Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Let's Talk About Journalism

 Let's talk about journalism...

Basic tenets of journalism:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it verifiable (can you prove it's true)?
3. Is publishing it in the public good? 
1. Is it true?
Truth is fact. It is not conjecture, opinion, or spin. It is empirically provable. It is not rumour or heresay or speculation. It is not driven by ideology. Reporters should report truth. This may include, "X said-, however, this research shows this is inaccurate." 
Fact-checking political statements against demonstrably true information is part of "Is it true".
We are seeing a lot of so-called journalists falling down on the job here. Repeating any politician's statements as truth without due diligence is not journalism. 
The parties have PR departments for that. Doing the homework and knowing the facts allows journalists to call out politicians when their claims deviate from the truth. This is the job of journalism. 
Truth vs Lies/speculation/conjecture. Robert Fife should have been fired back when his inaccurate words led to Maher Arar being detained & tortured. He shouldn't have worked in journalism in Canada ever again. Neither should the other journalists involved.
And yet, it is from this same scribe that we got the SNC-Lavelin scandal and the WE scandal. Why are people still believing him? He compromised his journalistic credibility ages ago. 
Truth in reporting can involve asking penetrating incisive questions. "When did you first learn of the arrangement between Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright?" after the arrangement became public, is a penetrating, incisive question. 
"Are you going to put a gun to the oppositions' head to force through your corrupt legislation?" Is not. I hope people can see the difference. The second question is loaded with assumptions and hyperbolic imagery. It is an example of very bad journalism. 
Asking the PM, "When will the pandemic end?" and then reporting that the PM "dodged" the question, is shoddy journalism. You cannot ask a question to which there is no known answer and then accuse the interviewee of misconduct in being unable to answer. That is shoddy journalism. 
2. Is it verifiable? Can you prove it is true?
This is the dividing line between accepting rumours or leaks as fact, and doing your own research and digging to find out if there is anything to it. There is a terrible trend towards rumour reporting. (again, see FIFE) 
Currently, there are a number of Canadian news organizations who will be subject to lawsuits based on their escalation of rumour, innuendo, conjecture, and speculation related to the WE thing. Speculation IS NOT journalism. Especially ideologically-driven speculation. 
3. Is publishing it in the public good?
This is contentious, apparently. Some feel the public has a right to know everything about our elected officials. The key question is, what purpose does that serve? Does some tidbit of gossip about an MP benefit Canadians by knowing? 
If an MP's child wets the bed beyond the age where that is "normal", should it be broadcast by our national news outlets? If it's rumoured that an elected official had a spat w/ their partner, is that news? Would you like your personal life broadcast? What purpose does it serve? 
If an elected official is being tested for diabetes, is that in the public interest to report? A health concern may become a significant issue, if it impedes that representative's ability to fulfill their duties, but in Canada we have traditionally regarded our representatives' interactions with their health care provider to be a private matter. MPs and MLAs have traditionally come forward if they have a health issue that may interfere with their job. So, what possible public good is an accounting of medical tests anyone may or may not have had? 
Until very recently, the families of our elected officials have been sacrosanct. This set us above the media in most countries where tabloids report nonsensical speculation about every politician or royal's private life. The Queen frowns and tabloids have Camilla incarcerated 
Is it in the public good to recount every tweak to legislation? Hundreds, maybe thousands of minor tweaks to legislation, are passed every year. Most are incredibly boring. Changing the wording on bills of lading, changing the way some signage must be presented... 
Changing a measure of acceptable levels of something by a tiny amount... these things are happening all the time. Is it in the public interest to report them all? No. In fact, it would probably deter the public from reading any political news. 
There is a certain enlightenment that is required to discern when some minor bit of legislative tweak is going to be newsworthy, and in the public good. It takes a strong grasp of the field of expertise in question, and some good reporter's intuition to dig deeper. 
But only after digging, consulting with experts, should that sort of thing become news. If there is something newsworthy and in the public good. And to report it, it must pass all three tests. 
Likewise, it is shoddy journalism to not publish information that does not align with some ideological stance. Two things came to my attention today that I fear will not get the attention they deserve from a public good standpoint. 
Here's one:
Here's another:
Journalists need to understand that good news stories can absolutely be in the public good. Our media must not hide good news just because they don't like the government. Especially now. We all need good news. Why are our government's success stories not being told? 
We need our fourth estate to be pure of partisan biases and interference. Now more than ever. We need reporters who do their homework and call out misinformation. We need journalistic integrity. We do not need rumours, or innuendo. We need facts and clear information. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Do the Conservatives Have a Platform?

