Saturday, September 21, 2013

Broken trust

After shifting his focus in recent months, Alex Tsakumis is blogging again and getting ready to launch as a 3-hour a day webcast on politics, media and other current affairs. A segment of AGT's Thursday post caught my eye. He described a moment in the recent Legislative session when Minister of Children and Family Development Cadieux was thanking her crew for loyal service. Alex's words,
"...Cadieux singled out “Lisa Leslie,” who, let me confirm, is Sean Leslie’s wife. The Minister thought nothing of (painfully) pointing out Sean Leslie’s glaring conflict of interest (he is required to cover, WITH UNIMPEACHABLE IMPARTIALITY, the very government who provides his household with a healthy cheque every month). It is a moment that did not go unnoticed with many media colleagues–and NOT ONE wrote about it or pointed it out..."
No doubt, the Leslie family would happily say to the Minister, "You're welcome. Glad to be of service." For her work, Lisa Leslie is rewarded quite well. Certainly better than life-saving paramedics and school support workers who were able to gain modest increases in a new contract negotiated this week, after receiving 6% over the last five years. Because of low pay rates and irregular schedules, CUPE says the average support worker salary is $24,000.

The BC Liberal government pays Lisa Leslie 3½ times that amount and she has enjoyed increases of 26% in the last five years, not a bad amount considering the net-zero mandate that's been in effect much of the time for government workers.

One may wonder why media spends no time comparing treatment of senior civil servants to  treatment of unionized workers such as those in healthcare and education.  The answer may be that some writers and broadcasters benefit from the unequal treatment. Leslie and Smart are not the only ones with a close relative who has been appointed to work for the BC Liberal government or its caucus.

I wonder how Sean Leslie's boss at CKNW would explain how Lisa Leslie's employment does not put her husband in conflict of interest that offends principles published by the Association of Electronic Journalists (RTDNA). Ian Koenigsfest, head of programming at CKNW, is also President of RTDNA. Here is a portion of the RTDNA's Code of Ethics:

The Canadian Association of Journalists publishes Ethics Guidelines that includes:
  • We generally do not accept payment for speaking to groups we report on or comment on.
  • We do not report about subjects in which we have financial or other interests...
How would Leslie or Koenigsfest excuse themselves or their colleagues on these ethical matters?

Regular readers will recall the CBC Ombudsman upheld a complaint that Stephen Smart, CBC Legislative Reporter for Radio and Television in BC, was in conflict because he reported on the BC government while his wife worked as a press officer in the Premier's office. In his report, Ombudsman Kirk LaPointe stated,
"...Whether a real or perceived conflict of interest, no amount of managing it can do more than mitigate the impact on an impartial fulfillment of duties."
Essentially, CBC ignored LaPointe's findings. Smart continues in his position and his wife serves as a Public Affairs Officer in Christy Clark's government. No disclosure of the relationship is made on air.

This is the way media behaves in British Columbia. Apparent conflicts and ethical gaps are discussed only in the alternative media, never in corporate properties. Payments from groups affected by coverage flow without sanction to the "journalists" providing that coverage. Keith Baldrey recently called references to the RTDNA code of ethics "lame."

Hollow are claims that British Columbia's mainstream media pays attention to codes of conduct and commonly accepted principles of journalism.

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  1. Sean Leslie, Keith Baldrey, Steven Smart.
    All part of the problem.
    Conflicts of interest abound.
    The days of "hungery" reporters that would do anything to "get the scoop" are long gone.
    These eliteist, wealthy few are like their political masters.....
    They look down upon the great unwashed rabble as mere fools to be fed propaganda placebos over and over and over.

    And the majority willingly lap it up every 6pm .
    Just before that cerebrally stimulating show ET makes it appearance.
    I pray for a massive solar flare to wreak havoc on all things electrical so that I may, perhaps,have the satisfaction of watching one of these people dig a communal outhouse hole as part of their useful contribution to society.


