media release

NewsWatch targets top 25 under-reported news stories

November 30, 2011
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Contact:
Kathleen Cross, 778.782.3861, kcross@sfu.ca
Alexandra Tse, student researcher, 778.895.8623, alex_tse@sfu.ca                        Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035, cthorbes@sfu.ca

PDF of report: http://pages.cmns.sfu.ca/newswatch/files/2011/11/NewsWatch-Canada_SFU-Research-Seminar_2010_2011_Underreported-Stories_Print-Ready.pdf

NewsWatch Canada says secretive trade negotiations involving Canada, abusive mining companies violating human rights, and corporate lobbyists’ shaping laws and regulations are the most important under-reported stories in Canada this year.

The independent research group, based in Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication, has just published its 2011 top 25 list of the most important stories under-reported by media in Canada. It’s the first list produced by the watchdog group, which began in 1993 as Project Censored Canada, in 15 years, though its news-monitoring research has continued.

Comprised of 13 student researchers working under the supervision of SFU School of Communication lecturer Kathleen Cross, the group listed the following in order of ranking as 2011’s top 10 important under-reported stories.

  1. Canada is conducting negotiations with the European Union for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in secret, even though the negotiations could impact Canadians.
  2. Canadian mining companies are causing human rights and environment abuses abroad, but lack accountability.   
  3. Corporate lobbying is shaping Canadian and U.S. laws and regulations.
  4. There is a crisis in long-term care for Canada’s senior citizens.
  5. Violence against Aboriginal women in Canada is endemic.
  6. Some native reserves in Canada have third world living conditions.
  7. Tar-sands mining significantly affects health in local communities.
  8. The long-term effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster are being downplayed.
  9. Numerous abandoned Alberta oil wells are destroying the environment.
  10. Migrant workers in Canada have become a globally disposable workforce.

 “Such omissions in major Canadian news media imply that the news provides only a partial reflection on the information citizens need,” says Cross. “We need to rethink the role and structure of large news organizations in Canada.”

Adds Diana Trusz, a student researcher, “I believe the news media should provide information about significant issues and events. So seeing or reading some frivolous story headlined ‘Will & Kate!’ while stories about the environment, human rights and trade agreements are ignored is agonizingly depressing.”

“Western news media contribute positively to inform public opinion,” adds Pippa Adams, another student researcher, “but, because some news falls through the cracks, media monitoring projects like this are important.”

A national judicial panel helped NewsWatch Canada researchers evaluate which 25 news stories in Canadian media were the most significant and in need of in-depth investigative journalism. The judges used impact, credibility and national or international importance as the main criteria in their selection.

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