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From Politics to Profit
The Commercialization of Canadian Daily Newspapers, 1890-1920

Sotiron, Minko
Publisher:  McGill Queen's, Montreal & Kingston, Canada
Year Published:  1997  
Pages:  224pp   ISBN:  0-7735-3063-0
Library of Congress Number:  PN4908.S68 1997   Dewey:  071'.1'09

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Sotiron analyzes the transformation of Canadian newspapers that occurred between 1890 and 1920. Daily newspapers slowly changed from political mouthpieces to a marketable industry. According to Sotiron, the result was less emphasis on informing the public and more on forming an audience for advertisers to profit from. The book describes the evolution of mass communication and the death of the independent newspaper. This is seen as a threat to freedom of expression because fewer people have a voice in the news. There is less variety in opinions presented by conglomerate media resources.

Spanning nine chapters, the book takes an in-depth look at how this transition occurred. It describes how newspapers have changed in content, appearance and relevance. More pieces are written to draw attention, and many can be called "fluff". Newspapers have become a competitive industry, and their reputation for seeking out the bloodiest stories comes from a strategy to attract the most consumers. Sotiron's book looks at the press barons of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, including a detailed case study of the first Canadian newspaper chain.

"Today there are no independent daily newspapers in Canada; all are controlled by chains or conglomerates." The significance of this statement is that the reporting of the news is now in the hands of few. A handful of people has control over the opinions expressed to the public, and one can only assume that this handful comes from the most privileged and elite groups in society. Newspapers today are more focused on generating money than on what they are reporting, Sotiron claims. They report the views of certain interest groups that are interested either in profit or in influencing the public. There is no room left for the voice of the individual.

[Abstract by Mia Manns]

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