Spin Doctors

How Media and Politicians Misdiagnosed the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Nora Loreto  

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As Canada was in the grips of the worst pandemic in a century, Canadian media struggled to tell the story. Newsrooms, already run on threadbare budgets, struggled to make broader connections that could allow their audience to better understand what was really happening, and why. Politicians and public health officials were mostly given the benefit of the doubt that what they said was true and that they acted in good faith.

This book documents each month of the first year of the pandemic and examines the issues that emerged, from racialized workers to residential care to policing. It demonstrates how politicians and uncritical media shaped the popular understanding of these issues and helped to justify the maintenance of a status quo that created the worst ravages of the crisis. Spin Doctors argues alternative ways in which Canadians should understand the big themes of the crisis and create the necessary knowledge to demand large-scale change.

“Spin Doctors is a remarkable, month-by-month account of the Canadian media’s interest, lack of interest, and choices driven by political and economic interest during the opening waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. With intricate detail and masterful research, Nora Loreto’s deft analysis pulls no punches and uncovers truths from multiple angles—narrating an all-too-real story of ill-prepared politicians, a panicked population, and Canadian journalism’s complicated response to the story of a lifetime.”

— Niigaan Sinclair, Columnist at The Winnipeg Free Press & Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba

“In this clear-eyed retrospective of Canada’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nora Loreto interrogates media practices and political calculations to confront our focus on protecting capital at the expense of protecting people — be it through racist negligence, the avoidable crisis of long-term care homes or the lack of basic worker protections. Loreto’s comprehensive analysis offers an invaluable reckoning that makes it an essential read.”

— Shree Paradkar, Toronto Star Columnist

  • PDF
  • ISBN: 9781773635071
  • November 2021
  • $34.99
  • For sale worldwide
  • EPUB
  • ISBN: 9781773635064
  • November 2021
  • $34.99
  • For sale worldwide

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  • Introduction
  • March - The Pandemic Emerges
  • April - Disaster in Residential Care
  • May - COVID-19 Hits Food Processing Industries
  • June - Systemic Racism and COVID-19 Spread
  • July - The Lie of Personal Responsibility
  • August - The End of CERB
  • September - Back to School in the COVID-19 Era
  • October - Migrant Workers and COVID-19 Outbreaks
  • November - The Race for the Vaccine
  • December - The Gendered Impact
  • January - Disability Erased and Distorted
  • February - The Disaster of Workplace Spread
  • March - One Year in Media Cuts
  • Conclusion: Canada after COVID-19


  • Nora Loreto

    Nora Loreto is a writer and activist from Quebec City. She is the author of Take Back the Fight: Organizing Feminism in the Digital Age (Fernwood 2020) and From Demonized to Organized: Building the New Union Movement (CCPA 2013). Nora is the editor of the Canadian Association of Labour Media and is an opinion columnist whose writing appears regularly in many publications. She co-hosts the popular podcast Sandy and Nora Talk Politics with Sandy Hudson.

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