Why it has always been a struggle for journalists to tear down privacy walls.

Just listening to Newstalk 1010 this morning, and the host’s panel was typical Canadian sheep, not concerned about government nannying using absurd logic in “privacy consideration.” The host had made a good observation in regards to a girl who was reported missing in Toronto: when she was reported missing, the police exploited the press by telling them to plaster her picture and name everywhere, publicizing her presence to the world, but when it no longer suited them, they refused to divulge any details of the two women arrested over the false report, citing privacy concerns.

He then went on to say how the issuing of publication bans was promiscuous in Canada, but the panel were complacent sheep — you know, rules are rules.

So many problems in the world happen precisely because people in power want to hold secrets from the public, but Establishment institutions always saw journalists as they extension and tool to blare out what they want, but expect them to comply with silence when the truth would prove inconvenient.

Yes, the laws regarding bans and privacy are out of sync in a world where we can easily preserve and access information. It is a form of controlling the information stream and denying fact-gatherers access to seeing patterns and information that may alter public perceptions, allowing bad laws from being passed because the actual situation is being grossly mischaracterized.

But journalism was never properly organized. They needed to educate and cultivate professions beyond journalist, editor, and publisher: they needed those who could go up against governments and courts to ensure their profession could function. But the blinders always got in their way…

Do Canadian journalists get why they lost their clout? Not at all.

I was listening to Newstalk 1010 this morning where the host was talking to a newspaper columnist about the case of Marie-Maude Denis, a Radio-Canada journalist who is being forced by the courts to reveal her sources.

Her story led to arrests, and now one of the parties on trial are claiming a variety of things, and that her source had a vested interest.

Canada never had the same protections for journalists as they have in the US, and mostly never needed to as journalists tend to be highly deferential to authority. This case is interesting in its own right, given the defence has used an effective strategy for its own fishing expedition, but considering the trial would have evidence that is not the actual story Denis filed, I am not certain how relevant putting her on the stand to make her reveal her sources would actually be.

Should she be compelled to reveal her sources? I would say no, but journalists often make promises they cannot keep in the hopes of getting information.

But the conservation about this case was more interesting to me, with the typical snooty assertion that everything was great until the waters were muddied with bloggers and citizen journalists.

Except Denis is not a citizen journalist.

And the argument falls apart on other factors: journalists, particularly in Canada, were never disciplined the way they should have been if they wished to be the ones entrusted with disseminating information. You need no special training or licence to be a reporter, for instance. There are no standards; ergo, there is no discernible difference between a “real” journalist and a citizen journalist — one is in the army, and the other is a mercenary.

They both do essentially the same thing, but journalists have a little more money to show for it.

So it is not as if journalists were ever prepared. They could have been more effective at their jobs, and then the differences between their work and the citizen journalist would be obvious. You cannot use a Clubhouse Excuse why journalists have become weak and unable to fight back when people they have slagged in their stories retaliate. You put out a mediocre product; you cannot whine when the knock-offs look the same or better than your work.

The segment also brought up the case of Antoine Trépanier, another Radio-Canada reporter who was arrested for “criminally harassing” a source he was trying to interview, even though she had not exactly turned down his request when that would have been enough to make him not ask her again.

I am not unfamiliar with those kinds of sources, though the first time it happened was when I was just starting out and I was asked to write an advertorial about a store and the “source” who kept putting it off, but always said to “call him back” called my editor to complain I was “harassing” him. Never mind that it was advertising and it was paid for by the store’s owner and then told the man (who was the manager) to give me a quick interview.

You get people like that all of the time — those who do not know how to decline a request. The police should not have arrested him — they should have spoken to him, he could have easily provided proof that the potential source had made no indication that she felt harassed.

The problem is that the profession never got its act together. It never had standards the way way a surgeon has standards. We never progressed was a discipline, and that’s why everything got destroyed. People who are doing bad things can easily take advantage of that weakness, and that shouldn’t be happening in 2018.

Because it doesn’t matter if there are citizen journalists or bloggers — if you have a system, the results elevate your work over the amateur versions of it. It is no excuse, and yet journalists whine about their glory days, never realizing it was that glory that brought them to their ruin in the first place…

Manipulating narratives: When critics gloss over the facts to suit their own denial of reality.

