This is not a phenomenon that is exclusively occurring within the borders of our neighbour to the south. As Canadian media is undeniably shaped by American broadcasters, our news coverage has come to reflect this disorder. In our daily news publication, we work tirelessly to balance Canadian coverage with American and other world happenings.
So, you want to complain that journalists won't delve into worthy topics and look for story lines that others aren't covering? Sorry, but if it's not a trending topic, there's no money to be made. If that's what you want, then like anything else of value, you'll just have to go back to paying for it.
More than anything, I want this government to get real about managing health care. Media has a key role to play in that. Like it or not, media informs our perception of reality. Media shapes how and what the public talk about. That influences government priority. And that is why balanced journalism must be protected.
Will Baker (formerly Vincent Li) received an absolute discharge last week, after eight years in a mental hospital. To recap, Baker was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder for beheading a man on a greyhound bus in Manitoba. The action was attributed to paranoid delusions stemming from undiagnosed schizophrenia.
Public policy still has a crucial role to play in supporting journalism as a democratic institution that informs and as a democratic practice that supports the critical investigative work of journalists. But any viable proposal to save journalism must be grounded in a radically reformed policy-making process that encourages meaningful public participation and takes seriously non-Western voices and practices.
Democracy is underpinned by governing through informed consent of the masses. A strong and independent media is a nation's window into the affairs of the nation. Currently too many westerners cannot tell an opinion piece (like this one) from true investigative journalism. Attention spans are too short for long investigative pieces, and forget taking 2 minutes to check a source!
The problem is that, by monochromatically portraying Fidel Castro simply as a brutal dictator -- full stop -- the western media has had to do pretzel-twists to explain away the reality of why so many people in Cuba, Latin America and, indeed, much of the developing world do see him as an heroic, larger than life figure, whose passing is a cause for sadness while his legacy is reason for celebration.
The first common bias that affects journalists is availability bias: the tendency to judge the likelihood of an outcome (a disease or an election) based on what most easily comes to mind. So, for instance, Obama's historical win over the last two elections might be fresh in a young journalist's mind. So too can the diagnosis of asthma in a child -- if the physician previously saw eight cases of the same.
For people who are still wondering "how did this happen," do not waste precious time trying to figure out the voters. Look no further than your TV and at your local newspaper. There was news to be reported, but the media was more interested in a soap opera. They were the real drivers of the "clown car" this year.
The media on both sides of the political aisle may well be painting a picture of what they want to see happen, not what is an accurate prediction of what could happen. And because we all willingly are consuming and sharing media as we always have been, we are confident in our own views of the likely outcome.
When I explained to a journalist standing next to me on the red carpet, about to interview such-and-such star at a premiere, that I was a freelancer covering the event on my own dime, he was a bit dumbfounded. "Ah, so you're a backdoor journalist, then," he concluded. As much as the label bothered me, he was right.
For the most part, media outlets have given Mr. Trump a free ride. Trump's outrageous statements and positions have not only failed to disqualify him from the race, they have actually increased his profile and popularity. Instead of forcefully challenging Trump on each and every one of his lies and exaggerations, the media have simply winked and given him a pass.
There was a time, not so long ago, in Canada when we depended on the editorial decisions of a few at the hub of a few daily newspapers and a couple of television stations, notably the CBC and its rival CTV. Rapidly, these sources are becoming like rotary landline telephones. Sure there are people who use them, but with each obituary, they become fewer.