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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:50 am    Post subject: Parliamentary Press Gallery smallest its been in 22 years Reply with quote

( an interesting look at how the media covering Parliament hill has shrunk in recent years , although there has been some new media additions , the amount of reporters covering Ottawa is getting smaller and smaller ) \

Parliamentary press gallery now the smallest it's been in 22 years

‘I find it sad because we’re losing a diversity of voices’

Beatrice Britneff

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

The Parliamentary Press Gallery — the group of journalists responsible for covering what happens on Parliament Hill and holding federal politicians to account — is the smallest it’s been in 22 years, according to an analysis of data provided by the gallery.

As of Dec. 7, 2016, there were 318 individuals — including reporters, technicians and camera operators — in possession of valid press gallery passes. The last time the number of accredited members was that small was in 1994, with 313.

Long-time journalists in the gallery — including Manon Cornellier, an editorial writer at Le Devoir and president of the press gallery — said the numbers don’t surprise them, given the upheaval in the media industry over the past decade, but they’re still troubling.

“I find it sad because we’re losing a diversity of voices,” said Cornellier, who started working on the Hill as a parliamentary correspondent for La Presse in 1985. “Democratically, it’s a loss.”

The data shows the press gallery — which celebrated its 150th anniversary this year — peaked in size in 2002 at 377 members and has been shrinking steadily since then. The decline has been most stark since 2011, when the gallery experienced a random spike in membership, likely due to the federal election that year. Between 2011 and 2016, the gallery lost 54 members — almost a 15 per cent decrease.

Those numbers don’t count the handful of parliamentary reporters who recently announced they’re leaving the Hill. Jason Fekete and Ian MacLeod both tweeted in late November that they’re leaving the Ottawa Citizen, and Global News’s Tom Clark announced he will retire on Jan. 1, 2017.

“It’s sad for the country as a whole because the country’s not getting the reporting it should be getting,” said Courtney Tower, the most senior working reporter in the gallery.

(An explanation of how the data was analyzed is available at the bottom of this article.)

Losses in the gallery
In 1994, there were 57 different media organizations represented in the gallery. Since then, the gallery has lost 20 member outlets — five radio and TV companies, 14 print outlets and one news agency — but has also welcomed 11 new, online-based outlets.

Many of the parliamentary bureaus — particularly those at newspapers — have lost significant numbers. The Ottawa Citizen had 12 reporters registered in 1994 and seven in 2016 — which will likely become five with Fekete’s and MacLeod’s departures. Sun News — owned by Postmedia since 2015 — is down to one reporter from six.

The Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal each had one correspondent on Parliament Hill, which they lost after 2004 and 2009, respectively. The Montreal Gazette had parliamentary reporters in 1994 and cut its presence on the Hill by 2009.

“That’s a shrinking in terms of perspectives and … I think it’s a loss for the citizens of those different areas who have their own concerns,” Cornellier said.

While newspapers have undergone many of those losses, they’re not alone. The Canadian Press — the country’s primary English wire service — had 26 reporters in the gallery back in 1994; now it has 18. Maclean’s is down to two reporters from five in 1994. The 10-person newsroom the Toronto Star had on the Hill in 1994 has since been cut in half. Radio-Canada has also decreased its presence to 25 from 31 members.

Some outlets have managed to weather the storm and have maintained or grown their presence on the Hill over the last 22 years. Bloomberg’s bureau increased from one to six reporters. The English arm of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had 55 individuals registered in the gallery in 1994 and now has 56. The Globe and Mail’s presence increased to 15, up from 11. The Hill Times nearly tripled in size, growing from 5 to 14 reporters.

On the French media scene, Le Devoir grew from three to four reporters and La Presse continues to have four correspondents on the Hill. La Presse canadienne, the French wire service, also still employs three reporters in 2016 as it did in 1994.

The number of freelancers is the same now as it was in 1994 — 21.

As the bureaus shrink, the pressure on the remaining reporters rises, said Don Newman, a retired journalist who started on the Hill in 1969 as a reporter for The Globe and Mail.

“The time for thinking, for learning about a topic in any detail and probably for uncovering stories … that time has really shrunk,” he said. “And reporters now, they’re almost like they’re on a fire drill from the moment they come to work and the moment they go home.”

New faces in the gallery
The data also demonstrates the emergence of online-only outlets on the Hill. iPolitics arrived in 2011, followed by Huffington Post Canada in 2012 and Blacklock’s Reporter in 2013. And 2015 was a big year — Buzzfeed Canada, Huffington Post Québec, Vice Canada and The Tyee all registered reporters in the gallery. The National Observer joined in 2016.

