Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dec. 2: Bad journalism - a classic example....

"What are N.B.'s protocols for law enforcement gun use?" is on A1 of the Dec. 1 edition of the Moncton TandT. It's also one of the longest stories I have seen in the Irving press and, for all its length, it says nothing whatever. The blame for this does not lie with the reporter. It lies with the assignment editor and the page editor.

For a start, this is obviously piggy-backing on the police shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. What's wrong with that? Well, this isn't Ferguson, Missouri. I don't know of any fear that is terrifying the people of Moncton as they wait for police bullets to cut them down. As well, this is not a city that has anything like the racial tensions of Missouri. (Racism exists in Moncton; but not on nearly the scale it does in Ferguson.

So why raise such an issue for Moncton? I suppose we can next expect a story on whether our local polar bears around town are dying off - just like the ones in the Arctic.

The second bad piece of journalism in this is that the editor just sent the reporter off to interview the people who train the police in the use of weapons.  The story is just one, long series of quotations from these people. And guess what? The people responsible for training the police say everything is just fine. Quelle surprise!

You want to know if I'm attractive? Just ask me. I'll tell you I'm stunning.

The story had no mention of any critic of police training; and it had no evidence of research at all. The result? This long story tells us nothing whatever about its topic.

In fact, the police of Moncton - and of the whole of New Brunswick - have an excellent record. The editor could have discovered that in just 30 seconds of research. According to Wikkipedia,  for a period covering the last fifty years and for the whole of New Brunswick, one person has been killed by police. One. That's the whole story right there. And it could have been told in two sentences.

Instead, we got a whole page that told us nothing whatever.

This is a sign of very incompetent editorial work. It's useless for the readers, bad for the newspaper, and bad for the reporter. Reporters don't come out of journalism school as finished products. They still have a lot to learn on the job - and that learning comes from the editors. Or it should. Obviously it doesn't from the editors of the TandT.

The only real lesson in this story is one for reporters. If you ever want to become a good reporter, get out of the Irving Press.

Then, on A3, we have over a half page about how the Moncton Wildcats are a major factor in attracting business to Moncton. This is so silly it isn't worth commenting on. Oh,  yeah. There's another piece of journalistic drivel on A2. The Moncton Wildcats got a video from Hulk Hogan. - "O joy, O rapture unconfined..."  (There will be a free chocolate bar for any editor at the TandT who knows the source of that quotation.)
Nothing much on editorial or op ed pages. Alec Bruce foresees an improving economic future for the US - and so for Canada - as the US gross domestic profit rises. But I'm afraid there's more to it than that. The question, for some years now, is not the gross domestic product; the question is how much of the profit will most of us see? Or will it all end up in absurdly high salaries and benefits for corporation senior officers, in offshore banks, in tax breaks, and in sheer corruption.

Steve Malloy writes about the Ferguson shooting as a sign of police distrust. Well, sort of. But the police distrust is, itself, the result of a nation that is destroying itself with a racism and an abuse of blacks that has little improved since 1865.
NewsToday has an interesting story from Dr. Cleary, our chief medical officer of health. on what she sees that needs to be done in the way of an extensive reorganization of health care in New Brunswick. It's refreshing to see a public issue debate in the province which begins with the purpose of a department of health - rather than the businessman's approach of talking about money first.

One of the great mistakes of the Alward government was to appoint business executives to oversee the health system. They know nothing about health. But the political gospel of this province  is - business executives are people of organizational skills and budgetary skills. Praise the Lord. Therefore, they should run everything - hospitals, public schools, universities. I'm surprised big business hasn't muscled in on privatizing the military by replacing our military command so we can have a for-profit armed forces.

The US is already leading the way with hiring mercenaries from private contractors - which may account for its dismal military record over the last 50 years or so. But, yes, I can see it all now. The Irvings could become admirals (which would mean another hall of fame for them in Moncton) to bring a solid, business approach to our naval tactics. The McCains' potato connection would made them naturals as generals. For Air Marshals, perhaps some light and fluffy execs - perhaps like Conrad Black.

