Wednesday, April 11, 2007
When there is news, we plan to report it.
Remember when BC Mary sent a Letter to the Editor:
Date: 19 September 2006
To: "Edit (Times-Colonist)"
Conversation: Basi, Virk, Basi in court yesterday?
Is it too much to ask, that a daily newspaper should report on the
appearance in BC Supreme Court yesterday (Sept. 18) of Basi, Virk,
Basi, their lawyers, the Special Prosecutor (on behalf of the people of
BC, presumably) and Judge Elizabeth Bennett concerning a matter of serious significance to this province and this country?
Did the trial take place, as forecast, to discuss the status of
evidence and to confirm the trial date? If so, what was the decision?
If not, was the trial delayed? postponed? stayed? what?
Too often, the public is accused of being apathetic. But it's
difficult to keep informed of such an important matter as Basi, Virk,
and BC Rail ... if the news isn't published in the mainstream press.
and to my great surprise, a reply came from the Editor-in-Chief:
From: "Chodan, Lucinda (Times-Colonist)"
Date: Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:31:32 PM Canada/Eastern
Cc: "Helm, Denise (Times-Colonist)"
Subject: Re: Basi, Virk, Basi in court yesterday?
Dear Ms. Mary:
There was indeed a pretrial appearance by Basi, Virk et al yesterday. Our reporter staffed the appearance, and nothing of note happened. As is the case in such instances, the reporter consulted with his editor and did not write a story. When there is news, we plan to report it.
Victoria Times Colonist
2621 Douglas St.
Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2
And readers may remember, too, that BC Mary was reprimanded for showing you even this much "news". But we did think -- didn't we? -- that Victoria Times Colonist may have been ever so slightly alerted to the fact that the public is waiting for news on the Legislature Raids trial. Or that the public is watching CanWest with growing suspicions about their reliability in matters of justice and the public interest.
Fast Forward to today, 11 April 2007, remembering the Editor-in-Chief's promise "When there is news, we plan to report it."
But no, once again there is nothing in Victoria Times Colonist about yesterday's Supreme Court hearing in the matter of Basi, Virk, Basi at which the trial date was agreed for 18 April 2007, in Vancouver Supreme Court, with Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett presiding ... despite the fact that the courtroom has been booked for SIX months!
If this isn't news, I don't know what is.
But according to today's TC, this is headline "news":
* Canadians consume way too much salt
* Gay firefighter files complaint over jokes
* Disc with bondage found in ex-astronaut's car
* Hair from Ramses II back in Egypt.
But not the allegedly flawed sale of Canada's 3rd largest railway and not the dark cloud which will continue to hang over the Gordon Campbell government until this trial is concluded.
There is no doubt that the media is a branch of government, like it or not. I have great respect for a free press and the duties of journalists in a democratic society. That's why I say that TC wins no prizes in either category. - BC Mary.
Other takes on this news story include:
BASI-VIRK TRIAL SLATED FOR SIX MONTHS
By BILL TIELEMAN,
24 HOURS - 11 April 2007
The breach of trust charges against former provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk will take as much as six months of court time, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett said Tuesday.
"I have arbitrarily set 120 days for this trial. I've seen the witness list," Bennett said.
Bennett also agreed to a defence request to delay the start of a defence disclosure application that begins the case by two days, from April 16 to 18.
Bennett will hear the trial that arises from the police raid on the B.C. Legislature Dec. 28, 2003 and subsequent allegations that Basi and Virk provided confidential government information about the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail to lobbyists representing one of the bidders.
Outside the courtroom Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, said Bennett was using "an abundance of caution" in scheduling 120 court days, which means about six calendar months for the trial. But Bolton also said it was possible the trial could conclude in October.
Bennett also asked defence lawyers if they objected to her continuing as trial judge after noting that she had taught a legal advocacy course at the University of B.C.
Defence has raised an issue over special prosecutor Bill Berardino's role in teaching the same course because key Crown witness Erik Bornmann was in the classroom as a law student after Basi and Virk were charged.
Bolton quickly told Bennett the defence would not be seeking to disqualify her as trial judge. Bennett did not say whether Bornmann had been in her class.
