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A note about the “mainstream media”

What does “mainstream” mean? Here’s the definition according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary:

n. (the mainstream) normal or conventional ideas, attitudes, or activities.
adj. belonging to or characteristic of the mainstream.

Here’s an example: Bob and Sue have a disagreement over something. They have 20 mutual friends, and 15 of them agree with Sue and 5 agree with Bob. The “mainstream” of their mutual friends agree with Sue, but under the logic of the anti-vaxxers Bob is right because the “mainstream” can’t be trusted!

This is the logic under which the anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and anti-mandates people operate, when they call for everything from the de-funding of the “mainstream media” (MSM) to their execution.

I get it. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I have a mob of reporters banging on my door for one reason or another, but the media does have a job to do. Part of that job, sadly, is to bang on certain peoples’ doors! Do they make mistakes? Sure they do, and one would hope that they would own up to those mistakes when they make them. There are ways to (at least) try and hold the media responsible for their mistakes.

I know that the media is biased. Everyone on this planet is biased, and it’s nigh on impossible to create an organisation that is one hundred percent neutral. As long as you’re aware of the biases of where you’re getting your news, you can read that news through that filter, and get the story from other sources as well and then decided for yourself where the truth likely lies. I’ve read stories from different sources that describe the same event in very different terms. But it’s up to me (and you) to seek out other reliable news sources and collate that information to determine what you believe to be the most likely version of the truth. However, those sources need to be reliable, and the Twitter feed of some left- or right-wing nut — or even my blog! — is not a reliable news source.

With respect to the so-called Freedom/Trucker Convoy, the fact that they bash the media, don’t invite them to their so-called press conferences, and walk out of said press conferences without answering any of the questions they would find difficult, is clear evidence to me that they don’t have the courage of their convictions.

Amateur hour hits a new low at Global News BC

I have a very different view of what “news” on television is supposed to look like than (apparently) many people, and I have criticised TV news anchors and reporters for calling their news broadcasts a “show”. I’m sorry, a “show” is something that is supposed to entertain me. I do not watch television news to be “entertained”; I watch to see who has been bombed, blasted or burgled in the last 24 hours. OK, that’s not really my motivation, but I certainly don’t watch to see dog-and-pony shows between the glorified teleprompter readers (“anchors”) and the sports and weather talking heads. I appreciate that people at the Global BC TV station like Kristi Gordon, Chris Gailus and Robin Stickley look pretty and (as far as I can tell) have senses of humour, but really? Do we really have to watch them and Squire Barnes (whom, you will notice, I did not include in the list of people who “look pretty”) tell inside jokes to one another, live on air? Give me a break.

At Global BC my heroine on the news desk is Samantha Falk. She just delivers the news … just the facts, ma’am. No emoting (just a slight lowering of tone when delivering news of a death or deaths), no hand gestures, no sad faces, no big smiles, no snide or under-the-breath-type editorial remarks after a news story. She may or may not be the most fun at a party but, as far as I’m concerned, she is the consummate professional journalist on air. Bravo to you, Samantha. Please don’t give in to anyone who might tell you that you need to project more feeling when you’re reporting. Don’t even get me started on her diametrical opposite: Randene Neill (who seems to have taken on the heart-tugging role of the now-departed Deborra Hope). How is this woman higher in the pecking order at Global than Samantha Falk? It boggles the mind.

But back to the point of this post. Anyone who watches the News Hour at 18:00 on Global BC (and probably their other news broadcasts too, considering this is their “flagship” news programme … er, “news show”) is aware of the fact that first year journalism students at BCIT could do a better job of producing the programme than the jokers at Global BC. You know, I hate to be gratuitously critical — and lord knows I am not in the business and wouldn’t do a better job myself — but come on, there are some days it’s a complete gong show. However, the gong show doesn’t usually extend to the actual journalism. I’m not saying that the journalism at Global BC is top notch, that’s for sure — the aforementioned little editorial comments by the teleprompter reader … sorry, “anchor” … at the end of a story really irk me — but on 19 January 2015 there was a particularly puzzling incident.

Watch for yourself and note the second story (which comes after the first weather interlude) which starts at 3:51. At the very end of the story, at 5:19, the reporter (John Daly) concludes his report (presumably filed sometime before the start of the broadcast) by saying that the subject of the story (a man wanted for failing to return to a Vancouver halfway house) has been arrested in Parksville. At that point I reflexively asked out loud, “So, what was the point of the big build up? In fact, was this really news if they got the guy?” I suppose I answered my own question above: this is a “show” (after all), and it’s all about the suspense, which was broken in the final seconds by revealing that this guy isn’t, at this very moment, roaming the streets of Vancouver looking for his next victim. This should have been several reports down the list on this broadcast.

But that’s not the bizarre part. About twenty minutes later the teleprompter reader (Chris Gailus) interrupts the broadcast with “breaking news”! Seems that the missing con has been located and has been arrested in Parksville! Stands back in amazement!

Now, either this is utter incompetence on the part of the journalism staff and the teleprompter reader, or it’s a blatant attempt at misleading sensationalism. Leave the sensationalism to the American news stations, Chris; they have more helicopters buzzing the city chasing every emergency vehicle than Global BC has. Oddly, that “breaking news” is not in the online version of the News Hour, but then they have managed to compress an hour of “news” into less than sixteen minutes. Imagine how much less time we could waste in front of the boob tube if they could just get it over and done with (minus the advertising and dog-and-pony nonsense) in sixteen minutes! (I usually turn it off after the first half hour anyway.)

But one more complaint about “news” that doesn’t (at this point) merit a separate post. Read my lips: Weather is not news! The fact that it rained hard, or snowed heavily, or blew strongly in some part of the world today is not news. It is if a state of emergency has been declared as a result in the area where the news is being broadcast, but if some other part of the world is having weather, it’s just not news. At the very least, please don’t lead with a weather story, for god’s sake!

This has been an editorial. It is not an attempt at journalism!

But I will admit that I find this kind of stuff highly amusing, even entertaining!: