30 July 2008

Memorial University crisis: the media coverage to date

Conversation at the Tuesday family supper table included a question from your humble e-scribbler's sister as to why the education minister held her scrum with reporters at 2:45.

Good question, since, as the Sister noted, media now had time to get reaction from critics of the government's policy.

There is no good answer, though, except that she was essentially correct. Since news runs on controversy, this story will have legs. The contradictions between the Premier and the minister will fuel further inquiry.

At some point, the Grenfell issue will come back since a key part of the earlier rumour held that at least one of the candidates Burke now admits rejecting may have been someone who wasn't a fan of the proposed second university. Burke denied the issue had any impact on the hiring selection but that sounded a bit like what labradore calls "Not(x) = x".

Media coverage on Tuesday only intensified the criticism since the rumours of cabinet interference in hiring the university president have now been confirmed.

Canadian Press filed a story about seven hours ago with about half the story consisting of comments from the university faculty association: N.L. university faculty say freedom jeopardized after minister's intervention. The reaction is strongly negative:

"What it suggests is that if she's going to be actively administering the university, would she come in and deal with an individual faculty member whose politics she didn't like? Or an individual administrator at a lower level that she didn't like?" [Ross Klein, president-elect of the faculty association.]

That builds on a story that ran earlier on Tuesday across the country.

The Telegram's quickie version from Tuesday afternoon is simple and focuses on the continuing search. That's pretty much been their coverage to date. vocm.com's little summary sticks to the simple.

CBC's online story is a bit more detailed. it includes critical comment.

The CBC Here and Now supper hour news piece was harder hitting. On the Go played the entire scrum. None are online as of Tuesday evening unfortunately. The scrum would be worth having in its entirety, especially the bit where the education minister dances around the fact the Premier's version of events and hers are somewhat at odds.

NTV's report was longer and included critical comment.

There's also been a bit of blog coverage, like a post at Macleans.ca by a MUN education professor who labeled the media coverage "sometimes bizarre".

Editorial opinion has also been strongly negative, like this column from last weekend's Telegram. That's been the case since the details of the story and the allegations of interference first surfaced on the front page of the Globe and Mail last Saturday.