Friday, December 05, 2008

What Is Freedom of the Press?

Back when I was a working scribe in Ottawa I would get uncomfortable when my colleagues went on about freedom of the press. What troubled me was that they equated freedom of the press as unaccountability, as a right without commensurate responsibilities.

I was in the game during the period when the transition of news from information to entertainment was really gathering steam. You know, the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality.

I moved into television news in time to experience the transition from film to video, or as we called it back then, E.N.G. or electronic news gathering. Film was expensive - to buy, to have a lab process, and to edit. Video was, well you know if you've got a minicam at home. It really lent itself to covering frivolous stuff where you might manage to get some grabbing pictures. And yet, even then we understood that journalists were duty bound to be the watchdog of government, not its lapdog.

Somehow even that obligation has now been lost. Let me prove it. Everyone knows that Harper and his gang are lying through their teeth about the constitution and how the opposition are usurping democracy. The media have all consulted the experts and they've come back with unanimous opinions that Harper is lying his ass off. Yet they think it's good enough that they run a story showing that he's lying - once - and then let him and his repeat their lies freely ever after.

The media, by perpetuating what they know to be lies, are rendering themselves as a powerful propaganda service to a dishonest government. Maybe the viewer didn't see that piece on the lies, distortions and falsehoods. So, why isn't the media acting like a watchdog? Why aren't those stalwart journalists coming forth and saying that Harper is saying thus and so but it's all a lie? How long do they think the Tories would keep up their dirtywork without the collaboration of the media?

You see what's passing for journalism today doesn't involve freedom of the press but rather the wilful surrender of that freedom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't you think the CBC is Left-Winged biased?