Guy Caballero, the fictional president of the SCTV television network, once said that the business of a TV news team wasn’t to give people what they needed but to convince them that what they wanted was what you were giving them. At the time I thought it was a pretty callous outlook. But now, looking at the control of most media outlets by extreme right-ring interests (for the most part) in Canada and elsewhere, his words are no longer that funny. In fact, they’re pretty much true.

Fortunately, his words don’t always apply to many of the independently owned community newspapers across Canada. Our small outfits are hardly noticed by the corporate giants as our profit margins aren’t even pocket change to them.

As a result it can give us more leeway in what we do. For instance, in this issue you will notice that Neil Diamond has the last line. Yes, Niles the human blender (just add words and hit “purée”) is back with a new column. And he doesn’t want to be confused with Sonny Orr, who took over the Rez Notes column from Neil so many years ago that some people simply assumed Sonny Orr was just a pseudonym for Mr. Diamond. Albeit with far less hair.

Some people from the past might think of Neil’s humour as biting and cutting edge. Others will simply hate his guts and think about reviving the ancient Aztec ritual of sacrificing his still-beating heart to a now-forgotten war god. In other words, he is controversial and – love him or hate him – will make you think.

As a result, our lawyers have asked me to tell you that Neil’s opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Nation, its employees or any pets they may care for. This is the standard disclaimer most ambulance chasers will have you take for your own protection. I may have been charged $275 for this information freely available elsewhere. I will find out next month, but in the meantime all of you should be careful about talking to any lawyer. Apparently that friendly chat at the bar can be billable hours even if he is only pretending to laugh at your pitiful attempts at humour. Heck, even we’d be willing to do that for $350 an hour.

For all of you who enjoy the “Pulse of the Nation,” thanks for comments. We’ve gotten some great feedback from the website ( and click on the Nation cover to the left side).

One thing, however: When you are writing us via the Internet, please indicate in the email if you do not want the feedback to appear in the Nation. Otherwise we’ll assume that it’s printable. Remember that it will be treated like any letter to the editor we regularly publish in the Nation. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and length. We also reserve the right not to print a letter because of possible legal complications, including libel. Include a phone number if you don’t mind us harassing you at all hours of the night. We work a 24-hour schedule here on Boulevard St-Laurent, where the fun never stops.