Does anyone still read the newspaper? Well, yes. And furthermore, "I no longer subscribe to the Toronto Star; in its place I read thestar.com" doesn't count. I'm about to present the top 25 newspapers in Canada by circulation, but I admit that the print circulation matters less and less - and as such it's becoming more and more difficult to gauge the relative 'power' of these papers.
And yet it matters more and more. For two reasons: first, in the past decade or so, Canada's newpapers have undergone an amount of consolidation that ought to be frightening to everyone who believes that news matters and that newspapers have a lot of influence over opinion and policy. Particularly in light of point two: in the past decade or so, Canada's newspapers have undergone a rightward shift that is just as shocking as the Canadian public's acceptance of the shift is. For a country that cherishes social democratic values, havng a mass media so thoroughly consolidated on the right side of the spectrum is worrying indeed. Let's run down the list and take a look at the ownership and political orientation of Canada's biggest newspapers. The results are eye-opening.
Torstar empire, it goes back to 1892 and has retained a pretty partisan Liberal affiliation.
CTVglobemedia 'empire', which oddly enough is part-owned by Torstar at the moment (its owndership might revert back to the Thompsons, though). The Globe's rightward shift, to open Conservative support as of late, is endemic of the rightward shift of the Canadian media oligarchy in general.
Conservatives. It's owned by the Power Corporation of Canada.
Quebecor's main French-language paper, Le Journal is essentially a Francophone take on The Sun's populism and sensationalism. Taking the nationalistic side of Québécois 'identity politics', it is otherwise also difficult to pin down on the traditional spectrum. Though Quebecor rarely, if ever, strays far from the right wing. The tabloid dates back to 1964.
Postmedia, whose flagship paper sells less than this one. Being anglophone, it's obviously federalist. Being based in Québec, it's tough to say more than that, thought Postmedia is a pretty firm Tory backer, and indeed the Gazette sided with the Conservatives in 2008 and 2006.
Postmedia brand. It's been around since 1912, though its Conservative endorsement is more recent than that.
Conservative since its 1971 inception. Populist and sensationalist like its Quebecor-owned sisters, of which it is the oldest, The Sun has also been losing market share recently and even as recently as 2007 would have come in fifth in circulation.
Postmedia brand, as is their chief rival The Vancouver Sun. Being Postmedia, they're also Conservative.
Conservative, obviously, and the centrepiece of the newspaper cabal descended from Black's Hollinger, Postmedia (though it's only the third-best-selling Postmedia newspaper).
FP Canadian Newspapers Limited", i.e. it's a standalone. While it might go against the grain regarding ownership, it's endorsed the Conservatives recently, despite a so-called 'liberal orientation.'
Postmedia paper and a Calgary paper, one doesn't have to think too much to determine its political orientation, but to spell it out: C-O-N-S-E-R-V-A-T-I-V-E.
Conservatives. That still hasn't changed, even if its ownership has, fumbling down the years to fall into the hands of the Postmedia behemoth.
the Dennis family, dating back to 1874, it's also the first true independent on the list. Being based in the Maritimes, where their Conservatives lean left and their New Democrats lean right, it's tough to fix a label to their beliefs and I can't find a record of an official endorsement in 2008 or 2006, but the opinions I read on their website looked pretty small-c conservative if not perhaps big-C Conservative as well.
Quebecor-owned and Québec City-based. I see no reason to list it as anything but Conservative. Populist and sensationalist like its sisters bearing the name Journal in French or Sun in English, it's been a union-busting tabloid since 1967.
Power Corporation, a company with traditionally Liberal ties. Le Soleil in fact was started as the official organ of the Liberal Party. I see no explicit endorsements of a recent vintage, but it'd be a fair guess that it hasn't changed that much.
Torstar, it has become the Toronto Star's Golden Horseshoe sister. It seems to be officially neutral politically, perhaps wavering in the direction of the Liberals, like its big brother.
Postmedia imprint now, in the awkward position of balancing its parent company's right-wing preferences with its community's left-wing voting habits. In 2008, it stayed neutral, and we'll have to consider it neutral still.
Quebecor possession now. Wikipedia calls it 'centrist', but its most recent endorsement was Conservative.
Conservative-endorsing Postmedia imprint.
Quebecor's Sun line doesn't fare that well in readership, perhaps because opening the paper to page three, ogling the contents and then closing it again doesn't qualify as 'reading'. In any case, Conservative, duh. And of a 1978 vintage.
Torstar imprint today. And yet, spinning in his grave though Joe Atkinson may be, it's Conservative.
Postmedia will force a space, or at least a hyphen, in the middle of this Chang-and-Eng-named newspaper. But since it was founded in 1902 as the Saskatoon Phenix, we have little to hope for on the spelling front. I can't be sure, but the StarPhoenix looks Conservative.
Quebecor, Calgary. Conservative. Obviously.
Postmedia paper today. I don't see much in the way of a national opinion. They seem to support Brad Wall, but who in Saskatchewan doesn't? Otherwise, I'm unsure.