Many thanks, Bill. The Vancouver Sun and The Province have articles on the B.C. Rail Trial but Bill has already covered all their points. Robin Mathews was out of town for the Easter weekend. A very interesting piece of Citizen Journalism is Meaghan Champion's bright report of a sidewalk scrum with Big Media outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver yesterday. As well as inside the courtroom. Here's a good example, from a comment she just left us:
Got one of those clips up... by the way of the entrance of Crown Prosecutor to the court house. Trial was schedualed for 9:30... however, I was tipped off that it was going to convene at 8:30 to avoid press. So we showed up at 8:30, and the only other media present was Global Media.. assuming they had also been tipped. Maybe that's what they didn't like about us being there. That a citizen journalist had about the same amount of info as they had.
No Other media showed up for 8:30 or 9:30 - at the door... I mean by way of film crews. There were 6 reporters in the room - at least one guy was there from the Globe and Mail, but he wasn't Gary Mason, I checked. I was looking for Vaughn Palmer.. didn't see him... might have missed him. The press seemed to sit together.. except for Bill who sat one seat away, and was friendly to us bloggers.:)
Great work, eh? Meaghan's blog is Somena Media, the URL is http://somenamedia.blogspot.com/ which, if you scroll down, gives us a neat YouTube showing of Bill Berardino as he wearily made his way toward the courtroom, evading the media ... except, if you're quick, you hear him say "Hi John" in a sad, sorry voice to someone barely visible behind the beret guy with the big camera ... John Daly from Global TV, we're told.
Here's my fave online news blog http://pacificgazette.blogspot.com/ where RossK was talking about it on Tues. April 10, 2007
Mary and the Anon-O-Mice Win Again
Sure, sure, sure.
Even CanWest got on the bandwagon today and let us know that the LedgeRaid Trial is now set to begin next week, but on April 18th instead of the originally scheduled Apr 16th.
But BC Mary got it right first.
Regardless, I can't wait to read the eyewitness citizen journalist accounts of the action in courtroom over at Mary's place from the the likes of Robin Matthews and Georgine.
And that, coupled with the continued in-depth analysis of the publicly available documents by the likes of GWest and the rest of the Anon-O-Mice will bang the anemic coverage of the big media organs* like a gong, I'm sure.
Which, after all this time, effort and energy, is just how it should be.
*The work of Mr. T., Bill Tieleman, excepted of course.
And finally, here's a cool dude writing as best anyone can do, on the touchy subject of what the public is allowed to know. Rob Cottingham wrote on his blog:
11 Apr 2007
Basi and Virk are just zese guys, you know?
Category: Politics; Media Mix
Listened to Terry Donnelly’s CBC report on the impending Basi/Virk trial on the way home tonight. (No web link – it doesn’t appear to be on their site.) It was a perfectly respectable piece, except it seemed to be missing a certain je ne sais quoi… or, actually, a mot juste: a single word to provide some kind of political context to the whole thing.
A word like, oh, I don’t know… Liberal.
Which didn’t appear once in his report. Nor did the phrase “BC government.” These guys were just “legislative aides”… unusually non-partisan ones, apparently.
Maybe we could have some kind of a plaque made up engraved with Lucinda’s statement of the Times-Colonist commitment and dedication to the 'news'.
Perhaps they could print a copy of the inscription in the Classified Advertising section - which is about the only thing anyone reads the paper for anymore anyway.
She's almost as much of a wet squib as the notorious JW
There were 6 reporters in the room - at least one guy was there from the Globe and Mail, but he wasn't Gary Mason, I checked. I was looking for Vaugn Palmer.. didn't see him... might have missed him. The press seemed to sit together.. except for Bill who sat one seat away, and was friendly to us bloggers.
....I see BC Mary has posted the link to your blog...will check it out.
They do a good job, even if I do have to help them and give them clues if I change servers. Shooter and Commander Codpiece and all the king's men can't read fast enough to read everything said by everyone who isn't impressed by them. In BC of course, Gordo and his cohorts don't have time to read all the favorable fluff written about them and their wonderful plans for the best place on earth, by Canned Vast/West Wasteland. </irony>