Sunday, August 28, 2011

Your application to express opinion is denied

Globe and Mail editorial, August 26/11, Licensing journalists in Quebec would stifle press freedom
"A licensing system for journalists being discussed in Quebec is a form of press regulation that would put limits on the free flow of information.

"The licensing system would create a “professional journalist” designation, backed by Quebec law, that could provide for preferential access to government sources and extra rights to protection of sources.

"That may sound seductive to some journalists. Exclusivity, bargaining power, prestige and money may be seen as side benefits to a professional licensing system administered by a body of journalists. But the damage to press freedom, and therefore to individual journalists, card-carrying or otherwise, would be considerable.

"How? Controlling access to sources or to news conferences would by definition mute or limit some voices..."
In British Columbia, we don't have formal licensing but we have a system that provides exactly what some in Quebec aim to achieve. One example was illustrated during the Basi/Virk/BC Rail trial where we learned that journalistic privileges in the Supreme Court depended on a small accreditation panel of mainstream newspersons who issued or denied licenses to other commentators seeking full access to court facilities and reporting aids.

Today, for every outlier in professional journalism or online citizen reporter writing stories of substance, there are 50 hacks at Corus Radio, Postmedia, Black Press, Global TV and CTV who care very little about real journalism. For every take-no-prisoners reporter like Jack Webster was or Rafe Mair remains, there are ten Tom Fletchers, Vaughn Palmers or Keith Baldreys. Proven and entertaining writers like Alex Tsukamis are pushed from the mainstream media's stage because they don't follow the rules.

BC Liberals, as political strategy established before 2001, aimed to capture and tether the media. Accordingly, trustworthy reporters have preferential access to government facilities and sources and they are fed both background and material for publication by ministry officials and underlings. The quid pro quo for such assistance is to ask no hard questions, present no surprises and repeat talking points even if shopworn clichés.

Compliant broadcasting and publishing companies are rewarded with lucrative advertising contracts and individual journalists can earn private pleasures and direct payments for consulting, advising and appearing. Spouses of journalists might serve as proxies in the employment or freelance rewards theater. There are countless ways for one hand to wash another.

Rewards are issued and media control is exercised directly through ministries, but also through industry groups such as the BC Chamber of Commerce, Private Power Producers Association, Salmon Farmers Assoc., Mining Assoc. of BC, and astro-turf groups like Clean Energy BC, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy.

Politics in British Columbia has been systematically corrupted by an unhealthy camaraderie between government and media. The original blame attached to Gordon Campbell and his initial coterie - people like Patrick Kinsella. Continuation of this corruption is now the responsibility of Christy Clark and her coterie - people like Patrick Kinsella. An equal share of responsibility belongs to the cross-platform corporate media that is controlled in fewer hands than at any time in history.

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  1. " For every take-no-prisoners reporter like Jack Webster was or Rafe Mair remains, there are ten Vaughn Palmers or Keith Baldreys."
    You are so right Norm.

    Guy in Victoria

  2. The media have no pride in themselves. All we hear from them is, butt kissing Liberal hacks. Typical propaganda machines, of yesteryear. No minds of their own. Puppets dancing when their strings are yanked.

  3. Norm if you were a dart player you would win with 3 darts. Great article!



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