There’s been an interesting online debate in the Hamiltonian and Raise the Hammer about media credentials. Clr. Sam Merulla told the editor of the Hamiltonian that she should appear as a delegation before council if she wants answers to her questions about the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. His argument is that from his standpoint the Hamiltonian has no Media credentials and therefore is ineligible to ask questions as a member of the media.

The fact is that Journalism and Politics are similar in that there are no credentials. You can run for office or engage in journalism with no qualifications whatsoever, and sadly,we see many examples of both here in Hamilton. I hasten to add that from what I can see the Hamiltonian has striven to take a more neutral stance than most blogs do and adopts a respectful, mostly non-judgmental tone. For that they are a welcome addition to the local media scene.

If someone were asking my advice, and they are not; I would advise the Hamiltonian to avoid appearing as a delegation before council if it values its role as a trusted independent source of information. In journalism its an old adage that no matter how tempting, “you can’t march in the parade you are covering.” You either are a source of news or a source of community activism–you can’t be both. The reason CATCH has become irrelevant is because its editor also appears before council as a delegation and engages in activism publicly and behind the scenes.

Based on the comments I have seen on the Hamiltonian they have an intelligent, engaged readership. Trust your readers to take the necessary steps to get to the bottom of  HWT. Here at the Bay Observer we will keep plugging away at this story which in the end is really only a symptom of a much broader malaise.


John Best had enjoyed a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

No Comments to: A word about credentials

  1. July 2nd, 2012

    “The reason CATCH has become irrelevant is because its editor also appears before council as a delegation and engages in activism publicly and behind the scenes.”


    John, you should know better than to take this tack. If you can’t separate what Don McLean does with CATCH and what he’s been endeavouring to do regarding the AEGD, then I suggest you maybe give some real thought to the dangers of media bias. I’m aware of the fact that you’re pro-AEGD, maybe this is why you’ve been dismissive here. If that’s the case, then I’m additionally disappointed, particularly given the service you’re attempting to provide in Hamilton.

    There’s room in this city for concerned citizens of all stripes, showing their concern in myriad ways. Sometimes a dissident voice is going to rankle other dissidents. So what? We need to be able to appreciate even disparate approaches towards the same basic goals. Otherwise, what makes us any different from the system that seems to be protecting the alleged scoundrels you’ve been attempting to highlight of late?

  2. August 8th, 2012

    Hi, you used to put in writing glorious posts, however the last few posts have been kinda lackluster… I miss your great writing. Past several posts are just a bit out of monitor!


Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)