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?"