By ANGELO PERSICHILLI
The Hill Times (June 5, 2017)
It was in 1988 when the 14th G7 summit took place in Toronto. I was the news director of then CFMT, the Toronto based multilingual TV, and I “imbedded” two ENG units with the Italian and the Canadian delegations. A third unit was the “floater.”
When they filed their stories, I realized that both of them started with a clip from the leaders of the Italian and Canadian delegations taking credit for the success of the summit. I told them that one of them was wrong because we couldn’t have two winners in the same game. The “floater,” of course, reported mainly what the American delegation was reporting, meaning the role played by then U.S. president Ronald Reagan.
But the reality was that all of them were right. In fact, one was monitoring the story from a “Canadian” eye, the second from an “Italian” perspective, and the third was lured by the American networks.
I realized this was my first encounter with globalization.
In fact, that night, the national newscasts in Italy, Canada, and the United States all started with the same intro and stressed the importance of the performance of their presidents and prime ministers, without giving a global context.
The world has changed since, but politics and the media have not.
I monitored last week’s reporting on the G7 Summit and realized the politicians were debating the same issues 30 years ago, including the environment, terrorism, and the economic problems of the day, while reporting on it is built around the same ghetto mentality.
G7 Summits have exhausted their usefulness. Around the table, there were countries that used to call themselves the “most industrialized economies of the Western world.” I was always puzzled by the presence of Japan, but I was told that Tokyo had to be included because of the size of its economy and the interconnections with the Western world.
If the size and the intertwining of the economies are the criteria for the participation to the G7 Summit, I wonder why China, Brazil and India are not there; and, for that matter, why Canada and Italy are still sitting around the table.
They should remove the criteria of the “most industrialized economies of the Western world” and call it the gathering of “alumni,” or members of a cultural-social-club-expensive-outing payed by taxpayers.
Today, with technology allowing us to gather news on our own, even from a remote island in the middle of Pacific Ocean, it’s odd that the so-called conventional media operate by pretending to be in the same close cultural, social, and political “ghetto” of 30 years ago. Believing that people at home depend exclusively on the mainstream media to know what’s going on in Taormina or Iraq is naïve. To pretend that the audience at home is the same as the one of the last century is dangerous and jeopardizes the future of the industry.
To make my point, I will not write about critical issues missed, but a peripheral news that explains why the so-called mainstream media are losing ground. I confess that I am of Italian origin, I love soccer and the player Francesco Totti is my hero. Like me, there are thousands of Canadians who love soccer and Totti, but not a single word appeared in the Canadian media when he retired despite the news was reported worldwide. Some would say that I am upset because I am a Totti fan and “Italian”, but there are heroes in many other countries like India, China, Pakistan that might interest Canadians of other origin.
That’s exactly my point. I don’t know and I will never know, unless I resort to social media.
Missing issues of great social, cultural, and economic interest to millions of Canadians who live outside downtown Toronto is accelerating the demise of once powerful mainstream media.
Angelo Persichilli is a freelance journalist and a former citizenship judge for the Greater Toronto Area. He was also a director of communications to former prime minister Stephen Harper and is the former columnist for Toronto Sun, Toronto Star and former political editor of Corriere Canadese, Canada’s Italian-language newspaper in Toronto.