Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10: The editor: King of the gutter....

The Moncton Times and Transcript editorial today is a rant at unions and the pay scales for municipal workers in Moncton.

I shall take that editorial writer seriously - some day -  if he ever shows the intelligence, integrity and, dare I say it, balls, to criticize the outrageous incomes and taxpayers' giveaways for the Irvings, the Ganongs, and all the visiting ghouls of the shale gas industry. I don't know who writes those dreadfully ignorant and abusive editorials. And I can only imagine what wretched childhood produced such a cowardly and bullying editorial writer.

The opening story on p. 1 looks hopeful - "Kent Country residents raise shale gas concerns" - that is, it looks hopeful until you read the first sentence.  "Some residents of Kent Country  are continuing to raise concerns about shale gas development."  Some. Continuing.

Those words are not there by accident. 'Some' implies a small minority. 'Continuing' suggests that  they are perversely disagreeble. These are small things. But they make all the difference in the world in  how people read a story.

The rest of the article gives very little sense of what it is they are protesting - and a good half of it is devoted to very carefully, even professionally, prepared rebuttals (not all of them entirely true) by Tom Alexander of a shale gas company, SWN.

So  here is the paper which has given us virtually none of the information it promised years ago, and still tells us virtually nothing - except to pass on propaganda that those opposed to shale gas are a rag tag collection of malcontents - and that Mr. Alexander is a man of poise and accuracy.

P.A2 has an interesting item, "Fighting raging in Yemen".  It's not the story that's interesting. In fact, there's so little information in it, that it is really incoherent.. (It's from Reuter's.)  No, what 's interesting is that it is a piece of foreign news in a section devoted largely to local matters (and usually trivia, at  that.) So why is it there?

Take a close look. Notice that the print is smaller  than that of neighbouring stories? Notice, too,  that though this is the shortest  story on the page, it has the biggest headline? Here's what  happened.

The editor had a hole to fill, a blank space on p. 2. It wasn't a big one; so the looked for a short item, any short item. Then he or she fiddled with the print size so it would just fit. That's what editors at The Moncton TandT  (and many other papers) call selecting news for importance and context.

The big news items of the day didn't make it at all.

North Korea, which has nuclear bombs, seems now to have developed a missile to fire them. But, no problem. The US will handle it diplomatically, No need to panic.

On the other hand, Iran, which doesn't have a bomb and, according to serious sources, is probably not developing one, is the greatest threat to world peace today. Obama has been stepping up the rhetoric, and is now almost promising war. So why is it no big deal if North Korea has bombs and gets missile, but a terrible threat to the world that a major war is essential?

1. The West can't interfere with North Korea. It sits beside China.
2. Iran has no powerful and protecting neighbour. The US also fears that it will sell oil heavily to China, and will lead the way in dropping the US dollar as the international currency. The US overthrew Iranian democracy back in the 1950s for a similar reason. (The government of Iran had the nerve to want to control its own oil. British, French and American oil companies were righteously indignant.) For almost sixy years, a major concern of US policy has been first to control Iran with a dictatorship and, when that collapsed, to displace the elected government of Iran.
3. Israel wants - and has publicly announced -  it wants a war with Iran - and it intends to go to war with or without American approval.
4. Obama is facing an election year.  If Obama doesn't support Israel, the Republicans will paint him as a weakling and a coward. If he wants to win this election, he'll have to skate very close to the edge of war - and maybe over the line.
5. Harper has already and on many occasions, said that Canada will go to war if Israel does. (So much for consulting the Canadian people first.)

That could have some profound effects for us. It  could easily become a world war. It's kind of important. But the TandT has told us even less about it than it has about shale gas.

Alec Bruce has a good column on the CBC - and the cuts to CBC are particularly important to New Brunswick.

For news, the Irving papers are a disaster. So is private radio. Occasionally, you will find a good journalist in a private radio newsroom. It can happen. But even when it does, the news staff is almost invariably way too small to do an adequate job, often ten times or even more too small.

 As for the talk shows, these are mostly pure show biz. Rarely are the hosts particularly knowledgable. Some, many, are so prejudiced they can safely be called bigots.

As well, anyone working in news for private radio knows there are some stories you keep quiet about - anything that would offend an advertiser or annoy anybody important is forbidden. Generally, radio news is an even bigger joke than the Times and Transcript is.

The best news source New Brunswickers have for local, national or international news, almost the only source, is CBC. Harper is forcinig it to cut back. That will have at least two effects.

One is that an already strained news service will be weakened. The other is that news editors will be even more fearful of running stories that might  offend the goverment and its friends.

The same will happen with TV- though that's not such a great loss because TV news service was never that great in the first place. TV, by the nature of the medium, has to be pretty lightweight.

Evey province is going to suffer as a result of the CBC cuts; but  none more than New Brunswick.

This has nothing to do with personal taste, likes, dislikes, size of audience. There are some facts here. The Irving papers are simply propaganda sheets. and peddlers of triviality and ignorance. Private radio news is not something to take seriously. Even the private radio stations don't take it seriously. So why should you?


  1. This is why I want to get out of New Brunswick.

  2. It's sad to hear you say that. This should be a wonderful place to live. But it's a statement I've heard very often. One "cure" is, of course, to get out.

    I'd rather fight them.