Last week’s visit to the Alberta oil sands by film director James Cameron was widely reported by media around the globe. Interviews were granted to news organizations like the BBC, The LA Times, MSNBC and Reuters –  even the Oprah Winfrey Network! Of course the Canadian media covered the story as well.

What struck me was the difference between some of the international reporting  and our own Canadian media. While the Globe and Mail headline blared: James Cameron lends star power to fight against oil-sands ‘curse’, Reuters coverage reflected a less dogmatic stance, quoting Cameron as saying: “I don’t see this as a black and white issue as I did before I came here. You see pictures of big holes and giant tailing ponds, [but ]it’s more complex than that. I’m much more appreciative of the boon, the upside of this whole thing in terms of energy independence for North America and all that.”

You’ll have to read the Canadian media very carefully to find these quotes from Cameron.  Rather, Josh Wingrove’s article in the Globe and Mail on  September 30th quotes Cameron calling open pit mining “appalling”, “horrible” and industry funded research just a “prop”. You truly have to wonder if both reporters were covering the same event .

Truth is in the eye of the beholder! Although I admit  to client interests in the energy patch, surely the “news” about last week’s visit was Cameron’s change in attitude about the case for the oil sands. His conclusion that the development of the oil sands was not an open and shut case mirrored the recent observations of other celebrities who have recently exposed themselves to the oil sands project.

The Alberta government should be congratulated for the transparency it has shown in bringing friends and foes alike to tour the oil sands. Letting people judge for themselves is proving to be the best PR.
When you have a good cause, helping to let the facts speak for themselves is the best PR strategy, particularly when your alternative is to rely on inconsistent media reporting.


Authored by: Mike Coates