Just listening to Jerry Agar on Newstalk 1010 over Patrick Brown. The screened callers aren’t exactly informed and are getting their facts messed up with no one to remind them of the basic facts of the case. Someone took issue with Patrick Brown’s accusers being “anonymous” and that Brown as a right to “face his accusers”. They are manipulating the narrative, without bothering with a single fact.

Because Brown knows exactly who his accusers are. Here is a passage of an article I have used before:

So Brown knows who are his accusers. He knows of the incidents in question.

So the narrative that these are faceless women, and poor little boy Brown has no idea who is talking, or what they are talking about is rubbish.

And I am quoting his own words.

Scandal doesn’t just happen when something is illegal. Canada is not exactly some country that cracks down on anything. We have the Gerald Stanley verdict to remind us that it doesn’t always matter if a law is on the books, you don’t always have to answer for your actions.

I don’t care if what Brown did was illegal. When a person in a position of power asks an underling for date, that is a form of bullying. You are not on equal ground. That’s not flattering. I am not on the job to get dates, or be noticed for my looks. I have to earn a living, stupid.

As I have said before, there are other things that Brown is associated with — the nomination process in various ridings — that have bigger ramifications, and show that a clear pattern of strong-arming and bullying. I don’t think the PC Party would have kicked him that fast and disavowed of him that quickly unless they saw an opening to rid themselves of someone of that ilk.

And when you see a glow and a popularity surge from a party who is in turmoil at this very inconvenient juncture right before an election, you know that things must have been horrific during the previous regime.

That tells us everything we need to know about Patrick Brown. He is going after women, while keeping quiet on the other issues surrounding his leadership.

But that doesn’t suit the narrative of the #MeToo critics who are hoping against hope that Brown can dodge this bullet with his blustering tirade. Harvey Weinstein is blustering, too. It doesn’t mean a thing.

 

Dear John Honderich: News producers squandered their power. The taxpayers owe you nothing. Stop the fear and pity tour and start looking how your profession destroyed itself.

It is very telling that Chair of Torstar John Honderich is having to recycle a column he wrote in the Toronto Star on January 26, 2018 where he throws a temper tantrum because the federal government wasn’t funding the dysfunctional Canadian newspaper industry.

So Torstar recycled that same flawed column on InsideToronto.com today, and then go on Newstalk 1010’s Jerry Agar’s radio program.

Once upon a time, Honderich’s decrees would have been considered important.

They aren’t, of course. This is a Fear and Pity Tour.

He doesn’t get it, and if the Chair of a newspaper company doesn’t get it, neither do any of his underlings.

And it explains a lot about why Canadian journalism dropped dead.

On the program, he blames Facebook and Google for taking the bulk of classified ads and not putting that money back in journalism.

Sorry, they won the spoils of that gladiatorial battle, and they can do with that booty whatever they want. Advertisers went to Facebook and Google because they reach a broader audience who were more receptive than they were over at newspapers. Classified ads and their ilk were never naturally decreed to be used for funding journalism; journalism lost those valuable dollars for a reason.

So Google and Facebook owe the newspaper industry nothing.

But then he goes off on the federal government as if the government owes the newspaper industry a dime.

Honderich thinks the partisan non-profit model of some American media outfits is a good thing. Its not: it’s propaganda used to support political ideology because that is going to be the only way you are going to shake down people for pity cash. They are not journalism. They are a modern version of the Partisan Press that had to change its ways because that model doesn’t actually work.

He then talks about getting funding through copyright protection, meaning information becomes less accessible. You are giving facts, and it is bad enough newspapers such as the Star scrape ideas from other outlets and people (and yet he has the nerve to complain that radio shows “rip and read” from newspapers on the program) — and now you want copyright protection for it when journalists are notoriously sloppy when it comes to giving proper credit and attribution of where they got their ideas? The legal fallout would be disastrous.

He wants some of the money the CBC gets, not realizing CBC is a crown corporation, and it is wiser and more strategic for a government to have one broadcaster they can babysit, than spread their cash to more outlets.

