Documentary: History on the Run

Peter Raymont’s History on the Run: The Media and the ’79 Election takes a look behind the scenes at the process of reporting the Canadian federal election of 1979. It takes a page out of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by focusing on the journalists rather than the candidates. However, Thompson’s profanity-laced and heavily embellished renderings are replaced by sober and factual documentation; the likes of which one would expect from the National Film Board of Canada.

Both Thompson’s book and the above film characterize so-called pack journalism, wherein a group of journalists depend on information, scoops, and tips from each other, while the entire group essentially relies on a single source for its info feed. The risk under such conditions is a single version of events that is reported consistently across the spectrum of media outlets.

Do you recall my post about the documentary, Action: the October Crisis of 1970? In it I brought up Tim Ralfe, the CBC reporter behind the famous “Well, just watch me…” Trudeau interview. As an interesting tidbit (to me at least), he shows up around 35 minutes into this film as the director of communications for Progressive Conservative Joe Clark‘s campaign.

Spoiler alert: Pierre Trudeau loses to Clark.

On a personal, albeit remotely related note, I just had my first day back at school! I feel like a kid again. I’m starting a two-year Broadcast Journalism program at BCIT. So far, so good. The content looks like it’ll be interesting, and a little bit fun. It should be quite a bit different than the liberal arts education that UBC straightened me out with.