Archive for February, 2016

Legacy News is Threatened By Lack of Ethics Not Subsidies


(CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais still clueless on journalism ethics)

This week CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais ripped into journalism industry executives for asking for subsidies all while owning private yachts and helicopters. This statement has come while the CRTC has been holding hearings on the future of local journalism and TV, however spoiled executives are only part of the problem. A lack of enforcement by the CRTC on ethical regulations seems to be the other part of the problem with broadcast journalism.

From a recent CBC article:

Blais said he is “not convinced” that citizen journalism and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook will ever be able to challenge the supremacy of legacy news organizations.

“If the journalist — trained to professional standards, who subscribes to a particular code of ethics, and who aspires to the highest standards for gathering and interpreting facts to create valuable, intelligent news analysis — disappears, in the absence of a proven alternative, I fear the future of the fourth estate as a pillar of democracy will be at risk,” he said.

The problem with Canadian journalism is it has become an arm’s length political propaganda machine rather than informative, fact driven reporting. We saw a lot of this during the election and with the debate over the debates. The main reason for this is the fact we do not have an independent body to investigate complaints around journalism ethics.

Most TV and legacy news organizations (the exception is the CBC) are part of an industry owned organization that is tasked with investigating its own conduct under CRTC regulations on complaints of false and misleading facts, inaccurate reporting, or failure to adhere to ethical standards. This self-investigating organization is called the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC). What’s worse is that there are no ethical regulations for legacy print media news, only for broadcast news.

If Canadians are that concerned about the fourth estate, than we need to properly regulate ethical standards in news. Blais should look no further than in the mirror for that, and not pivot the blame towards technological diffusion which is far easier to do than to admit the CRTC holds a huge part in the downfall of journalism ethics due to lack of enforcement of those ethical regulations, especially with the CBC. The fourth estate isn’t a pillar of democracy anymore; this is in part due to the CRTC not acting like a regulator and more like a “protector” to the industry elite since 1976.

In 2014 I reported that all the major networks including the CBC lead their newscasts in an effort to mislead Canadians on a matter Canadian law in which this consortium of broadcast journalists moved way outside their regulated ethical standards and intentionally attacked a political party by way of intentionally falsifying facts in their news reporting for corporate gain.  I broke this story on the blogosphere.

I complained to the CBSC, in which nothing was done. I also complained to the CRTC regarding CBC’s role in misleading Canadians. CRTC didn’t investigate even after the CBC somehow misplaced the newscast in question, and a huge e-mail chain was provided to the CRTC displaying intent from some of CBC’s elite news reporters and news editors to mislead the public in order to protect its corporate interests. This eventually led to the Conservative Party of Canada pulling out of the consortium debates. How’s that for citizen journalism challenging legacy news.

On top of this, CBC’s news editor continued her misleading campaign on a matter of Canadian law threatening to take down CBC owned content during the election period including material considered fair use by journalists and bloggers. This news editor is still employed at CBC. I’d love Blais to explain to Canadians why this news editor is still employed at the CBC when the CRTC has direct oversight of this public broadcaster.

Throughout the election it was quite clear that Canadians trust in legacy news was quite rightly eroded, whether you were a Conservative looking down at major networks behavior towards the party and intentionally misleading facts in top news stories, or Liberal, NDP and Green looking at the conservative approach to only agreeing to conservative friendly debate hosts. Either way you look at it, we have a failure of legacy news both in broadcast and in print to uphold the standards necessary for the survival of that pillar of democracy at the very time when it is so important for them to uphold ethical standards in news.

People have lost faith and trust in the fourth estate. Blais is rightfully concerned; however I’m not sure that blame lies on the industry elite looking for tax payer’s handouts, but rather the inability or inaction of their regulator to take meaningful action when ethical standards are quite clearly broken.

