Manifest differences

Manifest Differences

On Sunday March 18 over 30,000 people marched on the streets of Montreal in support of the student protests. Publicized as a “family protest”,  families walked in support of students fighting the Charest government’s proposed tuition fee increases and educational policies that will make universities more dependent on generating revenue from the private sector.

Le Devoir covered the demonstration with images of people festooned in red, carrying balloons and banners. Analyses accompanied coverage of the march.  In contrast, The Montreal Gazette covered the St Patrick’s Day parade with nary a mention of the demonstration. It was as if it didn’t happen or was inconsequential. The absence of images or discussion in the english-language paper spoke volumes of the way  The Gazette more generally covers protests and demonstrations, giving them attention only when they turn violent (as in their coverage of the anti-police brutality march), a set of stories that systematically ignored the involvement of protestors themselves in trying to control and contain the actions of a handful of protestors. The Gazette typically focuses on how demonstrations disrupt the smooth flow of traffic, causing terrible inconveniences for the ‘average citizen’. The stories  cover the use of police force, but legitimate it through the emphasis on acts of violence that must be quelled to protect commerce and ‘the public’.

The paper’s position on the student demonstrations, and fee hikes, was made manifest in an ‘article’ by Henry Aubin titled “As students protest the rest of us pay”.

Hardly an objective piece of journalism, the ‘article’ argues that the price of extra policing for demonstrations should be assumed by the demonstrators, who should be allowed one or two demonstrations (for free) but not any more “on the public dime”. The position of the students, which is clearly collectivist and critical, are dismissed as “being for profit”- they want to line “their pockets” at “our expense”. In line with this dismissive attitude, and logic of “us” and “them”, student actions yesterday (Mount Royal Park) were condescendingly referred to as “a caper”.

Absence  of coverage; partisan editorializing masquerading as an “article”. These news stories, of they can be called news at all,  point to the rift in the english and french language media over the coverage of the student strike these past two weeks.

4 responses to “Manifest differences

  • This is a Picket Line at Loyola Campus | mediaswap

    […] The difference in media coverage of the student strike between anglophone and francophone media has manifest differences, which could explain the cluelessness. The southeast entrance to Loyola's CJ Building and its […]

  • Jeremy Stolow

    Vive Le Devoir! It’s the only (hard print) newspaper left in Canada that is worth reading, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s certainly the only one that hasn’t devoted all its time the past few weeks to outright attacks on the student movement. The Gazette? Well, Kim’s piece says it all!

  • kimsaw

    Thanks Jeremy and thanks David for diffusing this very brief analysis that definitely needs MORE. There is so much to say about what is not being said.

    This ‘event’ (or non-event, from the point of view of the news media) would make for a very interesting limited case study and media analysis. What is most shocking is the thunderous silence in the mainstream media- across the country. But that it should be so in Quebec is unconscionable. I also know Jian Ghomeshi did an ‘editorial’ on Q in support of the student strikes and received a lot of “negative” calls. Again, these are sad signs of the times (the neo-con con) and point to the (unfortunate) on-going power of the mainstream media even as there are many alternatives for the broader diffusion and dissemination of news.

    This event also highlights what we have observed since the last federal election. Quebec is different. Vive la différence!

    Perhaps a collective media analysis, post-strike, could be undertaken for a potential publication?

  • This is a (soft) Picket Line at Loyola Campus | Artéfacts d'un printemps érable [beta]

    […] The difference in media coverage of the student strike between anglophone and francophone media has manifest differences, which could explain the […]

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