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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Latest Canadian Fatalities - Journalistic Integrity and Democracy

The mainstream media is nothing more than a lap dog to the political machine.

I wouldn’t wonder so many people now turn to alternative media and independent internet sites for their daily dose of political and other happenings. At least there you have some hope of knowing what you’re getting.

Most bloggers and internet writers, including yours truly, clearly present individual perspectives to their readers but at least most of us do it in an open and honest way. Our readers know we represent a point of view and in knowing this they are free to decide whether to read our words or move along. The supposedly “impartial” media on the other hand does exactly the same thing under the guise of honest and fair journalism, an honesty that exists in name only.

We all know what we are in for when we turn to the editorial page. Opinion. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when supposedly factual news stories are peppered with words intended to subtly convey a targeted message it’s a different ball game all together.

The days of hard boiled political journalism are dead and gone. Today we get little more than a concoction of spoon fed pablum designed to placate the masses and spin a government message to best effect.

It’s sickening, disgusting and dangerous.

How many times can you read a news story about Canada’s “New Government” without wondering when they’ll finally be considered Canada’s “Old Government” or how about just “the government”?

I bought a fridge about a year ago and the warranty has already expired. My fridge is not “New” any longer and neither is Canada’s government, yet we are told it is in papers from “coast to coast to coast”, another example of government spin that’s suddenly all the rage in these days of arctic supremacy.

Why do we never hear, "from coast to coast to coast to border"? Could it be because our border with the U.S. is not being contested? We all use the 3 coast term these days but did we always or has it suddenly grown in popularity with international interest in a melting artic ice cap?

This sort of blind adherence to pre-written “spin” in papers like the Globe and Mail, National Post and others serves no purpose beyond helping to prop up a floundering system of government, ensuring that the masses are onside with whatever the agenda of the day happens to be and shifting our attention away from some voter affecting issue toward a more government friendly one.

Let's be honest, have you always been as concerned about global warming and the environment as you are today? Sure you shut off the lights when you left a room or cut the thermostat a little to save a few bucks, but did the issue actually top your list of priorities before the mainstream media told you that most Canadians considered it their number one issue?

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with protecting our environment but if you stop to think about when it became so important in your life you may discover something about yourself and your susceptibility to media manipulation that you were unaware of before.

Ask yourself, how often do we see news stories that completely contradict the official government line and prove they are lying or misleading the public on an issue? Ask yourself as well, is the near absence of that sort of story a sign that the government is forthright and honest in everything it does or is it because nobody is digging below the surface to find out what’s really happening?

There are those, often in mainstream media itself, who will occasionally go on the attack when someone says the discovered this or that on a blog or other alternative news site.

“You can’t trust that”, they shout, “Look at the source”.

Perhaps that’s true but at least most bloggers, at least those who do what they do without the hope of compensation, don’t hide behind the facade of a legitimate news service while hungrily hanging on every syllable dripping from the lips of Canada’s political elite. All the while hoping against hope they’ll get invited to the next cocktail party on the Hill.

The saddest thing of all is that most people go about their daily business oblivious to the kind of manipulative propaganda they are fed everyday on the six o’clock news or in their morning paper.

The mainstream media is lazy.

News editors and managers are more interested in being first with a story than being accurate and in depth with their reporting.

Corporations, by spending or withholding advertising dollars, often influence news content though not intentionally in most cases.

Politicians manipulate reporters by granting or denying access based on whether the reporter is considered “friendly” or “unfriendly” to their policies.

The entire process is tainted yet the public continues to gobble it up and believe it without question.

If you read a paper in Ontario you’ll be convinced Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to rob taxpayers blind over equalization. Read a paper in Newfoundland and Labrador and you’ll be convinced the province deserves every penny.

The Quebec media will report on the injustices done to the Quebecois people in Canada while across the Country in BC or Alberta they’ll bemoan the “sweet deals” handed out to Quebec again this week.

The end result is that the people of Canada are continually at each other’s throats and unable to find any common ground on which to move forward. It’s a great situation for federal politicians because no matter what one province wants there are always at least 5 or 6 others against it and as a result the fed can slip off the hook whenever they want without ever doing anything to resolve the situation.

Does anyone remember Stephen Harper saying he asked the provinces to decide how they wanted equalization handled and becuase they couldn't agree he had to "make the tough decision"? Does anyone honestly believe he really expected 10 diverse provinces to agree on such a contentious issue and in reality, how hard was it for him to decide in favor of the most vote rich provinces?

There’s a reason the old sayings, “Divide and conquer” and “United we stand, divided we fall”, have survived as a part of the vernacular for so long. Government spin doctors have become experts at the game of public manipulation and the mainstream media has blindly followed along for years.

News services have reached a point where they no longer report the news but simply recount the lies and “spin” our government hands them each day.

It’s a dangerous situation that can lead to electing an unfit leader simply because he has deep enough pockets to hire the best press “handlers”. It can lead to our nation participating in wars without a valid reason and, perhaps most importantly, it can and HAS led to the erosion of democracy Canada.

One of the basic cornerstones of any democracy is the absolute right of an informed electorate to determine their own future. By impeding the public’s ability to become truly informed the mainstream media has not only ensured the death of honest journalism but they have ensured the destruction of democracy itself.


Starrigan said...

Well said Myles, that's the best piece I've read from you yet.

NL-ExPatriate said...

I think you have just highlighted the trees in the forest.

I like the most recent one from the spin doctors out of ottawa (Which by the way out number all of the national correspondents?) Whenever you hear talk of the VanDoos in the media they are always referred to as the Famed VanDoos or something like that.

Believe you me I've worked with the VanDoos, The RCR and PPCLI.

From my point of view I wouldn't consider the 22 Famed. In fact if I were to have a choice of who I would want to work with it would be by far and above the RCR.