In 2018, British Columbians were asked whether to continue using the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system for provincial elections, or switch to a form of proportional representation (PR). During the voting period and preceding months, a handful of journalists published neutral, well-researched articles to help British Columbians vote Yes or No according to their true preferences.1
Unfortunately, several of the major newspapers appeared to forgo serious investigation, and instead helped the No side sustain a narrative that the NDP government had “stacked the deck” in favour of change. The papers published numerous opinion pieces that undermined trust in the referendum and would have convinced reasonable people to vote No even if they preferred PR.
To illustrate the media’s coverage of the 2018 BC Referendum, I offer notes on five markedly negative and poorly researched newspaper columns and editorials. The first article is well intentioned, but the pieces become increasingly biased and misleading. The final editorial contains factual errors that even the No side advertisers were unwilling to make explicit.Continue reading →