Tuesday, December 21, 2010

(Pt. 2) Media: Look in the mirror: you're missing your clothes

It goes without saying that I do not include Mr. Travers in the reference to "sycophancy" of the national media. However, he simply cannot be a solitary voice, or even one of two or three, when the choir is singing from a "sycophany" song sheet.
When both the science and so many other governments in so many countries take the evidence of the human responsibility for global warming seriously, how can Canada consider itself a thinking and sentient country when we have our collective heads in the sand on the issue. And just because Stephane Dion was "shellacked" (to use the word Obama used about the recent elections in the U.S.) when he proposed a carbon tax, at the behest of Mr. Harper, does not make Mr. Dion either wrong or unpatriotic.
In fact, Mr. Dion's courage to put forward such a proposal should be highlighted in many media releases, based on scientific interviews, for which multiple sources could easily be found. Instead, what have we? Utter silence from the Canadian national media!
Additionally, John Ralston Saul has been decrying the worship of  both the marketplace and the corporatism that accompanies or perhaps sustains the marketplace, for at least fifteen years, since the publication of his insightful work, The Unconscious Civilization.  I doubt if Mr. Harper has even read the book, (reminding us of the writer who continues to send the PM a book each month, without having received a single response, even of thanks). In how many newsrooms is such a book required reading? Probably few if any.
Just one quote to peak your interest, dear reader, in case you might like to find a copy of Saul's book:
The technocratic management, produced mainly by business schools and departments of economics, is most comfortable functioning in large management structures.
Today the most obvious vessel in which to release their desires is the transnational or the very large national corporation. Their training and these structures have very little to do with capitalism or risk. They are reincarnations of the seventeenth-centurye royal monopolies. They are, if you like, a modern version of mercantilism. All statistics show that these big joint stock companies, managed rather than owned in any meaningful way, are poor long-term investors and poor investors in research and development. Creativity frightens the administrative mind and so they have a negative influence on innovation. (Saul, op. cit. p. 120)..And from p. 122...
It is common today to run growth and bankruptcy together the way medieval Catholicism--through the Inquisition--would say God is strong, good and kind, therefore we must torture you.
It is the Canadian way to be in something akin to, if not exactly representative of, "awe" in the presence of power, especially when that power has money, status, big homes and several of them, and the right connections. And, for those who have chosen the fourth estate as their life's work, the people with the power, and the inside story on whatever file s/he is pursuing, are like the holders of the "holy grail" of unreported and sensational information...just the kind of information that Woodward and Bernstein were offered in the underground parking lot(s) from Deep Throat back in the 1970's when Nixon was impeached.
There is only one trouble: there was only one Nixon and only one Nixonian resignation, and in that story, the media were manipulated into playing a role that even they did not fully comprehend at the time.
When are we going to be offered some Canadian equivalents to the New Yorker in the U.S. or The Nation, or even Harper's in this country? When are we going to find an army of reporters whose ego's are not in need of messaging, because they are not neophytes, because their employers have considered them worthy of decent, even sizeable incomes, so that they can actually speak "truth to power" without fear and trembling, and their editors are not afraid, either, of the "blow-back" that will come when, for example, Quebec objects to the Macleans story about corruption. Thank God, Macleans did not apologize for their story.
But we need a similar kind of both muscle and courage in the national press.
And we need media owners and editors who are prepared to support deep investigation of the kind that Thomas Friedman continues to provide at the New York Times. (Incidentally, he is taking another leave at the end of January, to co-author another book on the American political culture...by once again telling truth to power.)
Who is the Canadian equivalent to Thomas Friedman? And the CBC is so anal in its politically correct ideology that when the government hints at cutbacks, it becomes even more obsequious. Why is that publicly funded corporation not providing more investigative work on the conflicting "positions" in parliament, for example, rather then gluing its coverage to the headlines and the mere outlines. Of whom is the corporation afraid? The public? The government? The CRTC?
And as for commercial (private radio and television) a child in second grade knows more than the 8.00 a.m. newscast provides.
For an example of a different kind of journalism look at The Tyee, from British Columbia, where good writing and courageous reporting have been linked in a digital format, only recently committed to hard copy.
It is this kind of journalism that is needed in Ottawa, and we can only hope that soon, it will bring its spine to that city, and to parliament, and we might watch things shift ever so slightly, as the rock of the neo-cons erodes with the facts of both wind and rain, both contaminated with the pollution that Ottawa refuses to even acknowledge.

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