Reading this column in Kamloops This Week gave me a chuckle. Its headline is very naive:
Don’t silence journalism
This gist of what matters is this:
Two years ago, Justin Brake was praised by the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission for his reporting on an Indigenous standoff in that province.
The commission went on to later nominate him for one of its annual human rights awards.
On Monday, a judge in Labrador ruled criminal charges laid against Brake would be moving forward. He’ll be spending time fighting to prove he was just doing his job when police charged him with mischief, disobeying a court order and civil contempt.
His crime? He entered a camp of people protesting planned work at the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador. A provincial Crown corporation wanted to build a multi-billion-dollar hydroelectric dam at the falls on Churchill River to help move the province to renewable energy and away from oil dependency.
But the kicker is this:
Which brings me back to Brake. The province’s human rights commission praised him. The province’s court system sees a crime in the way he simply did his job. He faces criminal and civil charges, all laid by the government in some way.
It’s ridiculous. It fails to acknowledge the role of the journalist in society. It’s a temper tantrum by a government Brake embarrassed by reporting Indigenous concerns.
And, if you’re wondering why this is important to us in B.C., there are many reasons.
First, journalism matters. It simply does. And when one provincial government uses its powers to try to suppress it or create a chill for those who do it, who’s to say another government won’t do the same thing?
It is gullible thinking. Journalists defer to authority to praise them…and then expect there be no opposition, that regimes fund them, and that they get lollipops and everyone just give them information without a fight.
Memo to Dale Bass: Do you understand what journalism actually is?
It is a form of warfare. You are fighting an intangible war where the enemy is lies and secrets, and the point is to find reality, liberate truth from the lies, and then make the information stream strong by disseminating information to the public.
WikiLeaks is probably just about the only organization in the history of mankind that actually gets it. You are not supposed to wear an away from a Human Rights Commission as a badge of honour because The Man gave you a pat on the head. That is not a good thing: it means they were caught, gave you a paper crown so that you would be satisfied and go away.
It is a feint. Nothing more.
You do not talk about “chilling effects” on journalism. You do not expect governments to play nice with you. You are a soldier going into battle, and you fight and do not stop until you liberate the truth from secrets and lies.
Then you create a map of reality as you liberate new facts from your missions.
It is not a desk job. It is not the place to be told how wonderful you are.
It is combat.
That is the reason happy, cheery, soft, and good news is an insult to the profession: do not praise students for marching for gun control because it is a temper tantrum that ignores the obvious truths about youth out of control. You question their methods and motives, just the same way you question the methods and motives of politicians whose watch does not prevent school shootings in the first place because they would rather shill easy solutions than make parents and institutions accountable for letting those youth fall beneath the cracks before they explode out of control.
It is about forcing the world to wake up from its slumber and facing reality.
It is not the place to create worthless fake celebrities or turn disposable entertainment into popular culture. It is not the place to recite press releases.
It is the place to create map of reality with facts.
That’s it. You will be up against tyrants. Your soldiers will go into battle, and they will get themselves in trouble.
So long as they hunt and gather facts, and come back with truths.
They do not stand like drooling dummies on a red carpet. They do not try to think up positive things about being poor, stoned, or stupid. The world drowns in lies.
And it is about finding things that make people uncomfortable as their delusions are shattered one by one.
And the second they gripe about bad news bumming them out, you show them more truths.
The news should be showing how the homeless live. They should be in emergency rooms, showing the battered bodies of women taking a beating from everyone from their husbands to their pimps — and then go to those prima donna exploiters at Times’s Up and ask them how far have women really come. They should be showing the dead bodies out on the streets and the fallen of those school shootings.
Yes, the families will object, but their silence makes it worse.
Because it allows people to pretend everything is wonderful in their little meaningless lives as they vote for leeches who will siphon off their hard-earned money and waste it on nonsense.
That is what journalism should have been.
It was complicit in sweeping truths under the rug.
It was not supposed to ever be about getting people applause. It is about making people accountable for letting everything slide as they threw tantrums demanding that worthless applause.
Journalism didn’t do any of it; so no, it no longer matters. It is a dead profession because you have an entire industry who made the conscious decision to be advertisers and apologists.
Journalism silenced itself. The few soldiers in that profession cannot expect anyone to truly applaud them when they prefer to know about the latest “Bachelor” than what is happening under their noses.
They are on their own and they have their own profession to thank for that.