Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Media skirmish watch

This item appeared in the Toronto Sun Monday night: "Former reporter, Liberal to head CTV News Channel."
A former high-ranking Liberal with a long career in television has been appointed to run CTV News Channel.

Jack Fleischmann, a former reporter who began his career covering Parliament Hill for CJOH and has recently run BNN, CTV’s business channel, also has a history with the Liberal party. During the 2004 and 2006 election campaigns, Fleischmann took a leave of absence from CTV to work for Red Leaf, the Liberal Party’s election advertising agency.
“Jack Fleischmann has not been involved with the Liberal Party since he took an unpaid leave of absence from CTV five years ago. He will not be working on future Liberal campaigns,” CTV spokesman Scott Henderson told QMI Agency.
Fleischmann sounds like a journalist first, part-time political volunteer second, and with the second part going back five years. Some might even call that a "cooling off" period if there were any such rules about the intermingling of the political and journalistic trades. Nevertheless, it grabbed the Sun's attention.

In Sun Media's case, they have made some interesting hires recently as well. Not as cooled off though. This has been kicking around for a week or so but it seems timely, in light of the above report, to note the abundant opportunities at Sun Media for much more recently employed partisans of the PMO staffer variety:
Former PMO issues management adviser Matt Wolf recently joined the Sun TV News Channel in Toronto as an editorial producer.
Mr. Wolf left government last fall after a temporary stint as Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's communications director. He is better known for working in the PMO issues management unit since July 2008, alongside former directors Jenni Byrne and Jasmine Igneski.

At Sun News, he works in the same location as Dennis Matthews, a former PMO advertising manager. Mr. Matthews left government last year, after more than two years in his PMO ad job, which was originally under the strategic planning division led by former staffer Patrick Muttart. Mr. Matthews had worked his way into the job from starting as an executive assistant to Mr. Muttart in the winter of 2006, soon after the Conservatives were elected.

He could not be reached for comment last week through his office voicemail. A LinkedIn profile matching his name and work history indicates he is director of marketing and brand development at Sun TV.

A third former exempt staffer, Jason Plotz, left PMO in early summer to do media monitoring for Sun Media. As a past issues management researcher, Mr. Plotz had developed a reputation as a guy who could dig up any dirt on the opposition in a jiffy.
The fourth would be, of course, Kory Teneycke.

Sun Media might have flogged the CTV information as a little push back because they are a little sensitive during the lead-in to their own launch over accusations about their own partisan bias. And perhaps because the news of all the PMO hires did make its way around over the past week. Or, maybe it was a timely item offered up this week while the CRTC false news submissions roll in and they wanted a little company on the firing line (Avaaz submission at link which is quite good).

Anyway, all those hires do raise those questions. People can weigh the facts for themselves about all of the above and who might be more vulnerable to bias accusations going forward.