Friday, December 17, 2010

Dec. 17: A Day of grubbier than usual reporting and commentary

Norbert Cunningham has a stunning column that displays most of what's wrong with newspapers in general and the Moncton TandT in particular.It's about Bill C36 in Ottawa, of which almost no-one knows anything because the  news media have reported almost nothing. That's what Norbert says. Then he writes the first half of his column foaming at the mouth about people who are protesting the bill.

Hey, Norbert, shouldn't you tell us first what the bill is about? Then discuss it?

He says the protesterswho e mailed him about it from across Canada are granola lovers and members of t he unthinkning Canadian left. Whoa, baby. Can you see around corners Norbert? You're talking about people  you don't know,never will know, and have never even seen at a distance in a fog. Do you know what left means? Or is it just a blanket description of people who don't agree with you?

Then he says they are protesting to protect private business interests. What? Unthinking leftists are protesting to protect private business? Wanna run through that bit again, baby? Wow! TI mean...if leftists are fighting to protect private business, that would sure prove they're really unthinking.

Then he tells us only  little bits about the bill, and only to show at length that the protesters are wrong. But this comes after admitting earlier that he has been unable  to learn anything substantial about the bill.

This "To the Contrary" column is so contrary, it's contrary to itself.

He also says nobody from Atlantic Canada  has protested. Of course. People from Atlantic Canada don't protest. Instead, they report anybody who does to the proper authorities.

Then there's front page story that NB studenta have made literacy gains. But here is nothing in the story that tells us anything. Who administered the tests? Was it anybody who stood to gain from a good result? Were the tests of last year identical to those of this year? If not, how can they be compared? What is the margin of error in the statistics? Is this a product of standardized testing? If so, how come the US, which has used standardized testing for over two generations, has dropped like a rock in literacy results to become the educational toilet of the industrial world? If there is a real gain, what does it mean? After all, this is not a horse race in which the horse that wins by a nose is a winner;and the one that comes a nose behind is dog meat. One can easily get statistical differences that don't really mean anything.

If this was a real gain, then it must have been due to good work by the teachers. So, where is the editorial congratulating them? Isn't this the paper which has been telling us for a year that the teachers are incompetent asses? Shouldn't it now apologize? It would go nicely with an apology to the district 2 superintendant and the Disrtrict 2 Education Council for telling lies about their reponsibility for the neglect of Moncton High School.

I don't know if New Brunswick newspapers are the worst in Canada. Frankly, the difference between the best and the worst in Canada is not alll that great. So what should a newspaper be like?

We'll take a shot at that tomorrow.

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