While she said the emergence of new outlets is a positive development, Cornellier added they don’t make up for what’s been lost.

“In terms of diversity, it doesn’t correct the provincial perspective — except maybe for The Tyee, which serves British Columbia, and now we have Huffington Post Québec with maybe more of a Quebec perspective,” she said. “But otherwise, it’s a diversity of voices with a national perspective — which is good, but it doesn’t compensate for the loss of those regional voices.”

When asked about her hopes for the future of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, Cornellier said she hopes the cuts are “almost over.”

“Because after a certain point, you don’t have the resources,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to do and there’s a limit to asking people to do everything and to cover everything. I think there’s a critical mass that has to be maintained to make sure that the reporting can be done as thoroughly as it should.”

“It will be dangerous to lose this critical mass because you end up with areas that are overlooked — and overlooked not because we don’t consider them important but because we end up being unable to cover them. I don’t think we’re there right now, but we will get pretty close to this if the (trend) continues.”

Newman echoed Cornellier’s thoughts, and added he’s optimistic about the survival of the job he enjoyed so much.

“In a way, you’re writing or reporting the first take of history,” he said. “Some of it will not end up in history books … but parts of it (will) and I think that’s a real privilege to be able to do that.”


iPolitics analyzed datasets provided by the Parliamentary Press Gallery containing information about registered members from 1923 to the present.

The numbers used in this article include all individuals accredited by the Parliamentary Press Gallery — including reporters, camera operators and technicians — but not lifetime or honorary members.

To best capture trends in the Canadian media industry, iPolitics excluded correspondents working for foreign domestic outlets — such as the Vietnam News Agency. Reporters working for international news agencies or broadcasters with Canadian bureaus, such as Reuters, Bloomberg and New Tang Dynasty TV, were included.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Losing your ... er ... diversity?

It's a little late for that, don't you think?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugs wrote:
Losing your ... er ... diversity?

It's a little late for that, don't you think?

well I guess they were pointing out that at one time there was more media outlets covering parliament , from different parts of the country and with different views .

a similar thing also happened at the Ontario legislature , I remember reading an article a while back about how its press gallery had also shrunk ever since the liberals won In 2003 it had been getting smaller for some reason , a lot of the press didn't see as big of a reason to cover it anymore .
the Ontario liberals also moved question period from the afternoon to the mornings for unknown reasons after they won in 2003 and that was viewed as making question period less relevant as it was on tv at a time people were less likely to watch

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shrinking press gallery 'worrying': MPs

May, Cullen among MPs concerned with decline of regional representation in press gallery

Beatrice Britneff

Friday, December 9th, 2016

The declining numbers in the Parliamentary Press Gallery are troubling, several members of Parliament said after iPolitics published an analysis of data Thursday which showed the gallery is the smallest it’s been in two decades.

“To see the parliamentary press gallery shrinking means that the knowledge Canadians have of what’s going on in Parliament will definitely shrink … (and) is shrinking,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said. “That’s worrying, not only for the health of the media. That’s worrying for the health of democracy.”

The press gallery is the group of reporters, editors, producers, camera operators and technical staff accredited to cover Parliament Hill. iPolitics analyzed lists of parliamentary press gallery memberships provided by the gallery and found that the gallery is roughly the same size now as it was in 1994.

Long-time journalists said the reduction in gallery members is not surprising, given structural and financial shifts in the Canadian media industry. The data shows significant cuts to parliamentary bureaus — particularly those of newspapers, both regional and national — and the disappearance of representation from several broadcast and newspaper outlets.

Several MPs said the findings are in line with the struggles they know the industry is facing, but they still consider them troubling. Nathan Cullen, the NDP critic for democratic reform, called the shrinking press gallery “deeply concerning.”

“The fewer reporters we have on the Hill, the fewer insights we have to what’s actually going on with government, the fewer people we have helping the opposition and others hold the government to account,” Cullen said. “You require a hardworking and hopefully intelligently sceptical press gallery.”

May said the quality of national coverage, despite being produced by a smaller number of people, is still strong — but she thinks the declining presence of regional outlets in particular is a big problem.

“I’m not jumping on reporters by any means. There’s very, very good journalists,” May said. “But you don’t feel like you’ve got a great newspaper when you’ve got a cookie-cutter version and no one in the parliamentary press gallery looking at the specifics of an issue and how it affects you in your life.”

For Cullen, the decline in the number of journalists representing the different regions of Canada is also a “serious concern.”

