Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In sheep's clothing

Bob Mackin has an interesting piece in The Tyee about a newspaper tycoon and BC Liberal abettor. David Black's bluster was about about oil refining but the part of Mackin's story that caught my eye involved one-time Province newspaper publisher Paddy Sherman.

In 1958, Sherman was both a news reporter and an avid mountain man. Apparently, vocation served avocation when he wrote a front page promotion for an unlikely BC ski resort. There was no financing and little substance to the extravagant plan but that didn't bother The Province. Sherman wanted the facility to proceed so they gave it maximum splash.

Mackin provides another newspaper's eventual headline:
"Grandiose Garibaldi Scheme Falls Flat on Its No-Assets."
Some months ago, I tracked the life story of Jumbo Glacier Ski Resort. The proposal has reappeared occasionally since it was first reported in a July 1991 edition of the Vancouver Sun:
"A Japanese-backed company is planning to build a $250-million year-round ski resort on a series of spectacular glaciers west of Panorama..."
In 1993, The Province was calling Jumbo Glacier Resort a certainty involving European and Asian investors. Two years later, newspapers said the project was proceeding with support from a consortium of Canadian, U.S. and European investors. In 2012, the Times Colonist repeated promises the ski hill would soon be operational. NW's Bill Good and others try to paint Jumbo as a victim of regulatory foot dragging but actually Jumbo has been an unfinanced scheme with proponents hoping that media play would attract investors. Shills in the corporate "news" operations are willing partners.

By the way, don't plan your ski vacation at Jumbo just yet.

Media may have people like Bob Mackin aiming to report accurately and sincerely but it has many more who earn a living by shilling for special financial interests. Sometimes, the promoted is a ski hill, fish farming or "ethical oil." Other times, it is a pipeline operator, car dealer, land developer or whatever.

The shill factor in media, especially in new media, is illustrated by a report in ZDNet.
"A Federal judge overseeing the Oracle vs. Google patent lawsuit said that search giant has failed to comply with a request to document all payments to bloggers and writers covering the trial.

"...U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in his order:
"The August 7 order was not limited to authors “paid . . . to report or comment” or to “quid pro quo” situations. Rather, the order was designed to bring to light authors whose statements about the issues in the case might have been influenced by the receipt of money from Google or Oracle. For example, Oracle has disclosed that it retained a blogger as a consultant. Even though the payment was for consulting work, the payment might have influenced the blogger’s reports on issues in the civil action...

"Google suggests that it has paid so many commenters that it will be impossible to list them all..."
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  1. made me laugh & reminded be of the vancouver stock exchange "back in the day" with all the howe st. genediers.

    Yrs have gone by, the "product" may have changed as have the players but its the same old game. gotta love it.

  2. And if you want to see what else is written on Jumbo Glacier

  3. This project, Jumbo like the Northern Red Chinese Gateway Pipeline has to be stopped...

    It is like insanity is knocking on our collective door, are you going to sit back and let it in? Yes we have the collective ability to make Earth look like Mars, is that what you want people? And all so you can stuff paper $ somewhere? You can not eat money in a crisis...

    Grow up.

  4. "Google suggests that it has paid so many commenters that it will be impossible to list them all..."

    New media has many false voices paid to serve interests of undisclosed clients. The Wikipedia article on Astroturfing provides detail and many examples:

    "Astroturfing is a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement... Like other advocates, astroturfers attempt to manipulate public opinion by both overt (outreach awareness, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means."

    Technology Corporations like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Cisco each sit on tens of billions of cash and near cash investments. Industries such as energy, finance and mining are also loaded with cash and willing to pay to influence public debate and political agendas.

    "Taxpayer" and "Citizen" groups, funded almost entirely by business, lobby for policies that favour wealthy business owners. Secretive organizations like "Ethical Oil," born in the office of tar sands lawyers, pretend to represent a broad group of Canadians but exist for the benefit of a tiny minority.

    As in everything else, consumers of information must remember "Caveat Emptor."

  5. Big Oil, Industry and indeed big money, are unscrupulous in their never ending quest, for more and higher profits. The "shill" is just one more "tool" in their arsenal.

    With a better "educated" public these organizations have become more devious and indeed unethical. "Its not for the public as a whole, its just for us. If you get a small benefit, so much the better. We still rake it in." This mentality is so pervasive in the corporate world now, that governments are having to be subverted, in order to keep the public at bay. We are truly the "sheeple" in all of this.

    Solution...a massive shift in the publics attitude, towards government and business in general. A more involved public, with a "collective" view towards social, economic and co-operative long term view, instead of the current short sighted profiteering of a select group. The public should be enraged at all the underhanded manipulation of "their" resources and "their" taxes. This stupidity must end. Without a long term, balance and ethical view, we are only ensuring that our children, and grand children will become more impoverished and burdened, with the consequences, our generation created. In the modern world, "freedom" does not give an individual or group, the "right" to manipulate the masses, for their own ends.

  6. Kamloops had a similar Kevin Krueger and Terry Lake announcement during the last election, a $200 million Sedric's Adventure Resort & Theme Park. It was announced in April to promote the liberal gang but it should have been announced as an April fool's joke.



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