Sunday, August 22, 2010
News media as an essential arm of a democratic society
BC Mary comment: Sometimes, even my most loyal readers complain when I publish items which (they say) are unrelated to the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial. Well ... this next item will probably bring a grumble or two, but (as usual), I believe that the following posting is something that some readers will appreciate seeing.
Toronto Star is Canada's best newspaper and the following report "from both sides of the fence" is an example of why it is held in high esteem. It's telling us (from every angle) what went wrong in Toronto during the G20 conference when the world was watching on TV.
To my mind, this article shows responsible journalism going to considerable effort to expand and improve public understanding. So far as I can see, it shows no political bias.
If, in British Columbia, this style of in-depth reporting came to us routinely ... it could provide access to events which are important in our lives. This kind of reporting in the B.C. news media would undoubtedly create better informed citizens than we're seeing now, under publication bans, the drag-butt delays of a show trial, or a public inquiry.
If only we had had such a news media in B.C. when police raided the B.C. legislature offices in December 2003!
This Toronto Star article is probably the best report we'll ever see, on the topic of what went wrong at the G20 Summit Riots (2010). It is an example of good journalism understanding their honourable duty to inform the public. It offers a unique insight (from both sides of the fence) into police workings as well.
Anatomy of the G20: the story from both sides of the fence
by Jesse McLean and Jennifer Yang
Toronto Star - August 20, 2010
... Sunday brought the grand total of arrests over the weekend to 1,105 — believed by some to be the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Most people were released without charge and numerous allegations have since emerged of police brutality, arbitrary detentions and trampled civil rights.
Police had about 5,400 officers working 12-hour shifts in Toronto — part of the 19,000 deployed overall for the G8 in Huntsville and the G20 —[in Toronto] yet, a mob using black bloc tactics still managed to elude the security force and catalyze a shift in police tactics literally overnight.
Many questions linger in the wake of the summit: Who was giving the orders? Why did police fail to stop the black bloc from running amok? And why, in the aftermath of the mob, did so many non-violent protesters feel as if they were treated like criminals?
Some answers will be uncovered by the inquiries and lawsuits that have been launched since the summit. Ontario’s ombudsmen is also investigating the Public Works Protection Act, a controversial regulation amended in June to give police added powers of arrest near the security fence.
But many answers will be found buried in the weekend itself, beginning Friday, June 25 — one day before the broken windows, the burned cars, the brief but consequential explosion of violence.
On Friday, the prospect of a riotous mob was still just a hypothetical scenario for security planners. And police had yet to lose control of their city ....
Read more HERE.
The problems with the government and the judiciary in BC would not exist (certainly not the extent of corruption we now experience) WITHOUT the complicity of the media.
These three societal structures: GOVERNMENT - JUDCIARY - MEDIA are like the legs of a three-legged stool. Kick any one of them away, and the whole thing collapses.
If there is no one to hold anyone to account in any meaningful way, well the weak moral fabric of the weakest moral beings will fray. If those weak moral characters happen to hold top positions in government and/or in the judiciary, well our society will be in danger of collapsing into a frightening state where the rule of law is whatever the person in charge wants it to be. No one will truly be safe from those in power. It's really a simple, but profound concept.
Had the media been doing a proper job in BC since the beginning of Gordon Campbell's reign, we would not have seen this massive, deep corruption. It's just like with children, if you set no boundaries, they will go well beyond them, just because no one stops them. And, when that happens, bad and sometime tragic and irreversible things happen. The principle is the same here under Campbell's rule.
That is why it is critical for you to focus on the failings, or successes, of specific media efforts and organizations. It is integral to the government corruption case that has been encased in a shameful mess in the BC Supreme Court.
And you do a remarkably balanced job of highlighting media's failures and successes. You even credited the Victoria Times-Colonist (what a name, eh?) and appropriately so, for it's occasional lapse into journalistic integrity :)
So, keep it up m'dear.
I'd like to do a shout-out to all the good judges in the BC Supreme Court system (there are some). The good judges (and even good lawyers, being as they are "officers of the court") need to find the courage of their convictions and begin to speak out about BC's corrupt judicial system.
The situation here is just like that in the medical system. Good doctors who know the (awful) power that the BC Medical Association wields over the profession (and patients), often for ill purposes and with devastating results.
Good doctors are often intimidated, and some even persecuted, by their own kind if they dare speak out. If they don't speak out, or aren't permitted to do so, our society will be harmed, and so too will the doctors, as a profession.
See this week's Maclean's magazine's cover story about how low the public's trust is now in doctors. Lying and corruption is rife in medicine, as it is in the legal trade - both of whom are "self-regulating professions".
By the way, Australia, New Zealand, and now Great Britain have recently scrapped the "self-regulation" of lawyers. It just doesn't work; the term is actually an oxymoron. (Don't get me started.) Canadians must start asking their politicians to do the same in this country. Won't be easy; the buggers are in all the high positions, but it can and has been done in these other great countries of western civilization, so why not Canada too?
Just as we've seen "self-regulation" doesn't work for police, and that it is imperative that there be an arms-length, truly independent and unfettered body to oversee the police, we need the same type of regulatory oversight for doctors and lawyers (and judges are just lawyers who've been rewarded with a promotion).
Judges, if you are of good and true heart, we the people of BC need you to step forward and right the wrongs that are being done now. You, have the greatest pulpit from which to do so, and enjoy the greatest privileges our society bestows. It's time you paid your dues back to that society.
And then, you too will be a beneficiary with regained respect and trust being one of the positive outcomes, along with a healthier, happier and more prosperous society.
Or, do you enjoy being ruled by a bunch of thugs? Your choice.
It is one thing to make a realistic study of a bad situation. But please think of that as Step #1 ... and not a final conclusion.
Step #1: analysis.
Step #2: start planning what we can do to put things right again.
Step #3: do it.
If you really study the negative statements saying We've lost everything, etc., and there's nothing we can do, you'll find it's a cop-out. It's really saying "We don't have to do anything because, see: there's nothing we can do.
There's a first principle in Physics which says: "For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction." In my dreams, I imagine myself punching Gordon Campbell in the nose and I make note of his "equal and opposite reaction" (i.e., his head snaps back and his eyes pop). I exaggerate, of course.
But there's always something we can do ... if we take the next step and just do it.
Maybe you'll tell us what you decide to do?