Newspaper pages are valuable and limited. So a good editor makes sure any story that appears is worth the space it is given. On Saturday, July 17, p. A7, The Times&Transcript carried a half page story that said close to nothing. It's not the reporter's fault. He could write only the information he had received. It was the editor's fault for assigning a story where there was none.
"Provincial Party Marks Improve" screamed the headline. Then it told anxious readers that The Coalition of New Brunswickers had announced the July grades for New Brunswick's political parties. Good. There's no doubt we need more awareness of how far below any standard New Buunswick's poliitical parties are. (That applies to all of them.)
A useful start might be to tell readers who the coalition is, what qualifications it has to issue a grade sheet, and exactly how it carried out its studies. The story didn't. So I checked in Google. It seems a well intentioned group; and I think I might wish it well. But I still have no idea of its qualifications, size, or composition.
Then I checked the categories of marking. Public Participation? What does that mean? The number of party members? The frequency of public meetings? Public consultations? Exactly what does Public Participation mean to the coalition. The story never tells us.
Govvernment Ethics? Only one party has been in government this past month. How come they all get marks on government ethics? Does this really mean written statements of Government Ethics? How come the NDP scored highest, going from D to A in just one month? Does the Liberal F mean they have no ethics? Well, possibly. But, spefically, what is meant by government ethics? What were they looking for?
Exactly what does Code of Conduct mean? What characteristics was the coalition looking for? The NDP got a D for Code of Conduct? What? They's bunch of drunken peeping Toms? They're on the take from big business?
Electoral Reform? Same question. Is the coalition looking for any sort of reform? Or does it have a specific one in mind?
And how did the coalition get its data? It seems they just asked the politicians. Phoof!
All this article tells us is that The Coalition of New Brunswickers (and I don't question its good intentions) has to clear up its thinking about exactly what it's doing, and the way it's doing it - and the way it releases information to the news media.
So why did the editor decide to run a non-story and give it half a page? Because no newspaper editor in New Brunswick would dare to print any real investigation of the ethics, conduct or anything else of a serious nature about New Brunswick politics. We certainly don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.