Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21: page B 7 - a news story that is a news story...

Adam Huras of the Legislature Bureau is the reporter. First, it's on shale gas, a topic the Moncton Times should have been reporting on about a thousand times more than it has. Nice to see a reporter take a look at it.

Secondly, Huras reports both sides of the story - and does it without evident bias or loaded language.

Yes, I would have liked a little more. For example, while we are told the number of inspectors we have to police shale gas drilling, we get no idea of what an adequate number is. We have only Mr. Northrup's word for that. Nor do we have any idea of what training inspectors need - and what training ours have.

Nor do we know whether the government will enforce its inspectors' ruling. And the record here is not promising.

More questions would have been helpful. But here. at least, we have the TandT getting the bssics right. I would give this a C. (After all, we expect professional reporters to get the basics right.)

Generally, there's nothing much in NewsToday. (I would have been surprised if there were.) The big news is of a plane crash in Pakistan that killed 127).

But so what? Quite seriously, so what? How does this affect us in any way? What does it call on us to do? Plane crashes or bus crashes, sometime ferry sinkings, in remote parts of the world usually get a big spread. Why?

They're terrible, yes. But far, far more people are killed every day by starvation, lack of medical help, brutal working conditions, drones.... These are things we can do something about. But they rarely make the news.

As well, news reports of foreign affairs seldom give us any useful information. For openeners, foreign correspondents are commonly liars. They're propaganda agents for our side. For example, they have been reporting from the start how well we are doing in Afghanistan. In fact, it has been a major disaster. The only reason Canadian troops are still there, risking their lives, is so that Harper will not look like a fool (to put it kindly) for having sent them in a combat role in the first place.

The story on the Congolese man in Fredericton who has ended is hunger strike tells us almost nothing of what it's about. The story of Congo ever since the European powers handed it over to the King of Belgium well over a century ago is one of the most horrible stories of slavery, torture, brutality, stavation, mass murder and pillage in history, a story that still goes on today. Nobody knows how many millions have been murdered. (The King of Belgium was given Congo to introduce it to Christianity and modern ways. He sure did.)

Canadian business has played a major role in this. And the failure of Harper (and his predecessors) to recognize that is beneath contempt. In all the reports of the hunger strike we have seen, there is no sense of that. In fact, at least one deep thinker at the TandT has dismissed the hunger strike as a waste of time.

There is really no point to the TandT having news stories on foreign affairs. It is far easier to get foreign news on radio and TV. (Not better, just easier.)

What would be far more useful for readers would be for the TandT to buy commentators like Gwynn Dyer who are superb at what they do, and who can give us the analysis we need to understand the news.

(Television tries to do news analysis; but it's a terrible medium for that purpose. TV is passive, mostly just sitting back and looking at flickering colours and changing camera angles. If you're a fan of hairdos, watch TV. If you want serious understanding, the best medium for it is print.)

In short, there is no point to reading most newspapers for news. You can get the bare news (plane crashes, Moncton floods, Kate and what's-his-name break up) quicker and more easily on TV.

If you want understanding, you need print - but you need it by people who are honest and who know what they are talking about.

In other 'news', Ken Marshall, Atlantic Regional President (roll of drums) for Rogers packs some wallop with the Times and Transcript. Yesterday we had a front page article apologizing for some story that went around about the parking lot at Rogers. It's one of those issues that I find it hard to give a damn about. But, apparently, Ken Marshall (drum roll) really has his knickers in a twist about it.

Yesterday, it was a front page, down on all fours, whining and slobbering apology by Brent Mazerolle. Today, it's a slobbering editorial, no less.

How different, how very different from the way the editorialist can treat bus drivers, and the way the cartoonist can make fun of people on welfare.

Norbert is, well, Norbert. In today's column, he proves he doesn't know what Soviet communism was. (Hint, it wasn't communism. It was a form of capitalism.)

On environment, he says it is misguided to put much faith in governments (way to speak up for democracy, Norbert.) He says many businesses have been way ahead of the politicians. Yeah. Like oilsands and the shale gas industry.

By the way, Norbert mentions the serious deterioration of our oceans. So how come the TandT hasn't been reporting on it? Too busy kissing up to Ken Marshall? (drum roll). Yesterday, but not in the TandT, the big story was the extent of damage caused the the Gulf of Mexico by an oil rig disaster. Remember that one? It's yet to make the Times and Transcript.

As an example of where commentary is more useful than news, take a look at Bill Belliveau's column on Harper's decision to close certain prisons while, at the same time, creating more prisoners.

I spent some time in one of those prisons - as a day visitor, working with violent prisoners. Most people can have no idea of how vile our prisons are, and how they take in extraordinarily dangerous people to make them worse. (When Belliveaus mentions double-bunking, think of it a moment. Rape in prisons is already common and vicious. What will double-bunking do to produce people who a gentler view of the human species?)

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