“I know as an MP from Western Canada that even going back 10, 12 years when I started, the number of western journalists here asking questions about Western Canada has dropped off dramatically,” he said. “That’s true for many of the regions in Canada.

“Ontario will always have a presence in Ottawa, Quebec probably as well, but the further away you get from the Hill … from Ottawa, the fewer Canadians are going to know about issues that are mattering in those regions. So not only the depth, but a diversity of coverage suffers when we lose more and more members of the gallery.”

May and Liberal MP Hedy Fry, who chairs the parliamentary heritage committee, also emphasized the importance of journalism to the democratic process.

“If you don’t have people across the country coming into Ottawa to make sure that they cover (Parliament), how are you going to serve democracy? How are you going to inform people so when they go out to vote, they are making informed judgments?” said Fry, whose committee is knee-deep in a study of media and local communities. “This is part of a trend that is troubling.”

In addition, May said the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, of which she is a member, discussed the connection between political coverage and voter interest and turnout as it worked to put together a report on electoral reform for the government.

“Even 20 years ago, far more Canadians could name their premier … or name their MP,” she said. “And the numbers of people who can now do that has dropped precipitously. I think that’s due to more newspapers that provide the same national news.

“If the press gallery becomes a smaller and smaller group, basically unable to cover the breadth of what’s going on, you get a greater numbers of subjects covered superficially and that leads to a decline in voter interest.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who has served as an MP continuously since 1993, offered a different, more optimistic take on the situation, instead emphasizing how the gallery’s diversity has expanded in other ways.

“Over the decades, the most remarkable change in the press gallery has been how much better it has come to reflect the country that it serves,” Goodale wrote in an email. “With more women, more ethnic diversity and evermore specialized outlets, coverage on the Hill has never had as much breadth of perspective as it does today.

“That can only be a good thing for Canadians — and it certainly makes the lives of Parliamentarians more interesting.”


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Women making up larger share of shrinking Parliamentary Press Gallery

Female representation in gallery increasing overall, but no progress for columnists

Emily Fearon and Beatrice Britneff

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Women are making up a larger percentage of the Parliamentary Press Gallery today than they did 15 years ago, according to an analysis of data provided by the gallery.

While the number of registered female journalists — which includes those in editorial and technical roles — is exactly the same in 2016 as it was in 2001 — 121 — the share of the gallery they represent has increased from approximately 33 per cent in 2001 to almost 38 per cent in 2016, even as the total number of gallery members has been shrinking.

It’s a change Canadian Press reporter Joan Bryden has witnessed over the course of her career. When she began reporting on Parliament Hill in 1988 she was the only female reporter in her newsroom. Now, 28 years later, she works in an office with a female bureau chief.

“I’ve got lots of company,” she said of her female coworkers.

(An explanation of how the data was analyzed is available at the bottom of this article.)

Not a man’s world anymore
When technical staff — such as engineers and camera operators, the majority of whom are men — are separated from editorial staff (reporters and producers), the gender balance improves.

Out of the 266 editorial staff registered in 2016, 118 — or 44 per cent — are women. Compare that to the House of Commons, where female representation sits at 26 per cent.

The data also reveals a 50-50 split among the listed bureau chiefs. Chantal Hébert, a long-time Hill reporter and political columnist for the Toronto Star, said it took a long time for that balance to be achieved.

“(That) is fairly recent,” said Hébert, a former bureau chief of Le Devoir and La Presse. “For a long time, there was only one female bureau chief. When I was bureau chief, I think Rosemary Speirs was bureau chief at the Star and that was it.”

For the Parliamentary Press Gallery’s 150th anniversary, Jennifer Ditchburn, the first female editor-in-chief of Policy Options and a political reporter for 19 years, wrote about the history of women in the gallery. The first female gallery reporter was given her membership 81 years ago — within living memory. Her name was Genevieve Lipsett-Skinner.

“One of the things that I thought was interesting, and maybe a little depressing, was how long it took for there to be a critical mass of women in the press gallery,” Ditchburn said. “It wasn’t until the 1970s that you saw a larger number of women join the press gallery.”

Today, veteran Hill reporters say what used to be a man’s world is now home to talented female journalists.

“Women, they’re dominant in scrums,” said Julie Van Dusen, who works for the CBC and has worked on the Hill since the early 1990s. “Women are right front and centre. Their presence is very apparent.”

Van Dusen added, however, that throughout her career there have been moments she felt might have been easier had she been a man.

