1. No money, part 1
Transportation minister Geoff MacLellan is going to Maine to pigeonhole governor Paul LePage about that $5 million in financing he promised for the Nova Star. I can save MacLellan the airfare: ain’t gonna happen.
2. No money, part 2
“Nova Scotia Business Minister Mark Furey says the province will not be offering a financial lifeline for [Techlink,] a Cape-Breton-based gaming technology company,” reports the CBC.
Good on Furey! I’m actually surprised a Nova Scotian politician can stand up to the “jobs!” blackmail.
3. How to rewrite a press release
Yesterday, Halifax police issued a press release about a 91-year-old woman who had been (allegedly) defrauded by a 65-year-old woman. Sure, bad stuff, but I’m more interested in how News 95.7 “reporter” Tyler McLean rewrote the press release.
I’ve created this helpful graphic to show how you get from one to the other:
I’m particularly amused that McLean introduced an added grammatical error to the (usually) grammatically challenged police PR department release.
Radio as a medium has a long history of “rip and read” — the on-air personalities would pick up the daily newspaper on their way to work, rip out the articles they found interesting, and read them on the air, unattributed. There’s a word for that: theft. But for some reason it became an acceptable practice. And then when the internet came along, the sloppiness extended to radio stations’ websites, with the stolen material posted under some station employee’s name.
But here’s the thing: you don’t get to put your name as author of an article when someone else wrote it. You just don’t. Stop doing that.
I don’t mean to single out McLean — re-written press releases appear on the CBC website and in the papers as well. I intend to start calling them out every time I see them. Maybe we can shame media outlets into stopping the practice.
Rotten media practices are on my mind lately because I’m preparing for a session on media criticism at the Canadian Association of Journalists conference being held at the Atlantica Hotel this weekend. I’ll be co-presenting with Jesse Brown, the founder of Canadaland and the man who broke the Jian Ghomeshi story. The lack of a female panelist is regrettable, but Jan Wong, who was initially scheduled to join us, backed out. I don’t think I had anything to do with that — I was looking forward to meeting her in person, actually.
I’ve also been asked to speak on a panel about financing journalism. The Halifax Examiner, with its odd funding mechanism, is a work in progress… so far so good, but I have no idea if the model is sustainable. Time will tell. (This paragraph is basically my entire presentation.) I’ll be joining Zahra Sethna and Jesse Brown for the conversation.
The conference is open only to paid registrants, but tonight’s J-Fest event (7pm, Atlantica Hotel) is open to the general public, for free. Chronicle Herald cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon will give a talk titled “On the Power and Truth of Cartoons.” Media Co-op’s Miles Howe will talk “On the Fight Against Natural Gas Development.” And filmmaker Jackie Torrens will talk “On Living Below the Poverty Line.” CTV’s Rick Grant will be the master of ceremonies.
Also, the keynote speaker for the conference is none other than Seymour Hersh, who is responsible for two of the biggest news stories ever written, about the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib torture prison. Last month, Hersh published an expose in the London Review of Books that claims that the US lied about nearly every aspect of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The NPR show On The Media interviewed Hersh about the bin Laden story, and it is very much worth the listen.
Atlantic News on Queen Street has ordered dozens of copies of the London Review of Books issue with Hersh’s expose, and Hersh will be present tomorrow (Saturday) from 3–3:30pm to sign them.
A bunch of my old journalist friends are in town for the conference, so it’s one busy weekend.
5. Wild kingdom
“One of four endangered piping plovers born at White Point Beach last summer has come home,” reports the CBC:
ET was was spotted on a beach in the Bahamas in early May, leaving those who track the birds to wonder if he would return to the south shore.
Donna Hatt confirmed the little bird has safely completed the long journey back from the Bahamas after Nova Scotia’s long, cold winter.
ET was sighted at Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct by a team from the national park.
1. Residential schools
“We must act on Truth and Reconciliation report,” says the Chronicle Herald editorial board:
Among its 94 recommendations are a call for an inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women, child welfare reform, better education on reserves and at universities, including aboriginal language training, and improved health care. Those are among the recommendations that Ottawa can and should move on immediately.
Others, like settling land disputes and adopting the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, may take longer to implement.
2. Cranky letter of the day
We who worked in the Indian residential schools (IRS) are saddened by the failure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to tell the truth about the schools.
As former staff, we have not been heard, and because shocking news makes a story (Terry Milewski of the CBC said so) and good work doesn’t, the public will never hear about the good work done by kind staff who took good care of the disadvantaged aboriginal children in their care.
It would be nice to hear a thank-you from former IRS students for the free care and education they received in the schools. Only one-third of the Indian child population had to attend the IRS, and they were there if they were orphans, came from broken or troubled homes or lived in isolated areas of Canada where no schooling was available. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the many pictures I collected show happy, well-cared-for children in the schools. In the clips I see on TV, the children certainly do not look thin and emaciated.
I doubt that 6,000 children died in the schools. Certainly, some died because many children died years ago from diseases that can be prevented or cured today. I’d want more proof that 6,000 died in the schools, and I’d want to know how many children died on the reserves over the same period of 150 years and compare the two.
Bernice Logan, Tangier
The internet has everything. There is a Tumblr site called “Google Sheep View” that collects Google Street View photos that happen to catch a glimpse of sheep, and Prospect resident Lynette Reid submitted her find of a dog herding sheep in England.:
There are lots other fun sheep photos on the site:
In the harbour
Today’s headline is a reference to the 1972 sci-fi novel of the same name (which in turn cribs from a Milton poem). The book presents a dystopic near-future world that looks a lot like today. Here’s how reviewer Davin Heckman described the book in 2003:
Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up paints a picture of a not-so-distant future, when our water, food, and air have been polluted as a consequence of corporate greed. Where a disingenuous U.S. government has buckled under the weight of industrial mandates, waging wars on the Third World for scarce resources and protecting big business through cover-ups, propaganda, and a corrupt legal system. Where a chasm has emerged to separate the rich, healthy, and privileged from the poor, sick, and oppressed. Where those with the courage to stand up for justice and equality are labeled as traitors.
Most alarmingly accurate are the social and political aspects of denial and apathy towards potentially catastrophic environment abuses which Brunner nails in the dialogue between Dr. Doe and Petronella Page. Dr. Doe states:
I’m referring specifically to apparently normal children, without obvious physical or mental defects. I’m convinced people are subconsciously aware of what’s going on, and becoming alarmed by it. For example, there’s an ingrained distrust in our society of highly intelligent, highly trained, highly competent persons. One need only to look at the last presidential election for proof of that. The public obviously wanted a figurehead who’d look good and make comforting noises.
Besides all that, Brunner is one of my favourite sci-fi authors, because he does what sci-fi is supposed to do — engages ideas and runs with them. He’s actually a horrid writer, as writers go. His prose is lacklustre (The Sheep Look up is an exception — it’s a fascinating read), his characters ridiculous. I used to think he was the model for Kurt Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout — a sci-fi writer with wonderful ideas but who couldn’t sell anything because his writing was so bad — until I learned that Trout was based on Theodore Sturgeon.
Which is to say, I enjoy reading Brunner.