they are writing stories for people who make more than $100,000 annually. Take that all you working people!

This is not new. A guy from the woods of New Brunswick Max Aitken made so much money sell newspapers they named him Lord Beaverbrook. He died in 1964 and they are still fighting over his money.

Conrad Black made a fortune in the news business and got caught taking a little too much of the green stuff. They put him in jail.

The money in the Canadian news business is gushing like blood from the Earps and Clantons and it’s not over yet.  In the UK The Guardian reported  Newspaper journalism is in crisis. What has been lost and what can be saved?

If you are in the news business, keep your head low because the fighting hasn’t stopped.

Most Canadians don’t care. They just want cheap news, like low-cost beef.

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