History of Science Journalism

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1945-1970

Journalism during This Era

The press industry flourishes

Post-war economic prosperity favoured the newspaper industry. Advertising revenue rose and newspapers grew in size. Likewise, newsrooms expanded. The tabloid press gained in popularity and the Journal de Montréal (1964 to date) was launched; circulation of Montréal-Matin increased. However, La Presse and the Star remained very influential daily newspapers in Canada.

The artisans of a passive press

During this era, journalists learned the basics of their trade through trial and error, and advice and comments received from the editor-in-chief and other veteran journalists. A rare few held university diplomas.

Newspapers offered well-written texts abounding with long descriptions. Journalists used words to allow readers to 'see' the events as they had witnessed them.

However, until the early 1960s, Radio-Canada journalists and journalists working for the French Department of La Presse Canadienne were basically translator-adaptors. They were rarely involved in reporting, and their articles consisted of accounts of press conferences held by the Premier or other 'official' sources. Given these circumstances, journalists received very little in the way of social recognition and prestige for their services.

Linotype machine

Creation of unions and professional associations

Between 1945 and the onset of the 1950s, several journalists' unions were formed; decent minimum working conditions were negotiated. Unionization occurred mainly among daily newspapers.

French-language journalists formed a professional association known as the Union canadienne des journalistes de langue française.  The union defined a professional code of ethics for their trade. Television gave several the opportunity to become well-known personalities, for example André Laurendeau and Gérard Pelletier.

Cameraman filming cycling in Lanaudière

The number of female journalists increased progressively. In short, journalism was becoming a more professional trade with a better status.

Thanks to union protection, journalists acquired more independence from the institutions they covered and more freedom in the way they handled subjects. Given their role of conveying information and covering social issues, journalists began to take a marked interest in public affairs.

Broadcast media emerges

Radio stations now had newsrooms. Radio reporting became commonplace and radio journalism solidly entrenched.

Parallel to this, television entered the scene. In 1951 and 1952, Radio-Canada and the CBC hired their first teams of producers and technicians, initially producing many experimental shows. In September 1952, CBFT-TV (Radio-Canada in Montréal) and CBLT-TV (CBC in Toronto) went on air. At first, the Radio-Canada station in Montréal was bilingual; then it became exclusively French-language after the inauguration of the English-language CBMT-TV network (CBC in Montréal) in 1954.

In the beginning, television presented information in much the same way as radio: one could hear the text being read, but not see the person reading it! However, the medium gradually became complementary in the production and broadcasting of information.

Stage decor for the Monsieur Technos show