Saturday, July 16, 2011

Trash begets trash

I heard a passing comment by a radio performer the other day in which he dismissed the Sun media operation as being something less than quality journalism. My sense is that he’s right. I haven’t spent a lot of time reading or looking at Sun media publications but a week in Ottawa a few weeks ago gave me enough exposure to be disgusted with what they call journalism.

The point?

I’m disgusted with much that passes for journalism these days and especially that led by Australian Rupert Murdoch and his news-for-money empire. Many believe that the current debate over the News of the World’s news gathering techniques is just the leading edge of the wedge in the Murdoch kingdom. The USA`s FBI is looking into the company`s operations in the States in the apparent belief that similar telephone hacking operations may have been used to gather information on those affected by the September 11, 2001 disasters in the USA.

There`s no question but that Murdoch’s minions used every dirty trick in the book to dig up as much garbage about people as they could and then tried to dress it up as “news”. Nothing could be further from the truth. And nothing could be further from professional journalism practice of which, surprising to many people, there is a Statement of principles and ethical guidelines published by the Canadian Association of Journalists which can be found at:   (I had the good fortune to sit in on some CAJ meetings many years ago when the ethics principles were being debated. The people in the room took their job seriously.)

One has to wonder how the Toronto Sun’s decision to publish the picture of Kate Middleton’s skirt being blown up by the wind could be described, as one of their flacks did, as compellingly newsworthy. Perhaps for the few adolescent pervs on their editorial board who get off on such pictures. And, of course, their audience.  Demographic assessment anyone?

The News of The World, the Toronto Sun and its various satellite operations, the FOX television news operation and all of their ilk wallow in infotainment. One might think their credo is the joke from newsrooms past: “why let the facts get in the way of a good story”?

One has to wonder if British Prime Minister David Cameron subscribes to that principle. Recent information released from his office shows the British Prime Minister has met Rupert Murdoch's executives on no fewer than 26 occasions in just over a year since he entered Downing Street. He also has invited some of those executives to the private country retreat he enjoys at Chequers. I doubt if the main topic of their conversations was Mrs. Cameron’s mustard pickles recipe.

Certainly collusion between high level politicians and news reporters is not new. Think of the too-many examples of recent Canadian politicians making fools of themselves in an attempt to suck in some popular support. Even Mr. Stodgy himself, Stephen Harper, lately seems to be willing to sacrifice his dignity for a chance at being a stage or TV screen performer. Does it make him appear to be more human or more desperate for attention?

It exacerbates the public perception that contemporary journalism is mostly fluff and at its worst, deception and manipulation. Is it any wonder that more residents of the United States (that media capital of the known universe) claim to get their news from the comedy production “The Daily Show” than mainstream network news programs?

Your comments are always welcome.


Wisewebwoman said...

We live in a fool's paradise if we think that get "news" these days. All of what is published and printed and shown on media is geared towards the lowest common denominator, the ill-educated knuckle draggers.
You have to dig deep to get any news of significance - the pending USian economical collapse, the melting of the arctic, the continuing rampup of the war machine...
Ouch you got me started :). As to Murdoch, he only prints what feeds the mouth breathers.
PS and "news" - the mannequin tracking of the "royal couple"? Yikes....he sits, she eats.....

ViewPoint2010 said...

I think we have to be VERY careful about the linear thinking of consumer demand resulting in poor quality. When it’s cheaper to buy two litres of Pepsi than two litres of milk, people on low income will opt for the Pepsi, not because it’s what they necessarily prefer, but it’s because it’s what they can afford. Similarly, a woman in an African village who has not had access to education may prefer to hear neighbourhood gossip rather than the BBC’s world news service. It’s why community-based radio stations can do a great deal toward educating those people. Neither one of them are “ill-educated knuckle draggers”; rather, they are people who have not had the opportunity to learn and the tabloid media does them absolutely no service by delivering the sort of crap that it does on a daily basis. I think we have to be very careful in judging the consumer. Simply because they have not had access to the sort of education we appear to have had doesn`t diminish their worth.

Government Funded Blogger said...

"Even Mr. Stodgy himself, Stephen Harper, lately seems to be willing to sacrifice his dignity for a chance at being a stage or TV screen performer". Hmmm what do you say about Paul the job slasher Martin appearing on Corner Gas or shifty Jack Layton doing the weather on Canada AM.
Knuckledragger that I am I read the Toronto Sun for their sports page and the National Post for its mainly balanced journalism.
The Left will never get elected in this country till they purge themselves of their hate the common people attitude.Knuckledraggers indeed!!

ViewPoint2010 said...

GFB, methinks you were looking for a reason to be offended today. You seem to have neglected the first part of my comment, “Think of the too-many examples of recent Canadian politicians making fools of themselves in an attempt to suck in some popular support,” which I think you will agree supports your argument that it was not Stephen Harper who started the stupid TV appearances but Jean Chretien, Martin, Layton and others. Regardless, it doesn’t excuse his actions.

Note that I will never use a term such as “knuckledragger” to describe anyone because I believe people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of their background. So please do NOT assume that I was using that term to describe anyone.

Read what ye will. Including this modest contribution to the blogging canon.