The Pundits: Power-Politics & the Press


198 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88879-123-2





Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


Here is probably one of the more significant journalism books of 1985. Tataryn’s theme is that the nation’s political illiteracy is a direct result of the mediocre political writing by columnists in Canada today. He takes a look at political columnists’ influence on journalism and their impact on their colleagues, on the politicians they cover, and on public opinion. In chapter one he describes what columns are all about and gives a short history of how columnists evolved, reflecting on the media’s power to shape public attitudes. Chapter two is about American columnists (and what they mean for Canada), and chapter three is about British columnists (and what they mean for Canada). Chapter four, on Canada, covers such columnists as Allan Fotheringham, Peter Worthington, Dalton Camp, Charles Lynch, Jeffrey Simpson, Richard Gwyn, and others.

The book is based on personal interviews conducted in 1981 and 1984 for the CBC show Ideas; the author concentrated on newspaper columnists only, ignoring magazines and broadcast commentators. Of Canada, Tataryn says on page 177; “Canadian columnists are more inclined to attend on the personalities in politics as opposed to the political agenda at hand. The tone of the more popular columnists in Canada is decidedly flip, nonchalantly discursive, and hardly intellectually rigorous.” He has an extremely useful bibliography of sources (books and periodical articles) but his quotations in the text are not footnoted.


Tataryn, Lloyd, “The Pundits: Power-Politics & the Press,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,