PHOTOS: Albertans scour the Alberta media for information about provincial politics, but they’re all getting exactly the same story. Actual politically engaged Albertans may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Alberta Opposition Leader Brian Jean and PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney.

From the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, it seemed like a peculiar omission.

A poll of Alberta voters reported at the end of last week indicated that if an election were held now, the New Democratic Party could win. But the story generated no headlines.

Surely this was pretty big news – even though it was the result of questions asked of an online panel, to which all the usual caveats about this kind of opinion research must be applied.

Still, it seemed to me as I checked the news from home in my Munich hotel room that such a result was worthy of more comprehensive coverage than a single sentence in a single news story in a single giveaway newspaper – although, come to think of it, that last point pretty well describes them all in these parts nowadays.

There it was on the Calgary Metro Newspapers site in black and white last Friday: “The results had the NDP still winning the election with 32 per cent of the vote, while Wildrose and PCs came second and third respectively with 22 and 21 per cent of the vote.”

In fact, the Wildrose and Tory results should have read 28 per cent and 27 per cent resoectively, bringing the horses in this race closer together.

Still, the results indicated Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP remains within striking distance of success in Calgary, where they were in a heat with the Progressive Conservatives according to this poll, and overwhelmingly dominate the field in the Capital Region, with close to 50 per cent support.

You’d think this kind of stuff was almost worthy of exclamation points given the narrative Albertans are being fed about the political state of affairs in this province, where reporting on the NDP by mainstream media is universally hostile and spins a tale of the party’s inevitable downfall in the next election, which can’t be held soon enough.

In defence of the story’s author, the pollster – ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc. of Calgary – seems to have principally been looking for something else when it was in the field in late July. To wit, whether conservative voters like Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean the best, or Jason Kenney, the federal Conservative candidate for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party running on a “unite-the-right” ticket.

The answer to that question appears to be Mr. Jean, which apparently surprised the reporter, and possibly the pollster, but ought not to have shocked disinterested observers who consider the substantial liabilities and vulnerabilities Mr. Kenney brings to the contest, notwithstanding his deep pockets and the support of frustrated conservative backroom operatives in both parties.

Mr. Kenney’s liabilities with ordinary voters surely include his hypocritical double-dipping at the public trough, his history of extreme social conservatism and, now, the fact his campaign has been economical with the truth about the nature of the corporate entity set up to bankroll his bid to unite the two right wing parties and move them even further to the right.

Metro Newspapers, which sponsored the poll and was the only paper to report it, devoted 332 of the 416 words in its short story on the survey to the relative popularity of the two conservative leaders, 50 words on the poll’s methodology and 32 words to the level of popular support for the NDP.

And those 32 words? They seem to have been all that appeared in mainstream Canadian media. Everywhere else, crickets.

Well, perhaps this only seemed odd given the fact I was visiting a country where the print newspaper business – notwithstanding the Internet and all the other excuses for disappearing readers and declining revenues – appears to be holding its own better than in Canada, with plenty of papers representing a variety of points of view on sale everywhere, including local dailies being hawked on subway platforms.

Here in Edmonton, meanwhile, Postmedia Network Inc., publisher of the Alberta Frankenpaper, which has the same perspective as all the other media in the province and publishes identical stories in four versions in Calgary and Edmonton, announced the next day was immediately laying off 600 carriers in the capital city.

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  1. For sure, Germany has better newspapers than Canada by far. Even the right-wing Bild and Spiegel newsmagazines have more balanced points of view than the fishwrap that passes for print media in Canada. Hell, even the FAG has a labour columnist!

    I’m talking through my hat, actually. I haven’t read print MSM in Canada in years. Its downward trend was all too apparent in the 1990s already and I’ve seen and heard nothing to persuade me that anything has changed.

    Hopefully you’re having a great time in Munich – if you’re looking for a big crisp schnitzel for not a lot of money, I can recommend the Steinhell 16, just a little west of the Altstadt.

    1. Thanks, Zalm. Alas, I am now back in Canada, but I’ll pass mention of Steinhell 16 on to my child, who lives there. I had some very good schnitzel and a lot of truly excellent beer in Germany. On the beer, it only cost about a third of what the much inferior mass-produced beer costs here, and many multiples less compared with quality craft beer. The coffee was far better too. Why can’t we brew a decent cup of coffee in Canada? Public transit is spectacular and drivers consistently respect cyclists. There are more restless ghosts, though, especially in Munich.

