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Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Rather than grinding your gears with a rehash of notes sent from the jury room to the judge, or recapping the Globe’s tasteful survey of Lord Black’s prospective housing should he be convicted, I thought I’d write a paragraph or two this morning as to why I think this trial mattered, matters and will continue to matter.

Over the last few months I’ve been astounded and delighted at the depth of wit and sophistication displayed by those among you who chose to comment on the proceedings. On one level, pro or con (forgive me), your contributions framed for me why the proceedings mattered. My natural inclination runs to satire so I spent a lot of time taking the piss. And, for some, that suggested a certain gutter contempt—a pox on everybody’s house. But if I fell to cynicism from time to time the more silly ass me.

Every time I read a thoughtful passage from one of you anywhere on the spectrum of opinion I was reminded that what matters about these events is the context for the trial and its protagonist. Conrad Black isn’t a rum runner; he’s a journalist who trades in every aspect of his craft—which is to say our craft. And tothe extent that his behaviour—both corporately and as an individual—brought him to Room 1241 the very stuff of free expression is the context for debate both in and out of the courtroom.

This week the New Yorker ran an article examining Rupert Murdoch’s bid to buy the Wall Street Journal. In it Ken Auletta quoted a piece from the Journal about Murdoch’s bid. The quote is meant to illustrate the freedom the Journal enjoys to report and critique matters that would, under other circumstances, prejudice their commercial interests:

[Murdoch] newspapers and other media outlets have made coveragedecisions that advanced the interests of his sprawling media conglomerate NewsCorp. In the process, Mr. Murdoch has blurred the line that exists at many other U.S. media companies between business and news sides—a line intended to keepthe business and political interests of owners from influencing the presentation of news.”

Black and Murdoch are cut from the same cloth, and the implications of their behaviour runs deeper than who took which non compete and when and under what circumstances. And therein resides the fascination and the gravitas.

Black jury asks to see chart [Toronto Star]What price justice? High and rising [Toronto Star]What kind of Big House might Lord Black face? [Globe and Mail]Conrad Black and crew may be cleared [Calgary Sun]Promises Promises [New Yorker]

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