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Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Comforted by false reality

A New York Times article, The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies, quotes a successful English business person about the need to confront truths, even uncomfortable ones, “…telling lies is the No. 1 reason entrepreneurs fail. Not because telling lies makes you a bad person but because the act of lying plucks you from the present, preventing you from facing what is really going on in your world. Every time you over-report a metric, under-report a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Beat reporters left the building

In 2010, the small city of Bell, CA was front page news nationwide. Over 17 years, the city manager and other municipal officials bilked tax payers out of millions of dollars. The LA Times won a Pulitzer for reporting on this story but it had paid no routine attention to this “cesspool of corruption” during the many years the fraud was active.

Deadbeats, the September 12 episode of WNYC’s series ON THE MEDIA (available by podcast) examines the failure of journalists to hold the powerful accountable.

The entire program is worthy of your time because the same decline in (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: PR tops journalism in U.S.

If Americans often seem uninformed or misinformed about current affairs, it may be because they get more propaganda than news. There are now five times as many public relations experts at work in the U.S. than reporters. Furthermore, the difference is growing. While the number of reporters in the country dropped by almost 9,000 from 2004 to 2013, the number of PR experts increased by over

Northern Insight: Racism taints Kwikwetlem reporting

My initial reaction to reports of compensation paid the Kwikwetlem First Nations Chief was plain wrong. Until detail was gained, I assumed Ron Giesbrecht committed an egregious abuse of public funds. That reaction was encouraged by cursory media reports that were shaped by common prejudices, reinforced by what lawyer Joseph Fearon calls an “example of the ‘corrupt chief’ narrative.”

In late July, federal Conservatives began posting audited financial statements of Canada’s First Nations. Within hours, news organizations such as Postmedia were churning out revelations that were short on detail but loaded with indignation. National Post immediately had writers Paula (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Redefinition of news

It is no secret that Postmedia, owner of daily newspapers from Montreal to Vancouver, accumulates losses at rates it cannot sustain. Raising prices and reducing expenses is not a solution. Despite higher fees, circulation revenues declined 11% in the past three years. More seriously, print advertising dropped 30% in that time frame.

The deadly spiral troubles old media. Lower cost inputs result in lower quality outputs. Content degradation means fewer readers, which means less advertising revenue, which demands further cost cutting. For large media empires, the future is not bright.

In its 2011 Annual Report, Postmedia stated, “We continued to (Read more…)

Northern Insight: R.I.P. Paul St. Pierre, 1923-2014

In the summer of 1968, I was a naive minion of the Liberal Party, helping manage the coastal part of Paul St. Pierre’s campaign to become MP for Coast Chilcotin.

It was a strange riding, with almost 700 words needed for the official description of its boundaries, 4-5 times more than a typical electoral district. Surface travel from one interior community to another on the coast involved almost 1,000 kilometers, ferries and at least 15 hours. The constituency map was product of officials who knew nothing of the places.

Nevertheless, St. Pierre was a guy comfortable in small towns and (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Just How Many BC Government Comms Staff Are There?

Below are all the job titles of all the comms staff in the BC Government Communications and Public Engagement bodies as of last week. Count with me!

There are 278 people!

278. That’s more than a few. The records include folks in these two areas:

Government Communications: which tends to the day-to-day communications functions, including strategic communications, media relations and issues management; and Strategic Initiatives Division: which largely consists of technical experts who provide corporate online and data services to government.

But don’t take my word for it; count for yourself. I might be off by a few. (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Hudson Mews v. Portland Hotel Society

The Code of Ethics published by the Society for Professional Journalists includes, among others: Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

Is the pro-media of British Columbia guided by those or similar principles? Consider the following.

When insiders at the Portland Hotel Society were caught misusing tens of thousands of dollars provided them by public agencies and donors, outrage echoed for weeks and heads rolled at the PHS. I did a Google search tonight, using the phrase, “Portland Hotel Society” audit.

(Read more…)

Northern Insight: Hey Tom, whose energy policy has been nonsense?

In the article “Unparalleled, indeed,” I quoted from an item written in 2011 by Black Press proselytizer Tom Fletcher. In it, he “lauded Gordon Campbell’s “long-term strategy to export hydroelectric power” and he called John Horgan the champion of doomsayers. Fletcher wrote of “evidence that current NDP energy policy is nonsense.”

