The resignation of Christy Clark (following the narrow defeat of the BC Libs and the rise of the GreeNDP) has spurred much conversation and dialogue. That should be expected. What is less expected is the blurring of the lines between ‘responsible journalism’ and speculation in the name of self-interest.
The conventional media has become an embarrassment to itself by headlining ‘speculation and innuendo’ instead of facts. As a former newspaper reporter (albeit in my career infancy) I was taught that ‘headlines sell newspapers’ even if the underlying story didn’t quite live up to the hype. We have seen a gradual worsening of the integrity of the Fourth Estate over the years to the point where it is hard to tell whether a story originated from the National Inquirer or CBC (CNN for US media addicts) without hearing the lead-in or checking the channel.
The drive for ratings and advertising revenue in a shrinking market has compromised the journalistic integrity of traditional media sources to the point where they are relying on a user base that is indoctrinated to the same editorial bias chosen by the editorial board – to the exclusion of objectivity. People who want balanced reporting are forced to look elsewhere for divergent opinions. Upon reflection, that is not a bad thing but it is disingenuous, even fraudulent, for media sources to proclaim their fair, comprehensive reporting policies when it is patently obvious to most intelligent individuals that the claims are baseless – and incorrect.
Anecdotally, I have recently experienced instances where someone has advised me ‘Well, that’s not what I was told’ or ‘That’s not what I read’. The explanation (and hence, the problem?). People who get their news from substantially a single source can never hope to achieve a comprehensive and balanced overview of what is really happening – in their local communities or, more broadly provincially, nationally or worldwide.
The point of this? I am asserting the ‘Media Party’ is responsible for much of the political, economic and social unrest we are now experiencing. Clearly biased news reporting finds a welcome home for those who share similar views. Objectivity and journalistic integrity are abandoned ideals, replaced by sycophantic demagoguery. A willing, deluded audience always awaits because that audience wants to find sources that ‘validate’ their own distorted view of reality.
The demise of responsible journalism from traditional sources is somewhat mitigated by the technological advancements that allow almost anyone to comment, postulate and offer opinions. The Media Party, of course, attempts to downplay the validity of independent sources, claiming that sufficient ‘fact checking’ does not take place when independent (of traditional sources such as newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting et cetera) media stories are generated and distributed.
The Media Party just has to look in the mirror to identify the worst offenders. Coverage of Trump in the US and Trudeau in Canada is so biased as to be nauseous. Trump is vilified and Trudeau is sanctified – by traditional, but inexorably financially failing monolithic fourth estate ‘media giants’ who are atrophying and dying in front of our collective eyes.
This erosion of journalistic integrity would be overwhelmingly alarming, reminiscent of Pravda in the former USSR, were it not for the emergence of new ‘micro media’ possibilities and players. As a result of Internet broad-band reporting, a balanced viewpoint is possible – but only for those who choose to seek a balanced overview. Those who choose to ‘get their news’ from a single source are becoming woefully and disturbingly isolated from facts – and reality.
Politicians can blatantly spin lies in public – and their media friendly allies will dutifully report, without objectivity and balance. Those who rely on biased media sources become even more entrenched in the ‘political correctness’ of their evermore skewed assessment of current affairs. Too many people have abrogated their own responsibility to ‘get the facts’ and to seek out the truth. Those people rely all too heavily on someone willing to ‘do it for them’ and ultimately, ‘to do it to them’. The Media Party players have become spin doctors with a growing number of patients. The Media Party had also chosen to choose sensationalism over due diligence – preferring to trumpet an unsubstantiated ‘leaked fear-mongering scandal’ over factual news and content.
But enough of the Media Party. Most of the traditional news outlets have been replaced by a growing number of astute and tech savvy individuals – the Millenials first and foremost among them. The alternative is either ‘social media’ content or smaller, newer players in the news distribution universe.
Players include TheRebel.media and The Tyee, two Western Canadian based examples. These are multi-media based alternatives, funded primarily through direct reader/viewer contributions. For the most part, particularly in the case of TheRebel.media, the content is unabashedly biased and Ezra Levant’s team doesn’t mind telling you so. These new media sources thrive on controversy and on ‘bashing’ and otherwise exposing the hypocrisy of the traditional news sources.
Just how successful are they? In the case of TheRebel.media in particular, so successful that TheRebel.media has left other Canadian online ‘news’ sources in the dust, not even visible in the rear-view mirror. Almost a million subscribers are connected to TheRebel.media in spite of a campaign by a self-serving campaign by a group calling itself ‘Sleeping Giants’, itself a social activist group located on the far left of the political spectrum. Gullible advertisers are bending to ‘political correctness pressure’ – a sad indictment of the principle of defending free speech.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t always agree with the TheRebel.media but I do agree passionately with TheRebel.media’s right to exist and to offer its own, unique perspective and assessment of current events. Civilized, mature societies believe in such concepts as ‘freedom of speech’ and the inalienable right of individuals to express themselves. That is how mature, healthy societies grow and thrive.
Not everyone has to agree or to concur. We are not mindless sheep who need to be told what do do, what to say, what to think – and what to believe.
It is about time thoughtful, concerned individuals started actively defending the right to the basic inalienable freedoms, including the right to lawful assembly, the right to religious freedoms, the right to self-expression that does not (demonstrably within strict legal definitions) impinge on the rights of others – and the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Those who seek to take away those rights are dangerous propagandists and totalitarians, shades of George Orwell and his prophetic literary vision ‘1984’.
I have a mind and I choose to think for myself. Those who choose otherwise are mindless sheep. Perhaps they are asses. At any rate, those people who espouse ‘political correctness’ over the preservation of the sanctity of the freedoms that have enriched our knowledge, our culture, our progress and our societal values are not worth my time and effort – or yours.
It is time to stand up and be counted – however hard that might be.
Few good and and important things in life come easily and without conscious effort.
(Part 2 of this essay will concentrate on some specific alarming (and disappointing) examples).