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Richard Therrien May 25, 2012
Pro-students accuse the media of giving too much of a voice to the police representatives as well as showing the same images of violence, over and over. On the other hand, the anti-strike group considers RDI as too obliging with the students and thinks too much airtime is given to the demonstrations. LCN too much to the right? RDI too much to the left?
Who is right in this debate that, actually, touches all medias? This is an inevitable debate in this period of crisis that divides the population like never before. One thing is certain: numbers of listeners of 24-hour media outlets have exploded in the last few weeks, with RDI leading LCN in surveys. Although complaining, people are still watching.
RDI director, Luce Julien, confirms having received an unusually high number of complaints during the last weeks. “I do not remember such heated discussion on one topic since the referendum of 1995. It is reflected in the complaints we receive. Interviews are criticized almost equally by both sides.”
However, she remains firm: RDI offers a just and fair coverage of the crisis. “We do not adopt a position. RDI’s main mission is to cover events as they happen. A secondary goal is to explore subjects further. RDI has managed this “tour de force”, in particular with programs such as 24 heures en 60 minutes. Julien fights back accusations that RDI favors images that show violence.
An alternative to traditional news outlets, Concordia University’s ConcordiaCUTVmontreal.ca is the media revelation of this conflict. Founded two years ago, it attracts up to 100,000 Internet users daily according to Station Manager, Laura Kneale. Clearly pro-students, CUTV comments, moment by moment, the evolution of the demonstrations and provides more direct images than RDI and LCN.
Why is CUTV able to broadcast live all evening while RDI and LCN revert to looping the same images? Luce Julien states that they are exploring the possibility of broadcasting via the Web but that tests have been inconclusive. “It is not ready for HD quality” she indicates. When RDI and LCN rebroadcast old footage, it is often because transmission vehicles are in transit. Wednesday night, during the mass arrests in Quebec City that received limited coverage from traditional medias, people turned to TacticalFM.com. This militant site whose slogan is “Denounce misinformation” covered the events live.
Up to now, journalists and cameramen from RDI have not been injured or arrested, even when caught between demonstrators and the police. But much like other medias, CUTV team and its equipments have been manhandled by the police on occasions. Ms Kneale said she was really scared Sunday night when the police forces pointed their anti-riot arms towards her team, ready to fire rubber bullets. “Even standing on the sidewalk and showing our press credentials, they were clearly coming towards us and aiming at our heads,” she says.
The management of LCN has refused to answer our questions.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.