Wednesday, May 12, 2010

 

BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee ... say again?

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What is a working journalist? Wouldn't it be someone with a set of high skills who attends all the hearings, studies the process, and reveals the story in its fullest form? I think so. And I think Robin Mathews is that highly skilled working journalist who is telling us the BC Rail story in its fullest meaning.

Recently Robin wrote to Court Scheduling to ask for accreditation.  Why? So he could do his job better. He said that if the court is jammed (as it was for the first jury-picking) he needed to get a place where he could hear what's going on ... which isn't always easy in the back row with 150 people in the public gallery. A reply came to him from H.L.McBride, Supreme Court Law Officer, with material describing the Accreditation Process and it referred him to the committee of journalists which does the initial accrediting.  Of the four named as representative of the committee, Robin chose Keith Fraser to write to.

Robin Mathews has been in the BC Rail courtroom with other paid journalists for over three (3) years. Sometimes Robin Mathews is the only working journalist in the public gallery reporting on the BC Rail Trial.  I would imagine that he has logged more hours in the public gallery than any other journalist at the BC Rail hearings. So in my view, the public should know the dark side of what goes on.

Heaven knows we berate the journalists often enough for not doing their jobs better. I, for one, never quite imagined them doing these kinds of things as part of their duty to the public.

First, here's Robin's inquiry:

Dear Keith:  First:  I wrote to Mary Ellen Pearce to ask if I could get accredited as a court reporter. My reply came from H.L.McBride who I can never decide if it's a woman or a man.  Anyhow, the reply was I have to go to someone really powerful to ask - and you were listed among the really powerful!!!!

                     Yes, I would like the right to record.  But also I'd like the right if the court is jammed (as it was for the first jury-picking) to get a place where I can hear what's going on ... which isn't always easy in the back row with 150 people there. I notice that you and CP could slip in to a corner where you were in good relation to the goings-on ...

                    I'd like to know about "accreditation" if you can spare a few minutes over the next days (before the 17th.)

                    good wishes, Robin
___________________________________


Next: Neal Hall of Vancouver Sun offers the formal reply, as follows:


From: "Hall, Neal (Vancouver Sun)"
Date: May 11, 2010
To: , "Fraser, Keith (The Province)" ,
ssmart@ctv.ca, JSeyd@nsnews.com,
Subject: Court accreditation application

Robin Mathews:

The B.C. Supreme Court media accreditation committee considered your application but has decided you are not a working journalist, so do not qualify for accreditation.
We are aware of the valuable role you play as a "blogger" and analyst of the court proceedings, so would encourage you to apply by letter to the trial judge, requesting permission to use a recording device in court.
As for seating, so far, there doesn't appear to be any special arrangements for media seating in the courtroom. So we're all in the same boat - we'll be trying to find the best available seat each day.
Any questions, please feel free to contact me (I can always be reached by e-mail).

Neal Hall
The Vancouver Sun
(604) 605-2067
Email: nhall@vancouversun.com

_____________________________________________

Next, Robin responds:

From: Robin Mathews
Date: May 11, 2010
To: Nhall@vancouversun, com
Cc: KFraser@theprovince.com, ssmart@ctv.ca, JSeyd@nsnews.com
Subject: Fwd: Court accreditation application

Dear Neal:  Thanks for your message of May 11, denying me Supreme Court of B.C. accreditation. Since I'm considered by some to be a kind of 'people's reporter', I guess the refusal will have to be passed on to the sites I write for.  I know there is a certain reluctance by some "conventional' media people to grant legitimacy to the growing number of writers not connected to conventional media. I sympathize because we seem to be in a time of genuine change in public communication. The change has evoked a good deal of dispute, and the "new writers" are sometimes aspersed or considered 'anchorless' by those who consider themselves "working journalists". I appreciate your frankness and am not at all offended on any personal level. I began my working life as a reporter/everything on a small town newspaper here in B.C. and I've been (for better and worse) media-related for most of my life since.  But that - as you might hasten to say, quite reasonably - is not the point.  The refusal, as I say, will have to be reported - and others will take whatever position on the matter that they see fit to take.

good wishes, Robin
                     
_________________________________________

BC Mary continues:

As a citizen, I am offended on so many levels. Let me count the ways: 

* is there, for cryin' out loud, actually a "BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee"?  which isn't made up of BCSC staff?

* is it possible, for cryin' out loud, that 4 CanWest employees can actually decide whether a retired, scholarly gentleman with impeccable training, obviously working as a journalist should be given a seat at the BC Rail Case where he can actually hear the proceedings?

* and for cryin' out loud, that 4 CanWest employees can gang up and say NO ... ?