Dr. Cleary's article sounds like a far more effective approach to health care than we're seeing. It appears in  Journal of New Brunswick Studies. It's a short read, but a good one. You can find it easily - just google Journal of New Brunswick Studies.

There is virtually no news of the rest of the world. But B5 has four, big photos of people holding up giant cheques., with three of them doubling as ads for local business.
The paper for Dec. 2 was a real snorer. For section A, Alec Bruce's column is worth a read. An op ed column by Dr. Bruce Fawcett is not worth a read. He's listed as president and vice chancellor of Crandall University. This is the university that has been criticized for receiving public funding while discriminating against gay and lesbian employees. He defends the funding on the grounds that the money has not been used for anything faith-based except the chapel.

Look. What's wrong is not having a faith-based institution. What's wrong is having one that discriminates against others - including gays and lesbians. (Incidentally, it's just a little of a stretch to say the chapel at Crandall is for spiritual growth. Growth and indoctrination are not the same thing.)

By the way, and as you know, Dr. Fawcett, - the sons of Adam and Eve had children by their sisters. And,at  that time, there were no preachers to perform weddings - so the children were - you know - I mean, we're adults so we can say it out loud - so the children were - the children of unmarried parents. And, since the concept of marriage was unknown, it is likely that they - you know - frequently got together with someone they did not get together with the first time - or the second or the third. And,well, you know what boys are like at first, so they probably got together with boys. And that would be gay. So I presume this is all part of the spiritual growth you teach in the chapel.

I have no objection to faith-based educational systems (though I would love to know how  your history and political science teachers deal with the damage cause by Christian missionaries.) I have every objection to the very selective use of the scriptures to discriminate against others.

There are just a few things to notice in a pretty shallow NewsToday section.

On B1, Gallant pressed Harper to help  support New Brunswick's social programmes. Harper slapped his little bum, and told him to take off. But we'll show him. We're tell our Conservative MP, Mr. Goguen, to read the riot act to Harper.  (At the end of which, Harper will say, "Who are  you?")

On B4, there's the story of how Harper's social security panel has made a mess of appeals for help that we are supposedly eligible for. Eleven thousand people, many of them elderly, some dying, some so handicapped they cannot work, have been waiting for years to get the help they need. One man just got approved - after a five year wait in which was a  incapable of working.

According to the government, 58 percent of Canadians who applied for disability payments last year were denied. But some 40 percent of those who appeal win the case - after years.

Then, after a few pages of news that tells us nothing, we get B6. B7.and B8 with, between them, almost page and a half of utterly pointless photos. There is not the slightest attempt to find anything significant in world news. This is decidedly sloppy, cheap, unprofessional, and probably ignorant work by editors.
Is there any news they missed?   Well....

At the Francophonie Summit, Harper called for an end to child marriages. So what? Well, Harper has made it a point to say on every occasion that Israel is right in everything it does. He has never criticized Israel on anything. So, apparently, he's unaware that it's common for orthodox Jews to marry their daughters young, and to arrange the marriages, secretly, between the two sets of parents years in advance - usually when the girls are about fourteen.

I shall never forget the evening I had dropped in on some orthodox friends whose son, without their telling him, had been promised for marriage several years earlier to an orthodox girl in New York (which was a popular shopping place for potential mates among orthodox Jews). Shortly after I arrived, he got home with a surprise. It was a girlfriend he intended to marry.

