Media, media analysis

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The news media play a strong role in shaping how many Canadians understand issues like climate change—and the tensions between the fossil fuel industry and those seeking to transition to a low-carbon economy. But are the media providing a clear view of the debate surrounding these issues? And are all stakeholders’ voices being heard? Short answer: There’s reason for concern.
Much of the argument advanced in support of expanding Canada’s fossil fuel production centres on job creation and economic benefits. Politicians, pundits and corporate spokespeople who support fossil fuel infrastructure projects—such as new oil and gas pipelines—often evoke this rhetoric when they appear in the media.
"Fossil fuel proponents often claim their support for the industry is connected to the needs and interests of energy workers—and our news media repeat and reinforce this claim, bringing it to the fore of public and political debates. But largely absent are the voices of actual workers and their unions; in the news media, their interests are subsumed into those of the fossil fuel industry." —Robert Hackett, lead author of Jobs vs the Environment?
VANCOUVER—A new study finds that BC’s news media frequently reinforce the assumption that there is an inevitable trade-off between environmental protection and job creation. Released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Corporate Mapping Project, Jobs vs the environment? Mainstream and alternative media coverage of pipeline controversies analyzes over 300 recent articles about Canadian pipeline projects.
Proposed Quayside site plan (Sidewalk Labs handout)
Despite being better educated than previous generations, there are fewer decent jobs for younger workers, even after they have paid their dues working entry-level jobs or unpaid internships. They’re taking on considerable student debt only to find a fractured labour market that denies them access to full-time jobs with decent pay and benefits. And it doesn’t seem to matter which sector of the labour market they turn to.
It’s hardly surprising, given the size and market power of today’s internet giants, that questions about their impacts on public life and governance are rising fast and furious. What is surprising, however, is how consistently we refuse or neglect to acknowledge one of the central pillars of these entities’ private success: the public sector itself, in the form of public services, government support and a mass citizen consumer base.
Photo by r2hox (Flickr creative commons)