Why Local Media Has Failed Us

Loading

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2024, released this week, identifies the biggest short-term risk to the planet is from misinformation and disinformation, even above extreme weather events. The risk is highest during the next two years when “more than 3 billion people due to head to the polls in 2024 and 2025, including in major economies like the United States, India and the United Kingdom” where rightwing dictators and fascists like Trump, Putin, Poilievre, and Modi will be on the political stage.* What … click below for more ↓

Milton Was Wrong

Loading

In 1644, the English poet and pamphleteer John Milton wrote an impassioned defence of free speech (or, more factually, against censorship of print and in favour of restriction-free publication) called the Areopagitica. It was subtitled A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England. In it, Milton argued that, given the choice between truth and lies, people were wise enough to see what was true. And that people’s character grew stronger when presented with a wide variety … click below for more ↓

Smith, Rock, and the Trivialization of Western Culture

Loading

If Neil Postman were alive today, sitting in a bar or café with Chris Hedges, I wonder which one would say “I told you so!” first after seeing social media this past week? The story that clogged the social media pipes this week was the slap one actor gave another on stage during the performance of the annual onanism festival called the Oscars. And as soon as it happened, even while it was occurring, a shitstorm of comments, opinions and reportage flooded social media. Every … click below for more ↓

Books, writers, words, and competencies

Loading

I have always believed that any good, competent and credible writer can be judged (if judge people we must, and yet we do) by the books on his or her desk. Yes, books: printed hardcopy, paper and ink. I’ll go into why books are vastly superior to online sources a bit later (although I suspect my readers already know why…). Although I am no longer in the media or much of an active writer these days, I believe I can still determine the craft, the … click below for more ↓

What’s wrong with local media?

Loading

“It’s about trust. Our relationship with our readers is built on transparency, honesty and integrity.” So opens the front-page piece in this weekend’s Connection, titled in all-caps, “Local News Needs Support ‘Now More Than Ever’”. It echoes the theme of”now more than ever” written for National Newspaper Week, Oct. 1-7. And some of it is eerily similar to what Bob Cox wrote about journalism on Oct. 2. Imitation is the sincerest form, I suppose. Apparently the Connection only climbed on board six weeks later. But … click below for more ↓

Politically correct pronoun madness

Loading

Ze, zim, zer, zher, zis, mer, hus, shkle, hum, herm, hann, ey, hu, je, xe, per, thon, yo, ghaH, co, e. Know what these words are? They are artificial constructs: neologisms cobbled together for abstruse political correctness to replace traditional pronouns that expose or define a gender in the subject or object of a sentence: the traditional he, him, she, her and so on. They’re sometimes called Spivak pronouns after an American mathematician who coined some of them, but there are many more than he … click below for more ↓

Muddle-headed editorial palaver

Loading

There’s a muddle-headed editorial in this weekend’s Collingwood Connection titled “Citizens, not rich developers should drive political ship” (sic*) that shows (again) how little the chain’s editorial writers understand municipal politics and the laws that govern it. It opens: Money talks and, in the case of municipal elections, one could argue that all of those cheques, banknotes and e-transfers going toward funding the war chests of various candidates have the potential to speak very loudly. The writer clearly has never read the Ontario Municipal Elections Act which says … click below for more ↓

Sloppy Reporting and Secret Agendas

Loading

One really doesn’t actually expect sterling journalism, good, investigative reporting or excellent editing from a community newspaper, but we do expect factual accuracy. And we expect reporters and editors to do at least the basics of their jobs. Some parallel stories in the local papers show just how inaccurate – and sloppy – local reporting and editing can be. And how this is letting council get away with its secret agendas unreported. The first story, in the Connection, is headlined, Collingwood calling on Collus Powerstream … click below for more ↓

Social Media, Public Opinion, and Jian Ghomeshi

Loading

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1XGPvbWn0A] I doubt anyone in North America is unaware of the furor surrounding CBC’s recent firing of radio show Q’s host, Jian Ghomeshi last week.* In case you were on the moon when it happened, you can read some of the many stories on the Star and other news sites (just Google it…). It’s a complex story; about the seesaw between workers’ and employers’ rights; about sex and consent; about abuse and violence against women; about privacy and personal rights; about social media and cyber-bullying; about justice … click below for more ↓

No Data Are Better Than Bad Data

Loading

The full name of an article I read today is, “The Fallacy of Online Surveys: No Data Are Better Than Bad Data.” It’s from 2010 and very good. You can find it on the Responsive Management website. It makes some key points about the invalidity of online surveys: For a study to be unbiased, every member of the population under study must have an equal chance of participating. When online surveys are accessible to anyone who visits a website, the researcher has no control over sample … click below for more ↓

Our gawker culture

Loading

Suddenly the Net lit up with headlines news: celebrity nude photos leaked! Videos too! Facebook timelines were replete with media stories. Shock. Horror. Voyeurism. Click, click, click the viewers racked up the view count as they raced to the sites just in case they actually showed something. A little flesh to feed our insatiable desire to gawk. Meanwhile psychopaths in ISIS continue to harvest human lives and slaughter journalists, Syria continues its brutal civil war, drought threatens the American southwest, climate change ravages the planet, Russia … click below for more ↓

Classical music matters even more today

Loading

The official launch of the new Classical FM 102.9 radio station in Collingwood this past weekend reminded me of my own past history with classical music, but also why it matters so much to have classical music in our lives. And why we need to keep that cultural lifeline to our musical past alive and active. Classical music binds us to our past, to our civilization and our culture. Music reflects the styles and tastes of the era in which it was composed, as do art and literature. … click below for more ↓

Sex, violence and TV shows

Loading

We just finished watching the third season of Game of Thrones on DVD this past weekend. Before that, we watched The White Queen, another DVD series (one season only, although it deserved more). As we watched both, I found myself wondering why directors and producers felt the need to insert gratuitous – but apparently obligatory – explicit scenes of sex and violence that really had little to do with either plot or character development. The same questions arose when I watched Deadwood, The Sopranos, First … click below for more ↓

Social media and social dialogue

Loading

A recent poll done by Pew Research reiterated what I’ve been saying for the past two years: social media (SM) doesn’t necessary facilitate social debate and in fact may be stifling it. Discussion on many SM platforms tends to reinforce existing beliefs because in general only those who feel their beliefs are shared by their circle of “friends” or followers will express them. It’s called the “spiral of silence.” The Pew report noted: …social media did not provide new forums for those who might otherwise remain … click below for more ↓

Back to Top