Let us name Sun News Network for what it truly is: a sensationalist tabloid broadcast channel, the sole intent of which is to illicit reaction, drive traffic to an advertiser-supported website and increase profit to support poorly researched, melodramatic “news.”
As artists, supporters of the arts, and Canadians who enjoy living in a culturally diverse and rich nation, it is our responsibility to not only arm ourselves with the correct facts, but also share those facts with the watchdogs, politicians and public able to shape change.
Want to make a difference? Here are seven things you can do today to stick it to Sun News:
1. Arm yourself with the correct facts. The most recent Sun News report attacked Edmonton Arts Habitat Association for “feeding off” government funds – funds Sun News feels should rather support reducing crime rates.
Here’s the truth:
Arts Habitat applicants must be recognized, practicing artists or non-profit arts professionals with a gross annual income of less than $29,797 for one person. Monthly estimated housing charges are $775 per month, excluding power, telephone and cable. Each household must purchase $2,000 in member shares, $500 of which must be paid upon membership approval. By no means is this housing “free.” Read more.
The community in question is undergoing vast revitalization to address crime by reclaiming 118 Avenue as a drug and weapon free zone. This effort is being met by community members, local businesses, local arts organizations and the Edmonton Police Service together in a unified movement to restore a sense of safety and community.
Arts play a vital role in building and sustaining community. Here are just a few key statistics on Arts in Canada (via Arts Vote Toolkit – Key Statistics on Arts and Culture, Canadian Conference of the Arts):
The arts and culture sector contributed $85 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2007 (7.4% of Canada’s real GDP). SOURCE: Valuing Culture: Measuring and Understanding Canada’s Creative Economy, Conference Board of Canada, 2008
The cultural sector generated approximately $25 billion in taxes for all levels of government in 2007. This is more than three times higher than the $7.9 billion that was spent on culture by all levels of government in 2007. SOURCE: Valuing Culture: Measuring and Understanding Canada’s Creative Economy, Conference Board of Canada, 2008
The cultural sector has about 600,000 workers, which is about double the level of employment in the forestry sector in Canada (300,000) and more than double the level of employment in Canadian banks (257,000). SOURCE: A Statistical Profile of Artists in Canada : Based on the 2006 Census, Hill Strategies Research, 2009
In 2005, two thirds of Canadians read a book (66.6%), one in two attended a performance by professional artists or a cultural festival (48.8%), and one in four visited an art gallery (26.7%). SOURCE: General Social Survey, Statistics Canada, 2005
In 2008, Canadians spent more than twice as much on live performing arts ($1.4 billion) than on sports events ($0.65 billion). SOURCE: Survey of Household Spending, Statistics Canada, 2008
The arts are important for personal health and well-being, having an impact on personal confidence, sense of control, social connectedness, education, and ensuring supportive physical environments. SOURCE: Arts and Culture in Medicine and Health: Survey Research Paper, Cooley & Associates, 2003
2. Tell your city you support what they are doing to make Edmonton a vibrant and culturally diverse city to live, work and play in.
3. Share your opinion. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is an organization created to administer standards created by Canada’s private broadcasters. As a viewer, you are entitled to report something which concerns you. The CBSC asks you first file your complaint with the network in question. Unfortunately, Sun News only offers a standard contact form, and no email address, mailing address or contact telephone number. If inaccurate reporting concerns you, please take the time to fill out the CBSC complaint form, citing lack of contact information on behalf of Sun News as one of your reasons for filing a complaint.
4. Share your opinion again. When Sun News interviewed Margie Gillis on Canada Live, the CBSC was overwhelmed with complaints, so much so the volume of complaints exceeded the Council’s resources. Keep telling them why this sort of “news” undermines journalistic integrity.
5. Sun News isn’t worth watching. Nor is the website worth visiting. Boycott Sun News whenever possible. According to an article published by The Wire in April, 2011, Sun News Media ratings have dropped by the thousands since its launch. Ezra Levant – the journalist responsible for this most recent un-reporting – reaches less than 19,000 viewers per week. Compare this to CBC News Network’s 263,000 and CNN’s 38,000 viewers.
6. While you’re at it, why not write a letter to Sun News advertisers explaining why you choose not to purchase their product? Advertisers will follow market dollars. Some online advertisers include: Subway, Free Credit Reports Canada, Capital One (email@example.com), Match.com, West Jet, Ancestry.ca and Home Depot (firstname.lastname@example.org).
7. Write to your Member of Parliament. Artists, arts supporters and Canadians who enjoy living in a culturally diverse and rich nation vote. Good politicians should care about your vote. Ask your member of parliament what he or she is doing to protect journalistic integrity. Once you’ve done that, see point 4.
We are in this together and we are capable of shaping change.
Please note: the author of this post has chosen not to link to Sun News Media in an effort to boycott Sun News Media and its supporters. Thank you.