Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dealing With The Wizards...Should Journos Start Naming And Shaming The Men And Women Behind The Curtain?


Sean Holman thinks they should:

Dear government spin doctor...

{snippety doo-dah}

My job isn’t to help you put the best spin on what the government is or isn’t doing.

My job is to tell the truth.

And, because that’s my job, you should know a few other things about how I’m going to report this story.

First, if you don’t respond to my questions, I’m going to let my audience know that.

Second, if you respond to my questions with non-answers, I’m going to let my audience know that too.

Third, I’m not going to put those non-answers in my story for the sake of false balance.

That’s because me asking questions about what the government is doing wrong isn’t an opportunity for you to simply tell the public about what government is doing right.

You have a big advertising budget for that.

Instead, it’s an opportunity to explain to the public why the government is or isn’t doing that thing I asked you about.

And, finally, if you refuse, ignore or interfere with my requests to interview public officials, my audience will also find out about that.

This may sound like hardball at best and blackmail at worst. But it’s actually the last and only defense I have against you and your colleagues...

Could something like that happen on a large scale in the proMedia business?

I mean would the fine established and credible folks who run with the proMedia herd, especially those in the closed pens like the one in Victoria, be willing to actually call out the very same people who just might dump their next big 'scoop' in the trough tomorrow (and/or their really big feed when they go down the chute towards flack hackery valhalla).

Somehow I doubt it.

But I do think that the coming pack of sharp young kids with I-Phones, pencils and bullshit detectors (i.e. kids who act and think like a young Mr. Holman, for example) just might.

Thanks to Jim Lawrence for his comment that provoked this post...Mr. Lawrence disagrees with Mr. Holman, but what he wrote sure got me thinking about this...I agree with Jim that no journo should ever hedge his bets to make sure he will still have access to the evil that is the wizadry of half-truths and purposeful misleading of the public...The thing is, I do understand that there are shades of grey here, and that the cultivation of sources does matter...Thus, I think that what Mr. Holman is suggesting could really help to deal with those wizards that deal in bad faith.


Lew said...

It would be interesting to see how many of the local herd would sign Mr. Holman’s letter in the form of a petition to Christy’s Head of Spin, and what reason those who did not sign would have for their reluctance.

I’d ask them but none of them have answered even one of my questions in years, and I doubt they’d start now.

Perhaps someone can think of an effective method to canvass them and document the results?

Anonymous said...

I would welcome extra investigative reporting from Sean Holman, however I'm not sure how much time he could give given his other duties. Is he not still in Alberta ?

Meantime I saw a headline today from one of the Liberals best supporters " BC LNG is on track "

A quick read demonstrated again how this embarrassment to journalism operated. He would ask a question & let the BC Lng rep answer without ever questioning his response.
Number one should have been "on track" according to who's timetable. Did he forget " “We’re on track and getting closer to at least one of our three big players
making a final investment decision in 2015, possibly starting construction in 2015 and being up and running by 2020,” said the premier."

Or does Fletcher not read business articles which today said it is unlikely LNG would be operational by 2020... even if a final FID were made today.

But according to Fletcher... all is rosy in BC LNG land because it's still "on track".

Guy in Victoria

Bill said...

Well said Ross. You, Norm Farrell, Sean Holman (and others) really cut to the truth on the major "pro-media" fails. If these MSSpinners really did their jobs then they would be respected journalist and BC would be much better off, not just the Liberal Family they protect.

"That’s because me asking questions about what the government is doing wrong isn’t an opportunity for you to simply tell the public about what government is doing right."... sounds like what happens in every Question Period - where they continue to get away with their deflections. When I read a newspaper there are enough ads, advertorials and editorials... from reporters I do not want more of the same same - old.

It is up to journalist to report reality. As it stands right now citizen bloggers score much higher than most MSMonkeys tapping out press release rewrites.

I also agree and am hopefull that the gig will soon be up for the many comfy old school press. They cost us too much and are of too little value.

Anonymous said...

and spouses and former paper editors and tv persons

Jim Lawrence said...

Thanks for the thanks, Ross. I found the tone of Holman's piece so much like a whine. Like, if only the mean spin doctors would just give me everything I want, I could write good stories. Such nonsense. People act in their own best interests - appealing to their sense of morality when it runs counter to your own interests is naive and, well, crazymaking.

The big problem is that so many journos are happy to be part of the in crowd, hanging out with the bigshots, so they forget that their first obligation is to their reader. I think that people would be more interested in reading and listening to the news if it reflected them and their priorities. The further you get away from power, the less likely it is you will see yourself reflected in the stories that are printed/aired.

Of course, there are other ways in which this attachment by journos to officialdom keeps people from getting real news - the reason Keith Baldrey never reported on the Ken Boesenkool thing in Victoria, for example.

Anonymous said...

VP writes in today's V. Sun about a BC Liberal minister's conflict of interest issues.

Wouldn't it be fair to say that ALL pro writers should declare their outside income sources and amounts?

Or is there some line that needs to be crossed first? Who gets to define and police that line?