Earlier this year, New York University’s journalism school released a list of the top 10 works of journalism produced in the U.S. since 2000, as voted on by a panel of journalists and educators. If one were to compile a similar list for Canada, the fifth estate’s ongoing coverage of the Airbus scandal involving former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber would deserve a place near the top.
Harvey Cashore, a senior producer for the fifth estate, has been covering this story since the beginning, and he details his findings in an exhaustive book filled with minutiae that still manages to be compulsively readable. In more than 500 densely packed pages, Cashore retraces virtually every step he took on the long and bumpy road that ultimately led to the Oliphant Commission.
For political junkies, the book is an invaluable collection of all the evidence in this incredibly troubling story. For students of the media, Cashore’s description of his approach to reporting, his behind-the-scenes look at how the fifth estate gets stories to air, his frank account of his doubts and rare missteps, and his description of the dubious behaviour of some prominent members of major news outlets will be as useful as almost any textbook.
The book’s only flaws are the brief glimpses into Cashore’s personal life, which should have been either fleshed out or eliminated altogether. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that Cashore has written an excellent book that deserves to be read by many Canadians and studied by aspiring journalists.