Front page of the Telegraph Journal
|Publisher||James K. Irving|
|Headquarters||210 Crown Street
Saint John, New Brunswick
|Sister newspapers||The Daily Gleaner
Times & Transcript
The Telegraph-Journal is a daily newspaper published in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. It serves as both a provincial daily and as a local newspaper for Saint John. The newspaper is published by Brunswick News, owned by James K. Irving. The Telegraph-Journal is the only New Brunswick-based newspaper to be distributed province-wide and has the highest readership in the province at a weekly circulation of 233,549 and a daily readership of over 75,000.
Brunswick News also publishes a series of editions of regional news, including editions in Fredericton and Moncton under the titles “Daily Gleaner” and “Times & Transcript”, respectively. Corporate and editorial control rests under Irving control with the Telegraph-Journal's offices in Saint John.
The Telegraph-Journal has been the focus of controversy several times over recent years, with allegations of media control, bias and advocacy journalism on behalf of business and political interests. A report from the Canadian Senate in 2006 on media control in Canada singled out New Brunswick because of the Irving companies' ownership of all English-language daily newspapers in the province, including the Telegraph-Journal. Senator Joan Fraser, author of the Senate report, stated, "We didn't find anywhere else in the developed world a situation like the situation in New Brunswick." The report went further, stating, "the Irvings' corporate interests form an industrial-media complex that dominates the province" to a degree "unique in developed countries." At the Senate hearing, journalists and academics cited Irving newspapers' lack of critical reporting on the family's influential businesses.
Irving family scion Jamie Irving took over as publisher in 2004, after which criticism of the Telegraph-Journal's agenda-based journalism became even more prevalent. This was particularly notable during the newspaper's reporting of issues related to electricity rates and NB Power, the crown corporation responsible for power generation and distribution. Editorials argued against rate increases that would harm J.D. Irving Ltd but failed to acknowledge the conflict of interest.
In 2009 the Telegraph-Journal weathered a storm of national attention after a series of incidents that raised issues regarding the newspaper's credibility. The Telegraph-Journal faced charges of political bias when it fired intern Matt McCann for writing a story about a protest against the award by the University of New Brunswick of an honorary degree to New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham. In response to the firing, respected professors from the University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University and St. Thomas University announced a boycott of the newspaper.
Further controversy arose over the Telegraph-Journal's reporting of municipal affairs in Saint John. The newspaper ran a series of stories alleging mismanagement and inappropriate conduct by the City Manager and senior staff, based on what were later seen as fabrications, and faced allegations that it was using negative coverage to blackmail the City into making changes in administration and the tax rate. This led to a very public conflict between the Mayor and the newspaper.
Shortly after, in the "Wafergate" affair, Telegraph-Journal editors altered a news story about the funeral of Lieutenant Governor Romeo LeBlanc to allege that the Prime Minister of Canada 'pocketed' a communion wafer while attending. The resulting controversy dominated national news coverage. Embarrassingly, the Telegraph-Journal was later forced to retract the allegation and apologize for fabricating the story after its own reporters threatened a lawsuit over editorial manipulation. The newspaper's credibility suffered further under critical national media attention. Editor Shawna Richer was dismissed and publisher Jamie Irving was suspended. A well-respected editor was brought in from outside the province to rehabilitate the publication, though Jamie Irving quietly returned to manage the Telegraph-Journal later in the year.
Controversy continued in 2009 when a Telegraph-Journal writer plagiarized an entire story from the French-language paper, L’Acadie Nouvelle. The incident triggered another apology from the Telegraph-Journal.
In 2015 the Telegraph-Journal once again came under scrutiny over its efforts to obtain, as part of a campaign for greater transparency into government lobbying and partisanship, lists of guests at the Government of New Brunswick's “Larry’s Gulch” luxury fishing lodge. An employee of Brunswick News, the newspaper's parent organization, had been a guest at the lodge and contrived to have his own name deleted from the lists prior to publication. Brunswick News had become aware of this ethical breach but didn't act until another news outlet, Canadaland, was about to break the story. The employee was forced out, and despite its earlier fervour for transparency the Telegraph-Journal quietly dropped further efforts to publish Larry’s Gulch guest lists.
In 2015 and 2016 the Telegraph-Journal published editorials arguing against reconsideration of tax concessions benefiting Irving Oil's Canaport LNG facility, without acknowledging any conflict of interest. Coverage of Saint John Common Council advocacy for higher taxation of Irving facilities in the city was notably absent from the newspaper, despite extensive coverage in CBC and other news outlets.
- "CBC: Feds must examine Irving media empire". 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "The Star: Hot scoop burns reporter at Irving paper". 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "Ryerson Review of Journalism: The Calm after the Storm". 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "CBC: Publisher, editor out over wafer story". 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "Columbia Journalism Review: Three Strikes and You're Fired". 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "CBC: Saint John mayor claims Irving demanded city hall changes". 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "Macleans: Er, never mind". 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "Changes Confirmed At Local Paper". 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "CBC: 2 Moncton Times & Transcript editors out after ethics probe". 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "Telegraph Journal Editorial: Don't rewrite history on LNG tax deal". 2015-12-09. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- "Telegraph Journal Editorial: Tax deal repeal sends a dangerous message". 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2016-04-15.