Friday, June 11, 2010

Media Fighting Back Over Harper's Message Control

Canadian journalists are now fighting back and demanding a more transparent government. It has gotten so bad that they are not even allowed to report it when a member of government or their staff say "no comment". I'm sorry, but that's fascism, my friend.

This has gone on for four years with barely a whimper. Threats and intimidation has silenced the media, but I think they are finally going to start reporting the news and doing what they went to journalism school for. It wasn't to cut and paste.
Journalism associations from across the country have issued a stern rebuke against the Harper government and called on reporters to fight back against its tight information control.

In an open letter published Thursday, a number of organizations said that what began as a minor irritant has evolved, over four years, into a veritable threat to the public's right to know. The letter begins with an anecdote about how, in Stephen Harper's Ottawa, even no-comments are now delivered off the record -- meaning journalists are told they can't report a refusal to comment.

The letter offers a few examples of how elected people and federal employees are muzzled, images are heavily staged and Access to Information requests are blocked by political staff. "Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the flow of information out of Ottawa has slowed to a trickle," the letter states.

I've quit reading newspapers or watching the news on television, it's gotten so bad. I get most of my information from the foreign press or the Religious Right websites. They seem to be the only groups who actually have access now.

Of course Dimitri Soudas, not wanting Guy Giorno to outdo him in the stand-up comic competition fired back with "Communicating with the Canadian public is one of our government's most important functions..." Yes but how do they communicate:
... handout shots are, unfortunately, widely used by media outlets, often without the caveat that they are not real journalism." The organizations are encouraging their members to take a stand against several practices. For instance, many of the quotes published in daily newspapers are actually emailed from junior staffers.

Reporters habitually receive a few emailed lines from a Blackberry when they've asked for a government official to answer questions about government decisions. The journalism associations are urging members to let their readers and viewers know. Instead of simply reporting emailed lines from the government as if they were real quotes, they say journalists should explain to readers and viewers all the questions they couldn't get answered.

"We are calling on journalists to stand together and push back by refusing to accept vague email responses to substantive questions that require an interview with a cabinet minister or a senior civil servant," the letter says. "We are also asking journalists to stop running handout photos and video clips. We are also calling on journalists to explain better to readers and viewers just how little information Ottawa has provided for a story. "Every time a minister refuses to comment, a critical piece of information is withheld, or an (Access to Information) request is delayed, Canadians deserve to know."

Let Sun Media or the National Post run their nonsense. No ordinary Canadian reads their crap anyway.

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