Recently, we wrote about our difficulties getting fair media coverage from local newspapers. Following our post, the Cowichan Valley Citizen reached out to us and offered to print a Letter to the Editor from the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association (SNA) and to publish ads purchased by the SNA that meet their advertising standards.
The Citizen also gave their commitment to "cover this issue in a fair and unbiased manner in the coming weeks". Only time will tell, but we are hopeful that our article has resulted in some positive changes around local news coverage.
Meanwhile, the September 1, 2017 edition of the Citizen came out yesterday and includes an article by editor Andrea Rondeau about the difference between opinion and fact in newspaper content. Ms. Rondeau noted "there still seems to be some confusion at times among some of our readers" about "what is news and what is opinion". We can't help but wonder if that article is related to our highly circulated blog post. Her advice was that readers "look for the header to be prefaced with the words Column or Letter".
Just to be clear: Every article we referred to in our previous blog post was labelled as News. They were not Columns, Letters, or Editorials. As Ms. Rondeau explained, "News articles in our News section are written to tell the most well-rounded story we can, without taking sides". Until now, that has definitely not been the case with coverage of the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit issue. Here's hoping the Citizen is sincere in their commitment to change that behaviour moving forward.
We would also like to make an important point in regard to the conversation we referred to at the offices of the Cowichan Valley Citizen that day: it was not the first time we've been told that our story would not be given fair coverage. It would be a mistake to assume that our position on this matter rests entirely on the basis of one conversation.
But let's end this on a positive note: The power of advertising money to influence news content has been thwarted in a small but significant way. This is what happens when citizens stand up for their rights and demand accountability. We applaud the Citizen for listening and making amends, and we hope this serves as a lesson to other papers (Times Colonist, we're looking at you!).