No party ever thinks they get a fair shake from the media and New Democrats are certainly no exception.
Today, the New Democratic Party runs a very popular government in Manitoba. It stands a good shot of returning to power in British Columbia in May and is poised to make history as government in Nova Scotia in the next election.
The people of Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Yukon have all elected NDP governments in the past 19 years. And in the last federal election, 2.5 million Canadians voted for their New Democratic Party candidate sending the second largest NDP caucus to Parliament Hill.
So, the question gets asked, why is it that "there are fewer left-side media voices in the country than probably ever?"
Except this time, the questioner isn't a hardened New Democrat voter, academic or even MP, but Lawrence Martin, columnist in the wait for it … mainstream Globe and Mail. He goes on to say:
"The Toronto Star has the odd left-wing columnist but is predominantly Liberal. The CBC has a leftish reputation, but try finding anyone among its top TV commentators who trumpets NDP values. Rex Murphy leans right, Andrew Coyne is predominantly conservative, Allan Gregg has been anchored in the Tory party for decades and, among Chantal Hébert's many colours, pink is not prominent."
Martin’s prescription: there needs to be more NDP voices in the national media:
"To change the voting culture, you have to change the media culture. Without a bigger voice in the fourth estate, the left's chances of making a breakthrough are minimal. The Reform/Alliance party eventually hit pay dirt, becoming the dominant force on the conservative side, because big media promoted its religion.
The NDP has a good public relations team and a media-conscious leader. But even with prevailing economic orthodoxies shamefaced, New Democrats can't break the journalistic ritual that sees Liberals and Conservatives with a stranglehold on coverage. Until they do, until they alter the media perspective, until their supporters gain ownership of media properties - as happened on the right with Fox News and CanWest Global - not much will change."
When a leading voice in the Ottawa press gallery is noticing this as a problem, you can be sure that it is.
So, a proposal to our embattled Canadian media empires: speak to a young, erudite and growing audience that doesn't have anyone speaking directly to them right now. Instead of going pearshaped, go orange instead.