Archive for category CBC
(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.
As the debates over the debates has raged on over the past several months, one thing is becoming increasingly clear. Journalists in Canada seem to be throwing out their duty of independence and holding our political parties to account for political favors; thus Canadians can’t rely on the media to do their traditional role of independently reporting on the election and providing the public with proper facts on policy to make an informed choice at the voter booth. Due to this, our democratic system looks more like a 3rd world two bit operation than a thriving democracy which depends on a free independent press as a major pillar to the democratic system of government.
I’ve reported extensively on this blog about how the consortium colluded together against the Conservatives, and how that collusion is highly illegal and has yet to be dealt with in law. On the flip side, last week award winning Toronto Star journalist Paul Watson quit his job in protest after being silenced by the Star while trying to report misinformation on the Franklin expeditions and how the expeditions were being purposely influenced by ties to the Prime Ministers Office. Facts during the expedition according to Watson were left out of this feel good story to purposely mislead the public in favor of the PMO’s preferred version of events. According to Watson he was punished by the Star executives in trying to confront his superiors with misinformation on this story with a 6 week reporting ban.
It’s not just the Toronto Star or the broadcast consortium looking for political favors. This week, the Globe and Mail responded to stark criticism of it’s readers not allowing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the Munk Debates. The Globe replied to angry readers with this following statement:
The Globe & Mail is hosting a federal election debate in September in partnership with Google Canada. The debate, to be hosted in Calgary, will be streamed live on The Globe’s website and distributed on YouTube, and will focus on the Canadian economy.
We have invited the major party leaders to this debate – those who have official status in The House of Commons. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have been asked to take part, because we believe a more streamlined, effective conversation about the Canadian economy will take place in that format.
David Walmsley, The Globe’s editor-in-chief says, “We’ve set up the debate this way because we believe that by limiting the format to Canada’s three main party leaders, we will create a truly focused, successful discussion about the state of the Canadian economy.”
There are now at least three independently organized leaders’ debates in the works. Politics reporter Steven Chase writes:
“Mr. Harper’s Conservatives kicked off a spat with major broadcasters including the CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global when they announced they would refuse an invitation to participate in debates organized by the broadcasting consortium, instead opting for a variety of independent debates. Kory Teneycke, a spokesman for the Conservative Party campaign, said in a statement that he hopes major broadcasters will cover the independent debates.”
Industry Minister James Moore yesterday announced the federal government will be forwarding $9 million in tax payers money to support the Munk School of Global Affairs.
The “Munks” are disallowing Green Party Elizabeth May to debate in their debates as well. Most Canadians believed that the last time May got her time in the federal elections debate during the 2008 economic crisis, that she won that debate hands down regarding the economy and other election issues. While I’m not a Green Party supporter, I remember those debates very well, and May brought forth an independent non-partisan view towards the facts, including the fact that we were in a recession in 2008, which all parties at that time were denying we were in. Enter 2015, and all indications are pointing to the fact we are in a recession with the Conservatives dodging the bad economy at every step. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
The story that’s emerging here is one where media executives who are in charge of overseeing our election debates seem to be acting without independence. Watson in a recent interview had this to say regarding political interference over our “independent” media:
This is a symptom of a broader disease that is eating away at the core of our democracy. Experts on climate, on medicine, on things that are central to our society are being silenced by a government that does favours for the politically connected. And that is just very dangerous for our future.
Due to the current partisan nature of the politics in this country facts are being left out. Media independence is not a left vs right or right vs left issue, it’s both. The broadcast consortium back in October threw journalism ethics out the window with solid evidence that the CBC was colluding with the other broadcasters against government regarding political advertising which is a highly illegal offense under the competition act.
At heart was the attack ad scandal, and the broadcasters threatened to not air political advertising using broadcast consortium materials. The broadcasters claimed journalism ethics and independence was being threatened by misleading advertisements. Today the CBC is still threatening to illegally take down any content that anyone uses without their permission. The law allows the use for such material under certain circumstances. This is called the “fair use” copyright exemption. In some of my comments on my recent blog posts, I compared internationally accepted journalism ethics to that of the broadcasters used to justify not airing or interfering with political advertisements:
Prime Minister Steven Harper has decided to accept debate invites from Rogers/Macleans/CityTV which are outside of the traditional major networks. The NDP has also joined in and accepted the invites for the Rogers/Macleans/CityTV debates as well. As I noted last in last nights post, the political bias around the coverage of the Liberal party by these networks is becoming obvious. From misleading Canadians on copyright to try and protect the Liberal party from political attacks, to the lack of coverage of major social media backlash on the new anti-terror bill towards the Liberal party, all of this seems to have been the final nail on the coffin for the media consortium.
