Volume 95, Issue 47

Friday, November 23, 2001
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Western talks booze policy

Chretien rallies the troops

Muslim prof discusses jihad and holy war

Big shot media guy talks federal politics

Brescia student: "As a woman, I don't feel safe"

PC club donation creates controversy

Harvard dude talks 'disequilibrium'

News Briefs

Big shot media guy talks federal politics

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

Members of the Western community were treated yesterday to an insider's view on federal politics and journalism following the events of Sept. 11.

"I can't not talk about this," said National Post columnist and former Gazette news editor Paul Wells, referring to the events of Sept. 11.

"I have friends who are trying to get on with their lives – obviously some of my personal relationships have suffered," he said.

Wells began his talk with the federal leadership race, which has all but disappeared from the news, but has nevertheless intensified since Sept. 11.

Based on evidence from an unnamed political insider, Wells said Prime Minister Jean Chretien will step down sometime in 2003. According to Wells, the insider said polling was conducted shortly after Sept. 11 to evaluate popular positions on potential leadership candidate Allan Rock, the current Minister of Health.

Wells' speech took on a critical tone as he began to discuss how journalism has changed since the terrorist attacks.

In some cases, journalists have done "extraordinarily well," he said. Work done by Time and Newsweek has "revitalized the news magazine," he said.

"You're not a serious consumer of news if you're not reading Time or Newsweek every week," he said. "They are helpful in piecing together all the pieces of news flying too fast for the rest of us to get through."

Wells condemned what he called 'arm-chair journalists' for their impatient reporting. He criticized reporters for churning out stories too fast to get them right and also for their cynicism of political leaders.

"News consumers have been poorly served by writers who claim to be experts on the intricacies of Afghanistan clan loyalty and American foreign policy in the Middle East," he said. "As Canadians, we know no more about the wider world than Americans do."

Wells blamed Canadian journalists for conveying to Americans the idea we are "a bed and breakfast for terrorism" and noted the "mythical" notion that terrorists travelled through Nova Scotia originated in Canada.

Canada, he said, has a "neurotic desire to matter."

In closing, Wells said good has come out of the coverage of Sept. 11.

"The 24-hour news businesses are applying the lessons we learned in [the OJ Simpson case] and in the [Monica] Lewinsky scandal to a story that deserves as much attention," he said.

However, the coverage could be more realistic, he explained.

"We need a much stronger dose of fatalism in our journalism. We need to tell our readers that the bad guys are going to win some in this. If you take away all the knives, they'll come at you with forks," he said.

Faculty of information and media studies professor Michael Nolan said Wells' talk was an excellent opportunity to hear from a reporter.

First-year arts student Jason Murray said he also appreciated hearing from someone who is informed.

"I'm sure there is lots that [journalists] know about that doesn't make it to the paper," he said. "It's nice to hear that inside perspective."

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Copyright The Gazette 2001