She was Christian, French, and a pole-dancer in the clubs. I thought it best to leave early.
Last year, US police killed 409 people. German police killed 3. British and Japanese police, in total, killed zero. The US also maintains one of the worst prison systems in the world (-and Canada's not much better). But killing and imprisoning doesn't seem to be doing the job. The US still has more people in prison than any other country in the world.
There's an excellent column by Karl Nerenberg at rabble.ca      It's " who gets the $$ for food in the north - big business vs hungry people". As a part of his privatizing of everything, Harper has put supply food to the north entirely in the hands of big business. It is making huge profits. People in the north are going hungry.
Mexico is on the edge of civil war. Some weeks ago, mass graves of a busload of university students, about 40 of them, was discovered.  Nearby were the remains of a body in which more students had been shot, then burned to ashes. The local mayor and the police were heavily involved in the crime.  So was the President of Mexico So, almost certainly, was the army. The site of the killings and the bonfire is within a hundred metres of a Mexican army base.

It seems the students belonged to a group critical of the government for it's corruption and violence. Odd. Obama is wild to speak for freedom and justice and good things in Iraq. But not a word about Mexico which is right next door.

The British government has announced that some 13000 people in Britain are slaves. Many are refugees from the hells we have created in Africa and the middle east who are allowed to stay only if they have employment. Employers, many of them households ,take advantage of their necessity to hold a job in order toe keep them as slaves - providing minimal shelter, minimal food, long working hours, no holidays, and virtually no pay. Similarly, some end up in the sex trade as employees.

Actually, it happens in Canada and the US, too. We just never hear about it. And we never, never hear about even worse cases.

In Congo, for example, a country under the Control of western nations and their capitalists for almost a hundred and fifty years, income for lucky workers might be something over $400 a year. And child labour for much less is common. Life expectancy is short. There is virtually  no medical care. Yet for almost a hundred and fifty years, the very wealthy of the western world have freely looted the extensive resources of Congo. This is especially true in the mining sector in which very wealthy Canadians have been leaders.

Guatemala, controlled by American business through American-backed dictators might hit $250 a month. that's with a 48 hour week and a thriving gross domestic product. Canadian investors are very big  in Guatemala, too.

Then there's Haiti, where someone lucky enough to hold a job could get $2 a day. And that's after close to a hundred years of direct US control - either under a dictator or, recently, a puppet president.  In cities, the majority don't have modern plumbing. In the country, it's worse. In both, outhouses are available, but only for a fee which is prohibitive for many people.

When an earthquake destroyed large number of sheds that were the only houses most people had, people had to resort to the hundreds of tent camps that sprang up. The US promised billions in aid: but almost none of it reached the Haitians. Almost all ended up in the pockets of American billionaire contractors So the hundreds of tent camps are still there, without water or toilets, and with the canvas now rotting.

In all of the above countries, there are similarities. All have been under the control of Western capitalists for generations. All have productive economies.  All have stunning wage gaps and high rates of poverty. All suffer from hunger, and from lack of any social services. All are really nations of slaves.

And all make our very rich very, very, very rich.


  1. I've often felt that the neglect with which the Conservatives have treated Dr. Cleary is shameful. She produced a report on shale gas that won awards for it's clarity and vision. In it she stressed two concerns; that we take the time to investigate all of the possible negative consequences associated with unconventional shale gas drilling and have full disclosure and open consultation with the public. Much emphasis is placed upon the need for transparency and the availability of reliable information. The government ignored her and the advice she gave, and it is interesting to note that the report was produced and released on her own initiative.
    The recent article in the T&T stressing the importance of developing a preventative health care system never mentions the words shale gas, but they are just beneath the surface when she suggests that the focus of government can't be solely on economic advancement and that the pursuit of wealth must be engaged with public health and well being.
    In proposing to honor the promise of a moratorium, the Liberal government cites the importance of considering human and environmental health first. If they are serious about this then maybe the report did not fall on entirely deaf ears. There is one certainty, however, there will never be evidence that fracking can be practiced in a way that does not threaten human health.

  2. And it really doesn't matter if it is practiced safely. Just the investment in it means a prolonged reliance on fossil fuels. And we cannot survive that.

    I have no faith Gallant's promises.