First I want it to be known that I have the greatest respect for Mr. Furlong, especially his professionalism and knowledge of the fishery. This is not a call for Mr. Furlong's removal as host of the ‘Fisheries Broadcast', but it is a criticism on his performance, not only as host, but also his journalistic opinions in the print media over the last couple of months.
Recently, Mr. Furlong has written articles for the CBC and provincial newspapers that have been conjectured as pro-fishing companies, pro-government fishing polices, anti-seal hunt and anti-outport NL, and now his latest article he seems to defend a federal politician, MP Ryan Cleary, as if he were a close friend or Mr. Furlong is an NDPer at heart.
Do these allegations have merit? Well, I guess it depends on how the reader interprets his opinions? Do I want to deny Mr. Furlong's right to his opinion? Definitely not. I served my country for 22 years, defending our rights to freedom of speech, etc. However, as host to a specific subject matter (the fishery) that has greatly diverse viewpoints from five different entities - fishers, fish companies, union, plant workers and others that are not directly connected to the fishery but are advocates for one group or another, a host should be impartial and neutral when dealing with matters concerning that specific subject.
Mr. Furlong position as host of the ‘Fisheries Broadcast' is no different than that of political reporters like David Cochrane of CBC or Michael Connors of NTV News. If Mr. Cochrane or Mr. Connors were to introduce their political beliefs and preferences in their political programming like Mr. Cochrane's ‘On Point', or their reporting of the political news events of the day they would lose all creditability and probably their jobs. Mr. Furlong, like Mr. Cochrane and Mr. Connors, as to toe the line between reporting the news and events so that they don't seem bias to one side of the story or the other.
I believe that the stances taken by Mr. Furlong over the past couple of months have alienated many of his listeners and they are tuning out. He has estranged many of his regular contributors to the ‘Fisheries Broadcast' because of his actions.
If Mr. Furlong wants to take sides in the fishery debate, then maybe the public would be better served if he were a columnist instead of a host of a specific subject-orientated show.
The ‘Fisheries Broadcast' has iconic status in this province, and whether Mr. Furlong believes it or not, if the fishers of this province don't tune in, the show will be signing off for good.