 I see people often say the CPC/UCP/etc have no policy, only attacks against the Liberals/NDP... I think this is inaccurate. They cannot present their policy to the public because Canadians would find their vision for Canada so unpalatable as to relegate their RW movement to the scrapheap of history. Some basic tenets upon which the current conservative movement is built:

1. Universal healthcare is an abomination to capitalism
A blog about the UCP in AB, but with the history explaining why the UCP think this way.

2. Public education is an abomination to capitalism, and the Church, as well as a hindrance to continual conservative rule.
Andrew Scheer had, as one of his platforms, the funding of religious private schools and home schooling. But this is just one part.

Premier Jason Kenney had the "public" removed from public schools within Alberta and cut funding to post-secondary institutions, except private religious colleges.…
Furthermore, in Alberta, the UCP has introduced the idea of non-funded home schooling which does not have to meet the provincial curriculum. In other words, people can now teach their kids any damn thing they want.
If you read that previous article, you will have noticed a push towards vocational schools. And not just high school. Lets get those pre-teens learned up on pipe-fitting and mudlogging. Oh, and don't forget coal-mining. The UCP has paved the way for more open pit coal mines...
Jason Kenney has, over the years, expressed his concern that schools are indoctrinating kids in collectivist thinking (learning to share & co-operate, one might assume) and all manner of harmful ideas (science?) that detract from basic numeracy & literacy.
Basic numeracy and literacy are to be the focus of the new UCP curriculum, with annual standardised tests beginning in grade 1 to ensure that teachers do not stray from making their students memorize the times table.
This is the brand new Alberta school outcomes model. "Critical" as in "critical thinking" appears once, in high school. "Literature" does not appear at all. Literacy is treated as a career tool.…
Indeed, the UCP wants to go further, tying post-secondary academic programs to the speed with which graduates get high-paying jobs. Essentially, eliminating the arts and humanities and focusing on engineering and business.
So, education is strictly for preparing Alberta's children for jobs to boost the bottom line of big companies. And if they can get rid of these secular public schools, workers will again be taught obedience to the church as well as to their betters.
3. Social programs are an abomination to the supreme authority of the church.
Charity used to be the exclusive purview of the church. Assistance was distributed according to the recipients' level of obeisance. Government social safety nets mean just anyone can get help.
Even sinners, like addicts. I believe there is a vocal element within the UCP who would like to go back to the old way, where everyone went to church and tithed, then the churches looked after the poor and sick as they saw fit.
The CPC, under the rule of Stephen Harper and the direction of Jason Kenney introduced the temporary foreign workers program. There is a generally held belief that Canadians expect too much. Especially too much pay. This is why manufacturing went overseas. And the CPC...
Brought in the TFW program so employers could hire the same sort of cheap labour in Canada. Not as low-paying as jobs in their home countries, but lower than what a Canadian minimum wage worker would have to be paid. This not only exploited these workers, but also...
Another aspect of this view of citizens as human capital is a disregard for human rights, except insofar as it it the conservatives' own rights. Thus, draconian punishments which amuse the mob mentality, stripping of rights from "sinners" like the LGBTQ2+ community...
5. The CPC deserve to govern forever.
Democracy gets in the way of this. Clearly God favours them and they should win every election. Therefore it is ok to cheat, mislead the public, suppress the vote, etc. Because power is their destiny. Or some such rot.
It all comes together in a tidy package. Low education levels, poor health for all but the wealthy, low wages and lowered worker rights, theological laws, control of the media, and the freedom to determine electoral outcomes. And no one able to stand up to them, because...
everyone is poor, sick, uneducated, in prison, or dead. So, it seems the CPC vision for Canada is sort of pre-Magna Carta feudalism meets Industrial Revolution. No wonder they don't make it public. Watch what they do, not what they say.

They follow the GOP playbook, with co-ordination assistance from the IDU...