Friday, May 14, 2010

 

BC Rail Case: " ... Recently, I’ve seen flashes of real journalism in pieces in the Sun and Times-Colonist – real questions being asked and real digging for facts being done. Sadly, this is the exception nowadays, but it doesn’t have to be ... "

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Sent in support of Robin...


Sent: May-12-10 9:43 PM
To: 'nhall@vancouversun.com'; 'kfraser@png.canwest.com'; 'ssmart@ctv.ca'; 'jseyd@nsnews.com'
Cc: 'lchodan@tc.canwest.com'; 'pgraham@vancouversun.com'; 'editor@thetyee.ca'; 'editorial@publiceyeonline.com'; 'willcocks@ultranet.ca'; 'Schreck@strategicthoughts.com'

Subject: BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee and the BC Rail Trial

Dear Committee:

I won’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of being a journalist – I’m just an average guy with a family to support - but I am an avid consumer of what journalists write and what they choose to write (or not write) about, especially when it comes to politics in BC.

I used to be an avid consumer of our local papers, until I was introduced to the blogosphere and realized there were people out there who were actually writing stuff that mattered and addressed issues that hit home with me, and others like me. These folks are the real journalists – free from outside influences, they are writing pieces that reflect the real issues of the day, from many different perspectives. I don’t always agree with all of what they write, but they are not afraid to ask some tough questions and search for the story behind the story, the truth.

Recently, I’ve seen flashes of real journalism in pieces in the Sun and Times-Colonist – real questions being asked and real digging for facts being done. Sadly, this is the exception nowadays, but it doesn’t have to be. What it will take, though, is a willingness to do things differently, to admit that others have been doing a better job in reflecting what is really going on in our community and to embrace them, even co-operate with them.

In this light, I would hope that you on this committee would welcome into the courtroom as accredited journalists those in the ‘non-mainstream’ media who have been covering this BC Rail trial for many years, such as Robin Mathews. You might just learn something, and, who knows, you might even regain some of that shrinking audience for your local papers.


Warren White
Victoria

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BC Mary comment: Many thanks and a tip o'the tuque to Warren White. Today, May 14, 2010, the BC Rail Case (a.k.a. Basi Virk & Basi Trial) will be in BC Supreme Court starting at 10:00 AM for a pre-trial hearing. Coming, as it does, on the last day before the trial begins, this will be a significant hearing. In my opinion, it's important that as a far-flung community of those who love this province of British Columbia, we should gather together to hear what's said, what's being asked, what's going down. It is with deep sadness that I believe I'm discovering an unimagined stranglehold on the news being used by this so-called media accreditation committee of 4 "working" (i.e. hired) journalists ... the very group which has appeared so determined to slant or even to ignore the news which doesn't  favour their own (hired) interests.

Citizens' Media Accreditation Review Committee. This is a committee invented right now, on the spot, by BC Mary for anyone else who cares to comment, or to provide a copy of what they have written to the so-called media accreditation committee of 4 "working" (i.e., hired) journalists. More comments and/or more copies of letters will be posted here today.

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Comment from Sharing Is Good:


Perhaps the Sun could improve its readership if it asked Robbin to attend the court and write a column about the trial.

If they are worried about his writing from a different perspective than has been their slant since their days as part of Conrad Black's empire, perhaps the editors at the Sun can put up a counter-perspective column: side-by-side, face-to face. I believe that it could do much to increase respect and readership by a public that has had its fill of bad journalism. 

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Comment from John Wood


G'morning Mary,

Just a note to say "good on you" with regard to this irresponsible attitude of the small panel charged with accreditation of journalists. It is a pity that more of the MSM journalists cannot write as abley as Robin Mathews.

Thank you for sticking to you principles and showing the media what can be done with the right attitude. I sure hope you get lots of stuff sent in for your new Citizens Media Accreditation Review Committee.  It is a great idea and will probably p**s off quite a few MSM  people.

Thanks

John Wood


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From today's Vancouver Sun, as to why the public needs to hear from other voices.


Massive Port Renfrew tree stumps raise logging suspicions

Giant red cedars logged while ecotourism promoted.  

[Go HERE for the astonishing photos and information which probably (I'm guessing) were provided to CanWest for free by the Ancient Forest Alliance. Other voices = good; Canwest voices = too narrow. - BC Mary.]


The discovery of numerous 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 meters) wide old-growth stumps recently logged near ... Port Renfrew are arousing fears that logging companies are taking the biggest and best old-growth trees even though the local chamber of commerce wants to promote giant tree tourism.

The old-growth red cedar stumps were cut recently and measure between 3.7 and 4.6 metres. They were found in the Gordon River Valley, near a huge stand of old-growth trees nicknamed Avatar Grove by members of the Ancient Forest Alliance.

"People need to understand the urgency of the situation," said Ken Wu, Alliance co-founder.

"Most of our remaining old-growth forests will not survive the B.C. Liberal government's current policy of ancient forest liquidation. These globally rare ancient forests are being turned into a sea of giant stumps and tree plantations," he said.

John Cash, Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce president, said it is disappointing that old-growth logging is accelerating just as the Pacific Marine Circle Route is being promoted as a scenic tourist attraction.

"Even on that road they didn't allow a buffer, so it's clearcut right up to the edge of the road. I get comments about it all the time," he said.

Tourists want to see big trees and Port Renfrew has some of the biggest, Cash said.

"But it's like open warfare here. They are sacrificing short-term monetary benefit for the logging companies to the long-term detriment of the community," he said.

"If the forest companies had been responsible to begin with and had done their planting and management properly, there would be no need to cut down old-growth forests."

The largest stumps found by the alliance were on land being logged by Surrey-based Teal-Jones Group.

