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Bruce Dowbiggin

Bruce Dowbiggin’s career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience, with successful stints in television, radio, and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster

Hurt Feelings Journalism

If it’s Wednesday it must be Hurt Feelings day. Actually, any day of the week was suitable for the grievance industry to market its hurt feelings in 2014. From issues serious— IRS targeting, media bias— to comically unserious— North Korea protesting films, Lena Dunham crying rape— 2014 saw a veritable Festivus Airing of Grievances. The NYPD and Al Sharpton vied over who was more targeted in the mean streets. NFL players protested an inflammatory fable of police assassination in Missouri. Rolling Stone magazine took the vapours over its lurid, made-up story from a college student in Virginia. In Canada, native chiefs discovered to be commanding enormous salaries at the expense of their people, and cried racism after being exposed. On some issues, being aggrieved wasn’t enough; victims were also privileged oppressors at the same time. Hollywood played both victim and purveyor of psychological angst in its throw-down with Kim Jong Un. Justin Trudeau was likewise sympathetic to sexual assault victims and trampler of due process as he tossed members from the Liberal caucus. And who can forget the liberal reflex mechanism of Canada’s greatest tragedy in 2014: ISIS Followers Kill Two Canadian Soldiers, Muslim Community Fears Backlash? But since when did thin skin migrate to those covering the news? In the fashionable rush to take offence it appears as though the fourth estate has developed third-degree burns from covering abrasive personalities. There was a time when the bumptious exchanges with the people we covered were badges of merit. Anyone who’s seen the business of reporting lampooned as far back as The Front Page or His Girl Friday knows the rough-and-ready culture that existed for decades in the press corps. My favorite war wound came while covering the nefarious Alan Eagleson, disgraced executive director of the NHL Players Association and player… Read More

The CBC’s implosion

To say that this has not been a vintage year for CBC understates the hot mess in which the state-supported broadcaster finds itself. For veterans of CBC who’ve witnessed the numerous purges and fiascos of the past (I toiled there from 1984- 98), 2014 has touched new levels of lunacy. The spectacular immolation of Jian Ghomeshi—the Corporation’s hip prophet of an urban, progressive future— was the most public symbol of CBC’s self-waterboarding. Ghomeshi’s arrest for his bondage/S&M dating regime was followed by volleys of small-arms criticism between feuding branches of the news and current affairs floors of the Corp’s Toronto headquarters. Departing Fifth Estate host Linden MacIntyre impugned Peter Mansbridge, iconic anchor of The National. CBC News reporter Neil Macdonald fired back in kind at MacIntyre. Other voices joined in the auto-da-fé. It was Family Feud minus Richard Dawson leering at the ladies. The Ghomeshi meltdown came on the heels of the loss of national NHL TV rights, a legacy franchise for CBC since the 1950s. (In a humbling turnabout, the Rogers conquerors took over swaths of the CBC National building to do their broadcasts.) . Even CBC chair Hubert Lacroix joined the walk of shame when it was revealed that he’d had to return almost $30,000 in living and dining expenses that he’d improperly double billed to the CBC. Somehow Lacroix avoided being “Duffy’d” in the rival press. Conspiracy buffs at the Corp suggested he was protected by his minders in the Prime Minister’s office. Meanwhile, CBC joined other mainstream journalism outlets in watching ratings and advertising disappear in droves to online competition. Its latest band-aid is to slash 90-minute supper-hour TV newscasts to 60 or even 30 minutes. What remained clear in all this fracking is the continued estrangement of the programmers from the audience they purport to… Read More

The usual suspects: Lebron James goes media mainstream

In response to the death of freelance tobacconist Eric Garner in New York City, NBA mega-star LeBron James has joined the cast of black athletes sporting "I Can’t Breathe" messaging. The phrase recalls Mr. Garner’s last words as the asthmatic, obese cigarette seller was wrestled to the ground by NYC police on Staten Island. Never mind that Garner’s underlying health issues— exacerbated by the cops’ rude takedown— caused his demise. Disregard the NYPD’s finest putting the squeeze on Garner’s contraband smokes so the city could collect a few pennies of tax. Garner’s baleful protest quickly overtook Hands Up, Don’t Shoot (Michael Brown’s reluctant contribution to Occupy’s chanting repertoire) as this month’s racial episode of the decade for a grateful media. James insisted that wearing the "I Can’t Breathe" slogan was not a police condemnation— it was merely a statement of support for the Garner family. (That would be the same Garner family that was rejecting NYC mayor Bill DiBlasio’s interpretation of Garner’s death as a horrific race crime— an inconvenience overlooked by Hizzoner and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in their quest for MSNBC-style justice.) James was quickly feted by the mainstream media for assuming the mantle of socially conscious sports superstar. At last, purred ink-stained wretches deprived of meaningful quotes, the substance behind King James! The good stuff. LeBron as LeSage. Please. Like his NBA predecessor as ranking superstar, Michael Jordan, James has been reluctant to involve himself in the latest Al Sharpton grievance poetry. Jordan, who keenly understood that green— not black— was his currency, distilled his aversion to joining the Reverend Al and friends in a political screed by noting that “white folks buy running shoes, too”. Specifically, Air Jordans. Until the Garner episode, James had adhered to much the same policy, steering clear of the left’s… Read More
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