Lies the Media Tell Us.


296 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55164-252-9
DDC 302.23





Reviewed by Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton is a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of
British Columbia.


A professor of communication studies at the University of Windsor, Winter offers here a powerful analysis of media distortion, its causes, and the consequences for our democracy. His book begins with a compelling introduction to how the media function (or malfunction), followed by chapters on media bias and the “propaganda system” in regard to environmental issues, Big Pharma, Canadian sovereignty, and globalization. Each chapter proffers numerous examples illustrating ways in which, and reasons why, the media have failed to produce accurate or balanced reporting.


Winter’s critique of corporatized media—full of appalling instances of selective reporting, the suppression of facts, and willed ignorance—is overwhelmingly persuasive. If readers were unaware of the extent and perniciousness of this control, they will find here more than enough evidence to prompt serious doubts, and serious alarm, about the information we receive from mainstream journalists. Winter’s claim that “anything which is even remotely critical of advertisers is not going to make it into the newspaper” is defended, for instance, with detailed—and because of its implications, rather depressing—thoroughness. The book ends, after identifying major sources of distortion, with a vigorous appeal for journalistic independence—the failure of which he connects to, among other events, the American and British involvement in the current Iraq war. Canadian media cannot, Winter adds, feel superior to their southern counterparts, since both “have adopted the role of stenographers to power.”


What weakens this book at certain points, however, is Winter’s sometimes shrill and, well, fanatical tone—a tendency not helped by his opening anecdote, in which he describes taking his children, aged 3 and 5, to chant slogans at a protest for striking workers. His claim that the free trade agreements of the 1980s meant that Canadians “turned over our oil and water reserves to the Americans” is, for instance, simplistic and overstated. Nevertheless, this is a powerful and important book, and it clearly deserves a wide audience.


Winter, James P., “Lies the Media Tell Us.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,