Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sept. 22: Just a short one for a Sunday....

Do you know of the Atlantic Press Council?  It's a sort of Better Business Bureau. That is, it's an organization set up, supposely, to police people - in this case, journalists. In reality, though, it is very, very close to the people it's supposed to be policing. In effect, it's real job is to cover ass for the newspapers.

I had expected that. So I put it to the test about a year ago when I submitted a complaint about a grossly dishonest report in the TandT. After a pause to carefully study the story, they wrote to me that it was a fair and balanced story, well up to the highest standard.

Well, that was the kind of nonsense I had expected. But, being a bear for punishment, I wrote to them about last Monday's front page story, "Professor Lapierre hounded out of jobs"'

They wrote back that they handn't seen it. (What on earth does an office staff there do? I can't imagine they get many complaints since few know they exist. Don't they at least daily read the papers they are supposed to be authorities on?)

Three days later, the great man wrote back that he had seen the story (thanks to the incredible cooperation the editorial staff of the TandT).(And don't they have electronic subscriptions to the newspapers they're supposed to be policing?)  He said it was a fair and balanced story.

Now, I want to be charitable about this. It's possible the nobody in that office has a clue of what newspapers are about. Should I write back giving him a sort of building blocks lesson on what a news story is?

1. A headline is supposed to reflect the main point of the story.
the main point of the story is not "Professor Lapierre hounded out of jobs". It's not even a minor point. In the whole story there is no mention of anybody hounding him. Not one person. Not one word.

As well, 'hounding' is a strong word suggesting something close to malice and evil-doing. What malice? What evil-doing? This is a loaded, emotional word - and it has no connection with anything in the story.

2. The story is that Prof. Lapierre confessed to having  lied about his credentials. He did something very wrong. Doing something very wrong is not the same as being hounded, not even close. Indeed, what he did is so wrong, the university rector really had to fire him and to strip his honorary title of professor emeritus.

But the story told us very little about what he did wrong. Most of it was about what a wonderful scholar he was, how much he had done for the province, and long lines of gentle cooing.

That was a lying and heavily biased story from the start. Will the APC take note?

Not a chance. It can outlie even the Irving Press. That people at the APC know what they're paid to do. And that strikes a chilling note. The APS represents all newspapers in the Atlantic provinces. That reminded me of my time in Nova Scotia, and what stinkers I thought Halifax papers were. Then I taught three years at UPEI, and daily gagged on the Charlottetown paper.  (I shall never forget the day I was dazzled by a superb editorial in it. Then I discovered it had been copied from the New York Times - without credit.)

That's a really serious problem. There is no honest or intelligent newspapers in the whole region. Private radio, like everywhere else, is not to be taken seriously as a news source. Private TV is better, but still iffy.

There are only two trustworthy news sources. One is CBC. The others are the web sites that have sprung up as a protest against a tidal wave of lying and ignorance.

But nah. I won't write to APC. The only qualification for a job there is to know how to write eleven  words.

"We consider this to be a fair and  unbiased news story."

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