Here’s a news flash Blais. Most of our audience now takes in content from several sources including citizen journalists to formulate their own opinions. The supremacy of legacy news is already being challenged due to the way these organizations handle ethical standards. In many respects the void that has been left by the CRTC’s inability to do anything on the organizations it oversees, is being filled by citizen journalists, bloggers and by “ethical journalists” who have left the industry in disgust. That’s not going to change if these organizations continue down the path they are now. In fact it’s likely to fragment the legacy news industry even more which is what I think the CRTC is just starting to see through these hearings.

If anything the CRTC should have identified the problems with legacy news during the last election. The CRTC is still very much tone deaf to the problems it has created regarding journalism ethics in this country. This regulator doesn’t seem to be watching very closely if it has to conduct hearings on the matter and rake industry executives over the coals, rather than act within their own mandate when called upon.


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China Defends Its Woody Which Could Kick Off WW3


(Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin)

It takes 3 continents at war to declare another global war, and with recent developments over the past week it looks as though we may be heading in that direction.  Europe is fighting a proxy war in Ukraine against Russia, NATO is fighting in the middle east, and now China is flexing its military might in the Asia Pacific Region installing surface-to-air missile systems in and around a disputed island in the South China Sea called Woody Island.

The move by China to install surface-to-air missile systems around this island is of particular interest since China and Taiwan both claim ownership of the island.  There has been a lot of worry within the global community that China could actually invade Taiwan and/or neighboring countries, and the first step in doing so would be to take over this disputed island in the south China Sea (which happens to be strategically placed in one of the worlds busiest shipping lanes).  The US has already dispatched naval assets to the region.

The importance of China moving in on this island is that China has long claimed Taiwan part of the Republic of China.  Taiwan is a now an independent democratic state and a long time ally of the US in the region.  While the middle-east has been a tinderbox of conflict, the Pandora’s Box along with the questions on whether or not the world would see another global war hindered in recent years on China’s moves in the Asia pacific region, and whether or not China would start to act on its claims of land in that region.  The taking over of Woody Island is very much a provocation towards western allies by China that China indeed is moving on its claims in the region; a move which is seen as a direct threat on western allies in the region.  China in recent years has been bulking up its military spending billions for “modernization” of its military.

Meanwhile in Europe, US and NATO allies have been fighting a proxy war with China’s ally Russia in the Ukraine since 2014.  Russia took over the Ukrainian city of Crimea, claiming it to be part of Russia.  Russia’s main concern regarding western backed policies has been that of “containment”.

Back during the cold war US and NATO policies to fight Russia and communism was to contain the big red giant to its own country.  Russia after WW2 had great influence in eastern European countries, which lead all the way to Germany. NATO diplomatically fought back Russia by way of getting these Eastern European countries to become part of NATO to force Russia out of the region. Recently NATO installed missile defense systems in countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Turkey which are NATO allies and also very near to the Russian boarder.  A move Russia found very provocative, thus invaded Crimea in the Ukraine. NATO defended the allied missile defense systems by stating these were to defend against missiles from Iran.

As for the middle-east, Russia has been pretty blunt in its support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.  Attacking not just ISIL (which are a threat to al-Assad’s leadership) but NATO backed forces fighting ISIL in the region as well.  This past week Russia bombed a civilian hospital in Syria.  Most western backed allies in the region have publicly called that move a war crime. Russia emphatically denies it had anything to do with the bombing.

ISIL in the middle-east has been recently accused of using chemical weapons on civilians, and now recent reports suggest it may have its hands on highly radioactive material that went missing from Iraq a year ago.  The Saudi’s are now massing troops to go into Syria, a move Russian president Vladimir Putin asserted could ignite another world war.

The world just seems to be hanging by a thread right now from total all out war. Most foreign correspondents who have covered global politics believe that thread that holds the world from another global conflict is shredded when China starts meddling around in its claims of land it has and starts to act on it in the pacific.  Throughout history when the global economy is slow, world wars usually break out to stimulate economic growth.  One would hope that we’ve learned the lessons of history as a global society, and that diplomacy wins the day.  We’ve been very close to another global war on several occasions over the past 70 years since the last, and I think China’s move in the pacific brings us as close as we could ever get to another world war.

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