  2. And they wonder why people with any brains only watch to see how bad they screw the news up each and every day....just by putting the words in the right order you can completely change how a story comes out,and I'd say most of the news readers (talking heads) don'even realise it....

    1. Good point Len. I laugh out loud at the NIGHTLY screwups on Global News! Every night there are at least one if not more dropped videos, no sound, wrong video for story, etc.etc.etc. Which leaves the Jock Chris Gailus or the school marm Deb Hope stumbling like a rolling football.
      And the likes of Baldry, Leslie sneering and laughing at Alex Tsakumis's first radio venture on the Bill "Good" show. Laugh it up guys because that light in the media "tunnel" isnt the other end, its a train is approaching at full speed.
      Judging from the massive budget of Glow-Ball tv and the miniscule budget of the radio station that fisrt aired Tsakumis.
      Me-thinks Good, Baldrey and the rest couldnt lick Tsakumis's dirty boots if it came down to who has the best NEWS stories in BC.


  3. The entire country is rotten to the core with corruption. BC has always been the most corrupt province in Canada. Gordon Campbell twice lied and cheated to win his election. Christy Clark campaigned on, out and out blatant lies. 76,000 jobs for BC, was it not? Both Harper and Christy's so called jobs, won't be for Canadians anyway. The 200 BC mining jobs, were to Communist China.

    The BC Liberals work for Harper. Harper and Christy both had TV ads, the ran with our tax dollars. Chritsy and Harper's economic and job action plans, were identical. They don't have any. Harper prorogues Parliament. Christy prorogued Legislature.

    There isn't even a pretense of democracy in this country nor this province. Harper and Christy have no, honor, decency, morals nor ethics what-so-ever. Dictatorship government never do.

  4. A revival of Frank magazine is desparately needed in this country, particularly in this province. Noticed the spokes-thingies for various boards,commissions and crown corps lately? Mostly former "members" of the fourth estate. Think the survivors in the MSM will pursue their former colleagues with any vigour? This cabal is further silenced by the number of spouses and close relatives on the public payroll.

    1. I hear ya! I'd love to see a BC version of Frank---at least to see if it could get off the ground in this day and age of alternative internet media. Frank used to titillate by exposing what certain public figures preferred to conceal yet, due largely to the internet, sex, for example, isn't the taboo it used to be when Frank first went to press. Frank used to embarrass mainstream press for not embarrassing their supposed subjects of scrutiny; nowadays MSM has no shame at being bought and paid for by political interests. It used to be there weren't many critics as frankly frank as Frank; nowadays there's a blogosphere of libel too numerous to prosecute yet the precious bastions of truth are not ignored, just unheeded. While Frank might be able to get away with more these days, would they get heard in today's media din or would they be blogged in blog din?

  5. They heard the government's (Clark, Harper, take your choice) mantra: Rules, we don't need no stinking rules, and followed it. These scribes who realized the media, newspaper, tv and radio, was tanking as they watched the careers of colleagues, and in some cases their own careers, brought to an end by technological change. (computers and a couple of humans programming them now run stations, along with executives who slowly but surely whittle down staff numbers to increase that bottom line).
    So they heard the word: jump on the government/crown corporation gravy train. Make big bucks paid by an employer that will never go away, the taxpaying public. Sell out professionally and reap the benefits. Oh so many have chosen to do so. "Journalism, who needs journalism. What we need is more lobster and high-priced wine."

  6. Some of the frustration may stem from from trying to apply journalistic principles and codes of conduct to non-journalists. Just because the Shaw family, Corus, Mr. Koenigsfest, or the CBC holds these guys out as journalists doesn’t automatically mean they’ve earned the title or the trust. Their body of work and demonstrated ethical behavior tell the tale.

    I’ve been clean from Bill Good’s twaddle for over two years and Leslie’s almost as long, so didn’t hear Leslie gloating about the Tsakumis radio attempt. But it provides a reminder of Leslie’s character.

