Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nov. 17: Sorry to be late today...

....and the blog may not be long...I seem to be quite sick with something.

So we'll talk ethics.  Journalism ethics.

There really are such things, though they have never been closely observed by most news media. Among newspapers, the Irving press are the sorriest lot in a generally soggy Canada.  But what are ethics?

Well, for a start, you don't exploit the misery of people who have suffered a terrible experience. That is particularly  true of running pictures of those who are grieving. There are circumstances in which it is permissible to do do - but you don't do it simply to sensationalize their misery.

You don't write a headline for laughs just to show how clever you are - especially when it's not a funny story. I shall never forget the Hong Kong headline I saw some years ago. A women had invited a neighbour into  her flat for a cup of tea. He took advantage of that to rape and beat her. The headline?

"That was some cup of tea"

You don't word stories in such a way as to stir up hatred for any group. The US killed millions of innocent people with Agent orange in Vietnam, and another half million at least in Iraq - again largely innocent people. The US has murder squads operating in as many as a hundred countries. There is a network of secret US torture prisons around the world. The victims in them are not first proven guilty of anything or even accused of being guilty of anything. (Only seven of the prisoners at Guantanamo have ever been charged and and convicted.) The US operates drones that kill illegally, and killed civilians in the thousands all over the world. (There is no sensationalism. All the above in simple statement of facts.)

But I have never seen a newspaper refer to the US policies as terrorism.  Nor have I ever seen an article arguing that what drives this brutality and murder is Christianity.

Compare that to articles and news stories about Moslems. In many newspapers, it is simply assumed that all Moslems are terrorists. And half-baked columnists born into bigotry (Dave Frum springs to mind) have no trouble peddling their hate liberature in papers like The National Post.

Ethics means that you don't write  misleading stories. When the CBC publishes a story that the Irving Press doesn't want anybody to know about (which happens ever day, partly because CBC has the strongest set of ethics in the Canadian news media). the Irving press will usually ignore it if it can. If it can't ignore it, it will treat it as briefly and possible, saying as little possible, and never refer to it again. A classic example of this sort of ignoring of ethics was the story that prof. Lapierre, the man in charge of shale gas promotion in the province and the poster boy for the liars and pimps in our government had faked his credentials. Remember the headline?

"Professor hounded from jobs"

That wasn't what the story was about at all. In fact, the story didn't have a word about anybody hounding him. More in fact, he got off scot free, though by his fakery, he had put lives in danger. (Boy, he's lucky he wasn't somebody really dangerous like a native grandmother kneeling on a road front of a hunrdred or so riot police).

The bulk of the Lapierre story in the TandT was about what a wonderful person he was.

One of the writers of that story was Brent Mazerolle. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was, to put it kindly, misleading. He did it quite deliberately. A person like that should not be in any news medium.

No editor should ever have allowed such a story to run. But the Irving press editors seem quite comfortable with lying and misleading.

(I posted the Press Council about it. They, as I expected, covered up. That's their job. I was told it was fair reporting because anybody who disagreed could have written a letter to the editor. That rather misses the point that a newspaper should not lie in the first place.)

Then we have the editorial of last Friday about how it was wrong for a person at city hall to leak the story that our city government had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of our money to Robert Irving so he would keep his hockey team here.

There is a newspaper tradition that all editors support the argument of any editorial. So I presume they all did, particularly since I have never seen any reason to think highly of any of them.

So they all agree that the purpose of a newspaper is to hide information from the public. They called it a "leak", nasty word. Well, most really big stories come from leaks. That's because cheats like to keep us in the dark about what they're doing  to shaft us - and the only way we can learn about it is through leaks.

The story of the Nixon scandals that led to Nixon's resignation were the result of leaks. The news that the US was torturing prisoners in Afghanistan was a leak. That Mulroney took a bribe of hundreds of thousands of dollars we learned through leak.

The job of a newspaper is not to publish only official statements. It's to get at the truth. It's to serve the public by spreading the truth. It is not to serve people in backrooms who want to pocket our money. It is not to protect politicians who are either very, very naive - or on the take.

Big business wants to keep secrets from us using our money and our concillors? So they need secrets to do business?

Damn right. House breakers have the same problem. So if a gang of them is operating in Moncton, the paper should keep it a secret. My goodness, if we make it public, the robbers might just leave Moncton and find another city to rob. We can't let that happen.

The editors of the Irving press actually worked against us. That editorial demanded that we must be kept in the dark about what our elected representatives are doing.

Actually, they should be telling us more about the deal - and which of our civic officials were playing this game so we can make sure that we don't get robbed again. And the very existence of this story should have the Irving press asking questions about the events centre and the stir about Moncton High. Any secret deals there? If there are, we'll have to wait for CBC to tell us.

We have been secretly ripped off. We are going to be ripped off and betrayed even more. And the whole editorial staff along with at least some of the writers are cheering for the thieves.

These are the scum of the journalism world, beneath any terms of contempt I can think of.


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