Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 2: supplement re anti-fracking rally

This is not about the Times and Transcript. It's a report on and suggestions for the anti-fracking movement. I place it in a separate post because this is an issue about which I have a strong prejudice. I am opposed to fracking. I am absolutely opposed to it no matter what regulations are passed. I don't believe that serous damage from fracking can be avoided. I also believe that gas companies and our government re deteremined to ram it through no matter what we think, and no matter what damage it does for centuries, even millinia, to come.

I was at today's rally at Moncton City Hall not only beccause I am utterly opposed to fracking but because I think this situation is a warning of a terrible danger that the whole western world is in. (But I'll deal with that later. First, the rally.

I can't give a figrue for the turnout because there were too many to count, and because i don't know the holding capacity of the plaza in front of City Hall; so I can't make an estimate based on that. But the plaxa was full. I  wish there were more. I wish there were a million. But it was a good crowd, and the organizers deserve credit for a good turnout.

The atmosphere was one of happiness at seeing each other, even strangers. It was an atmosphere of celebration and confidence and hope. It was the sort of community response that we should see inapolitical party rallies - but rarely do. It reminded me, almost of what religious rallies used to be before they got manipulative.That happy mood - happy to be there, happy to see each other. pride in being there -lasted to the end. It was one of the few times I felt like a member of the Moncton community. (The other times were an anti-facking rally last year, and two Bill C-38 rallies this  year.)

(I pause now to swear because my computer has just lost the last two thirds of this blog. So here I go again.)

It was an excellent rally. It was productive. But I'm going to offer a criticism - whoever it may annoy -  because it's important. To ease the annoyance, I'll start with a story about something really stupid that I did.

Reporters and camermen often came to my office ot to my home in Montreal for comment on some news item. One day, they came to ask me about hockey star Maurice Richard, who had just died. It was easy, I thought, because I knew some things about Richard that weren't common knowledge. He was a very modest and unassuming man, almost shy. He was devoutly religious. As a boxer, he was good enough to have become a pro (I knew that because my uncle had been his boxing coach.) And, I added with a closing flourish, he was the most excitinig player I ever saw.

That night, I watched myself on TV news; amd I felt, with good reason, like an idiot.

TV caters to short attention spans. Twenty seonds is a long time on TV. That's why camera angles are frequently changed. TV has to keep people watching with lots of changing pictures and short voice clips. I had given the reporter far too much information. That meant the producer had to cut most of it out; I had given control over what I said to the producer. And guess what he chose.

"Maurice Richard is the most exciting player I ever saw."   Duh!

I might as well have said he used to have black hair - or that he spoke French.

The message at a rally has to be short and punchy and clear. Nobody, not even those in the live audience is there to hear a long and tangled treatise of the latest scientific studies on fracking. Hell! They already know it's bad. That's why they gathered in the first place.

You cannot allow a TV producer to control your message That's a loser with the hundreds in your live audience, and with thousands or even tens of thousands on TV.

The same is true of radio, though radio is a little looser. It even opens up  the possibilty of a live interview which, on radio,could run to a couple of minutes.

Newspapers are different. In their case, you have no direct contact at all with the reader. The story may begin as yours - but it gets delivered in the words of the reporter - which can make it quite different. As well, it's exposed to the interference of an editor. Editors are often highly biased (the TandT is appallingly bad in this respect - but most newspapers suffer the same illness. Worse, newspaper editors commonly have exaggerated opinions of their own wisdom. It's a sort of occupational disease.)

It's important, then, to establish contact with the newspaper reporter through a person who will ensure that the reporter at least hears the story you want told, and with the key point you want to make.

It's important to get this aspect organized because we're in for a summer of demonstrations across the western world. There is a powerful distrust of politicians, journalists, and big business. It;s being worsened by a severe economic crisis that is likely to get worse. If I  had to say the one thing that drew that crowd today, I wouldn't say fracking. I would say people came because they don't trust our politicians or our news media - or our Irvings and SWMs and Enbridges.

Bit business has so profoundly taken over our politicans and our news media that democracy has become largely an illusion. Whoever wins the US presidency will spend at least a billion dollars in doing it - almost all of that money coming from big business. And big business is not giving that money away out of any love for democracy. New Brunswick Liberals and Conservatives are cheaper. But the basic idea is the same. As it is for Harper.

The power of the wealthy, the collapse of democracy and the recession are certain to lead to demonstrations and violence across the western world. The demonstrations in Moncton should not cause violence. Violence needs a critical mass of irreponsible louts, a critical mass which one normally finds only in large cities.

They only danger for New Brunswick is that there is a critical mass of irresponsible louts in our government and our corporations.

It was a good rally. I'm glad I was there. It was one of the few occasions on which I have felt I was a part of Moncton, a real member of the community. Thank you all for that.

