Don't Read Newspapers, If You Want to Find Out What Really Matters

October 1 st 1989

Ted Byfield is the seasoned newspaperman who founded the Edmonton-based Western Report and now writes a regular column in which he delights to bash Ottawa and especially the central Canadian media establishment. He is an ardent articulator of western Canada's complaints against what he considers to be the scheming devices of central Canada. Byfield is also adept at attacking popular causes so dear to the progressive secular mindset, and he does not hesitate to profess his commitment to a moral and spiritual standard rooted in the Christian faith.

In a recent column, Byfield offered an explanation of why the major media outlets paid scant attention to the Alberta Senate election held on October 16. He thinks the central Canadian media wants to downgrade this Alberta event by ignoring it. Byfield writes that these are the very same people who believe that events are only important if they are accompanied by a great deal of media hype. He then makes a comment that goes right to the heart of a serious shortcoming of those in control of the modern media. He calls them:

...believers in the sagacity of the media. They seem to think that all significant revolutions must be accompanied by sound, fury and hype—the phenomena we of the media are in the business of creating and enlarging—and that no significant change can occur without public clamour and cacaphony. In other words, whatever the media makes important, that's important. Whatever the media does not regard as important, that's not important. It is a ingenuous faith, as touching as it is groundless. The fact is that almost all of the great convulsions of the era—the calamitous changes in the schools, the destruction of the family as the basis of society, even the present collapse of the birthrate throughout the western world—are of lasting and perhaps decisive importance, and we of the media have missed every one of them. Our special skill lies in plumbing the depths of the superficial. If you want to find out what really matters, then, heavens, don't read the newspapers. (Ted Byfield, "A Silent Election and a Loud, but the Former Means the Most," Western Report, October 2, 1989, p.60)


Harry Antonides came to Canada in 1948, initially working as a farm hand and railway labourer. After over a decade working in a chemical plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Harry joined the newly forming Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in 1962 as a field representative. By 1970 Harry became director of research and education. In 1974, he was a founding member of the Work Research Foundation (now Cardus) and publisher of their sole publication, Comment magazine. A prolific writer and dynamic speaker, Harry delivered lectures all over North America and published numerous articles, reviews, and essays. He is author of several books on Christianity, labour, and economics, including Multinationals and the Peacable Kingdom (1978) and Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and its Contemporary Legacy (1985). Harry is retired and lives with his wife Janet in Willowdale, Ontario.