Reader Merv Adey drew Fletcher’s attention to this quote with:

Demonstrating, at the very least, poor arithmetic skills, Fletcher responded:

However, his was not a convincing answer since the International Energy Agency and the financial media had been reporting on a natural gas glut since 2008, (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Occupy, For Democracy

Journalists protest the erosion of freedom of expression in Canada on Feb. 27 in Toronto. Photo Credit: Hiba Zayadin

When I write about soft fascism, I sometimes feel too Canadian. I don’t want to be impolite and talk about hard or old school or 20th century fascism because frankly, when people read that word, they think, “hey, is he talking about Hitler kinda stuff? Ok, then, so it’s not fascism.”

It is though. You don’t have to start a genocide for someone to consider your actions fascist.

It’s a kind, gentler, Canadian-style fascism with a hit of Tom Horton’s (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: 17 Things To Do While Watching TV News

There’s more than 17. Way more.

And you don’t have to do them all, you just have to start with a few.

Chances are, though, that you already do some of this. Click here, you’ll thank me:

“Never have I seen such a perfectly exquisite – and devastating – deconstruction of a ‘journalist.’”

via Watch This Perfect Dissection of Grief Lamprey Nancy Grace From HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ – disinformation.

August 15, 2009 Ambient Media Has Now Killed Off Broadcast Media (3) February 1, 2013 How to Petition the CRTC against Sun News’ Mandatory Carriage (54) September 3, 2013 You (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: If the 1% Has Russell Brand Killed…

If the 1% has Russell Brand killed, we will see it in the corporate media as a drug OD relapse, or a freak accident.

Why?

He is dangerous because he fearlessly tells the truth and challenges pretence.

Let’s examine this in some detail here [with video]:

His brain works twice as fast as most brilliant people I’ve encountered in my life. He is the socio-political heir of George Carlin. He speaks truth to power AND the masses. And frankly, WE’VE FORGOTTEN THAT THE MASSES ARE THE POWER. He is sober, so no one can credit his speedy speaking style on (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Systemic Pressures Make Journalists Sloppy

Gosh, the corporate media sure can be sloppy.

The heart-wrenching photo of a four-year-old Syrian refugee pictured alone crossing a desert into Jordan spread far and wide this weekend, but the fact that his family was just metres away was left behind.

Photo of 4-year-old Syrian refugee triggers sympathy, confusion – Your Community.

But there are systemic pressures that contribute to this kind of sloppy journalism making everyone #FacePalm sometimes:

Here 4 year old Marwan, who was temporarily separated from his family, is assisted by UNHCR staff to cross #Jordan pic.twitter.com/w4s2mrNnMY

— Andrew Harper (@And_Harper) February 16, 2014

(Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: The Media Corruption Trifecta!

It’s a trifecta of moral corruption!

Rex Murphy shills for Big Oil and Gas. Postmedia consigns its editorial control to the Oil and Gas Lobby[TM]. Postmedia, naturally, fires one of the best energy/environment reporters in the nation.

Film at 11.

Ok, it’s 11. Let’s drill down.

Journalists should declare when they receive money to speak at events. Sooooo many of them don’t. They think it’s OK because, shut up. But it’s a compromise to their credibility and can fuel speculation about conflicts of interest and bias. Many journalists pretend they’re objective. It’s humanly impossible to be objective. We all have (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Can We Stop Treating Women Like Meat? Now? Maybe? Please?

Women-as-sex-meat, 2014 edition begins now. The #FacePalm is appropriate.

It’s nothing new, but when can media just stop. Maybe when it’s no longer profitable? We need a revolution in media by boycotting all venues that perpetuate the women-as-sex-meat theme. Here’s what’s new, this time with Eugenie Bouchard and Cate Blanchett.

“You’re getting a lot of fans here,” noted Smith, a former British tennis champ. “A lot of them are male, and they want to know: If you could date anyone in the world of sport, of movies – I’m sorry, they asked me to say this – who would you (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Can We Stop Treating Women Like Meat? Now? Maybe? Please?

Politics, Re-Spun: How to Spot a Good Journalist

It’s getting harder and harder, what with constant corporate media concentration, and corporatist convergence of messaging from right wing governments and their informal corporate media PR departments.

But everyone once in a while we see evidence that there is a growing number of journalists who exist with integrity and can demonstrate meaningful contribution to society:

Also, we as journalists should be doing a better job realizing press releases are ads & shouldn’t be reprinted/repeated.

— Carly Weeks (@carlyweeks) January 16, 2014

 

So let’s add Carly Weeks to the short list of good journalists in Canada.

The trick here, of (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: What Does Post-Corporate Media Look Like?

