Diversity at the media table is missed

Media diversity is one of those things we often miss when it starts to disappear.

And then, perniciously, people begin to care a little less.

Lamenting the loss of diversity seems to be a prevailing opinion within Canada's media elite regarding last week's demise of Sun News Network.

Many resisted schadenfreude after Ezra Levant was robbed of his pulpit, and chose instead to follow that commendable habit we inherited from our British cultural forebears of not speaking ill of the dead.

One reaction in particular stuck with me, that of frequent Sun News contributor – and unabashed leftie – Warren Kinsella, who had this to say about the demise of any journalistic outlet:

When that journalism disappears, mark my words: our democracy will be diminished, and possibly even in peril. I’m not exaggerating. There is nothing that keeps the powerful in check – not Question Period, not a public opinion poll, not even the police – as effectively as journalists do. I’ve worked on both sides, and I know, I’ve seen it: every time a newspaper dies – every time a TV network dies – the powerful grow more so. You may think that’s okay, but I sure don’t. They are not always benign in the way they exercise power.”

It got me thinking not only of Sun New Network, but of developments closer to home.

Until recently, I always had to shove aside a little at the Brockville council media table to allow room for my colleague from JRfm radio. Not lately, though.

For reasons I don't know, and on which I will not speculate, JR's owners have deemed city politics not worthy of the level of radio coverage it once enjoyed, so the media table at council is all mine.

There is, of course, the cable TV coverage of the full council meetings, but they don't cover committees and by their nature they do not act as a crucial journalistic filter for a mass of information.

Heck, I don't always mind. I get more room to lay out my laptop and whatever caffeinated beverage I plan to enjoy.

More importantly, I get full control over what gets covered.

Folks, you can trust me with that control. In fact, I am the only human being around who can be trusted with absolute power.

But it's a principle thing, you see...

In all seriousness, having a competitor at the council table kept both me and my competitor on our toes and ensured a diversity of coverage and viewpoints on matters of civic importance.

And, just like the Sun News demise, the shrinking of the city hall media table might be one more step in that slow erosion of the public mind, the belief that political coverage is not worth that much attention.

It's the forming of a lazy habit that considers news about your taxes and the running of your civic space less important than, say, the Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud.

The less journalism we have, the poorer we are. And the more those in power are free to do as they wish.