{Snip} ... 

"With relatively few eyes and ears out there monitoring what is going on in our forests, photo expeditions and competitions like this will help to show the public what serious environmental destruction is happening just down the backroads of the land they call homes," said AFA co-founder TJ Watt.

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Comment from Concerned Citizen:

I echo everything Warren White said in his letter. I canceled my long established Times Colonist subscription a couple of years ago, telling them it was because of absent, selective and inaccurate reporting, particularly related to the Basi/Virk/Legislature Raids situation. Every time they call me to entice me back to the subscription fold I repeat that exact message before refusing.

Several times, in the same and other contexts, I have asked CanWest reporting/editorial staff questions related to whether or not journalists have a stated code of ethics or a professional organization with standards of practice for journalism, as I have been amazed by their seeming lacks in the practices I have been commenting upon. I have never received a clear answer, but the tyee story

http://thetyee.ca/CanadianPress/2010/05/07/CRAFT-SCOC-Sources/

answered my question in a quote from the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada. ''In contrast to the legal profession, there is no formal accreditation to 'license' the practice of journalism and no professional organization (such as a law society) to regulate its members and attempt to maintain professional standards.'' Thanks to North Van’s Grumps for pointing me to this quote.

With that in mind, no wonder journalists have been available for sale, in many different contexts. I have continually hoped over the years that having professional standards to which to adhere would make a difference. It now occurs to me though, that as we have seen in this situation, the legal profession’s standards have obviously not prevented unfairness and conflict of interest problems, as has been suggested by Robin in the Basi/Virk/Legislature Raids situation and in the Kash Heed situation.

Thank God for human heroes, who set for themselves standards of fairness, truth, and integrity. They give us hope, and hopefully they win. Robin seems to be aspiring to high standards. I hope he wins, especially because he would be winning on behalf of all of us, whether we realize it or not.

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Quote from the Tyee article:

 ...  [Justice Ian Binnie of the Supreme Court of Canada] Binnie wasn't about to find a constitutional protection for journalists, noting that the term could include tweeters, bloggers and people standing on a corner shouting news at passersby.
''To throw a constitutional immunity around the interactions of such a heterogeneous and ill-defined group of writers and speakers . . . would blow a giant hole in law enforcement and other constitutionally recognized values such as privacy."
He noted that lawyers and clients have a very strong legal shield, but lawyers are a different breed from journalists.
For instance, he said there is the ''immense variety and degrees of professionalism (or the lack of it) of persons who now 'gather' and 'publish' news.
''In contrast to the legal profession, there is no formal accreditation to 'license' the practice of journalism and no professional organization (such as a law society) to regulate its members and attempt to maintain professional standards.''
The case was closely followed by media outlets and civil liberties groups, and several were interveners.
Tim Dickson, lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union, said the troublesome chore of defining who might be protected by a shield ruling could have been left to another day.
''On our side, the general view was that there will be later cases in which you would have to define better who falls within the rubric of the press for the purposes of the free press guarantee in the charter and you would have to determine what happens with the tweeters and the bloggers.''
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BC Mary comment: This, in my view, heaps scorn upon the head of a Canwest employee appearing to act on behalf of BC Supreme Court,  denying accreditation so that someone of Robin Mathews' credentials may not use a recording device in BC Supreme Court.

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Comments:
Perhaps the Sun could improve its readership if it asked Robbin to attend the court and write a column about the trial.

If they are worried about his writing from a different perspective than has been their slant since their days as part of Conrad Black's empire, perhaps the editors at the Sun can put up a counter-perspective column: side-by-side, face-to face. I believe that it could do much to increase respect and readership by a public that has had its fill of bad journalism.
 
I echo everything Warren White said in his letter.I canceled my long established Times Colonist subscription a couple of years ago, telling them it was because of absent, selective and inaccurate reporting, particularly related to the Basi/Virk/Legislature Raids situation. Every time they call me to entice me back to the subscription fold I repeat that exact message before refusing.

Several times, in the same and other contexts, I have asked CanWest reporting/editorial staff questions related to whether or not journalists have a stated code of ethics or a professional organization with standards of practice for journalism, as I have been amazed by their seeming lacks in the practices I have been commenting upon. I have never received a clear answer, but the tyee story http://thetyee.ca/CanadianPress/2010/05/07/CRAFT-SCOC-Sources/ answered my question in a quote from the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada. ''In contrast to the legal profession, there is no formal accreditation to 'license' the practice of journalism and no professional organization (such as a law society) to regulate its members and attempt to maintain professional standards.'' Thanks to North Van’s Grumps for pointing me to this quote.

With that in mind, no wonder journalists have been available for sale, in many different contexts. I have continually hoped over the years that having professional standards to which to adhere would make a difference. It now occurs to me though, that as we have seen in this situation, the legal profession’s standards have obviously not prevented unfairness and conflict of interest problems, as has been suggested by Robin in the Basi/Virk/Legislature Raids situation and in the Kash Heed situation.

Thank God for human heroes, who set for themselves standards of fairness, truth, and integrity. They give us hope, and hopefully they win. Robin seems to be aspiring to high standards. I hope he wins, especially because he would be winning on behalf of all of us, whether we realize it or not.
 
Mary, it almost seems that the judiciary and media in BC is taking it's lead from Campbell's book on arrogance.

Why would I say that? Well...it seems the more we voice our displeasure and/or concerns about an issue, the more their ignorance and arrogance is laid out for us - in direct opposition to our concerns. A "yeah, so whatcha gonna do 'bout it?" attitude pervades in the courts, the media and our legislature.

This is a very ugly cat and mouse game they're playing...and one day the pendulum will swing back.
 
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