Young people take advantage of school cancellations due to the weather as they slide on Citadel Hill in Halifax on Wednesday

National pastimes dominate news: study

Hockey and weather coverage set Canada's news media apart, study suggests

  • Dec. 16, 2014 5:00 p.m.

By Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Two of Canada’s national passions were exceptionally well-represented in the country’s news coverage this year, newly-released media monitoring figures suggest.

Those passions, you ask? Why, hockey and talking about the weather, of course.

The review by Montreal-based Influence Communication found that Canadian media outlets ran some 229 per cent more weather stories than outlets in the rest of the 160 countries surveyed.

“We have big changes in our weather in a year, and it goes from very cold to very hot in a few months,” said Felix Thiffault, an analyst with the media monitoring firm.

“For some other countries, it’s quite stable. If it’s stable, there’s nothing to say about it.”

On the other hand, Canadians always have something to say about hockey, the study found.

Though sports coverage is the No. 1 theme found in news coverage worldwide, a breakdown of top stories in Canada last year shows how often hockey captures the headlines.

Ten of the top 50 stories in Canada in 2014 were about hockey specifically, including various games, trades and coaching decisions, the report found.

A further 11 stories were about sports more generally, including football, soccer, tennis and the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The company generates lists of top-ranking news based on how much coverage a particular story gets over a one-week period, relative to the number of stories in the media that week.

The deadly Oct. 22 shootings on Parliament Hill had the highest ranking of any story, with 17 per cent of the coverage that week. No other story drew as much attention in a single time period at any other point in the year.

That same story – the fatal shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial, followed by the death of gunman Michael Zehaf Bibeau in the halls of the Centre Block – was the top-ranked Canadian item in media outlets outside the country.

Also among the top 10 stories outside Canada was coverage of the death days earlier of a Canadian soldier in St-Jean-Sur-Richlieu; the shooting deaths of three Mounties in Moncton; a deadly fire at a seniors’ residence in Quebec; the saga of CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi; and the misconduct allegations against two Liberal MPs on Parliament Hill.

The only good-news story to make the list was the election of former governor general Michaelle Jean as head of the Francophonie.

“It’s probably the same around the world – most news you remember coming from other countries is likely to be negative,” Thiffault said.

“Bad news travels fast and far.”

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford also managed to remain on the top 10 list of Canadian stories making waves around the world. But he was displaced as the most-mentioned person in Canadian media by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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