Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct. 22: The importance of editors

In the news business, the editor is the key person. Editors are the ones who mold kids out of journalism schools into real reporters. Editors are the ones who select which stories are the ones that are important. Editors are the ones who make sure that each story gives the average reader enough information to make it understandable. The editor has a breadth of knowledge that gives him a background when he writes a comment column - like an editorial. And an editor has the wisdom to know when he doesn't know enough to write on some subjects.

But not at the Irving press.

In that press, the editors accept the boss' rules. Nothing embarassing for the boss is to be printed.  Nothing that disagress with the boss is to be printed. Propaganda and outright lies are always welcome. And triviality is good because it means nothing, and so offends nobody.

No serious journalist would accept an editorial position at the Irving press.


Imagine if Irving head offices in Portland, Maine, were occupied by protestors supporting those at Rexton. (There is a great deal of opposition to the Irvings in the state of Maine. That's because they behave in Maine as if it were New Brunswick - and nobody likes to be treated the way New Brunswickers are.)

Imagine if the US were caught listening in to phone calls, hacking government and private computers, and generally spying on France and Mexico so blatantly that the presidents of Mexico and France make official complaints to Obama.

Suppose a recent report said that environmental scientists working for the federal government as well as those dependent on government subisidies live in a state of fear because they are not allowed to reveal any of their findings to anybody without government permission - and that permission is hard to get.  Harper keeps an iron control over what we are allowed to know - even when research is funded by our taxes, and when the findings may be crucial to our futures.

Well, imagine no more. All of those things happened yesterday, and not one made the Irving press. Howevr, "Food writer loves taste of Moncton" rated first page treatment.

The editorial writer praises the RCMP for its skill in stopping the Rexton blockade. I wonder how many blockades that editor has put an end to. I wonder if he (or she - nah, it's gotta be a he; the Irving press isn't big on female editors.) - so I wonder if he has ever even read something about it. Almost certainly not.

There was a news item just yesterday that Canada's leading authority on the use of police force said this case was NOT handled well. But I'll bet the writer of that editorial doesn't even know that there are such things are authorities on crowd control.

Norbert, as usual, foams at the mouth with his usual prejudice, even bigotry, and ignorance, He exalts the virtues of obedience to the law, seeing this as the key to civilized society. My, I should love to see Norbert's articles condemning the American and French revolutions, and condemning George Washington as an  unlawful protestor. This would no doubt be a much better world if the US were still a British colony, and France a kingdom under the Bourbons. And, certainly, the world would be much better off if Russia were still ruled by a Stalin.

And there's nothing more annoying than those damn women in Saudi Arabia protesting and demanding the right to drive, and the right not to be beaten by their husbands.

Norbert, we live in a world created by protestors. If there were no protestors, we wouldn't have democracy. We wouldn't have newspapers because we would be allowed to get information. If there were no protestors, we wouldn't have any civil rights at all. And we'd still have slavery.

Ever heard of Magna Carta? That was forced on King John by protesting lords.

Try to understand Norbert. Law and order, while necessary, are there because they are useful to the people who have power. Law and order in the US meant using electric cattle prods on African-Americans who protested against their status. Law and order in Canada means stealing native land, sticking them on reserves, and then ignoring them.

There were protesters in Nazi Germany who tried to help Jews. And, I suppose there were Nazi Norberts who wrote bitter columns about them. (Incidentally, law and order was the justification for Canada TO REFUSE to help German Jews from the 1930s until the very late 1940s. It was also the justification for putting innocent Japanese-Canadians into prison camps during World War Two, and then confiscating and selling their homes and all their possessions.)

Necessary change comes from those protestors you so much dislike. But you're not a protestor, are you, Norbert? Of course not. You like a province owned by a family that also owns the two, major political parties. And why not? Getting all those free scraps from their table has served you well.

Oh, Norbert also says "protestors and civil disobience have been tolerated for two years,...."  Tolerated? Norbert - protest is a right. Can you understand that? It is not something to be tolerated. We have a right to be protest.

And protesters, h e says, made no attempt to use democratic channels. Norbert - what the hell democratic channels are you talking about? That government which is owned by big business? The newspapers which are owned by big business? A spokesman like you who is owned by big business?

And tell me what democratic channels were followed by the shale gas industry. Tell me all about how they have been completely open and democratic.

Then Norbert calls the protestors fascists. Norbert, you don't have a clue what the word fascist means. Here's a hint. When a big businessman writes to a newspaper to announce he is now a member of the government (without being elected), that is fascism. That is a real meaning of the word.

Then he quotes an  "expert" Christy Blatchford (a journalist from the same kennel as Norbert) of The National Post that the majority of residents of Elsipogtog get more welfare than other recipients.

Norbert, that is a disgusting statement. Given the levels of welfare they get, that still keeps them well below the big recipients of welfare in Rothesay. You use poverty as an excuse to condemn people. They have lost everything - and they now get bare, subsistence living.

