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The barely solvent elephant in the room


 

Susan Delacourt wonders if the rear cabins of campaign planes this fall might be empty.

Our industry, as some might have noticed, is in a bit of a “transition” period. Elections are expensive.  And the most expensive item is the leader’s tour. It costs, conservatively, approximately $15,000 a week for one reporter’s seat on one leader’s campaign plane. Multiply that by five weeks and four reporters — that’s $300,000, minimum… In the past, the media managers would have sucked up the cost of the leaders’ tours as the price of doing the journalism business. But the business is changing (read: has no money), so it would be unwise of any politico, planning a leader’s tour, to count on all those journalists’ seats being filled on the plane. (We’ve been suspecting, by the way, that we’re subsidizing those tours.)


 

The barely solvent elephant in the room

  1. Given the state of modern communications, and the size of this country, the whole practice has seemed silly for a while now. And it often creates "news" that really consists of what donut shop they stopped at, and very little substantive insight for the voter.

    Any leader who wished could make herself or himself available to media on a daily basis via remote means.

    • it often creates "news" that really consists of what donut shop they stopped at, and very little substantive insight for the voter

      True, but it often creates substantive news as well.

      Any leader the stopped touring the country as part of their campaign would legitimately been seen as 'out of touch'.

    • it often creates "news" that really consists of what donut shop they stopped at, and very little substantive insight for the voter

      True, but it often creates substantive news as well.

      Any leader that stopped touring the country as part of their campaign would legitimately been seen as 'out of touch'.

  2. Geez – does that include Harper's invited photo-ops?

  3. A very interesting piece of whining. It raises a number of obvious questions, like, why – if as Delacourt claims the material generated from having a reporter aboard is of so little value – you would send four reporters instead of one? If Delacourt feels they are subsidizing the campaign, why not get the press together and charter their own plane? Is it because the access to the campaign actually provides a lot of value? Why does the printed press, instead of complaining about their competitive disadvantages with television and the internet, not work on their competitive advantages? Maybe the printed press should be more inward looking regarding its plight.

    • "[why would you send four reporters instead of one": I think she's referring to there being four leadership planes to staff. (Although there are only three; the BQ uses a bus, and the Green Party doesn't do the same kind of intense leader tour.)

      And, all of the major "printed press" have significant web presences, and most are arms of media conglomerates with which they share news resources. So I don't think they're complaining about competition from TV and internet in the way you suggest.

    • " why – if as Delacourt claims the material generated from having a reporter aboard is of so little value – you would send four reporters instead of one?…..why not get the press together and charter their own plane?"

      There are four parties/leaders/campaigns to follow. Plus an electric scooter to chase the Greens.

  4. I'm surprised MacLean's hasn't flogged Ken Whyte's Dalton Camp Lecture on the declining fortunes of the print media.

    Not that it really should matter. CanWest is insolvent several times over and it's still in business.

  5. C'mon, those photo-ops aren't going to be covered as news by themselves! The media is largely irrelevant and it is finally dawning on them. No more talking point regurgitation for you!
    If only the media actially did research and sought out leads, instead of whitewashing the RCMP's efforts to maintain total photo-op discipline. The media is largely irrelevant in political discourse and debates nowadays, and it is largely because they fuel the political partisanship rather than distill all this gameplaying into objective reporting. Haven't bought a paper in ages, don't intend to ever again.

  6. It would certainly be in keeping with the public spirited privately owned press to cut the costs
    of campaign coverage and keep the election generated addie bucks. They could even assign
    their Lifestyle reporters.

  7. electric scooter – hilarious, but be nice.

  8. Any major Canadian news outlet that can't cough up $300,000 to properly cover something as fundamental and important as a national election should consider itself irrelevant.

  9. If fewer reporters means less of the gawdaweful "reporting" that was thrown at the public during the last federal election then yes, please!

    The public deserves straight reporting of what happened, the context and some anlaysis (fact checking/bs sniffer). Keep your opinions out of it. No more gossip girl masquarading as a political "journalist."

  10. That's a mean thing to call Jane Taber. Accurate…but mean.

  11. You can cover the whole GPC campaign by renting a VW van and touring the Gulf Islands.

    • in the spirit of saving the print industry, I would volunteer for that hardship.

    • And even if your VW van breaks down (as they are wont to do), it couldn't happen in a nicer spot.

  12. It would be interesting to hear from someone who had ridden that pine in the sky, if the value of being on the tour has diminished. My impression is that in yesteryear, the candidates might come to the back and discuss things off-the-record or non-political in a way that would allow the press to gain a measure of the person. (Granted this impression is from watching a US TV show (West Wing) but it is my impression nonetheless). In these days of really efficient handlers, messaging and scripted photoops maybe that part has lost value.

    • Another interesting question is whether that approach, if it existed and we probably all expect that it did, actually contributed anything positive to the coverage, or whether it was negative? Should positive or negative coverage be subject to the interpersonal relationships between the politician and the members of the media?

  13. In this technological age, what should happen is reporters should be making greater use of YouTube. With no media tagging along, each party would post edited video of each campaign stop, while people attending events will post un-edited footage. Reporters can use this as the main source for their reporting. Heck, hire a couple of local bloggers to cover each campaign stop for a more local perspective on each stop… and election coverage might suddenly be something worth reading!

  14. Or, we can concentrate almost exclusively on all the local races. Make them matter, and we just might get more than puppets in Parliament! My apologies to all the non-puppet-like MPs currently sitting in the House for lumping you in with the rest of them.

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