Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Feb. 16: The Monxron Times caught red-handed in unethical reporting.

In My blog for yesterday, I said the Moncton Times had unethically taken a news story about a group of 54 people who had sent a letter to Premier Alward suggesting New Brunswick adopt a modified from of goernment, with elements of proportional representation in it. That was certainly a news story. But the Times did it by focussing in the headline and in the story on one man who disagreed witht the proposal.

That's a common trick in some of the scummier newspapers  (of which there are more than one might think.) Politically, either the editorial staff of the owners of the paper don't like the idea; so the story is set up pretending to be news,  but actually twisted into propaganda by playing down the proposal, and paying so much attention to its opponent.

In this case, it is almost certain that the owners of The Moncton Times and other corporate heads do not want to see changes in the electoral sytstem. As it is, the only way a party can win an election is by getting the greater part of its funding from corporate heads and wealthy individuals. Since only two parties are in that category, and since both parties are essentially the same, it's a very good deal for corporate heads and wealthy individuals. That, I suggested, is why The Moncton Times twisted the story. And, yes, this is unethical journalism.

Today's editorial is a strong attack on the idea of any electoral change. Quelle surprise! Of course. That editorial could have been written before the news story even appeared. Indeed, it may well have been.  The story and the editorial together are classic examples of unethical journalism. A couple of other points about it are intriguing.

1. The group of 54 contains some pretty highly educated people, many of them with substantial studies in politics behind them. But the editorial writer of The Moncton Times knows more than all of them. And the editorial writer agrees with the only person who had publicly opposed the proposal - a man whose work just happens to place him in close contact with corporate heads, and whose political experience consists largely of being an advisor to a very unsuccessful ex-premier. Talk about twisting the news! Talk about abusing the influence of the press!

2. The editorial writer does not know the meaning of democracy. He/she says democracy means rule by the majority. Actually, that is not what it means.

If democracy meant rule by the majority, then neither Canada nor the US would be a democracy.  In Canada, the Conservatives have governed for years, though fully two-thirds of the Canadian electorate did not vote for them. Bush ruled in the US for eight years, with even less than a third of the American electorate voting for him. If you will check fifty years and more of voting in both countries, you will find that any government with the support of 51% of the whole electorate has been extremely rare.

But democracy does not mean rule by the majority. It means that we all have a right to express our choice for who will govern us. That is something quite different from rule by the majority, so different that large numbers of voters now lose their right to have a voice because their vote, though substantial, is scattered in too many ridings. Democracy does not mean winner take all. In fact, democracy is not about rights of any sort for politicians or for parties. Democracy is about rights for all of us. As it is now in New Brunswick, a substantial number of people have no voice in government at all because only  the Liberals and Conservatives can attract the funding to win seats, and only those two parties can hope for adequate coverage in the New Brunswick newspapers.

I don't yet know whether I would support the formula  proposed by The Group. I do know the present system is a perversion of democracy because it guarantees government after government serving the interests of the very wealthy, and building a welfare state for corporations.

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