Former Southam employees blast CanWest editorial policy in ad

More than 40 journalists, including many former Southam executives, have come out criticizing CanWest GlobalÔÇÖs newspaper editorial policy in a national newspaper advertisement.

The ad, which appeared in the dailies the Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press and Halifax Chronicle-Herald, urged the media giant to change its controversial editorial policy of running national editorials in all of its daily newspapers.

ÔÇ£The diversity of voices is the essence of free speech, democracy and pluralism,ÔÇØ the ad read. ÔÇ£The challenge is how to adjust the balance between the right of owners and the public interest.”

The ad also calls for government intervention in the form of tax incentives in order to protect the independence of newsrooms.

The ad was signed by former Southam president and CEO William Ardell and includes such names as George E. Connell, former director of Southam, Inc., Clark Davey, former publisher of three Southam daily newspapers, Wilson Southam, former director of Southam Inc. and Southam Newspapers and Keith Spicer, former editor of the Ottawa Citizen and former chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The ad mentions a web site,, where there is more information.

Leonard Asper, president and CEO of CanWest fired back at the adÔÇÖs accusations in a letter to the editor in the June 7 edition of the Globe and Mail, saying that CanWestÔÇÖs editorial policy ÔÇ£ adds to diversity, by providing an additional source of content and debate.ÔÇØ

Further, Asper said that the idea of tax incentives to encourage newsroom independence was ÔÇ£incorrectÔÇØ and ÔÇ£even dangerousÔÇØ and that ÔÇ£every Canadian should oppose it.ÔÇØ