Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No Standards Please, We're Journalists

Some unsurprising (negative) reactions to the OHRC's advocating a mandatory national press council.

Look, when a journo tells you that doom will follow if his profession is regulated, don't think of some hero out there protecting society from tyranny. I mean, maybe that applied in the old days, right?

These days, think of a pressure group like herring fishermen trouping to Ottawa when the feds attempt to limit their catch, and arguing that as go herring fishermen, so goes the world, and claiming societal collapse will follow if they can't fish for herring as free as their conscience commands them.

Press councils are an extremely weak vehicle and, I am told, never particularly eager to punish one of their own in the 1st place(the OPC adjudicates, on average, a little more than one complaint per month). This even though the punishment amounts to little more than a "naming and shaming" of the offending paper/journalist. Still, I imagine the profession's response to this initiative will undoubtedly be a knee-jerk rejection, and a to-the-barricades defense of their right to print crap without any sort of restriction.

(PS. Interesting that this should be the one recommendation from the Moon report that seems to have any chance of being enacted. Perhaps we owe Steyn and Levant some thanks after all.)


Ti-Guy said...

Here's an interesting post on journalistic "standards." Something to be on the lookout for as our own news media becomes increasingly Americanised with regard to how it deals with the government and how Canadian journalists may choose to react to how the government treats them.

Walks With Coffee said...

Hi BigCityLib,

I'm not sure I understand your point.

The marketplace regulates them via sales, the criminal and civil code still applies to damages caused.

Naturally we don't want enquirer quality print mistaken for real journalism nor do we want faux news given the same blanket exemptions... so what to do other than call out the scams and faux stories?

Since blogger for bush started (and the Canadian equivalent) few have been willing to call them on their scams... will regulation change that?

Cheers, Coffee

bigcitylib said...

Walks With,

Well, I guess the point is that a national press council,though probably imperfect, would be a way of handling some of the kinds of complaints re "fairness" that might now go to the HRCs under the mistaken assumption that they meet the HRC criteria. That was Moon's point in proposing them.

They also meet the "fight speech with speech" criteria. As I say, and I hope I've got this right, the current provincial ones simply "name and shame" (which makes the journos response to them more than a little hypocritical).

Walks With Coffee said...

... I'm for transparency and fairness is journalism; right now we have a nearly bankrupt industry with few resources to investigate and verify stories - combined with a politcal climate of fake-news politcal scams (see CBC reporting convervative balanced budgets when they were not). We need better so I'm with you on that point.

Cheers, Coffee

Ti-Guy said...

The marketplace regulates them via sales...

That's not strictly true. Consumer displeasure with news products hasn't been able to translate into getting better quality journalism out of them, since their revenue is dependant on advertising. Their business model has been to sell audiences to advertisers, not news to news consumers.

Now that large publications and media conglomerates are starting to lose advertising revenue, the quality of their journalism has become more of an issue, but at this point, it's almost too late, since the only people left are the pundits and the editors, and those people are hanging on for dear life.