Monday, April 06, 2009

 

... governments seek to manage the news

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This is the story I've been meaning to write. But Miro Cernetig has done it for me, done it better, and carries impressive credentials for doing such things. He checks in, of course, by blaming the N.D.P., but in B.C. media, we know about that; he's just showing his up-t0-date membership card at the entrance to the corporate palace. The rest of his column is great ... although the underlying message is very dark indeed ... "government without newpapers"?

Miro Cernetig, in another life, has been bureau chief for The Globe and Mail in Vancouver, Edmonton and the Arctic, China and New York. He was also the Quebec bureau chief for The Toronto Star and most recently served as The Vancouver Sun's political correspondent in Victoria.
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What is the Public Affairs Bureau?
Miro Cernetig

Vancouver Sun - April 6, 2009


... What's the Public Affairs Bureau? Well, PAB is essentially an in-house information spin machine, housed in the legislature's basement.

It has a $28-million budget. It has 223 full-time news spinners. And it has high-tech systems that allow them to monitor all media in the province and transcribe it in almost real time. If a political thought is broadcast or printed in this province, chances are PAB has found it and combed it for any political import.

Here's some perspective. There isn't a newsroom in Canada with 223 full-time reporters covering a province. And no newsroom anywhere covers a legislature with the same intensity as PAB.

It's a rare event to find cabinet ministers without a PAB employee trailing them, tape recorder in hand. Even the ministers get irritated by the PABsters' ubiquity.

Some will blame the Liberals for this. But it's not a partisan thing. [Oh no, hahaha. It's not partisan at all. What was I thinking! - BC Mary] The genesis of PAB -- essentially a centralization of information gathering and distribution -- actually took root under the New Democratic Party, when it was in power. [The "genesis of PAB" as central information-gathering, is one thing; but Campbell's full-blown army of propagandists infiltrating every avenue of news with a single-minded message? that's quite something else. I wish Cernitag had admitted that part. And by the way, what happened to the Legislative Library again? - BC Mary.]

It's not surprising, really. It's the information age. Data is power. Governments, like everyone else, want to control it. But let Thomas Jefferson have the final word on who ought to control information dissemination: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

Where did I get that perfect quote? From the front page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It died March 17, 2009.

mcernetig@vancouversun.com
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Miro Cernetig's blog, Pacific Currents, is his look at Vancouver's place in B.C., Canada and the Pacific Rim. I'm going to e.mail him a Thank-You for this.

And another huge Thank-You to the Anon-Y-mouse who got up early and sent us the note to watch out for this column.

- BC Mary.


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In addition, look at this!
Press Gallery president Scott Sutherland joins BC government Public Affairs Bureau!

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Comments:
"Here's some perspective. There isn't a newsroom in Canada with 223 full-time reporters covering a province. And no newsroom anywhere covers a legislature with the same intensity as PAB."

This is the money shot of the article in my estimation. What does this say about Gordo's ideology of the "private sector." Instead of a free press, we have a politburo - government managed information.

As to Miro's obligatory drive by shot at the NDP for starting this (?), as Mary said, he most likely had to throw that in to protect whatever may be left of his membership (and job).

Governments have ALWAYS performed the task of INFORMING the public about its policies, their effects and how to deal with government. However, the PAB is not that at all, it is more an agency devoted to suppressing information and/or manufacturing PR for purely political reasons.

George Orwell would recognize the PAB immediately - unfortunately too many of the victims of this government's larceny blithely buy into the rosy scenario that the "newsroom from hell" or PAB massages and delivers with the help of it's colleagues at Canned Waste/Glow Ball and SeeTeeVee and Bill not so Good.

Put another way the PAB is in charge of producing PABlum for the masses to grease the skids for the ill gotten gains to slide more freely to the Cabal!
 
Enjoyed the 'Fisking' (line-by-line respones) Mary.

However, in this case, while there are issues of scale that are important to point out, I actually agree with most everything Mr. Cernetig had to say.

Why?

Because I feel very strongly, particularly when it comes to governments, that all Prop/Spin/TruthBending (whatever you want to call it) is bad, no matter who does it, regardless the 'reasons' (ie. noble or otherwise).

Why?

Because crap, is crap.

And when it is thrown in the Citizenry's eyes crap wrecks everyone's vision.

OK?

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Couldn't agree more, Gazetteer.

And I shoulda checked ... to see (a) exactly when the Public Affairs Bureau was set up, (b) what its mandate was, (c) how many people worked in that original INFORMATION-GATHERING BUREAU and (d) to whom are they accountable for how they fulfill their duties, once the information is gathered.

Except ... that's what caused the serious delays in writing the story myself ... how the heck would I do that?

I found, for one thing, that PAB people labour in various ministries, their expenses blended into other ministries. It ain't a simple matter to put the PAB under a microscope.

I even discovered an old newspaper friend in the PAB who did write back ... but even before I got to ask a question, who went totally silent afterward.

So I was very pleased to see Miro Cernetig's column and agreed with most of it, too.

