The Chicago Tribune has, to its credit, decided to do some actual reporting on important things like the fact that CNN has, apparently, been doing a very Mayor Rahm Emanuel-friendly series on Chicago. Under the headline, “Emails show Emanuel aides, producers coordinated CNN ‘Chicagoland’ scenes,” the Tribune has pointed out how closely Mayor Emanuel’s administration and CNN worked together on a portrait of the city and its government.
The April 25 article by Tribune reporter Bill Ruthhart, stated: “If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series ‘Chicagoland’ were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were.” The Tribune also declared that more than 700 emails they reviewed “reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.”
The Tribune also stated: “The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor ‘as the star that he really is’.” A little too close for journalistic integrity comfort?
Meanwhile, in Canada, the National Post just reported on the Canadian Senate hearings on the CBC under the headline “Senate smells a rat over CBC’s salary report” (May 14, p A1, A4). The National Post stated: “Canada’s public broadcaster faces a showdown with skeptical senators who believe the CBC whitewashed a submission on the spending and salaries of some of its most notable journalists.” They rrelated that the CBC has reported that its chief correspondent for instance, Peter Mansbridge, could get a maximum salary of $80,500 and quoted Senator Terry Mercer declaring, “Those of us who have had quick look at it would question . . . its accuracy. Some this stuff looks like fiction. I don’t think we are getting the full picture.”
He is also quoted as saying, “I think there’s a whole bunch more being paid to certain people in the CBC that may be outside of their salary.” The CBC refuses to release what Mansbridge has been paid. The article also reports that the salaries of top TV anchors are a secret but says, “It’s estimated that Mr. Mansbridge, CTV’s Lisa Laflamme and Global’s Dawna Freisen earn around $300,000.”
Shouldn’t these news media entities be willing to be truthful and above-board? CNN doing a propaganda-type, friendly documentary on a politician they like, the CBC misleading the Canadian Parliament? Is the lifeblood of our democracy – information – tainted? Are we getting a pure flow of information to allow our freedoms to survive and thrive? Or is it unclean and polluted? These media organizations should know that if they lose the trust of their viewers, they lose everything.