First, examine the comments by Spartikus HERE then consider this recap of Baldrey's lament:
"A lot is being said and written about the decline of civility in our political culture these days. It's time we confront this disturbing problem.Notice again that Baldrey says,
". . . one doesn't have to dig very deep in our own political culture to find rhetoric that is beyond "overheated" and inflammatory attacks that go well beyond what is acceptable in a fair and just society.
". . . the fact he [Craig James] needed security was actually reported some weeks ago by the Globe and Mail. . . More than 150 comments were posted. Almost none of them expressed any kind of sympathy at all for James. . .
"This brings us to a key part of the growing problem: the anonymity of the Internet, which allows anyone the chance to smear another without having to be held accountable for his or her actions. If I (or any other reporter or editor at this newspaper) were to libel someone, the consequences would be harsh. The aggrieved party would sue, and there's a good chance the offending writer would pay a significant financial penalty.
"But on websites and blogs, people are allowed to post the most outrageous, libelous, threatening and inaccurate comments and because they do so under the cowardly cloak of anonymity (or pseudonyms) they face no consequences.
"Yet, their comments hang in the air and get traded back and forth. . . no matter how much evidence shows those views to be wrong or inaccurate or based on hate or prejudice.
"Newspapers and other media outlets should return to the days of the rigid letters-to-the-editor policies that took steps to ensure all published comments were accurately signed.
". . . don't think for a moment the extremists who have poisoned political debate in the U.S. don't also exist here. They can be found in Canada, on the left and right, and they are mostly on the Internet. If you don't believe me, just ask Craig James."
". . . on websites and blogs, people are allowed to post the most outrageous, libelous, threatening and inaccurate comments and because they do so under the cowardly cloak of anonymity (or pseudonyms) they face no consequences."Keith Baldrey has been a professional journalist for the better part of 30 years. He is aware that if people make death threats in any fashion to Craig James, including by email, they will be investigated by police and charged. Punishment would be severe. Baldrey's universal statement about blogs and websites is wrong, pure and simple. Criticism and impolite comments are not libel. Also, it is inconceivable that he so misunderstands the law that he would honestly make such untrue assertions regarding libel. I think his statements are considered and purposeful but the intention is not what he claims.
There is no cloak of anonymity provided by the Internet to a blogger or any online journalist. The people responsible for offending sites, even those using pseudonyms, can be determined through identification of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and a bit of gumshoeing. Many bloggers make it easy by using real names, honest email addresses and even pictures. Does anyone imagine that I am not subject to libel laws at Northern Insights? Only ignorant fools.
Baldrey must know that I can be sued for damages and/or restraint if I libel someone, or if I publish libelous content from others. I explain this occasionally to contributors after blocking comments because they are or might be unfairly malicious. I recognize also a moral responsibility, beyond the legal, to not assert as true information that I know to be untrue. Regular readers know that I might be prone to ironic comments or quirky statements but that is pretty obvious to anyone exercising thought.
Similarly, newspapers provide for moderation for the most part and blogs that deal in controversy pay attention to rules of fair comment and are responsible for anything published. CBC, Global, Postmedia, Globe & Mail all moderate comments and typically require registration. Unfortunately, a small lunatic fringe has always been with us but who gives them any credibility? Blog readers are often sophisticated news junkies who want commentary based on fact, not on fantasy.
Baldrey wants people unfamiliar with online journalism to imagine the Internet largely provides "outrageous, libelous, threatening and inaccurate" commentary. One reason he might want to sell that false image is that he worries about how the mainstream media is losing readers to the online world. Baldrey is also saying that he does not like to be criticized and held accountable for inaccurate expositions.
Keith, if you aim to be respected, stop being an extension of PAB, treat all sides with doubt and wariness, don't advance interests of the powerful, be prepared to make them uncomfortable if deserved, be transparent about potential conflicts involving you and others close to you, be knowledgeable and impartial. If your employer won't allow this, go public, force change. Your employer once had a reputation for outstanding work, it does no longer.
Global BC, for whom Baldrey is the chief political reporter, has been caught this week in a demonstration of partisan bias. They've been accused of prejudice before, at Northern Insights and elsewhere. Their sneering responses have always been denials. Of course, content itself has demonstrated partiality but now bias is confirmed by court documents that reveal Global news reporter Catherine Urquhart worked with BC Liberal Kash Heed's senior advisors to promote the politician's public profile. This is from the Vancouver Sun's report of the correspondence between Liberal backroom operator Barinder Sall and the Global reporter:
“I can honestly say Kash would not be SG [solicitor-general] today if it hadn’t been for some key people behind the scenes,” Sall wrote to Urquhart on June 10, 2009.Remember, Urquhart did not prepare and broadcast this friendly material by herself. It passed by all the others working in the Global studio whether editors, reporters, technicians or management. Approval was explicit and implicit. That it was aired demonstrates Global was taking care of business as usual, promoting BC Liberals. I suggest that trust is a major issue for both Global TV and Keith Baldrey. As chief political reporter, he would have known about the campaign to raise Heed's status. Should we have confidence in any statement by Baldrey or Global or assume they generally report that which pleases their favorites? Given the inaccuracy of his allegations noted here, Baldrey should reconsider his approach to political reporting.
“There were only truly 3 people that played a major role: Me, Peter Dhillon and yourself and Kash knows this,” he added.
“Peter was the money guy, I’m the brown tanned James Bond strategy girl-chasing guy and you were like the communications director . . . your stories, coverage and timing gave Kash a lot of profile and built him a following from day 1 at West Van and then leading into the election.
"In response, Urquhart wrote: 'Hey . . . that’s really sweet of you . . .' "
A further test of Global TV comes from their treatment of the issue. Will they continue to blame only Ms. Urquhart or will they admit to their systemic bias and change. So far, the company response is not admirable. Ian Haysom is still at work and Catherine Urquhart is suspended. Recommend this post