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Radio-Canada Getting Special Tmt in AFG?

The Bread Guy

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Based on limited experience dealing with media (and as a former reporter), I have to question the utility of pampering anchors and their teams with respect to "message persuasion."  Yes, they may need more technical support because of their needs, and in the case of Mansbridge, there was a burst of good stuff on air, but how much similarly good stuff has been broadcast since he left? 

Also, it would be interesting to see how much the editors/producers at home, who are not being feted, affect story selection, approach and editing decisions.  Depending on the ratio of journalistic "tooth-to-tail" influence, pampering the face & voice on the ground may not be the answer.

Shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act.

French-language TV gets perks:  journalists
Radio-Canada anchors get same treatment as CBC's, military says

Andrew Mayeda, CanWest News Service, 01Sept07
Article link

Some journalists stationed with the Canadian military here complain that the Forces are unfairly catering to Radio-Canada, the French-language public TV network, in a strategy that at least one military official has conceded aims to address the sensitivity of the mission in Quebec.

Since arriving in Afghanistan about a week ago, Radio-Canada's lead news anchor, Bernard Derome, has had a barbecue organized in his honour, been escorted by armoured vehicle to a site that journalists usually reach by pickup truck and received a private helicopter tour of the region with Canada's top military commander. A military public-affairs officer has also been assigned exclusively to Derome and his two-man crew.

Military officials insist that Derome is simply receiving the same perks offered to CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge when he visited the country in March 2006. Radio-Canada is the French-language counterpart of the CBC.

"Bernard Derome has greater privileges than you -- as Peter Mansbridge did, as any TV anchor will receive," military spokesman Capt. Sylvain Chalifour told journalists here. "They have special needs that are different from yours."

But other journalists, both English- and French-speaking, complain that French-language television is getting more than perks.

"It appears as though, because there's a Quebec regiment here now, that Quebec television journalists, particularly those from Radio-Canada, are getting special access," said Christie Blatchford, a columnist for the Globe and Mail. (I respect Christie's work, but it's interesting that there are no OTHER, maybe lower profile, less experienced reporters quoted - maybe fears, real or paranoid, about being shut out?)

When a CTV reporter recently complained to the military's senior spokesman here about the unequal access, she was told the military was deliberately focusing on Quebec media coverage.

That senior spokesman was later replaced, and military officials have since rejected the notion that they are biased toward Quebec-based TV. They promise that all media will now receive equal access.


Since the Aug. 1 arrival in Afghanistan of the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment, known as the Van Doos, the mission has come under intense scrutiny in Quebec. Support for the war in that province is the lowest in Canada, with some polls showing that seven of 10 Quebecers oppose the mission.

Major Canadian media organizations, including CanWest News Service, Global Television, CBC, CTV and the Globe and Mail, have had journalists "embedded" with the military in Kandahar since early 2006. Until now, few French-language media outlets have participated in the program.

But with the war in the headlines almost every day, several Quebec-based organizations, including the TVA network and La Presse newspaper, have dispatched journalists to Afghanistan.

To get closer to the action, journalists often join convoys of Canadian soldiers heading into battle. In the past, journalists would be briefed on upcoming operations and told how many seats were available for media. They would then decide among themselves which reporters would go out to observe the operation, according to Blatchford.

"It was a system where everyone in the press knew what was going on. So, even if you didn't have a seat on the convoy, you could write what was happening. So it was equitable and fair."

However, when Radio-Canada reporter Patrice Roy and cameraman Charles Dubois arrived earlier this month, the military organized a special convoy to show them the operating bases in the area. (If this is how it happened, and nobody else was offered this, I sense a special treatment alert.)

And when the Van Doos launched their first major combat operation on Aug. 22, only Roy and Dubois were informed of the operation the night before. (If this, indeed, happened, and it was not offered to others, I would be HUGELY livid if I were another embed, and I would expect my management to be just as upset.  Could this be why we're seeing this story?)

That operation took a tragic turn when the armoured vehicle the journalists were travelling in struck an improvised explosive device, killing two Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter. Dubois lost part of his leg, and another Canadian soldier was wounded.
 
Sounds rather fishy to me, but it doesn't come as a big shock.  ::)
 
MikeM said:
Nothing surprising. Not one bit.

Christie Blatchford has something to same on this subject, as well:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070901.COBLATCH01/TPStory?cid=al_gam_globeedge

This week: the celebrity embed
Why the kid-glove treatment for some journalists and not others?


CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD


September 1, 2007

KANDAHAR -- With the now-usual bow to British author and former Tony Blair press secretary Alastair Campbell, whose marvellous diary-style book sets the standard far beneath which I toil, I present The Afghan Years, Part 3 - this week, The Celebrity Embed.

MONDAY, AUG. 27

Approx. 10 a.m.

To paraphrase from the fictional Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Kilgore, played by Robert Duvall in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, I love the smell of envy in the morning.

The big guns of Radio-Canada have arrived at Kandahar Air Field - cameraman Gilbert Drouin, producer Bruno Bonamigo and the star anchor of Le Téléjournal, Bernard Derome.

Being a filthy anglophone (though Quebec-born and raised), I may be the only person around who has never heard of Mr. Derome, a 60-something fellow with a classic Gallic cast to his face. I wouldn't know him if I tripped over him.

But no need: He is recognizable by the crowd - a general or two usually hovering about and at least one and sometimes a gaggle of army Public Affairs Officers, or PAFOs - which follows him and the moon dust of excitement kicked up as they go.

Poor Mr. Derome; he has arrived to a crabby group of colleagues, and if none of it is his fault, there is, shall we say, a history here.

The background is that journalists with the CBC's French-language service already were getting the kid-glove treatment before the big boys even landed.

The first Rad-Can crew arrived the week previously and had such awful luck - reporter Patrice Roy and cameraman Charles Dubois were in a light armoured vehicle that hit a mine, killed two soldiers and an interpreter and saw Mr. Dubois lose a leg below the knee - our bleating about their special treatment in Kandahar was somewhat stilled.

But there had been problems.

The two, as well as a CanWest reporter, had been secretly given seats on a convoy taking the soldiers of the 3rd Battalion Royal 22nd Regiment out on their first offensive proper.

None of the other reporters here, including those working for organizations like The Globe and Mail which have staffed the Canadian mission here non-stop regardless of which province the soldiers hail from, were even told there was a combat operation under way - a gross departure from the way things are normally handled.

More significant, probably, was that the army's senior PAFO, who is in charge of handling embedded reporters here, baldly told the CTV correspondent that "Quebec is our target" audience now that the Quebec regiment is here, and suggested there would be a French-language crew going out on every mission.

A day or so later, in a meeting with reporters, the PAFO admitted making the comment, which was immediately denounced by his superior as absolute nonsense.

So Mr. Derome has arrived to a po-faced gang, roiling with discontent.

Approx. 1 p.m.

I spot an enormously competent PAFO I met in Afghanistan on Roto 1 last year, when the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry were here. She's not due back so soon, I think.

I make a few inquiries and find out that she's been assigned to handle Mr. Derome and his crew for a couple of weeks. I am reminded that when The National and Peter Mansbridge were here, they, too, had a PAFO solely dedicated to their welfare.

If some of this is defensible - television is high maintenance, especially when anchors broadcast their shows from a war zone - it remains irritating to the rest of us. Martin Ouellet, a very funny francophone with the Canadian Press, immediately pretends to smell out an anti-Anglo conspiracy.

More on link:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070901.COBLATCH01/TPStory?cid=al_gam_globeedge
 
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