Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Magnificent Asper(son)s

49° 54' North; 97° 8' West

As the old saying goes - a free press is only guaranteed to those that own one.

So, taken a step further, if you own a whole chain of media outlets what's to stop you from monkeying with other people's copy?

Nothing, apparently, if you are the Magnificent Asper(son)s.

Because it seems that the hired hands who decide which words get to go on the Asper's daily fish wrap have been instructed to take liberties with wire service stories when it fits their agenda.

Luckily for us the Asper's mortal enemy, that paragon of biased, bleeding heart, twisted commie journalism, the CBC, was paying attention and reported that the National Post had significantly altered a bylined Reuters/Agence France-Presse story.

But why would they do such a thing?

Well, according to Scott Anderson, quisling-in-chief (ie. editor) of the Ottawa Citizen, this type of crap is occurring because of an 'internal style guide' that all of the Aspers CanWestGlobal newspapers and TV stations began to follow in the spring of 2004.

You heard that right. According to the fish wrap mongers it's all a manner of style, baby, style.

Sounds innocuous enough on the face of it. But then a real reporter who does not whore for the Aspers, a guy named James Adams, gave the quisling Anderson enough rope and little Scotty was good enough to take the noose:

....."(the guide is used to) define the language we use as a news organization", Anderson said. In addition he said that CanWest believes it is possible and necessary to use words such as "terrorist" and "terrorism" in a commonsense way that ensures balance, technical accuracy and political neutrality.
(Sept 18/04 Globe and Mail, pg A9; subscription)

Now, even that sounds quasi-sensible until you find out what these people actually do. In the case of the National Post story, CanWest named a Palestinian group as "terrorist" after the original author of the piece, Reuters stringer Jefferey Heller, went out of his way to identify the group being "involved in the revolt against not Israeli occupation." and not being terrorists.

I think that any fair-minded person would agree that this is not balanced, not accurate and not politically neutral.

Me, I would go one step further and call this covert, manipulative propaganda masquerading as objective news originating from well-respected news gathering organizations (those would be Reuters and the Agence France-Presse, not CanWest Global).

But you don't have to take my word for it.

Here's what David Schlesinger, Reuters global managing editor had to say about the matter:

"...if someone is going to make a substantive change, then they should shouldn't say it's by one of our reporters". Further, Schlesinger told CanWest Global that in the future they must remove the author's byline and 'strip' the Reuters tag from the top of the story.
(Sept 18/04 Globe and Mail, pg A9; subscription)

In other words, Reuters doesn't want to have anything to do with the Aspers. And more importantly, they don't want their reputation to be tainted by the crap they are trying to pull.

Which begs the question, if they'll screw with the stuff from a heavyweight like Reuters what are the Aspers' quislings doing to pieces submitted in house by their own people?

Think about that the next time you pick up the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Province, the Victoria Times Colonist or turn on the Global TV News.

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