Fazil Mihlar went from the Fraser Institute to being an editor with the Vancouver Sun to being the Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of the B.C. Liberal government’s oil & gas initiatives. Joining other journalists who have moved seemlessly from the pages and television screens of big journalism into the employ of those they were reporting on and, supposedly, serving as watchdog over on the public’s behalf (Hi, Pamela Martin!).
During his time at the Sun, Mihlar wrote countless articles in support of oil and gas projects (Example. Also: See here). Can we really say he was acting on the behalf of the public interest during his tenure?
That’s a rhetorical question.
This is a big problem for the field of journalism. A big problem, and I’m sorry that people like Vaughn Palmer don’t see what the big deal is. The public need investigative reporters, not court stenographers or industry spokespeople. Even if it’s just a perception of a conflict of interest, perception counts. And in this case I don’t think it was merely perception. The record speaks for itself.
P.S. I’m sure Mihlar is a very nice fellow on a personal level.
UPDATE: Here is Mr. Mihlar’s LinkedIn profile. You’ll note he has an M.A. in Public Administration, a B.A. in economics, a “diploma” in Marketing and, notably, no degree/certificate/diploma in journalism. Yet he was Editorial Page Editor at the Sun 2003-2012. Guess which
degree diploma he got the most use out of?
Again, I’m sure he’s a very nice fellow. This is not ultimately a comment on Fazil Mihlar. What this really speaks to is the Vancouver Sun and how much faith you, the public, should put into it.