* the two unknowns -- S. Smart at CTV and Jane Seyd at North Shore News -- are undoubtedly guaranteed their special seats although I've never seen their by-line on any report from the BC Rail Case; is this a little joke? If so, it ain't funny. 


* we wouldn't be having this stupid conversation if BC Supreme Court paid attention to the public interest, granted immediate accreditation to a professor emeritus who applies for it, and, for cryin' out loud, knew how to switch ON  those TV cameras in Courtroom #20 so that  every citizen of BC may see for themselves what develops out of the BC Rail Case.

* I would sure as heck like to see the Policy Manual for this BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee.

I don't want to think what I'm thinking, because if this in any way is a reflection of the true facts, I will have to recycle my former high opinion of what it means to be a real "working journalist".

Quick, get a copy of My Paper Trail by Harold Evans. It will restore faith in news (i.e., good journalism) as a means of improving -- even saving -- the world we live in.  

- BC Mary.

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A comment worth repeating:

Laila Yuile has left a new comment on  "BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee ......"

This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard in my life. Truly, what have we come to?

The day I was in court last fall, I did see Stephen Smart there, and yet there was no report on CTV that evening - I know, because I watched.

There were the other usual reporters and they did reports in the Sun and the Globe, but there were also several other reporters who took the time to attend and yet never authored a thing, most of whom I could not identify if my life depended on it.

The point is, I do not work for a paper, or a tv station, or a radio station, and yet I am easily able to get accreditation for pretty much any forum or venue based on my freelance status and working on spec.

I am guessing should I ask for accreditation that the response would be the same? What if my reports are purchased after the fact? Does that preclude me from being allowed to enter what seems to be the holy grail of judical process in this province?
Who, exactly, appointed or chose this panel? Not that I am negating their skill or judgements as journalists, but perhaps if the court wishes to pick and choose who can report on proceedings, then it should be the court who makes the decisions, not reporters on the payroll of well known media conglomerates.

Dare I say, conflict of interest? Or is this really just another example of the way things work in BC ?

I would personally welcome such answers from those on the panel, which can be forwarded to me at lailayuile@live.com

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Another heartfelt comment:

concerned citizen has left a new comment on "BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee ......":

Sad that the person who has followed this situation most devotedly and closely, on behalf of BC citizens, for no personal gain, should be treated this way. Embarrassing really. Not only has he worked harder than most reporters in this case, for no monetary gain, he has put himself at risk by speaking his truth about powerful people and events during obviously corrupt times. No wonder we are so vulnerable to those who would willingly take all the power when people like this accreditation committee are afraid to stand up for what is obviously right. Robin's principled actions should have earned the admiration and respect, not the fear and superiority, of this committee. Sad.

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I'd like to suggest that we express our appreciation for Robin's work by sending a brief, polite request to each of these committee members asking them to endorse his accreditation. Special thanks to N.V.G. for finding their  telephone numbers and e.mail addresses. - BC Mary. 

North Van's Grumps said...
Q. Can I bring a camera or a recording device to court with me?

A. Cameras and recording devices are not permitted in courtrooms. An exception is provided for members of the media who are accredited pursuant to the accreditation processes of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal. Accredited journalists are permitted to use recording devices in courtrooms in order to assist them to report accurately on proceedings.

Source: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/frequently_asked_questions.aspx

***********************************

Accreditation Process for Journalists

Supreme Court Policy on Recording Devices

Source: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/media/Accreditation%20Process%20for%20Journalists%20re%20SCBC%20Policy.htm

The Accreditation Committee members are:

Neal Hall, The Vancouver Sun (604) 605-2067
E-mail: nhall@png.canwest.com

Keith Fraser, Court Reporter, The Province (604) 683-2817
E-mail: kfraser@png.canwest.com


Stephen Smart, CTV (604) 340-7270
Email: ssmart@ctv.ca


Jane Seyd, North Shore News (604) 982-8764
E-mail: jseyd@nsnews.com


Journalists wishing to take advantage of this policy should contact one of the members of the Accreditation Committee.


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Comments:
DISGUSTING

The idea of Robin's qualifications as a journalist being up to people who are functionally illiterate not to mention amoral, compared to him is outrageous, just like most everything else about the governance and administration of justice in BC, the Myanmar/North Korea of North America.
 
Q. Can I bring a camera or a recording device to court with me?

A. Cameras and recording devices are not permitted in courtrooms. An exception is provided for members of the media who are accredited pursuant to the accreditation processes of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal. Accredited journalists are permitted to use recording devices in courtrooms in order to assist them to report accurately on proceedings.