And don't forget - Moncton Library, Tuesday, June 5, 7 p.m., current events group for "The Quebec Student Strike: Protest or Revolution?"


  1. Cheryl Norrad - Editor/Reporter - The Purple Violet PressJune 9, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Have you ever heard of the goddamned news blogosphere??? There are news blogs out there catering to the short and punchy reporting you suggest. My own, for example, that did attend and report on the rally in Moncton.

    If you're going to shit on the mainstream media get your ducks in a row about what IS out there for media instead of coming off like some crotchety old Boomer who thinks he's more important than what he actually is. I'm really tired of your generation shitting on the mainstream yet doing barely anything to support the news blogosphere.

    And by the way, I've had this blog on my blog list for months now.

  2. Ah, shy maiden, shrink not from me.
    you will notice that the title of my blog is The Moncton Times and Tribune. I chose that because I'm allowed to choose my own topic.
    Could you tell me in one sentence exactly what your problem is? are you mae because I don't mention your blog enough? Exactly what would you like me to do. (one sentence.)
    Incidentally, I'm too old to be a boomer.

  3. Cheryl Norrad - Editor/Reporter - The Purple Violet PressJune 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    My problem is you don't mention anything from the news blogosphere. Not just my publication, but any news blog publication.

    People of your generation are still stuck in a newspaper mindset, but they're dead. You wonder why the T and T disappoints you? BECAUSE IT'S A DEAD FORMAT. The only thing going into it is ads and krap because most people aren't buying it. They're getting their news from online sources.

    I respect the fact you can entitle your blog whatever you like. I get that, but harping on about the lack of quality in your local newspaper is ridiculous because there's never going to be any in it. Irving News takes your demographic for granted and doesn't care it's giving you shit content because they know people in your age group are going to read and buy it anyway because that's what they're used to.

    Meanwhile, other ages are moving online to sources that aren't Irving news.

    The longer your age group buys junk like the T and T, the longer it hangs on. Just enough purchase it to keep it going. But if people stopped buying it, it would be gone, and I suspect your daily annoyance at the paper would be gone with it. Why put yourself through it when other better sources are available online?

    1. 1. let's get past your generational hangup. The greatest social innovation in Canadian history was not carried out by your generation, the baby boomers and hippies or my generation. It was medicare, and it came from the old farts born in the 1870s and 80s.

      2. The peace and love generation which considered themselves wiser, more progressive, more loving and more peaceful, with thought itself superior to all previous forms of life, gave us george Bush one and two as well as Obama. Clinton, bush 2 and Obama came from that generation. And the voters who put them in came from that generation. As does harper. the peace and love generation also gave us torture, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and more....
      These generational images are myths.

      2. Newspapers are not declining due to bloggers. They are losing out to radio and TV, both of which are largely more brain dead than newspapers. The latter also use much the same reporters of the paper world, and they get their news from the same sources. Nothing has changed.
      And most readers, listeners and watchers still don't have much of a clue of what's going on.

      4. I'm a teacher who also happens to have a lot of media experience. (I have enough, for example, to know that if I were you I would not have published my comments on a week-old page where few will read it.)
      What I want to teach people is how to understand the news. Not to get my version of it - but to understand what to look for, what to be suspicious, to learn that foreign corresponsdents are often (usually) liars, to point out the difference between good and bad reporting.
      The TandT is just a tool for that. It could be private radio - excecpt private radio is so incompetent, it doesn't really provide much in the way of example. I could use TV - but there are so many channels, it would be mard to maintain a focus.
      It doesn't matter. Understanding the news is pretty much the same for all of them.

      Other "ages" are NOT moving on to blogs. intellectual curiosity has nothing to do with age. Take a more careful look. Your generation has the usual allotment of louts, boors, and deadheads as any other. Like the hippies, it's quite as likely to move on to fascism, racism and overseas murder as any other. Indeed, i think it's more likely.
      Forget the generational bullshit. it just makes people think you're naive.

      Why don't i spend more time reading your blogs and mentioning them? Look. I do my blog which takes a lot of research and thought. I also do a lot of other writing. I'd like to get some free time to paint - but it's hard. I also, at my advanced age, have three children to care for. (Yes. I know your generation invented sex - but there they are.)

      I don't have a hell of a lot of time to join in the dance of the blogosphere rich and fulfilling though that may be.

      Now - if there is something specific you want me to do, tell me and I'll be happy to do it.

      I will not change what my blog is about. It's about learning how to understand the news, whatever form it may come in. it is not about yet another generation's half baked idea that it sees the real truth for the first time ever in world history.

      And - a small media tip. When you write a comment, always put it under the lastest blog. Otherwise, you might just as well write a letter to the editor and pin it to a month-old times and transcript.