As the dominant figure in Canadian
print media, by the late '90s, Conrad Black had become increasingly
outspoken about the liberal viewpoints of newspapers and magazines, and
what he perceived as the decline in the quality of work by journalists. By
1999, his company Hollinger International Inc. controlled Southam, the
largest newspaper chain in Canada. In England, he had already owned the
London Telegraph since 1985, as well as French-language newspapers Le
Soleil in Quebec City and Le Droit in Ottawa, and 40 small American
papers. And in 1987, he became another in a string of owners of the
fiscally challenged Saturday Night magazine.
Through Southam, he made inroads in the Canadian newspaper market first by
buying The Financial Post in 1998, and then starting up the National Post,
a national daily to compete with the Toronto-based Globe and Mail. He has
since sold the National Post to CanWest Global of Winnipeg. To date, the
paper has lost more than $20 million.
Speaker of the Week #20
In this episode of Speaker of the Week, broadcast Sept. 9,
1997, Black presents his views on media ownership
and thoughts on the industry at the Spruce Meadows
Round Table in Calgary.
He shares his ideas on where
the print media are heading
in this electronic age, declaring
that, "People will respond
to good writing." He discusses
the decline of the newspaper
industry and the professional standards
of editorial integrity.
Because of the proportion of Canadian media he controlled, Black became
the target of writers ranging from Maude Barlow (1998's The Big Black
Book: Essential Views of Conrad and Barbara Amiel Black) and Richard
Siklos (1995's Shades of Black), whose work was often critical of the
newspaper baron's acquisitions and ultraconservative point of view.
Black's own literary works - Life in Progress, Render Unto Caesar: The
Life and Legacy of Maurice Duplessis, and the highly regarded Duplessis -
remain in print.