More to come…
As someone who has a journalist background, I find that the lack of news reporting around the social media backlash on the new anti-terror bill by our major broadcasters very interesting, and very unsettling. Unfortunately, there has been some hint this kind of thing was going to happen with evidence of big media conspiring on a separate issue in the fall of last year.
A few years ago then Justice Minister Vic Towes introduced something called “lawful access” legislation. This legislation would allow the government access to your information without a warrant. Social media was ripe with protest. A twitter hashtag #tellviceverything was used to protest the introduction of lawful access. Canadians from all sides took to twitter, to tell then Minister Towes everything about their lives. Big media caught on very quickly and reported on it extensively.
Last week, similar legislation was passed through in the form of the anti-terror law. All you need to be is suspected of being a terrorist or unlawful protestor to be scooped up in law enforcement’s surveillance dragnet. Apparently the government also thinks this applies to anyone politically criticizing Israeli politics too, threatening to throw those protesting Jewish politics in jail for hate crimes (not a joke).
After the passing of the new anti-terror law last week, social media anger is being directed not at the Conservative party, but the Liberal party for supporting the bill. Unlike the #tellviceverything protest, the big media companies CBC, CTV, and Global have all been silent on this issue, opting to cover a Liberal platform announcement the day after the vote with virtually no mention of Liberal members burning their membership cards and protesting on social media. The protest on social media around the Liberal support of the new anti-terror bill continued throughout the weekend and continues. Still political talk shows would rather show speeches from Elizabeth May trying to be funny and failing during a press gallery dinner.
Back a few months ago, I filed a complaint with the Broadcast Standards Council (BSC), and with the CRTC regarding CBC, CTV, and Global misleading Canadians on a point in copyright law around attack ads. You probably remember this as media portraying the Conservatives as “stealing” news content. The reason why I choose to file those complaints was because the media not only got the facts wrong on a matter of law (which they still have yet to correct), but I had a gut feeling these organizations were conspiring to protect the Liberal party from political attacks which is illegal in Canada! These media companies threatened to file suit against the Conservatives for using news media to attack the Liberal leader. They also threatened not to air the ads. That threat was quickly dropped as Canada’s copyright law experts came out criticizing media for misleading the public on what is called “fair use”. Fair use means that anyone can use any media content to criticize a political leader, or use as educational material without financially compensating the copyright owner. It’s not stealing, however CBC’s Rick Mercer still thinks it is:
The night after this aired, and after the copyright law experts criticized media for misleading the public on a matter of law, York University saw it fit to provide Mercer with an honorary law degree.
Congratulations to Dr. Rick Mercer on being awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at York University today. pic.twitter.com/m5ToeQPz8I
— Armand La Barge (@ArmandLaBarge) October 16, 2014
I guess we can’t count on our academic institutions to be free of bias either.
I’ve had contact with the BSC, and with the CRTC and CBC’s Ombudsman regarding my complaints over the past few months. The BSC has yet to rule, however the CBC’s Ombudsman seemingly can’t find any of the reports (even though I gave the time and date) showing that CBC lead with a story that mislead Canadians on law in a national news broadcast. I have not heard back from the CRTC on this issue since the Ombudsman seemingly misplaced those news reports. Since the date of my complaints, the CBC was outed in trying to cover up inaction of Q Radio host Jian Ghomeshi’s abusive behavior, and Bell Media President Kevin Crull got ousted for, you guest it, interfering with news coverage.
It seems like when or even if the election rit drops in the fall (the Duffy trial may end up postponing election to save Harper #CPC mindset not mine), it looks as though our big media companies have already decided which political party they want to win, and it isn’t the Conservatives, NDP, or Greens with a long paper trail that keeps growing by the day.
That being said I am getting rid of my cable at the end of this month. I only subscribe to cable to watch the news and political talk shows. The non-reporting of the social media reaction to the anti-terror bill and Liberal member backlash and the now obvious bias in coverage, has essentially devalued these programs and I feel they are no longer a source for independent political news.