Q + A with Jesse Brown of Canadaland

    (Jesse Brown/ Twitter)
    (Jesse Brown/ Twitter)
    (Jesse Brown/ Twitter)

    Jesse Brown has broken many of the big Canadian media stories of the past year, including former Q host Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged sexual misconduct.

    Now, his Canadaland podcast has cast its nets in New Brunswick waters. On Sunday, the site reported that three senior editors at Brunswick News Inc. (BNI), the Irving-owned newspaper chain, are being investigated by the company because of a visit of an editor to the government-owned fishing retreat Larry’s Gulch. On Sunday night, BNI ombudsman Patricia Graham announced in a press release that Murray Guy has resigned and Al Hogan “is no longer employed” by the Irving papers.  

    According to a recent blog post, in 2012-13, BNI papers had been demanding transparency about guests at the secretive rendezvous where the province conducts business, until it discovered that one of its own editors, Murray Guy of the Moncton Times & Transcript, was on the guest list. Graham revealed in her press release that Hogan, the managing editor of the Times & Transcript, and Guy had tried to have the government remove Guy’s name from the list.

    The Canadaland host will be taping his podcast Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the  Kinsella Auditorium. The podcast discussion will focus on the Irving press and forestry policy in New Brunswick.

    The AQ’s Nathan DeLong spoke to Brown before his appearance at STU. 

    How did you learn of Times & Transcript editor Murray Guy attending a meeting at Larry’s Gulch, if Shawn Berry and other BNI employees are bound not to speak to media?
    As our story clearly states, we spoke to multiple sources at BNI.

    How can you leverage this information to get more answers?

    To their credit, BNI has been more responsive to us on this investigation than it has been historically. As Jacques Poitras noted on Twitter, our story marked the first time Jamie Irving has given an on the record comment since 2003.
    We have our own questions regarding the ombudsman and BNI’s response to our investigation. We intend to ask them, and report on their answers or non-answers if anything noteworthy is learned.
    Will there be more answers at the live show?
    If the story develops and if we’re able to break them, yes. We’ll also have Jacques Poitras there, who is an expert authority on the Irving Group of Companies and BNI. He’ll have some very interesting things to say.

    What intrigues you about the Irving family and its media holdings in New Brunswick?

    Everything. The more I learn about the Irvings, the more intriguing I find them. They’re like something out of a novel. As a journalist looking at the media, I’m curious about their relationship with government and the role their media monopoly plays in supporting their interests. 

    You’re also discussing forestry at the upcoming podcast at STU. How do you feel that’s significant? 

    Not sure yet. It’s a week off and I need to do some research.  

    Talk about your Patreon page where you’re collecting donations for your show, Canadaland. 

    It’s a fantastic way to run a little media company. I give my show and articles away for free, and a certain percentage of my audience voluntarily pays me (on average $5 per month) to keep it up and go farther. So far, so good. 

    So you’re close to hiring freelance journalists and starting a politics show? Explain. 

    I’m already hiring freelancers. The politics show will kick in soon. We need to reach $10,000 per month, and we’re currently at $9,500. The idea is simply to make a show about Canadian politics that I’d want to listen to.

    Tell us about your new hire on Canadaland, Sean Craig. 

    He’s a sharp guy. He broke the Amanda Lang story. It’s weird to simultaneously break through on the national stage as a talented young journalist while burning future bridges. But he knows the deal. 

    What about your new show, Short Cuts?

    It’s an informal topical chat show about this week’s news. It’s focused on Canada, and I co-host it with someone different every week.  

    You’ve sometimes featured your cousin on Short Cuts before. How does that relate to your purpose of being a media critic? 

    Emma Rose Teitel is my cousin, and is also a columnist for Maclean’s magazine. She’s smart and isn’t afraid to take me on, so it’s practical nepotism. 

    You still describe Canadaland as a media critique show, yet you’ve featured other people, like city councillors. What do they have to do with media criticism? 

    Sometimes I stretch the premise a bit. That interview was about how the media supports the political system in the way it treats “fringe” candidates, but from time to time, I’ll stray from media completely. My audience is pretty supportive as I experiment and develop the show’s range. 

    You’ve talked about improving your website before. Do you still plan to do that? 

    That’s already happening. We just (finally) added RSS for the articles. But the big changes will kick in once we have daily website content and the politics show.  

    Talk about what all went down with The Globe and Mail‘s Shawn Houpt. 

    What went down? Hmmm. Well, I knew someone would write a critical profile of me at some point, as well they should. I don’t think he did a good job. He was an uncritical vessel for some pretty flimsy claims about my past wrongdoings at the CBC, and he was a bit of a coward, putting all of his criticisms in the mouths of unnamed other parties. I wish he’d just come at me honestly with his own take on what I’m doing wrong. He’s adamant that it was a work of criticism and not a “take-down” or “smear-job,” but I think he muddied those waters with the way he went at me. Someone will do a better job soon, I’m sure.


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