Yesterday's News: Why Canada's Daily Newspapers Are Failing Us


271 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55266-000-1
DDC 071'.1





M. Wayne Cunningham is a past executive director of the Saskatchewan
Arts Board and the former director of Academic and Career Programs at
East Kootenay Community College.


This well-researched and stimulating book is at once an “attempt to
identify the factors that made us fall out of love with daily newspapers
in Canada, … [and] … a newspaperman’s quest for the survival of
his craft: a questioning search for how the press can connect with us,
how it can learn to serve us better in the twenty-first century, and
what we can do to make it happen.” It’s a tall order, but the
author, who comes equipped with a 20-year career in journalism, is up to
the task.

The first of the book’s two sections deals with the problems
confronting the newspaper business. Among the issues Miller addresses
are the debate over whether the primary purpose of newspapers is to
inform or to entertain, the difficulties resulting from the expanding
roles of the advertising and marketing departments, the fallout from
corporate mergers and takeovers, the decreasing number of independent
voices, the widespread impacts of technological changes, growing legal
constraints on freedom of the press, eroding ethics among the press
corps, racial discrimination in the media, and the dominance of big
business interests.

In the second section of the book, Miller recounts various events that
took place during the several months he spent as an unpaid reporter at
the Shawville, Quebec, newspaper the Equity. Each chapter is organized
around an incident or two that the author uses to illustrate a larger
point. For example, in the chapter titled “Coaster Cone’s
Complaint,” Miller’s recollection of using the nickname,
“Coaster” without getting Coaster Cone’s permission leads to his
larger concern that “[j]ournalists are actually trained not to respect
other’s privacy” and his subsequent proposal that standards be
adopted to ensure accountability on the part of Canada’s newspapers.
The author of this fine book would like to see journalism transform
itself into a profession that places a high premium not only on
accountability but also on experimentation and service to the community.


Miller, John., “Yesterday's News: Why Canada's Daily Newspapers Are Failing Us,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,