Regina Leader-Post reporters accuse paper's editors of censorship

Sunday, April 7, 2002

Reporters at the Regina Leader-Post say they are the latest victims of censorship by their owner, CanWest Global Communications.

Most of the daily's journalists began a byline strike yesterday after editors rewrote a story on a speech delivered on March 6 by Haroon Siddiqui, the editorial page editor emeritus of The Toronto Star.

The reporters say that Siddiqui's comments on media convergence and alleged censorship in the CanWest newspaper chain were altered in the account published in yesterday's edition of the Leader-Post.

Siddiqui told an audience at the University of Regina's school of journalism that the Asper family, which owns the media conglomerate, have argued they have a right to their views. "That was never the issue," Siddiqui said. "The issue was censorship of other views."

In the past few months, several columnists for various newspaper of the chain have either had their columns spiked or resigned in protest because they reportedly contradicted and criticized the Asper editorial line. Siddiqui highlighted many of those cases in his speech.

Leader-Post reporter Michelle Lang, who covered Siddiqui's talk, began her story: "CanWest Global performed ‘chilling’ acts of censorship when it refused to publish several columns containing viewpoints other than those held by the media empire, a Toronto Star columnist said Monday."

An unsigned article in the paper yesterday began with the words: "A Toronto Star columnist says it's ok for CanWest Global to publish its owners' views, as long as the company is prepared to give equal play to opposing opinions."

Commenting on the case, CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said, "We are very concerned by this latest incident at CanWest Global."

"This can only serve to send a chilling message to journalists working for CanWest," he added.

Siddiqui said he believed that the coverage of his speech indicated that the 14 big-city dailies in the Asper chain might be practising self-censorship.

"I would have loved to have been proven wrong, with them publishing a straightforward account of my remarks," he said. "Instead, sadly, they have proven my point and proven their critics correct."

For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy at CJFE,
489 College Street, Suite 403, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1A5,
tel. 416 515 9622,
fax 416 515 7879,
email: [email protected],