The heavily pro-abortion editorial policies of Homemaker’s Magazine have been reported in The Interim. Regular readers will recall that we have pointed to the March and April 1983 issues of the magazine as containing pro-abortion pieces with no attempt to provide balanced reporting either before of since those dates with articles showing pro-life views.
Homemaker’s Magazine is delivered free to over a million homes in Canada, it is a magazine solely supported by it’s advertising revenue. The Interim has published names and addresses of manufacturers who advertise in Homemaker’s and these three companies have been deluged with letters from pro-lifers. Our letters have protested the companies’ support of such discriminatory journalism and we have announced our intention of boycotting the products concerned.
The responses from manufacturers to these letters are illuminating. Noxema Int, Campbell Soup Ltd., and the Quaker Oats Company of Canada state they advertise in the media that will most successfully reach their target group of consumers. All companies state they do not believe they have a right to influence editorial policy.
Canada Packers informs us that they have discussed the issue with the editor of Homemakers, although we are not told to what effect. Canada Packers Public Relations Manager, M.M.R. Stewart, concludes his letter with “Of course, we do not dictate in any way the editorial policy of the media we choose to carry information about products to our customers.”
On the brighter side, both Carnation Inc. and McCain Foods Ltd. are at least concerned over the issue. J. C. Hart, Associate Marketing Manager for Carnation, says they are “obviously quite distressed that you are contemplating not purchasing our products due to the magazine’s editorial stance.”
Both companies, of course, are at great pains to disassociate themselves as advertisers from the editorial policies of the magazine. Mr. Hart continues: “we have requested that Homemaker’s review their articles in order to present them in a more objective fashion or at least give equal space to contrary points of view. We are re-evaluating our commitment to advertise in this magazine for the balance of the year and are not planning to continue in 1984”
In marked contrast to the defensive tone of the letters written by the companies who are washing their hands of any responsibility, Carnation’s letter ends: “we value you as a consumer and hope you will continue to purchase and enjoy Carnation products.”
McCain Foods’ position was stated by A.D. McLean, Vice Preside-of Marketing. McLean answered a pro-life letter with an opening paragraph saying “I am personally opposed to abortion, and indeed dedicated to a pro-life position.” He followed this with the by now normal arms lengths position of the companies in relation to editorial policies.
McLean attached to his letter a copy of a letter written by Ted Gitings, president of Comac Communications Ltd, which owns Homemakers. In this letter he says, “I would love to see Homemakers carry an article that presents the other side of this very
Important public issue. Will you consider carrying such an article?” We do not know Gittings’ response to this.
McLean points out that the Bell Telephone Company owns Comac, which in turn owns Homemakers, He asks if the concerned pro-lifer feels strongly enough to call Bell and request removal of their telephone, “as opposed to pressuring advertisers in this present method?”
The editor of Homemakers, June Gale is also executive director for Comac Communications. Her personal pro-abortion views are well –known, and it can be assumed safely that she does influence policy in the magazine. Over the summer, Ms Gale joined a new adhoc pro-abortion committee called “the Issue is Choice.”
Members of this committee include journalist June Callwood, Judith Finlayson [columinist for the Globe and Mail] Helen Hutfhinson [cohost of C.T.V.’s programme W-%, Kathy Robinson [former member of the Federal Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the highly laced federal liberal organizer], ex CBC producer Margot Lane and Ruth Miller who is on the board of the Canadian Abortion Rights League.
This group published in The Globe and Mail on January 21st entitled “The Issue is Choice. The ad carried signatures of several hundreds of supporters.
On August 12th they sent a letter, signed by Callwood to Members of Parliament. The letter states in part “as you know, most Canadians believe that women should be able to decide for themselves about abortion. Many people who are opposed to abortion for themselves nevertheless support the principle of freedom of choice…The present laws covering abortion in Canada do not permit all women to exercise choice…”
It would seem, then, that both the advertisers and the editors are all masquerading behind the mask of “freedom of the press”. As far as Homemaker’s is concerned, this slogan is meaningless. Freedom of the press is supposed to guarantee unbiased journalism; the readers are entitled to read reports which accurately reflect every dimension of every story. If unbiased reporting of any situation is not possible, then the reader is entitled to be informed that such is the case. At this point, and only then, “freedom of the press” is an accurate slogan.
Ms. Gale has often stated that the magazine is intended to contribute to the “consciousness-rising” of the women who read it. However, it appears that she wishes to have her readers’ opinions formed only by her opinions.
At this point it would he constructive for all of us to write to Mr. Ted Grittings, president of Comac, protesting the edtorial policies pursued by Ms. Gale. If she is unable to present both sides of this important social issue, she is doing a great disservice to women. Comac Communications address is 2300 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4P1E4