Some are going to say Alliance Quebec2 is “shooting itself in its own foot” by putting out this brief, meta-analysis of our city’s old-skool media, to them we say two things: First, we’re not KNOCKING Montreal-area media, simply pointing out its restrictions based largely on externals and systemic bias. And second, as previously noted, Alliance Quebec2’s media strategy is primarily out of province. Our goal is to get coverage and momentum built up outside of La Belle Province, to force the discussion forward here. So calling out some of these city-wide media-issues now will only temporarily put us on their black-lists. After a certain point, black-list or not, if we tactfully seed the external discourse, the Montreal press will come.
So, do we start our meta-analysis with the English or French press of Montreal? Let’s start with the French press in Montreal, shall we?: No one can accuse Montreal’s French press of being asleep. On the contrary and at an 85-15% ratio, they are completely on message (McLuhan would be oh so proud). When you read the Journal de Montreal, La Presse, and you follow French media exclusively, what you get out of the experience is one giant “bubble”. This bubble-mentality or “all-of-us” way of thinking, leads to things like the need for reasonable accommodation laws, effectively contributing to language and culture strife. And this, “us versus them” “intercultural-Montreal” way-of-thinking is everywhere across French media lines – it permeates into discussions of all types because it is part of the xenophobic fear woven into the French nationalist mindset and cause. That’s why we still hear French media and politicians quoted using ethnic terms, saying things like English is a foreign language, referring to the Anglophone community as angry and bitter (in fact, many of us now present that way, do we not?) Suffice it to say, this media message is present even in Quebecois entertainment – it’s standard fare for any number of comics, its present in every weekly episode of LES BOBOS (I love this show), it’s just everywhere in the culture period. I liken Montreal’s French language media to Murdoch’s Fox-News channel in the US.
No doubt, Montreal’s English language media’s biggest weakness is its lack of resource both financial and by result, personnel-wise. I can call on many such examples, but here is a “Textbook” one, exactly five-months old:
You return home on July 2 from a holiday weekend of fishing up north, to find your whole street cordoned off by police and your townhouse complex under some kind of police surveillance. QUESTION: What do you do?
I called the media, I sent emails to media outlets here, left voice mail messages, this, as the situation outside, appeared to be heating up:
A few more police cars show up. An evidence truck pulls up as well. I get this all on video, having had the perfect street-view vantage point. Two detectives soon pull up in an unmarked car and begin walking around, seemingly coordinating. I am on ground-level, asking questions, talking to residents who tell me that “the siege” had been going on for more than 24 hours by the time I had gotten home!
I did some follow-up calls (I wasn’t Tweeting then, probably should have been), but by around 5pm, everyone pulled out. They all left, seriously, it was a coordinated pull-back from the ‘hot-spot’. It was done so quickly, it was obvious to me and I subsequently recorded that in my report. They pulled back, the guy they were looking for came back and within minutes of his return, the ambush was swift:
A paddy wagon filled with SWAT-team commandos, Kevlar vests, and armed with target weapons pulled out, five or six plain clothes detectives were on scene and we were YELLED at by all of them, to get into our homes and lock the doors! Police cars and supervisors were suddenly everywhere!
I of course did as I was told and once trapped inside, called several of our city’s media outlets again (mid-crisis)– we had close to two dozen different police on our street, in my townhouse complex (in an area of town that has never seen or heard of something like this before). I’m not kidding, this was something straight out of a movie, with dozens of witnesses, MY NEIGHBORS! What we saw in terms of police response to whatever was going on here, was comparable to the police response on the eve of Madame Marois’ acceptance speech. This was huge, no matter which part of town it happened in. The fact that it happened here, in Cote St Luc was super-extraordinary, nay, it was indeed NEWSWORTHY!
Ps: NOT A SINGLE MEDIA OUTLET DISPATCHED ANYONE HERE TO THE SITE, DURING THE MORE THAN 24 HOURS OF SIEGE. Not a single media outlet followed up with me to find out more about what happened. Police were keeping mum. They arrested one man and left, leaving behind an evidence team who were taking things out of one of the townhouses in my complex.. Everything was under wraps, you couldn’t see what they were removing.
I took photos. I shot video. I spoke to police. I shot video of the perp’s rental car/license plate etc. I was the citizen journalist, so I wrote up an article, did as much follow-up as I could and sent if off the following morning. I even got great video of the guy being arrested. Choose your own adventure in terms of what happened next:
a) Various media outlets simply took the content and posted it with little or no credit whatsoever to its sourcer… or…
b) The majority of media outlets, simply ignored the story, despite the fact that, as mentioned, this sort of thing never, ever, happens in this Cartier; presumably, their post-event coverage might have raised too many questions as to why they weren’t at this five-alarm event in the first place, particularly after being notified about it, before, during and even after! Or…
c) One media outlet did do its own version of a follow-up to this non-existent story a week later by revealing to the local public that what went down on our street was, according to his police sources, the nabbing of someone who was doing local home invasions. Case closed.
All three are true historical outcomes. I don’t believe the French press even picked up on this story because it originated from a “secteur Anglo”… I may be mistaken. Please correct me if I am wrong. For the record, I don’t buy that what we saw here on my street on July 2, 2012 was driven by home invasions, but then again, who knows? If you break into the “wrong person’s house” a whole army could be sent after you these days, I guess.
I would love for this media-analysis of our city to continue somewhere else. Someone should create a forum… hint-hint. I for one, as someone who has worked in both this city’s media and pressing to it, also as someone who has worked outside of this city in larger media markets, has dozens of stories like these to share. And really, we should ALL be alarmed by what’s has become “the norm” here.
Let’s get to work! Someone needs to pioneer this effort and AQ2 will support you!