    1. Can Jason be double dipping at the dinner table too? By the look of his girth as he exits his Dodge Ram, he hasn’t missed many one dollar red hots served at Alberta’s Ikea stores.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your thesis. Media’s misreporting of polls would have me tearing out my hair in double handfuls. And yes, Postmedia is among the worst offenders.

    It grieves me then to tell you though that you have misreported – or rather, repeated – innacurate polling numbers.

    The ThinkHQ poll did not have the Wildrose at 22%, but actually 28%. Similarly, the PC’s are at 27%, not 21%

    You can inspect this yourself here: Skip to the second last page.

    The Metro made the common blnder of skipping between results that included or excluded undecided.

  3. Welcome back!

    Omissions and LIES. They continue to call the PPA issue a “lawsuit against power companies” and state the Leap Manifesto was “adopted by the NDP”. Isn’t there some regulatory body that will call them out for these falsehoods? CBC has been as bad as the others. The headlines are always twisted. The media biases seem so blatant these days. I’m actually glad most young people don’t follow the news.

    1. Britain has what passes as a “voluntary” regulator of media and you can see how well that works! Canada has nothing. If we had some kind of regulation, we might not have the sad mess we have.

    2. Perhaps the people have tired of the rubbish they often print. Right now, I’m enjoying reading the news from the energy sector….which swings between spin (good times will return) and whine (please let us off the hook for those property taxes! We’re hurting!!!)

      Thing is, if that’s all the news you read, you’re likely essentially apolitical. and if you are essentially apolitical, you don’t much care, until disaster strikes personally. So their omissions and lies are often being peddled to the indifferent. Don’t know if you can scare those folks….but if Post Media survives its own cash hemorrhaging, I guess we can read all about their attempts to do so.,

  4. The mainstream media, especially here in Alberta seems to have a fairly monochromatic view of things. Fortunately, most people do not pay too much attention to them and the right wing political parties they currently shill for. They are on their way to becoming irrelevant and I can see clearly that the incessant cost cutting is not helping the quality of journalism. They still cover stories, but except perhaps for the CBC, investigate little. I wouldn’t be surprised if the incredibly shrinking Journal/Post/Herald/Sun conglomeration is not around by the time of the next provincial election.

    I think their approach is somewhat reflexive and I am not sure they even realize they are doing it much of the time. Perhaps the few remaining are trying to write to please their corporate masters to delay their lay offs. In addition to a lack of resources, I think it is also in part a legacy from decades and decades of one party government and ideology.

  5. Welcome back.

    I wonder where Kenney is getting his advice on skating as close to the illegality line as possible on fund raising while not actually breaking any laws (sort of)? One of the ones who sang his praises and is rumoured to be going into fund raising himself after resigning his M.P. gig – when it’s convenient for him? Three guesses on that one and the first two don’t count.

    Jason’s Con-blue foreign made Dodge Ram truck has been named “The Unifier”. Cute, eh? What happens if he flames out as the new AlbertaCon choice. Does he slink back to Ottawa and slide into his not-quite-vacated seat in the HoC – and will they want him – or is there a job for him on the board of the new fund-raising/capital/whatever corporate entity?

  6. Who actually consumes any old-school/mainstream media (MSM) anymore?

    Every #poli is full of outrage about the stories that postmedia/global are omitting/censoring.

    But is this really outrage or just proofs, posted over and over again, about how irrelevant MSM is?

    I would say that because social media is full of the real and important stories to which people are obviously paying close attention (marked by daily postings about their absence from MSM), why does anyone bother to affect frustration with MSM anymore?

    MSM is done, was over long ago. MSM’s final, successful suicide was marked the day it published that garish yellow front page wrapper everywhere on the eve of the last federal election, duly re-pushed in broadcast media, that concluded with the next day’s proof of how worthless and de-influential MSM is.

    For me, and many others as social media proves, if MSM publishes a story, I don’t believe it, I suspect the people who wrote it, I suspect the reason for the story’s existence, and I suspect who is made to look good or is supposed to do well by it. If I want to find the truth of a story, I look to social media, not MSM.

    Having written all that, I realize that MSM isn’t dead … it is a severe liability.

  7. Those of us who are politically motivated to build a better democracy in Alberta need to do 2 things:
    1.Get involved and stay involved until the next election. The conservative two step won’t work for social democrats, and besides, we don’t have the dough to buy spin media
    2. Speak up, publicly and on forums like this. I already had the feeling the NDP could take another term in this province; but if enough of us who know what’s going on stay silent, polite and inactive, lies, old ideology and hype will triumph over reality.

    To be stuck again with the Boys who gave us Enron style deregulation, back room secret deals, and wealth creation for a unelected elite, would be too great a punishment.

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