By Jim Brown
If you plan to read this, be prepared, it’s going to be a long rant and I accept from the start few people, other than former and current journalists, will likely care given the declining state of journalism in the 21st century. But I feel compelled to write it anyway. I am posting three photos, all of editorials shared by the Summerside Journal Pioneer and the Charlottetown Guardian (both owned by the same corporation), with the latest in both papers today. They ran Aug 23, Aug 26 and today (Aug 30). It’s obviously not a “one-off”. It appears to be a disturbing trend. In my eight and a half years with the Journal I can’t recall this ever happening – not even once. And, in response to an earlier Facebook post, another journalist with decades of service in both newspapers also doesn’t recall any incidence of shared editorials. Why is this happening? I have my suspicions, which have grown much stronger after today. Now, it’s not unusual for newspapers to run editorials from other newspapers, but always as guest editorials, which do not replace the local editorial, sort of like a submitted letter or column. The Guardian has at least five editors (including a sports editor) on its masthead. The JP has three editors, including a sports editor, and both papers have stables of good reporters who can contribute editorials (I wrote at least one a week at the JP during my eight plus years of service, and two or more several times). So I don’t understand why editorials have to be slashed. I’m not going to jump to conclusions at this point, although it would be very easy to. I’m going to ask a number of questions instead, which I hope somebody has answers to.
1. Are editorials being written at a separate desk off-Island? And, is this happening with other newspapers in the chain?
2. Is this a move to greater consolidation – perhaps even a potential closure of one of the newspapers?
3. Will the publisher eventually provide a statement or explanation to the readership and to all Islanders?
End of rant. I don’t see any point in belabouring this. I just wanted to get it out of my system and I think I have now.
By Jim Brown
Fields of hay glistening in the sun can be found all over Prince Edward Island, including this beautifully sculpted landscape on St Mary’s Road, just outside New Glasgow.
By Jim Brown
Okay, once can be written off as an anomaly, but it is still very unsettling, especially since in my recollection that has never happened in the eight plus years I worked as a reporter-photographer at the Summerside Journal Pioneer, nor in the six years since. But now twice in the same week identical editorials, word for word, have appeared on the same day (Tuesday and Friday editions) of the Charlottetown Guardian and the Journal Pioneer and that has to be very disturbing to anyone who believes in the future of print journalism on PEI. Subscribers at the very least are owed an explanation as to why this is happening. How can a long-time reader not fear the worst? The editorial pages are supposed to be sacred, the true and distinctive voice of a newspaper. If that is lost, what’s next to go?
By Jim Brown
It was very unsettling to see an identical editorial in the Tuesday, Aug 23 edition of the Charlottetown Guardian and Summerside Journal Pioneer newspapers. I would hope this is only a one-off and not a sign of an irreversible consolidation of the two papers, owned by the same company. But I have to say I worked at the Journal Pioneer as a reporter-photographer for the better part of eight years and have been a loyal reader since leaving (close to seven years) and I can’t remember seeing this sort of thing before. Neither can another reporter with more than two decades combined experience at the Journal and the Guardian. Both newspapers have at least hundred years of history on the Island, and it would be a shame to see the papers lose what’s left of their distinctiveness. What is a newspaper, after all, without its own editorial voice?