Source: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/frequently_asked_questions.aspx

***********************************

Accreditation Process for Journalists

re. Supreme Court Policy on Recording Devices

Source: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/media/Accreditation%20Process%20for%20Journalists%20re%20SCBC%20Policy.htm

"The Accreditation Committee members are:

Neal Hall, The Vancouver Sun (604) 605-2067
E-mail: nhall@png.canwest.com

Keith Fraser, Court Reporter, The Province (604) 683-2817
E-mail: kfraser@png.canwest.com


Stephen Smart, CTV (604) 340-7270
Email: ssmart@ctv.ca


Jane Seyd, North Shore News (604) 982-8764
E-mail: jseyd@nsnews.com


Journalists wishing to take advantage of this policy should contact one of the members of the Accreditation Committee.
 
Close your ears BC Mary.

This manoeuvre, apparently collusion by whoever, is a blatant fucking attempt to keep the people from knowing just how this trial is going to work. We have seen over and over again how the Media in this province twists the news and plays lapdog to the government to keep scandals from the people. The only time they pounce on something is if it is done by the NDP. It's not just outrageous that Robin is denied standing as a journalist, it's straight out bullshit. And to be denied by the very people who ARE NOT reporting the news in this case makes me sick.
I'll understand if you can't post this Mary, so will others, but I've had it. No More.
 
The chief reason for disallowing the accreditation? They're terrified of being shown for the inept group they are...and Robin could do that with one hand tied behind his back, wearing a blindfold.
 
Perhaps an assembled phalynx of citizens is in order.....

Why?

So that we can simultaneously surround Robin while we fill the gallery to bursting to keep these ridiculous proMedia gadabouts who only show up occasionally out permanently.

That way, to paraphrase a (not-so-famous) editor infamously...

'When there is news to report WE (ie. not YOU) will report it!'


OK?

.
 
N.V.G.,

Once again, you've given us a precious gift of information! Thanks so much.

I've already sent your comment to Robin, hoping that he will contact each of the 4 people with his very reasonable request.

I hope he does that, and succeeds in this modest requirement.

If not, then perhaps more of us can contact the 4 with polite reminders of how much we value Robin's contributions and push gently for their assistance.

.
 
I'm fully disgusted by the MSM. I feel my pulse quickening and my blood pressure rising. That they would deny Dr. Matthews a seat at the trial doubles the disdain I have been gaining towards them since the days when Conrad Black was in BC.

Robin, Please continue to find a way to attend the BC Rail Trial as you can and as you wish. You have been providing the people of BC, along with BC Mary, the greatest of services - and for free. Best wishes to the both of you as you go about your benevolent ways.

Most sincerely,
SharingIsGood
 
This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard in my life. Truly, what have we come to?

The day I was in court last fall, I did see Stephen Smart there, and yet there was no report on CTV that evening- I know, because I watched.

There were the other usual reporters and they did reports in the Sun and the Globe, but there were also several other reporters who took the time to attend and yet never authoreda thing, most of whom I could not identify if my life depended on it.

The point is, I do not work for a paper, or a tv station, or a radio station, and yet I am easily able to get accreditation for pretty much any forum or venue based on my freelance status and working on spec.

I am guessing should I ask for accreditation that the response would be the same? What if my reports are purchased after the fact? Does that preclude me from being allowed to enter what seems to be the holy grail of judical process in this province?

who, exactly, appointed or chose this panel? Not that I am negating their skill or judgements as journalists, but perhaps if the court wishes to pick and choose who can report on proceedings, then it should be the court who makes the decisions, not reporters on the payroll of well known media conglomerates.

Dare I say, conflict of interest? Or is this really just another example of the way things work in BC ?

I would personally welcome such answers from those on the panel, which can be forwarded to me at lailayuile@live.com
 
Sad that the person who has followed this situation most devotedly and closely, on behalf of BC citizens, for no personal gain, should be treated this way. Embarrassing really. Not only has he worked harder than most reporters in this case, for no monetary gain, he has put himself at risk by speaking his truth about powerful people and events during obviously corrupt times. No wonder we are so vulnerable to those who would willingly take all the power when people like this accreditation committee are afraid to stand up for what is obviously right. Robin's principled actions should have earned the admiration and respect, not the fear and superiority, of this committee. Sad
 
Obviously if Robin was allowed a recorder in the courtroom it would make it more difficult for the shills of CanWest to LIE about what happened. Are they going to forge the goddamn transcripts as well?

Maybe it is time for Frontier Justice, these A-holes have turned it into the Wild West - so live with it - or better yet die with it.
 
Benevolent. A beautiful word.
 
Especially when compared to malevolent.
 
Hi Mary,
Did you get a chance to watch Invisible Empire A New World Order Defined?
 
