Sunday, October 07, 2012

Mr. Holman Is Back In The Dome...


....The Bloggodome, I mean.

And his first post is a gentle rebuke of the brush-off apologia for modern journalism's 'failure of originality' from Kelly McBride published in the Globe (andnolongerEmpire) Mail a week or so ago (the date, of course, matters).

I liked these bits, from Mr. Holman's first post, best:

... Ms. McBride stated that originality failure (for journalists) “results from many pressures.”

{snippety doo-dah}

...In my experience, that process begins when a journalist asks a critical question about the subject of their reporting – whether it’s something they’ve heard in the courtroom or found through a Google search.

The journalist then tests their hypothetical answer to that question via interviews and research. If that answer is correct – and sometimes even when if it isn’t – an original story is born...


As in, why did I like that part best, I mean.

Because by  changing a few words (bolded, in red), I can turn this passage into a description of how I try to do my real job (i.e. the one I actually get paid to do).

As a scientist, not a journalist.

...In my experience, that process begins when a scientist asks a critical question about the subject of their investigation – whether it’s something they’ve observed in the lab or found through a literature search.

The scientist then tests their hypothetical answer to that question via experimentation and more research. If that answer is still correct – and sometimes even when if it isn’t – an original finding is born...

See how I did that (ie. gave proper attribution) and still came up with something at least a little 'original'?


For the record, even a schlub like me, who like Mr. Holman (these days, at least) is foolish enough to write for free, can easily compose more than three 'columns' a week without resorting to the surreptitious cutting and pasting of other peoples' words, repeatedly and without attribution, to fill the inches.


Of course, back in the day, when Mr. Holman was doing his independent investigating (for almost real) money, he pumped out scads and scads of original material every single week without resorting to 'patch-working' of anykind....And the bonus of all that work?....An archive that is 'Public Eye Online' that is a treasure-trove of research material for anybody that wants to ask serious questions about just about anything that happened during Gordon Campbell's so-called 'Golden Era' in British Columbia....And the bonus?....Well....The subscription paywall-free Public Eye search-box still works.....You can try it here...



Anonymous said...

Mr. Holman is BACK!

'Professional journalism is facing an originality failure.'

The cause of the problem has not been properly identified, therefore the proffered solutions will fail.

Writers write for their audience. The really great writers write for an audience of one - themselves. The rest are writing for their themselves too, but not for the sake of the work: they're in it for the money.

The corporate ownership of mainstream media has gone hand-in-hand with the failure of original reporting.

Need proof? Look at the 'science' produced by pharmaceutical companies doing drug trial studies.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's great that Sean is back.

Great journalism resides in a few corners still. Rob Wipond and Focus magazine in Victoria come to mind.

Check out Wipond's article on the "ghost" police association lobby groups in BC in the October issue of Focus magazine:

Are BC police chiefs evading the law?


At the same time as their associations channel public resources into private political lobbying, they claim immunity from BC’s laws governing public access to their records.

They’re the two most prominent and influential policing organizations in British Columbia, appearing frequently in public promoting their strong positions on criminal justice reform, use of tasers, drug laws, or expanding police powers. But little else is widely known about the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and its smaller sister, the BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police (BCAMCP).

I became more aware of these associations in July, after the BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner launched an investigation into the Victoria Police Department’s use of automatic licence plate recognition in the wake of Focus’ investigations (see “Hidden Surveillance” Feb 2012). Extensive media coverage ensued, and the BC Ministry of Justice issued a statement in which they assured the public that they “recently wrote a letter to the BC Association of Chiefs of Police” to re-emphasize the program’s proper “terms of use.” I’d been investigating the RCMP and VicPD’s licence plate tracking system for 18 months, and had never come across this group—and now suddenly I learn that they are the ones actually in charge of it?

RossK said...



Independence is another issue, both in journalism and science.



I note, with interest, that Mr. Wipond is a finalist for three (!) Webster awards this year.