Honderich then muses that since Canadian magazine and book publishers get government money, so should journalism outlets, never questioning just how bad is Canadian publishing if it needs government funding for its survival. If you cannot make it a go without constant government funding, your industry does not actually exist. It is fake.

The fact that now not even newspapers can survive without taxpayer money shows you a problem that exploded out of control because we never bothered to find the way to make it pay all on its own.

In other words, if Canada cannot produce quality journalism without a government welfare check, then you do not have journalism, let alone quality journalism. Period.

But the biggest knee-slapper is his suggestion that the government pay for news outlets’ lawyers. There are poor people being harmed as we speak and are in desperate need of good legal council — so you just want to snatch funds away from them? Really? Then you are as tyrannical as the boors you imply you are keeping accountable.

There are more pressing groups, such as First Nations people, who have been waiting far longer than newspapers. Get a number and go to the back of the line, like everyone else.

Yet both his advertising campaign/newspaper column, Honderich makes not a single mention of how those in the Canadian media landscape were at fault in any way, or need to make a single modification to their behaviour. He paints his ilk as noble, faultless, and blameless.

No, Mr. Honderich, that is not true. That is not accurate.

That is not realistic.

You are the Chair of Torstar. The buck stops with you.

It is you who has to make the internal changes to take on the external ones.

If your plan is to keep throwing fits and begging the government for money as you keep on the status quo, you do not understand what being a Chair means.

That is not a plan. Why should the government fund newspapers when your audiences keep falling? Why would they sink taxpayer money into a black hole? What’s in it for them?

Newspapers have bred arrogance within their own rosters. You sniffed haughtily at citizen journalism on the program. Yes, the little people are not as well-trained as your journalists who have no clue how to connect with those people who would rather do it themselves than trust the press.

That distrust did not come from nowhere. It came because journalists perpetually ignored all the signs around them, and then people walked away.

The people do not want newspapers. The government doesn’t need you.

Do you understand you have become beneath both?

Buried. Six feet under.

Journalism is dead. Don’t ask the taxpayers to fund the corpse. They’d rather invest it in the living, not the dead.

 

Canadian journalism’s inability to comprehend #MeToo

Women-blaming has been a problem in Canadian journalism.

Patrick Brown getting turfed has nothing do to with a witch hunt.

One talk show host doesn’t see the any “criminal” element in the allegations against Patrick Brown…so what’s the problem?

It doesn’t have to be criminal. If someone is in a position of power is abusing someone in a weaker position, that’s bad enough.

Brown’s behaviour was known to the PC Party. They ignored it.

And now you have journalists making all sorts of excuses how the takedown of Patrick Brown is a bad and chilling thing.

No, it isn’t.

Sexual abuse was always rampant in newsrooms and in corridors of power.

Being a female politician is no protection against workplace terrorism.

Journalists always knew about it, but never bothered to report it.

I was just a j-school student standing in one City Hall corridor and within five minutes, reporters certainly told me about a lot of dirt.

But journalists are twisting the narrative — in Brown case, the accusers were not grown women or adults — it was a particular type, and neither case could be accurately as a “bad date”. In one case, he was not her “date” — but had professional power over them.

These are not “mistakes” — it was deliberately calculating behaviour.

And the griping of career “ruining” was not the fault of the accusers, but the fault of a man who wanted to be a leader but proved to be a very incompetent one. Where was Brown’s accountability?

Worst of all, the defenders repeatedly — and manipulatively — try to equate power abuse with sexuality.

Nice try, but sophistry is not reality. People have been so conditioned by journalism to always see the rot as blessings, that they are becoming alarmed that their sunny view may actually be a big, fat lie.

Had journalism in this country been about reporting facts — they would be able to see it.

But they can’t see it. They are too busy sucking up to power, whether the power is government — or business.

Patrick Brown getting treated the same way women in this country have been treated for decades, has shaken Canadian media to the bone.

Because the little rules were supposed to make life simple, and now no predator is safe.

Good. Reality is a wonderful medicine.

And Canadian media needed that medicine a long time ago.

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