I just wish CanWest journalists could let go of their security blankets long enough to write their story without offending the 1/2 of the province who happen to vote otherwise. Like that's being in Opposition is a sin or something.

This doesn't legitimize the throwing of crap in Citizenry's eyes. Au contraire. It just means "Stick to the topic, Miro, and you'll win a few new friends."

OK?

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I saw the Lib's Pravda in action today, as I was walking past Robson Square. Stonewally's handler's - about 4 bodies - set up a slick, well lit backdrop so that our manipulative AG could announce that he was spending $700,000 to expand the city lockup, which is run by Vancouver Police. That announcement was made just before the election writ was dropped.

As you might guess, Canada's FOX (AKA: Global News) was in enthusiastic attendance before their beloved leader.
 
Gotcha Mary - All points taken...I just agree with Mr. C. that this kind of thing is never good (even though there is no argument that it is worse now, under the current regime).

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Anon-Above--

Thanks for the tip....Wonder if it might be the last time Mr. Oppal gets to announce anything given the strong support for the indepedent candidate Ms. Huntington in his newly chosen riding.

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Yes the city jail will be brimming shortly. We all know why. But then again there are those condo's...

But back to the PAB cave thingy. Yeesh, who dwelleth there! When are they conductiong the round up, I'd like a head start. It sounds kinda creepy, like you'd create it if you really and truly were not down with accountability and transparency. The again they could be knitting sweaters down there? Gets cold down there according to J.Kwan.

Again the msm looks bad because PAB stories are few and scant of facts. Just olympic tickets, catered events, and relative silence, nothing to see here folks, just move along...
 
Anon Above--

It is creepy.

For all kinds or reasons.

Not the least of which is the fact that I have it on pretty good authority that not everybody that visits my site (and probably even more so, Mary's) from 'The Cave' is actually a real live human sitting at a keyboard.....



RossK

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Print:
Dirk Meissner ---- Canadian Press
Les Leyne ---- Times Colonist
Lindsey Kines ---- Times Colonist
Jeff Rudd ---- Times Colonist
Craig McInnes ---- Vancouver Sun
Miro Cernetig ---- Vancouver Sun
Vaughn Palmer ---- Vancouver Sun
Mike Smyth ---- Vancouver Province
Ian Bailey ---- Vancouver Province
Alisa Gordaneer -- Monday Magazine
Paul Wilcocks ---- Sterling News Service

Radio:
Scott Sutherland --- Broadcast News CP
Jeff Davies --- CBC Radio One
Phillippe Murat --- CBC Radio Canada French
Sean Leslie --- CKNW

Television:
Keith Baldry --- BCTV-Global
Howard Cooper --- BCTV-Global
Jim Beatty --- BCCTV
Justine Hunter --- CBC-TV
Sophie Rousseau --- Radio Canada TV
Moira McLean ---- CityTV
Chris Brinton ---- CityTV
Dennis Moore ---- CH TV
Kim Emerson ---- CH TV
John Richardson --- Shaw Cable
Kristina Verruyt -- Shaw TV

Twenty-six reporters...... in all, and stacked up against them are 111Public Affairs Officers for the Government, paid for by taxpayers of BC.
 
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Good work, Anonymous 8:53,

with one little error:

there are 223 Public Affairs Officers stacked up against the 26 legitimate reporters ...

with a budget of $28Million a year (other reports place that figure at $31million a year.

You might want to look into the employment benefits at PAB, too, such as the Student Loans which are forgiven ...

Quite the little hothouse.
 
Ah Gee whiz but the student loans are only repaid fully, after three years of slogging in the Caves.
 
Yeah but, as in the comment I sent to you last night, and your choosing not to publish it..... public knowledge.... the bc government search engine ONLY lists 111 on their web sites.

If there are 223 then were are 112 cave dwellers drawing their pay packages, including benefits, from?

PS I curious as to why you didn't post my comment. It can't be because of privacy, because if you go to the Vancouver Sun database on salaries for the Government employees, everyone of the 111 shows up on the books.
 
106 public affairs employees as of this moment.

I wonder who in the Premier's office cut five out of the stock, and why?

Oh sorry, you may say that there are 223 but the government only lists 106. check it out, I've provided the link.
 
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Thanks for the heads-up but I can do without the cranky bits.

There were 4 other comments stuck in the line-up while I was attending to other things.

OK?
 
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The Globe and Mail should be added to your list, too.

They did some good work on the BC Rail issue, the past while.

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The missing PAB cave dwellers are probably on leave - working for the BC liaR Party for the election period. I'm not saying that they don't ALWAYS work for the BC liaR party, just that maybe for a few weeks the party is actually.....you know.....payin' them, and giving us a little break so we'll love Gordo even more!

I don't know how I could possibly love Gordo even more, I guess I need to watch more photo-op ads!
 
Come off Kootcoot, the 106 list linked to the government offices all have phone lines, all have titles, you can't tell me that there are anouther 112 cave dwellers lurking about like a bunch of ding Bats.
 
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