/Politicking with anger

Politicking with anger

By Jim Poling Sr.
Many years ago I was coached not to write anything in anger. Anger allowed to chill makes for cooler thoughts and prudent words.
I have tried to follow that advice over the past week.
sparked my recent anger was Premier Doug Ford’s unintelligent and
short-sighted remarks about mainstream journalists becoming irrelevant
in today’s Ontario society. He accused journalists of being “far-left”
and intent on deliberately distorting the messages of politicians.
said he bypasses professional news media and delivers his government’s
news and views directly to the people through social media – Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram, etc.
That’s a common
howl among the world’s demagogues – a twisted opinion that
unfortunately is spreading during a time of huge change and trauma in
journalistic organizations. And it is an opinion supported by little
evidence, and certainly no facts, except for those that demagogues
invent for themselves.
I am a part of a
family of journalists, have been a journalist all of my life, have many
friends that are journalists and have worked with journalists whose
health and happiness has been damaged by their dedication to doing their
job. So I find Ford’s remarks insulting and hurtful.
could care less about how those remarks affect me or any other
individual journalist. They should, however, care about how they affect
journalism, a fundamental element of democracy.
journalist’s job can be explained in two simple words: Observe and
report. And observe and report as fairly and honestly as is humanly
Journalists are not perfect
and sometimes slip off track. So do doctors, truck drivers, lawyers,
grocery store clerks, or anyone doing a job. But in any job, deliberate
intent to distort and do damage is rare.
because people are not perfect, there are checks and balances in their
jobs. The work of journalists is monitored by editors and by press-media
councils that administer codes of practice and investigate complaints
from the public. Most journalistic organizations work under some form of
code of conduct.
There are no editors,
no codes of practice, no monitoring for facts and fairness in social
media. Social media can be a helpful connecting point between family and
friends, but generally is an open sewer often used by people with
diarrhea of the brain.
It takes zero
research, little critical thinking, and just a few seconds to write a
240-character blurb on Twitter, or a fast post on Facebook. It takes
hours of interviews, research and writing to produce a 500-word balanced
report on government changes to autism funding.
politicians don’t like the traditional, professional media because it
does not always produce stories they like. They want to see and hear
only stories about them that have favourable spin.
John Stackhouse, former editor of the Toronto Globe and Mail, addressed this back in 2013 before the Ontario Press Council:
is the responsibility of journalists to document facts that perhaps
those leaders don’t want to be known. . . but the voting public and
society at large needs to know much more than what elected officials
want published. Ultimately it is up to the public to decide what to do
with the information, but journalists need to be impartial witnesses and
publish as much reasonable and defensible information as they can so
that citizens, who do not have access to the same resources to question
and challenge authority, can make up their own minds.”
Stackhouse made that statement while responding to complaints about Globe and Mail and Toronto Star coverage of the Ford family.
Premier Ford does not want to read or hear the stories questioning the
fairness of having a buddy appointed commissioner of the OPP. Nor would
he have liked the reporting of the public criticism that forced his
government to back down on changes to autism funding.
Getting the government’s news and views to the public through social media didn’t seem to help him in those two instances.
guess is that those two cases had him angry when he stood before a
convention of conservative thinkers last week and said professional
journalists are losing the battle to inform people.
guess he never had a coach who warned him about writing or speaking in
anger. Anger and bias are poor substitutes for critical thinking and