Apparently frustrated by the misinformation being spread about Quebec’s largest media company by its competitors, Quebecor Media is starting to defend itself directly to the public.
It recently started making use of its Twitter account, and has setup a new website called Quebecor vous informe, where it posts letters by the company responding to competitors and critics (all of them, somewhat annoyingly, as PDFs).
As an example, there’s this letter, dated Tuesday, that responds to the recent episode of Radio-Canada’s Enquête that reported on the Quebecor empire (well, actually, it’s a letter in response to a lawyer’s letter to the Journal de Montréal’s editor-in-chief that criticized the report, but most of it deals with the Enquête episode itself).
The letter from Quebecor VP Marc Tremblay doesn’t challenge any of the facts presented in the Enquête report, but takes exception to the way they are presented, by either accusing it of bias against Quebecor or explaining how the company’s practices are perfectly justifiable.
It doesn’t, for example, challenge the part about how the Journal de Montréal altered the results of a ranking of the most influential cultural figures in Quebec, but calls it an “isolated incident” and presents lots of documentation on why Julie Snyder is actually very influential (mostly clippings from Gesca papers that also rank her high). It also criticized Enquête for relying so much on people critical of Quebecor and bringing no one in who supports the company’s positions.
Another example is this letter to Le Devoir criticizing a column by its media columnist Stéphane Baillargeon about the recent firings at 24 Heures. Le Devoir published it with a response from Baillargeon saying the writer, Serge Sasseville, refused to respond to his questions about 24 Heures when he wrote the piece.
This is the thing that annoys me most about this way of functioning: Quebecor systematically refuses interviews with journalists, particularly from Gesca or Radio-Canada, then complains that everyone’s biased against them because news articles only present the other side.
It’s like gagging yourself and then complaining that you never get a chance to speak.
That said, and though it might cause some Quebecor critics to pull their hair out, this is a step forward. Quebecor isn’t being silent about criticisms and is taking them head-on. Or at least trying to deflect them instead of ignoring them.
Quebecor needs to go on a charm offensive to get the public back on its side. Opening the lines of communication is a start. But toning down the arrogance that seeps through every sentence of those letters would be a giant next step in making Quebecor Media sound more human.
Then maybe I might start having hope that the conflict between Quebecor and Gesca/Radio-Canada might be resolved before the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is.