I know you’re wondering. But it’s hard to imagine. Kind of like a fish imagining life without water. We’ve known corporate media for generations. Since the advent of psychology and marketing, the influence/manipulation of corporate media is ubiquitous. And not in a good way.

But let’s take a few moments to imagine the features of post-corporate media, where increasing the audience [by a variety of questionable, sensationalist means, sometimes] to increase ad revenue isn’t the goal.

Let’s start here with this:

The CBC. Mothercorp. Publicly funded, at arms length from the taxpayer funder. It has access to national radio and (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Propaganda presented as credible news

Were I a new arrival in Canada who relied on major media, I would believe, as Canadian Press reported, Northern Gateway is a project that, “…will put billions of dollars into the coffers of Alberta, Ottawa and other provincial governments…”

Further, I would believe that the NEB’s Joint Review Panel decision today is definitive. As CP reported, “Much hangs in the balance.”

I would be completely ignorant of the reality that the NEB is not an independent body but is an adjunct of Canada’s energy industry, with every member long immersed in the business.

I would be (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Fixing Cyncial Corporate Media

How to inoculate yourself against cynical corporate media.

Corporate news media is not on our side. It is on the side of stoking fear, cynically eroding possibilities of a better, more robust democracy, and scaring us into obedience to corporations and government through sensational stories that undermine our happiness.

But we can fix this. And it’s not hard.

While crime rates have been dropping, media coverage of crime has increased. This creates buzz and sensationalism and higher ratings which translates into higher advertising revenue for corporate media. I don’t think we can fix this.

Corporate news media is also guilty (Read more…)

Northern Insight: The decline of journalism…

“…It’s a fundamental existential problem for every society on earth today.”

That’s in the opening comments of Dr. Robert McChesney when he was interviewed by Ian Jessop of CFAX 1070 radio. The professor of communication at the University of Illinois ended his weekly show Media Matters last year, after a decade of broadcasting conversations with experts about economics, journalism and other important social issues. Many are available at the linked website.

Ian Jessop is doing fine work on the Victoria radio station. When we talked a few months ago, Ian said he aimed for guests from outside the (Read more…)

Northern Insight: "Veritable sewer of skullduggery"

Reading through Diane Francis’ 1988 book Contrapreneurs, from which the title of this piece is taken, I noted repeated mentions of a person who was, for more than a decade, indisputable bête noir of white-collar con artists in British Columbia and beyond. Former Vancouver trader Adrian du Plessis had developed qualities, says Francis, that separated him from Vancouver Stock Exchange colleagues: honesty and courage. Refusal to facilitate improper stock manipulation and a decision to blow the whistle got him fired from the investment industry. It also led him into working more than a decade as an investigative researcher and (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Sun News and sewer journalism

When Sun News hires the infamous Ford brothers to do a TV show, decent people cringe, but they shouldn’t be surprised. Aping Fox News, as Sun Media are inclined to do, it is simply pandering to the lowest common denominator, and the Fords are masters at pleasing that crowd.

An argument can be made that even the benighted among us deserve a mass medium that appeals to their passions and

Writings of J. Todd Ring: Reflections on tumblr, facebook and social media

Going from specifics to depth and breadth, and from particularities to universals, here are some thoughts for your consideration, for anyone who may be interested. I’ve come to love the social networking / blogging community / window onto the web which is called tumblr. That being said, tumblr is largely what you make of it. […]

Politics, Re-Spun: A Benchmark for Quality Journalism

Once in a while, but not frequently, someone does something in the media that helps me understand that there is still integrity in journalism. At least in some places.

Squeaky clean!

Once upon a time, I wrote about Paris Hilton’s post-incarceration image make-over. Sure, that was 6 years ago. And I honestly hadn’t tracked her to see if she’s become more puritanical.

But this weekend, I stumbled across an MSNBC news program with three journalists at the anchor desk. One was quite bothered that a story about the Paris Hilton make-over was going to be the lead.

She was reluctant (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: Got PTSD?

September 12, 2013

PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is thankfully becoming less stigmatized due to increased awareness, but like most mental health issues, there stigma that prevents open discussion about mental health is profound. But I recall 2-3 decades ago it was far worse.

There are a few PTSD events that have come up recently that are related to Canada’s shameful neglect and mistreatment of Canadian Forces personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD.

Kate MacEachern went on a long walk last year to raise awareness and funds for PTSD treatment. Wanting to do it again this year, it became incredibly (Read more…)