    He told me that Mr. Tsakumis is a liar who makes up crap to report. I asked him for one example to back up his claim. He wouldn’t reply. I provided several examples of stories Mr. Tsakumis had on his site, including the one Leslie said he was lying about, asking if they were accurate and how he knew one way or the other. No response. I tried several times in the following weeks to get a reply. No response. I copied the brass at ‘NW. No response.

    I decided to look elsewhere for a straight-up journalist seeking the truth.

    1. Lew, I had a similar experience with Mr. Leslie on the Twittertwat.

      Just before the election I got in a spirited debate with him over the media and their role in how screwed up the political landscape was in BC. For about 10 posts, good spirited debate. Then I mentioned that his wife draws a government paycheck and that it compromises the bias and independence of Sean's reporting. He goes off like a petulant child, saying I was immature, and he blocked me.

      I hope one day the shills are made to defend themselves at some sort of inquiry when sane government returns to BC. I doubt it will ever happen though.

  7. MSM "journalists" in this province leave a great deal to be desired. There is not much of a "seperation" of journalists and the government. Without a clear "seperation" how can citizens believe what the MSM prints, puts on radio and/or t.v.? We really can't.

    The MSM may want to gloat about AGT's first radio "project", but he certainly did a good job. He is to be commended for his work. His new show is a great idea. We may not agree with AGT on every thing, in fact we may not agree with him about a lot of things, but I certainly trust his "news" much more than the news issued forth from the mouths of the MSM.

    Reading blogs such as this, Harvey O's, Montreal Simeon, Laille Yuille, The Straight Goods, Gazetters, and a whole lot of others gives me a much clearer picture of what is going on in Canada. The 6 p.m. news is for shootings, car accidents and government fluff. The only news which is worth watching is the CBC national. For American news, its PBS and assorted American blogs.

    The 1%ers/elites own the MSM. They aren't about to "publish" anything which will "weaken" their positions. Back in the day when Ralph Nader scared the "shit" out of big business, big business decided to get their verison of their act together. They now control much of our lives, the news, and the politicians.

  8. e.a.f., your comment above is the absolute truth. The MSM in this province is bought and paid for. Most of the stuff that passes for news has nothing to do with politics and if it did, you would not get the real "truth", in any event.

    The taxpayers and common folk, have to reasert their power in society. This will take some time, knowledge is power. The blogs get the real truth and knowledge out there, for the rest of us.

  9. It's called freedom of the press and the owners of the press are permitted(in Canada no law against lying in the press) to print or not print as they wish.
    One reason they don't like citizen journalists(trying to define journalist to outlaw in the USofA) because the likes of Norm, Laila, Grant, Rafe, Harvey, Ross, and all the rest of the citizen journalists shine a light on the corrupt actions of the people in power.
    Unfortunately, until we citizens the owners of this land create a de jure court system to charge and try the criminals in power, the light will continue to be devoured by their unaccountable liability free lies and corruption and blatant breach of trust.

  10. The media in BC behaves the way it needs to as long it supports the Liberals. Full stop. There is no end to the crap put before us or the lack of values. The day I saw the full page advertisement in the Victoria Times Colonist during the election that supported the Libs and Greens and squished the NDP put an end to any sort of any idea of objective journalism in this province ended on this day for me. I thought, they sold their soul and integrity for money.

  11. However it started well before the blatant front page ads appeared in the papers. Remember the $16 million BC Jobs advertising blitz? The bulk of that money went to the media the Liberals needed to have onside if they were to have any hope of winning the election. When a final roll-out is available on where those ad bucks were spent, I think you'll find that very little went to media outside the Lower Mainland.
    And it bought the fluff pieces and the hands-off approach the major media took to the multitude of issues that they could have crucified the Liberals over.
    Christy (and those around her) learned one thing from her stint on the air between political gigs: the media runs on advertising bucks and wants to keep those doors open to a cash cow such as the government, especially when media is taking a beating from new technologies. So, they'll "play ball" to keep that money coming in. And that's why so MANY stories which would have laid bare the Liberal corruption weren't covered, or were glossed over.



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