Media bias isn’t just about how issues are presented. It can also be seen in which issues receive attention and which are ignored.
For example, while Bloomberg, The Financial Post, Aviation Week, and many others decided to cover a significant announcement last week about the range extension on Bombardier’s new Global 7000, the Globe and Mail completely ignored it. Yet, days later they published an article rehashing old and discredited reporting about our use of sales agents, under the pretense that it related to a shareholder proposal on the disclosure of lobbying activities and expenditures.
The Globe has every right to make decisions about what they deem newsworthy. But, these decisions reveal much about the paper’s commitment to fairness, balance and objectivity.
Moreover, it is a real stretch to see any connection between the company’s use of sales agents and the shareholder proposal for additional disclosure on lobbying activities. But readers should make up their own minds once they have all the facts. Here is the actual proposal at issue. It was submitted by the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) on behalf of OceanRock Investments. And, since the Globe gave very little space to the company’s recommendation on the proposal, you can read that here.
Beyond the actual plain language of the proposal, readers should also know that the SHARE proposal is neither novel nor unique to Bombardier. SHARE regularly works with clients to submit proposals at various public companies. Here are four recent examples: Bombardier, Imperial Oil, Encana, and SNC Lavalin Group. Of course, you don't see this in the Globe’s headline, or near the top of the story. Instead, it is buried toward the end. Also missing from the story is the critical context that Glass Lewis and ISS routinely support these types of proposals.
As always, we welcome shareholder proposals and honest debate about them. Unfortunately, the Globe’s recent article is not that. Readers would be right to ask whether the space dedicated to the proposal and the company’s response was fair and proportionate. By our count, 435 words versus 72, which doesn’t really feel balanced. Nor did the reporters bother to include perspective from any shareholders opposed to the proposal.
It is precisely this kind of strained and overwrought reporting that has led Bombardier to substantively question the Globe’s basic approach to coverage of our company. It adds to a growing body of evidence that the paper and its reporters are operating under an apparent mandate to generate as much negative coverage of Bombardier as is possible, no matter how weak the basis or tortured and overblown the analysis.
Vice President Communications and Public Affairs