What the heck?
When the news is delivered to us – daily via air-waves, paper or device – are we getting the news? Or are we given an interpretation of the news? Take this fall’s federal election – big news. What we received were the election results, but inevitably delivered to us as an opinion, and as a car-wreck: the result was an unstable minority government, radical regional divisions, under-performing leaders.
There seem just as many reasons to see the election as a good one: two-thirds of Canadians voted; climate remediation was given majority support – but not to a single party which could then easily “deny and delay”. Voters spread their support so that climate change becomes part of every party’s approach to every issue. Canadians chastised the Liberals for obvious reasons and chastised the Conservatives for ... being too conservative. Interpretations are many – but our major media presented mainly negatives.
Or take the railway strike just over. It inevitably was top story – but always in terms of the problems, discomforts and threats it was causing. As if it would last until Christmas, the strike was reported strangling retailers “at their busiest time”, and threatening the grain harvest by a propane shortage (which never happened, CBC now admits). We heard repeated cries for back-to-work-legislation. What the heck? Did we hear why the workers were striking, what were their problems, how did this loss of pay affect their lives, their ability to buy propane for their stoves? Nope, no news there.
Or, again, our new government has a new cabinet, and Chrystia Freeland’s the star – front page news, over and over. She has the crucial interprovincial affairs portfolio. She did such a great job as foreign minister, renegotiating NAFTA – she took it from the negotiators, strode into the room, and made the deal – that’s the “news” we get. Is it news?
What the heck, there is no “new NAFTA”.
Mexico and Canada have agreed to points, but there is no treaty. In fact, there will not be one, given American domestic politics. Ms Freeland’s great job? India? Relations with China? Yes, she was at the barricades (metaphorically) supporting the US’s regime change in Venezuela and Bolivia. The Americans were impressed with Freeland on the metaphorical barricades.
So with CBC blending entertainment and news reporting (listen how often the CBC on-air describes its work as “stories”, “telling our stories”, “today’s stories”, and so on.) What the heck? Every kid is told to “stop telling stories – tell the truth!” Stories are the open door for fake news. The story is that Freeland’s a new star, a celebrity. The why is the missing journalism.
So corporate media needs profits, big ones. Forget reporting; forget just the facts, ma’am. Stories are easier and quicker than on-the-ground journalism. So Canadians will get stories and we’ll continue tsk-tsking about phoney news and slight-disinformation. We’ll stay proud of our national media. What the heck, why?