In today’s Globe, Lawrence Martin discusses what the apparently-imminent sale of the National Post would mean both for the paper and the country’s media. What I like best is Martin’s frank acceptance that newspaper ownership shapes content. Not everyone shares that view. I once took a class on media and politics; the professor, a hardscrabble conservative, insisted that not enough empirical tests had been done to determine how corporate ownership affects news content. He argued, for example, that the case studies in Manufacturing Consent couldn’t be taken as representative – that they were chosen because they were flashy and obvious.
But read a CanWest or Newscorp outlet, and it can be hard not to feel like an Asper or a Murdoch is whispering in your ear – especially given the degree of editorial involvement the Aspers reportedly have. I appreciated my professor’s enthusiasm for challenging received wisdom. But with or without an empirical study, it will be interesting to see how the Post changes, if and when it changes hands.