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Editorial reactions of ten Canadian dailies to the FLQ crisis of 1970 Holdrinet, Gérard Pierre

Abstract

This study measures and compares the editorial reactions of ten Canadian metropolitan dailies to the FLQ kidnap crisis of 1970, and the specific, important events which occurred within the crisis. Besides comparing the editorial reactions of individual papers, the newspapers are also grouped by language (French and English) and by geographical location, to determine the effect of these two characteristics upon those reactions. The thesis is divided into four chapters, as follows: Methodology, an account of the crisis, the newspapers, and finally the presentation and analysis of the findings. The research method used is content analysis. Five categories are devised, into which are classified the editorial content of the newspapers analyzed. A frequency count method is used, with the theme as recording unit and the paragraph as context unit. Chapter two centers about a short account of the crisis and the selection of important events within the crisis which could be expected to have had some influence upon the editorial reactions of the papers. Chapter three consists of the selection of newspapers to be analyzed, of newspaper characteristics (language and location) which one might expect to have an effect upon editorial reactions, and finally of deferring editorial content for the purpose of this study. The presentation and analysis of findings (Chapter four) is subdivided into two parts-editorial reactions to the entire crisis and editorial reactions to important events within the crisis. It was found that the single greatest determinant of how a newspaper reacted editorially to the crisis was geographic allocation. The papers from Ontario and Quebec put considerable emphasis upon the dangers of excessive reaction by the authorities and upon the need for social reform as a solution to the crisis, whereas the papers from other regions were generally more concerned with the need for law and order. The French papers devoted more editorial space to the crisis than did the English papers but the nature of their reaction was generally similar to that of the English papers of Ontario and Quebec. The French papers greatly increased their editorial content about the crisis after the abduction of Pierre Laporte - the English papers only after the proclamation of the War Measures Act. Before the War Measures Act was proclaimed, all English papers had put a strong emphasis upon the need for law and order. After the proclamation, the English papers of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa de-emphasized that issue. A summary of the more important findings of the study is presented as a concluding section of Chapter four.

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