Monday, April 19, 2010

Sandler said, "I can't stand the abuse of power. . . '

Northern Insights / Perceptivity repeatedly directs readers to ProPublica, an American non-profit investigative news agency. I link to that site because it is one of the most useful sources of original news. As a proof of status, Sheri Fink was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting on deadly choices in New Orleans.

ProPublica has an unusual view of copyright protection. The organization invites others to "Steal Our Stories" without payment. All they ask in return is credit. Rather few sites of professional news gathering operate that way, particularly ones with excellent work. Most are designing barriers and pay-walls.

Readers of this blog are information gatherers who draw their own conclusions. I offer my opinions but want readers to examine issues from many points of view. I dislike knee-jerk responses that assume one is married to a place on the left-right spectrum. Besides, ethics, honesty and protecting nature should be unrelated to conservative or progressive points of view.

Howard Kurtz, media columnist with Washington Post writes 'ProPublica's non-profit's news gathering pays off for partners. He provides background and notes that top-tier media partners are participating in and benefiting from ProPublica, a center of public interest journalism growing in influence.

This is the new model we must implement in Canada. Vested interests already own messaging machines.  The Fraser Institute spends over $1 million dollars a month, most of that in western Canada, selling messages to privatize and defund government and trust industry self-regulation.  They distribute ready-made media content, something always enjoyed by budget starved news editors operating with slashed resources.

The same message is pushed by associated 'think tanks' who are funded not only by the mega-rich but by every citizen through deductions from tax of contributions to charities and foundations. The Fraser Institute has more financial resources, in relative terms, by itself than does ProPublica, in an economy more than ten times larger.  Add in the budgets of the CD Howe Institute and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, Conference Board of Canada and others with similar aims, the big business point of view is well funded, even without considering who owns media corporations.

Herbert Sandler
Labor unions compete with their own different messages, albeit without luxurious funding.  I believe that Canada needs a broad approach to journalism in the public interest. The ProPublica model presents a workable approach for this country. We need people like its original funding partner. Herbert Sandler, a 78-year-old former banker, is contributing generously to the venture. He says his motivation is simple:
"I can't stand the abuse of power. I can't stand corruption. I can't stand the powerful taking advantage of those with less power."
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