The man who broke the Jian story

Me­dia critic Jesse Brown’s Canada­land pod­cast and web­site have pro­duced some of the most talked about sto­ries in the coun­try in 2014, and he’s just get­ting started

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Ron John­son

Jour­nal­ist Jesse Brown launched his pod­cast Canada­land in Oc­to­ber 2013. But most first heard of him in the lead up to one of the big­gest news sto­ries of 2014 — the fall of Thorn­hill’s Jian Ghome­shi. He fol­lowed this up by hurl­ing some rather un­savoury ac­cu­sa­tions at an­other CBC celebrity jour­nal­ist, Amanda Lang. He’s be­come some­what, ahem, popular down at the CBC of­fices, so much so that some ea­ger beaver spelled out the words “Jesse Brown snitches get stitches” in kitch­enette fridge mag­nets in a CBC of­fice kitch­enette. We tracked down the pug­na­cious pod­caster to find out what comes next. So the “snitches get stitches” thing, my first re­ac­tion is that it must have just been a joke. Did you take it se­ri­ously? Per­son­ally, I think it was a joke. But there are lots of peo­ple on the fourth floor (where the mes­sage was found) that work on Amanda Lang’s show that might re­sent the fact that some­one may have leaked in­for­ma­tion to Canada­land. So maybe they made a joke, but there may have been a cur­rent of hos­til­ity. But this is the busi­ness you’re in. Has it hap­pened yet that you’ve lost friends or felt some­how cut off from peo­ple at the same time your pop­u­lar­ity is on the rise? I’ve had a cou­ple of awk­ward ex­changes with peo­ple I con­sider per­sonal friends, yeah. But for the most part, I’ve had tremen­dous en­cour­age­ment from jour­nal­ists, in­clud­ing CBC em­ploy­ees. How much did con­tri­bu­tions to your site in­crease af­ter you broke the Ghome­shi story? If you look at the chart, it shot right up be­fore­hand from noth­ing.… We had lots of new lis­ten­ers, and the in­crease in sup­port was sharper be­fore Ghome­shi rather than dur­ing. I was care­ful be­cause I didn’t want to ex­ploit it for pa­tron­age.… I didn’t turn the cam­paign off but kept it on down low. But Amanda Lang

seemed to gen­er­ate a lot more ac­tiv­ity. You used to work for CBC and left af­ter your con­tract wasn’t re­newed. Three of the ma­jor sto­ries bro­ken by Canada­land in­volve three of the most rec­og­niz­able faces of the CBC. You’re not just get­ting back at the old boss are ya? No, I mean, I have very com­pli­cated feel­ings to­ward CBC. I have tremen­dous grat­i­tude. CBC was a place that asked me in the door, taught me about doc­u­men­taries, green-lit two of my shows.… I feel to­tally grate­ful for that ex­pe­ri­ence.… My at­ti­tude is that what’s hap­pen­ing now isn’t right, and peo­ple should know about it. One the­ory is that I’m ob­sessed with the CBC. An­other the­ory is that they have a lot more prob­lems. Has any­body shaken their fist at you and yelled, “You’ll never work in this town again?” I was told, at one point, that I was on a black­list at the CBC, by some­one at the CBC.

You started a news­pa­per while at North­ern Sec­ondary School and im­me­di­ately got your­self in trou­ble. A lot of your early ex­pe­ri­ence in­volved pranks. Are you just a trou­ble­maker? Well, I def­i­nitely have a nat­u­ral aver­sion to author­ity. Usu­ally in my life, to my detri­ment, I have this com­pul­sive need to kind of ask ques­tions, point out in­con­sis­ten­cies and hypocrisie­s or tell jokes. But jour­nal­ism is the right place for that kind of be­hav­iour.

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