Monday, September 25, 2006
Some things did happen on 18 Sept. '06
CanWest editors have decided that the trial of Basi, Virk and Basi isn't news. You saw the letter.
If absolutely nothing happened in that B.C. Supreme court room on Sept 18, that's news. But something did. Bet your boots, some things did happen.
After her initial response, I wrote a 2nd e.mail to Ms Chodan. Here it is, and this one upset her:
Thank you, I am immensely grateful for the information in your reply.
I sincerely believe that you would find many, many British Columbian readers of TC who feel a need to know what steps are being taken toward some resolution of the Basi, Virk affair.
If, as RCMP Staff Sergeant John Ward said on 29 Dec. 2003, organized crime has reached critical mass in our province, and has found its way into all levels of society, then it's no small matter for the general public to come to grips with the serious nature of the charges against Basi, Virk, and Basi.
Having found so little news coverage on such an important subject, I undertook to maintain a blog for this purpose (The Legislature Raids, at http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/ ). And I can say that there is scarcely a detail concerning this issue, including the pretrial appearance of Basi, Virk et al in BC Supreme Court yesterday, which would not be read and considered.
Not a lot of hard news was expected from yesterday's pretrial hearing. But the very important basic questions were expected to be answered: was there agreement that both defense and prosecution have the documents they need? If so, are they ready to proceed to trial now? On 4 December? Or?
It seems a great pity to me, that a reporter attended this latest hearing, but wasn't able to give the public those much-awaited scraps of information.
Is it possible that your reporter could do so now? I would be most grateful, if so. Again, thank you for your response.
Ms Chodan did apparently visit this blog and seemed angry that the news she had provided was allowed to be news. Possibly she was upset at having handed me the scoop on her own newspaper so that I was publishing news which she, as Editor-in-Chief of Victoria Times Colonist, had refused to publish.
I am ordered not to show you her second message. She did not answer my question about allowing the reporter to fulfill his duties.
So the people of British Columbia still do not know what was decided in that court room with a staff reporter right there, on duty, supposedly to keep the public informed. And so far as CanWest is concerned, that's where it ends.
It demonstrates that CanWest understood that it's big news when Basi, Virk and Basi go into a B.C. courtroom.
It demonstrates that CanWest itself is certainly interested when Basi, Virk and Basi go into a B.C. courtroom.
It demonstrates that CanWest decides that they'll try to keep the public in the dark about The Trial of the Century.
It wasn't a figment of imagination that there was news on 18 September in B.C. Supreme Court. The fact is: CanWest's Times Colonist decided to ignore it. They didn't just slip up or forget ... their editors met and decided to ignore it.
Is that a free press, in the service of a functioning democratic society?
You were "ordered" not to show us her second message? It seems to me that you're under no obligation to follow Ms Chodan's orders. I've very much like to see her response and to see what it was she didn't want shown.
You are certainly within your rights to ask. But this is all I can show you, taken from Ms Chodan's email:
"The information transmitted is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or
taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited."
which was repeated 3 times in total, including reaffirmation in the body of the message.
One such statement is not unusual in publishing, where the topic is one of extreme sensitivity, but it's overkill in the case of a blog which is providing news of widespread public interest.
In the final analysis, since Ms Chodan carefully refrained from mentioning any further information about the Basi & Virk hearing of 18 Sept., her 2nd message had no real value except as a demonstration of TC or CanWest's apparent need to suppress any news of the trial.
Whatever transpired, it must not be good news for the Campbell Crime family, or they would be broadcasting from the rooftops. Do they think the people are so narcotized that no one cares? This totally sucks is all I can even think right now. I hope Ms Chodan likes to read e-mail, or is prepared to delete lots.
Anytime top ministerial aides need to appear in court as a result of illegal activities that at least tangentally involve the GOVERNMENT and the LEGISLATURE, IT IS NEWS and should be treated as such. I'm for putting the Times-Colonist out of business.
The general public needs to be reminded of this disgrace (the raid on the Ledge) and needs to demand answers, this has gone on "under the radar" long enough!
Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or
taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited ........sounds like a $25 lawyer sentence!
review(from above)....? can't even look at it? Oh...oh, I took a crap upon reading the above, I hope it is okay! Oh yeah, I did say go ahead and sue me! Parrots probably won't poop on the T-C!
And after I'm done listening to the hockey game on the radio tomorrow, I'll be sure I don't tell anyone the score because I sure as heckfire wouldn't want be accused of re-transmitting, re-broadcasting or disseminating or whatever.
Thanks Mary for 'reporting' what happened without 're-transmitting or disseminating'.....
Koot, I think you're absolutely correct that more city editors need to hear from their readers.
Seems there's way too much disconnect between the
CanWest city newsrooms and the general public.
Which must explain why TC got their knickers in a knot to be asked about a Supreme Court hearing. It's like they never knew we cared or something.
The only value would be if CanWest actually would sue ... so that headlines could sing out: Big Media sues citizen for publishing news which they wanted kept quiet.
Even so, it didn't seem worth it ... because what headlines? what newspaper? where? CanWest has a lock on almost all.
Better, I think, is to keep tracking the Legislature Raids and camly reporting on the skeletons falling out of the closet, once evidence is being given under oath.
A good strategy might be, don't you think, for a dozen or more citizens to write to their local daily newspaper asking for the Supreme Court information. If useful answers come back, these could be published by the group ... giving strength in numbers ... less easy to target any one person.
This kind of group strategy might also begin to bridge the disconnect between CanWest newsrooms and the citizens who read their newspapers. Then CanWest wouldn't be so shocked and hostile to realize that many of us want to be kept informed.
First, there was the Times Colonist's angry reaction to seeing a tiny portion of Basi & Virk news posted on this blog.
Then I read about the president of the Canadian Newspaper Association saying "there seems to be some evidence that neither journalists nor the general public are well served in many parts of the country." [Full story: Lobbying for your right to know, by Anne Kothawala, CEO of the Canadian Newspaper Association, Toronto Star 26 Sept. '06]
Now this: a coalition of 14 bodies attacks Victoria's secrecy, saying "The B.C. government has allowed a widespread erosion of public accountability during its time in power." On Tuesday Sept. 26, they launched a campaign demanding more open government.
"We're holding the government to account," said Darrell Evans, head of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, one of the 14 bodies behind the Campaign for Open Government.
"It's not acceptable to us that they run on open and accountable government and do nothing over five years to deliver," said Evans, pointing out Gordon Campbell and his Liberal party ran on a promise to be the "most open and accountable" government in Canada. [Full story: Group attacks Victoria's secrecy, by Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver Sun, 27 Sept. '06]
So I'd say "Go with the flow, Koot." You and your parrot (which you don't have) are in step with the times!
" ... What needs to be changed the most is the attitude of government officials rather than the [Access to Information] laws themselves.
"All levels of government ... should make clear to bureaucrats that they must comply with both the letter and spirit of access-to-information legislation.
"They also should condemn the culture of secrecy that too often causes public employees to deny legitimate information requests for no reason ..."
Does it seem to you -- as it does to me -- that in British Columbia we have a similar bureaucracy in the mainstream press, twinned with what is said here about governments?
A downright unhealthy situation.