Related good question
Justice Anne MacKenzie: Stupid Or Intimidated Judge, Or Is She On The Take?
http://www.crookedincanada.com/2008/03/justice-anne-mackenzie-stupid-or-intimidated-judge-or-is-she-on-the-take/
 
During the dying days of Pre-trial for Basi/Virk/Basi, and before the 2010 Olympics, I reported here that I attended a couple of those court days to discover that there were MORE blog "reporters" than reporters, and now that I know that there is an Accredited standing even amongst them, it leaves me asking this question:

Do reporters for the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province, North Shore News, and CTV share their tape recordings with fellow reporters (not present at the proceedings)..... or worse.... sell the contents of the tape recordings for, heavens to Betsy, a profit?
 
From the Tyee.

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

Supreme Court says no blanket right for journalists to protect secret sources

John Ward, 7 May 2010, Canadian Press




SNIP

''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.''

SNIP
 
In the end, the real questions are:
1) Upon what basis has the decision been made?
2) What criteria are used to determine who is qualified to be a 'journalist'?
3) Further, why should four 'journalists' be the arbiters of record for making a determination about who is permitted to report accurately on matters of public record in the public courts of British Columbia?
4) What are the regulations and rules of the Supreme Court of British Columbia with respect to establishing:
(a) This committee;
(b) Its membership from time to time;
(c) Its terms of reference in making decisions?

On the basis of the material on record - the initial correspondence between Neal Hall and Robin Mathews - this decision seems to have been made in an arbitrary way.

At the very least it appears to be an abuse of process.

Particularly lacking, as it does, any reference to the 'reasons' why someone who has covered this trial regularly and diligently and written about it since the beginning is not a working journalist in any reasonable sense of the word.

In fact, it would not be inaccurate to suggest that Robin Mathews has spent more time 'reporting' on the Basi/Virk Trial than any other 'working journalist' in the province and his words, given the popularity of this blog (and other such blogs), have probably been read by as many interested readers as the work of any of the 'journalists' who made this decision.
 
"he needed to get a place where he could hear what's going on "


seems to me that either Robin needs a hearing aid or the BC Supreme Court of the Basi/Virk/Basi trial need to have a public address system piped into the public gallery.

What's the sense of having a public gallery if the public can't hear what is being said? The Judge and her staff face the defendants (and the public gallery) and the defendants and their lawyers, with their backs to the public gallery are facing Judge who is no more than fifteen feet away. There's good twelve feet between the Defendants and the public gallery.

Does Courtroom 54 have a PA system and if it does, why isn't it turned on, or will it be turned on, has it been turned on?
 
Neal Hall, are you mentally challenged or do you such twist whatever mental processes you have remaining into pretzels to accomodate the Campbell Crime Family? The following statements are absurd, hypocritical and guilty of everything of which you accuse Mr. Matthews - a much finer "journalist," "writer" and perveyor of truth than you ever thought of being.

"He should direct his attention to this matter before the trial starts Monday instead of spending his time accusing the media accreditation committee of all being members of Canwest, which is wrong."

Robin directed his attention to "this matter" more than early enough, that's how he got sent to your secret and apparently unaccountable club. The fact is Neal that "First: I wrote to Mary Ellen Pearce to ask if I could get accredited as a court reporter. My reply came from H.L.McBride who I can never decide if it's a woman or a man. Anyhow, the reply was I have to go to someone really powerful to ask - and you were listed among the really powerful!!!!" In other words HE FIRST applied to the court who REFERRED HIM TO YOUR PANEL.


"If Mr. Mathews were a journalist, he would have checked the facts before making this inaccurate claim."

You didn't even HAVE TO CHECK THE FACT ABOVE as Robin had communicated the same to you in the original application to the semi-secret, outsourced accreditation panel. For an employee of Canwest to even mention "fact checking" is the height of irony - I would imagine Canwest has NO fact checkers judging from their output. Fact Fudgers? probably an entire department.

The simple mistake of attributing Stephen Smart as working also for Canwest is so irrelevant and not even Robin's is also laughable. Since CTV carries almost as much water for the Campbell regime as Canwest makes it an easy mistake to make.

"This demonstrates why we rejected his application - he makes inflamatory accusations based on opinions, not facts."

You seem to be saying that being accused of working for Canwest is so insulting that it is "inflamatory." What does that say about you, Keith and Jane? For my two cents (taxable at 12% july 1) if I were one of you three, I would feel embarrassed and ashamed.

I tend to think that if someone of Robin's integrity is allowed to record the proceedings the CBJ, the SCBC and you guys will find it to hard to spin, obfuscate and lie about what happens at the corner of Robson and Smithe - w/o Robin the court reporter can record anything she/he wants and you flaks can tell whatever story you want, and hell, who could argue with the only people allowed to both hear and keep a record for FACT CHECKING?

Maybe all you so-called journalists should check into Dr. Day's clinic to see if an examination would detect any sign of either spines or hearts!
 
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