In response to my last post, Sun Media Parliamentary bureau chief David Akin defended his company’s use of the term “state broadcaster” to describe the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
On Twitter, David explained:
We call CBC state broadcaster cuz its funded by the state. NPR is public broadcaster cuz funding mostly by donations solicited from public.
Also: CBC is a “state broadcaster” because the “state” gets to pick the board and its chairman. Luckily our “state” is a democracy.
Trust me: ‘Crats at Heritage Canada believe CBC is their “state broadcaster”. Been in the room they’ve used the phrase.
I like David a lot and think he’s a great reporter, but he has to know this is a loaded term that makes one think of Soviet-era Tass, a propaganda arm for the government.
I was curious about how long “state broadcaster” had been part of the Sun Media style guide, so I ran the term through Infomart.
According to my search, “state broadcaster” had been used by Toronto Sun people to describe CBC just five times between 1996 and 2010, and by columnists such as Peter Worthington, Rick Gibbons and Michael Coren.
Then, in June 2010, a quote in the Sun from former PMO Director of Communications and then Sun Media executive Kory Teneycke: “We will not be a state broadcaster offering boring news by bureaucrats, for elites, and paid for by the taxpayers.”
Since then, in less than a year, the Sun has used the term in reference to CBC in a total of 39 times — and almost all were stories by Sun parliamentary reporter Brian Lilley.
UPDATE: Brian Lilley makes the argument for “state broadcaster” on his blog and digs up examples of other media using the same term to describe CBC. He cites Paul Wells in Maclean’s, Susan Delacourt and Rondi Adamson (!) in the Star, John Doyle in the Globe, and a Reuters story. Save for the last, all are columnists, so probably not really indicative of their new organizations style for reporting. Brian also notes that he and I discussed his use of the term when we worked together in the Hot Room. But Brian, we thought you were kidding. Also, I’m not “bothered” by your use of the phrase. I’m amused. I don’t really take a position on its fairness. I wouldn’t use it in my reporting because it is a loaded term that has connotations that transcend it’s intended meaning. But, others clearly differ.
UPDATE: Visualization, please…