A busy day - not helped by the fact that the home delivery of my breakfast copy of The Moncton Times and Transcript has recently been arriving at an hour I usually associate with lunch. Now, it's getting late. So I'll confine myself to just two examples of bad journalism in the paper.
The first example is at the top of the op ed page. This space is almost always reserved for a column by one of the staff writers. And all of these columns have one thing in common. They are all trivial.
This time the word is handed down by Alan Cochrane, editor-at-large. Today's offering is of a popular subject with him, motorcycles. In particular, on this day, he was quite excited about dirt bikes, especially a Canadian bike of the 1970s. If you have have a passion for Canadian, dirt racing motorcycles of the 1970s, you might find this a little bit interesting, especially if you think adjectives like 'cool' are really hip. (In fact, 'cool' was already dead in most of the developed world before the 1970s.)
Here is prime, commentary space in a newspaper that is given over, every day to trivial gush. And it's no accident that this sort of pre-pubescent drivel occupies a position of honour in the TandT. The purpose of the TandT is not to inform readers. It's to keep them ignorant of what's going on. It's not to encourage discussion. It's to encourage us to slip into a zombie-like state.
There are, of course, plenty of really stinking newspapers in North America. But few, even of the worst, would stoop to this consistent waste of prime, commentary space.
The other example is a news story - or so it is billed. The story, top of NewsToday, is that professor Don Savoie says that New Brunswick must balance its budget soon.Duh, well, yeah. But is there anybody who isn't saying that? What on earth makes this a news story?
Then, he goes deep, deep for us iggerant readers. He says if we keep borrowing money, we'll have a high debt. Gee! Who would have thought of it? That's almost as intellectually challenging as a story about Canadian dirt-racing bikes of the 1970s. So why did they run this as a top, news story? And why did Professor Savoie agree to give such a shallow interview?
Professor savoie is quoted as saying he did it because he's concerned about the impact of provincial debt on the poor. Right. Well, maybe....but......
If you were a corporate boss and you had your flunkies appointed to an official body advising the Minister of Finance (a former Irving exec), and you were worried about people getting silly and expecting you to pay higher taxes, or about people getting even sillier and making you pay for your electricity or slow you down in cutting timber or demand tougher regulation (and maybe banning) for shale gas....well, Savoie's interview could be very helpful.
First, it is presented in such a way as to avoid the corporate role in running up our deficits. When Savoie offers his (simplistic) solutions to the problem, he doesn't once mention the cozy position of the rich in this province.
Yep, we have to cut or raise taxes. That's what he says. Of course, that's what he says. Putting it in that vague way will build support for cutting services to the public, cutting down on government, and raising taxes (on the poor and the middle class.) As a side effect, it may even build enough hysteria and narrowness of vision to approve of shale gas development - along with the destruction of our forests.
There's not a word of what should be obvious - cutting the fat out of big business in this province. Start with getting rid of these wasteful public/private partnership scams. Don't touch shale gas until we know it won't hasten the destruction of this province. Make corporations behave according to the rules of capitalism, not of fascism. And make the wealthy pay their share.
But Savoie doesn't even hint at any of these. Of course not. This "news story" is blatant propaganda.
It's a one-two punch. Cochrane's job is to knock any brains out of our heads. The Savoie's job, as we sit there stunned, is to tell us to believe what the boss wants us to believe.