Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Taking you into the budget lockup

I don't think the "mainstream media filter" is quite the evil that Sarah Palin and lots of other people make it out to be. Filters are highly useful. Someone like Vaughn Palmer can, by sorting out the irrelevant and misleading, consistently offer the information that is significant in a context that allows it to be understood. That's valuable.
But I also think it's useful to give people the option of going to the source and drawing their own conclusions. That's become easier, in terms of written information, thanks to the Internet and Google.
Sean Holman at publiceyeonline.com is making quite extraordinary leaps in extending that kind of access to scrums, interviews and other non-written source materials. Instead of having to rely on press reports, you can watch the press conferences and interviews yourself and reach your own conclusions.
It's impressive stuff - check out his budget coverage, both written and video, here for examples.


Sean Holman said...

Thank you kindly Paul!

wstander said...

Please spare me the "someone like Vaughn Palmer can..."

Maybe he can, but he sure doesn't do so.

IMO, for the last five years at least Palmer has essentially been a handmaiden of, and part of the Crony Capitalist cabal, that has governed BC in the Campbell era.

You can be assured that any time he does venture a criticism of the governing BC Liberal party, he will soften the blow by resurrecting some 8-12 year old reference to how the NDP was even worse when they were in power.

paul said...

Obviously, it's subjective. I find Palmer invaluable and rate him one of the best political columnists I've read anywhere. If I'm out of the province and return pressed for time, I'll just read his columns to see what's happened. My stuff is good, I like to think, but if someone had time to read one columnist he'd be my recommendation.

DPL said...

I sure agree with you Paul. Palmer has savaged the present government often. JUst because he doesn't write to please some folks doesn't mean he is biased

Norm Farrell said...

Paul, if you were aware of a political commentator earning fees from those he may write about, would that be news?

Norm Farrell said...

Someone asked why I posed the last question so I make a public explanation (Paul, remove if you choose):

In other regions, we can find examples of pundits and opinion makers accepting speaker fees, consulting fees and other rewards from interest groups they cover. We have conflict of interest rules for many public servants, should we at least expect disclosure from media people and quasi-public officials who violate the principle of speaking at arm's length.

I wonder if one media type knew this situation to apply to another, should that be a public issue and be reported upon.

paul said...

Norman Farrell:
Interesting issue. Most media organizations have ethics policies, including rules around conflict and perceived conflict. It would be useful if they posted those on their websites. (I'll raise that in my workplace.)
Disclosure of any sources of income that could be seen as a potential conflict also makes sense to me. Malcolm Gladwell sets out his approach to his various activities at http://www.gladwell.com/disclosure.html
I don't have a set answer to whether lack of disclosure of such work would be a news story. If someone took a $100 honorarium to speak to a First Nations group about media coverage while reporting on the same group's issues, I don't see it as newsworthy. (Though still unwise.)
But if someone is being paid $10,000 to advise a party or a company on communications and reporting in the same areas, then it would be of public interest.

Norm Farrell said...

Nominal payments certainly would not be newsworthy but elsewhere, payments have been considerably more than nominal. The top echelon of American political reporters routinely receive generous speaking fees from industry groups and representatives.

George F. Will wrote about Conrad Black's views without revealing payments of $25,000 each time he attended a meeting of Black's advisory board. When asked about this, Will replied, "My business is my business," adding, "Got it?"

In Vancouver, the April PowerUp Green Economy Conference featured as speakers, among others, media members Vaughn Palmer, Keith Baldrey and Bill Good.

Certain environmentalists, who controversially supported BC Liberals in May, were also speakers at the conference. Names like Dauncy, Horne, Heap, Smith, and Berman.

I think it is fair to ask if these people received remuneration for participation in this and other forums that advocate for particular business interests.