History of Science Journalism

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1970-1990

Journalism during This Era

Journalistic professionalism

Journalists benefited from the professional recognition acquired over the last decade. Journalists in Quebec grouped together in 1968 under the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec.

In 1973, journalists and press industry management jointly created the Conseil de presse du Québec This organization, grouping together press management representatives, journalists and the public, had a dual mandate: to defend the freedom of the press and the public's right to information, and to review complaints filed against the media and journalists.

In 1978, English-speaking journalists created the Centre for Investigative Journalism, which ultimately became the Canadian Association of Journalists.

The introduction of university training in journalism

Colleges and universities in Canada now offered training in journalism. In Quebec, the Cégep de Jonquière opened its Art et technologie des médias in 1967. In 1973, four Canadian universities offered journalism programs: three in Ontario (Carleton University, Ryerson Institute of Technology, University of Western Ontario) and one in Quebec (Université Laval). In 1980, more than 35 training centres in journalism existed in Canada.

A new perception of the role of the journalist

Young journalists were graduating from university campuses in the throes of political and social unrest. For them, information must necessarily be supportive of the democratization of affairs of state and serve the public interest. While remaining true to the principle of journalistic objectivity, they nonetheless sought to deal more directly with social issues and were inclined to view journalism as a driving force behind social change.

These new journalists clashed with senior management who, in their eyes, had abdicated their responsibility towards information. Indeed, the 1970s were marked by numerous labour disputes in the news industry.

The work of the journalist evolves and so does newspaper content

The state was intervening to a greater extent in all spheres of society (economy, science, culture, education, etc.). The machinery of government was expanding. Media relations were entrusted to intermediaries, and press releases were used massively. To obtain information, journalists now had to go through these public relations agents and communications professionals.

In the media, public affairs were taking up more and more space. Newspapers, followed by radio and television, offered more reports and analyses. Media could thus address complex problems, presenting well-developed and qualified explanations.

Daily newspapers adopt new practices

The growing size of newspapers and the number of journalists in the press rooms made specialized newspaper content possible. For example, education, health and science became special assignments. Sections and special inserts increased in number. In the wake of the movement begun by the Nouveau Journal en 1962, newspaper layout improved. More space was allotted to titles and illustrations.