It gets worse. It becomes an accusation that some of them just want money. Possibly so. What the hell do you think SWN is there for? And if you criticize these poor people for wanting money, how about taking a swipe at your boss who makes truckloads of money out of such things as overpriced ice-breakers.

This is the most ignorant and vile newspaper column I have ever seen. And we can be quite sure that Norbert would never say such things about his boss.

Law and order can be very desirable. But any law and order eventually becomes abusive and counter-productive. It also is used to prevent essential change. That's why protestors are essential to a healthy society. Ignorant and bigoted columnists are not.

Well, I spent more time on Norbert than I meant to. And there's more to say. But for those who like the Irving press, for its normal emptiness and triviality, I recommend the op ed page column by Alan Cochrane. He's an editor, too.

There's an excellent Letter to the Editor   (but not, blessedly, by an editor). It's "Canada's failing grade in education investment".

Oh, an afterthought. I said a newspaper story should give us enough info to get the fullest possible meaning of it. P. A3 has a story that doesn't meet that requirement. It's really an ad "Speaker to discuss Middle East". The speaker is sponsored by Jewish Federations of Canada, and works for public radio in Israel. Here's what it doesn't tell you.

Judaism has a tradition of community groups that offer help, encourage discussion and learning, do youth work - a tradition far stronger than anything I have seen among Christian churches.

However, the behaviour of the Israeli government has created a sharp split among North American Jews. The majority support Israel no matter what it does - killing Palestinians, stealing land, deporting arab citizens.....

That majority, working in conjunction with the Israeli government, have taken control of most of those community groups, and uses them to lobby governments and spread propaganda for the Israeli government.

Many other Jews, though they support the state of Israel, are very much opposed to its government. There outlets are organizaations such as Jews for Peace in the Middle East.

In the US, Jewish Federations of the US has turned against the Israel government (though not against Israel.) It still continues with a community focus on helping Jews in the US and in Israel.

The Jewish Federations of Canada have gone in the opposite direction, acting as a propaganda arm of the Israeli government. Since the speaker on this occasion also works for government in Israel, I would guess that this speech will be heavily biased.

Oh - I'm not an anti-semite. In fact, most North American Jews are not semites in the first place. Palestinians are semites. Many arab peoples are semites. Most Jews are not.

But the TandT probably doesn't have an editor who knows any of that.


  1. Hitting the nails on the head as usual. Thanks again Graeme.

  2. Just thought you should know Norbert is also very anti-Israel and anti-Jew. In fact, he regularly refuses to print letters to the editor submitted by Jews, especially if they are in defense of Israel. Your column was great up until the end. There is a whole other side to the story when it comes to Israel. Most Jews defend Israel because that other side is never told. You should have gone to listen to the speaker before condemning his speech. As a professor I expect better than to react to something you know nothing about. It's a shame you had to colour this article with so much important information with an add-on about how terrible you think Israel is which is 100% not related. And if you actually read the T&T regularly you'd know that trying to say the T&T editor actually supports Israel is the worst joke. The vitriol you saw in that editorial (and in today's as well, check it out but make sure you don't have a full stomach) is the same kind of vitriol regularly lobbed at Jews and Israel by that very same editor. I doubt he likes anyone, when it comes down to it, including himself.

    1. Generally, western newspapers tell ONLY the Israeli government side of the story. They tell little about the time Israel deliberately attack an American naval ship, killing over 30 US sailors; they tell little about the robbery of Palestinian lands and homes, little about the deliberate murders of Palestinian children, the humiliations and poverty that are forced on palestinians.

      I know a good deal more about Jewish life than you seem to think I do. I lived most of my life in Jewish circles. I have spoken, more than hundreds of times, to Jewish groups in Montreal - and in almost every synagogue in the city. I was present when the Israeli government moved in on most Jewish groups to convert them into propaganda agencies.
      At one such meeting, I was sitting with a man who is still a close friend, theVP of BNai Brith, who was heartbrokem at the cheapening of a group he had given much of his life to.

      I am a Zionist. That is, I support the state and the people of Israel. I do not support a government that thinks the fact that Germans killed Jews gives Jews the right to kill arabs. I think the Israeli government is cruel, crooked, untrustworthy, dangerous to itself and placing the whole world in danger by its determination to dominate the Middle East.

      Most of all, I detest how that government has so much destroyed all I loved about Judaism.

      There are plenty of Candian Jews who feel the same way as me. One of them, a very old friend, is now President of Jews for Peace in The Middle East. She, too, is a Zioniist who detests what israel has done to Judaism.

      As for the Jewish Federations who support the Moncton speaker, they accepted the propaganda role. Most of the American ones have revolted. Indeed, they have even rejected Zionism - which I think is going too far.

      But at least they are not pimping for the dangerous nutbars who surround Netanyahu.

      Contrary to your charge, our newspapers do NOT tell the other side of the story. For that, I suggest you go to the web, and look for an excellent Israeli paper called El Haaretz.

      Oh, and if you ever want to know the real story about the anti-Netanyahu riot at Concordia university, drop me a line. I was there. I also knew the back room planning that went on. that's another side of a story that never got told.