Even fresh faces on the Hill, like Catherine Lévesque, who has worked for Huffington Post Québec for just over a year, reported some discomfort.

“I kind of had a feeling, especially when I was starting, that I had to be … more careful as a female reporter,” she said.

Lévesque spoke specifically of comments made towards her in jest — suggesting she would sleep with a man to get a scoop — that indicate a lingering sexism.

Room for improvement
A stark imbalance in the gender ratio survives among political columnists, meanwhile. Out of the nine political columnists registered with the Parliamentary Press Gallery, two thirds are men.

The three women are: Hébert; Susan Delacourt, who writes political columns for the Star and iPolitics; and Manon Cornellier, who wrote political columns for Le Devoir until February this year and now works as an editorial writer.

Hébert says this has been a reality for decades.

“I was trying to think back to a time where there would’ve been more women writing political columns who were members of the press gallery and I couldn’t think of a time,” she said.

Hébert predicts it’ll take a significant amount of time before the gender balance “really filters to the columnist level.”

“Those jobs are few and the people who have them tend to hang onto them. It’s rare a columnist wakes up dreaming of going back to reporting,” Hébert said, laughing. “So you’re going have people who are going to hold those positions for three decades.

“I’ll be happy the day we stop having to count and we can be gender-blind because balance will be kind of assumed or taken for granted.”

However, Hébert said the press gallery numbers don’t capture a few things: There are female columnists who write about politics who aren’t accredited gallery members, and many female journalists are providing commentary on other platforms, such as broadcast panels.

“Political coverage has exploded in all kinds of ways and there are women, just about everywhere, writing about politics,” she said. “(The press gallery) is one organization that is important to the coverage of Parliament Hill but it does not reflect what someone as a voter sees when he or she gets information about politics.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is also a large gender discrepancy among technical staff — which some suggest has to do with the physical demands of the job. The data show only three of the 54 tech staff registered in 2016 are women.

Though she isn’t a gallery member and only does a bit of work on the Hill, Nicole Revert has been working on the technical side of journalism for 26 years. Revert, the new studio director for CPAC, said that while her field may be male-dominated, it isn’t a chauvinistic environment.

Diversity on the Hill
While the presence of female journalists is increasing on Parliament Hill, Susana Mas — who reports for the Ottawa Citizen and has worked on the Hill since 2007 — thinks diversity in the press gallery is still lacking and needs to be addressed.

“If you’re a woman who isn’t white, then you’re probably even worse off than the one-third that is represented in the gallery right now,” she said. “You probably don’t see yourself reflected in the stories that are published by the press gallery.”

It’s an issue the head of Carleton University’s journalism program, Susan Harada, said should be tackled.

“It’s not just women but it’s also the whole fabric of Canadian society that we need to encourage representation of and for in our newsrooms,” said Harada, who spent over eight years reporting on the Hill. She added she’d also like to see more young women doing political journalism.

While women make up less than half of the press gallery, more than 70 per cent of Carleton’s undergrad and graduate journalism students in 2016 are women. In fact, for the past decade the program has been over 65 per cent female — a ratio that doesn’t appear to carry over into parliamentary bureaus.

Though she said she doesn’t have a “magic solution,” Harada cited the need to expose students to opportunities and the experience of political reporting.

At the end of the day, even though she thinks female representation in the gallery continues to be lower than it should be, Harada said there’s still a lot to celebrate.

“It looks as if women are holding their own.”


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( the press gallery at Ontario Legislature is losing one of its longest serving reporters and most anti liberal as well , with surprise news Sun columnist Christina Blizzard is taking a buy out and leaving soon , no word on who if anyone will replace her )

Christina Blizzard ‏@chrizblizz · 4h4 hours ago

50 years in news biz. 45 with Sun. 22 years at Queen’s Park. Taking Postmedia buyout. Today’s my last day. 1/3

Christina Blizzard ‏@chrizblizz · 4h4 hours ago

Thanks also to politicians who gave me great column fodder. Read my last column in the Sunday Sun. It's been a blast. 3/3


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sad. She, and Sue-Ann Levy, gave Sun Readers very good columns on city hall and Queens Park. The new kind of reporters don't have that background.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( another longtime reporter at queens park is also retiring , this one for the Canadian press )

Keith Leslie Verified account 
After 40 years in journalism, 35 years at @CdnPress, 20 years (over 2 tours) at Queen's Park, I'll be retiring at the end of Dec. #onpoli

8:18 AM - 20 Dec 2016
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Parliamentary Press Gallery smallest its been in 22 years

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