dear media people:

I mean many of you (not all, see p.s.) but especially you, dear CBC Radio, because you are the media people I often pay attention to and lately I’ve heard you mention a little too often, a certain store about to open in the Toronto area. Soft openings. Grand openings. Why and when and what and oh golly!— each time I switch off the radio and mutter bad words in frustration.

Worse, I fear there’s more of it to come as soft openings and grand openings approach.

I don’t know much, but I do know this: this [yet another] big American store doesn’t need our help although I’m sure it’s grateful for all the attention it’s getting. Free and regular promos. From our public broadcaster no less. And so, as someone who happily and proudly supports you in many ways, I have a question:

Why are you doing this??

I mean it’s not like big American stores opening up in Canada and selling loads of cheap stuff made under questionable conditions in countries far, far away is news. And if you’re worried that they might open and no one will notice and you feel duty bound to inform us of such goings-on, may you rest assured that word will spread even if you utter not another syllable about it.

Surely a store opening is not news, nor are the stages of its development worthy of monitoring. At least not this kind of store. Unfortunately, this store will do just fine without one bit of media interest.

Who might benefit from your attention, however, are the smaller, local indies that will suffer in the shadow of this most recent behemoth. Why not save your air time for THAT kind of news? News of butchers and bakers and candlestick makers that, despite being largely ignored by the media, and against the odds, continue in their Sisyphean task of slowing the rate of the world’s devolution to soulless Big Box status.

It’s the candlestick makers that keep us human.

Here’s the thing… No one will build communities for us. Builders only build profits. It’s up to us to build communities. And we build them by being informed of what’s out there and then supporting it. And I don’t mean only the new or funky patios in certain neighbourhoods but all manner of businesses across the city, the GTA, the province, the country—stores, restaurants, markets, manufacturers, service providers—real people who make a living despite the Goliaths, and who make those livings in real ways, and deserve real support.

If the Big Store Opening must be mentioned on your airwaves, although I have NO IDEA why it must be… then please leave it for the top of the hour news on the day of the opening. That’s more than enough ‘information’.

There’s worthier out there, and the power you wield is no small potatoes.

Please use that power wisely.

Yours sincerely,

carin makuz.

p.s. Thank you to THIS Magazine for continuing to be you, with *this*… WTF, indeed.


14 thoughts on “dear media people:

    1. Love it or not (and I confess to leaning heavily on the side of affection) it has the power to shift ideas and shape the world(s) Canadians live in. [And, wait a minute… are you saying you don’t listen to Shelagh? Or Eleanor?]

      1. Sadly, I don’t. If I listen at all, it is to local shows (and that’s only because they happen to be on), although I confess to still have affection for As It Happens. I agree with you the Ceeb has the power to shift ideas and shape the lives of Canadians, but it doesn’t seem to want to do that anymore. It seems more preoccupied with being hip and commercial (or at least that was my perception when I stopped listening).

  1. I agree with your plea, Carin, but I’m wondering if the coverage has less to do with a CBC decision than the Big Box Store having a Big Marketing Budget.

    1. If it’s a Big Box Big Marketing Budget, then perhaps the plug should be limited to the actual paid ad and not presented as if it’s earth moving, soul shaking, hot off the press news that they try to convince us we simply must have.
      I’m with Carin – the independents surviving in an economy that is making it all but impossible – now that’s a story.

      1. It’s not even a plug. They just keep mentioning how the thing will opening soon. Like a countdown. It’s just an easy story for them. I mean, you’re right, it *could* be a bigger and better story… even if they focussed on how Big Box’s cheapness is not necessarily a gift. “The Price We Pay for Low Prices” might be a good title for an indepth study as to just how such stores affect a whole chain of people and communities and industries. Everyone rattles on about the number of jobs. Apparently WalMart is one of the country’s biggest employers. Sure. Because there’s a gazillion WalMarts and people make next to zip, right? The oil sands are also big employers. CBC should be better than this.

    2. Alice, that didn’t occur to me. As CBC doesn’t advertise, I can’t think how they’d benefit from Big Box Store’s moola. I was under the impression they’re just riding the wave of a popular story… water cooler chat on public radio. [sigh]

      1. Is that true… that the CBC doesn’t advertise? Maybe there aren’t specific slots for Freddy’s Tire Garage, but there are decisions made as to what should be discussed, plumped up and petted. What’s seen and made public is a form of advertising too. Someone is making those decisions. On what basis? Am I splitting hairs? (Do I sound paranoid?)
        Again, I reiterate that I agree with you: it would be nice for smaller businesses to get air-time.

        1. Ha! No Freddy’s, thankfully! As to how decisions are made for who and what gets attention… your guess is as good as mine. Maybe I’m naive but I want to believe that for the most part they operate on the basis of integrity in journalism. Of course how that’s defined these days may be another subject. I say all this, BTW, as a fan of CBC. God only knows what they’re up against in the current climate, and maybe their only means of survival is to slide further and further into a pool of *popular topics* that appeal to larger numbers.

    1. Ann, thank you for this. It’s an excellent link. I love what Armine Yalnizyan says, epsecially about the *cost* of low prices and how we should beware of what that *actually* costs us. This is a serious issue, especially for food, and especially, as she says, Target’s impending union with Sobeys. I suspect Canadian farmers are going to be getting the short end of yet another stick. THAT is a story. It’s ridiculous this countdown style coverage we’re giving its opening.

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