Do people quoted in newspapers review the stories before they run? Can advertisers legally lie? Are PR people the biggest liars of all? How much does it cost to get a story into The Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star? Who do you pay? Once you start reading, why does the headline have nothing to do with the story?
We journalists have done a lousy job of explaining how we do our jobs, how we practice our craft, to the people we serve. I'm of the opinion that our low ranking in public opinion polls is because we don't even try to tell the people who we are, what we believe in, what we do and why we do it. So allow me to try.
Is suicide really contagious? Along with celebrity suicides, research has linked copycat deaths to news stories describing specific locations and/or methods of committing suicide that increases the likelihood of vulnerable people killing themselves in the same way. However, looking at the data on a per-country basis reveals a different story about how suicide is reported, and why.
You may have noticed variations of the term "online trolling" creeping their way into the style guides of your favourite news outlets over the past year. What the Internet need not attempt is to expunge trolls. Instead, the digital class must work towards a renegotiation of its idioms. A key part of this process will be coaxing more nuance from terms like trolls and trolling, insisting on new ways of delineating the undesirable from the criminal: the process from the by-product. Resist the rush to concede the perch of the troll; it's all many of us have left.
In school, students are taught how to "write" by memorizing or borrowing material then regurgitating it in order to impress a teacher. That's not what this is about. This is about words, in the professional sense, that must be used sparingly and for an economic purpose, whether it's to communicate with colleagues, customers, partners, investors, society, voters or organizations.
When the Pride Society, one of the most influential activist organizations in Vancouver's prosperous and politically active gay community, comes knocking, Vision Vancouver, the current rulers at city hall, and the NPA, the loyal opposition, bow down. And when a trumped up "report" goes to council claiming attendance figures so outrageous they deserve their own float in the parade, nobody bats an eye. If a parade eclipses the 400,000 attendee threshold, it qualifies for the maximum amount of money available to civic parades. The Sikhs and the Chinese didn't come close. But according to the Dobrovolny report, the Pride Parade attracts "crowds close to half a million people." Cha-ching.
Several large media organizations won't publish articles if a travel writer received assistance from a tourism board, or they will put a disclosure at the end of the article saying the trip was sponsored. This is a blatant double standard, and it stands to hurt and limit the importance of travel journalism.
In Afghanistan, the key to personal security is to stay a moving and elusive target: never stick to a routine, move quickly and unobtrusively. This was not only for our safety, but the safety of those we met. Fraternizing with Westerners can draw the wrath of local Taliban -- members recently beheaded two children in Kandahar province to warn citizens of the danger of collaborating with the Afghanistan government.
Tweets are brief. I get that. But Robyn Doolittle's response to my earlier blog post is telling. She failed to address the widespread concerns about her reportage, and opted instead for a straw man strategy starring yours truly. It's a familiar defense aimed at ending debate. Call someone a sexist, a racist, a homophobe. I've heard them all. But I've never used them.
So what's all this fuss the lefties are making about Prime Minister Harper trying to keep track of costs at the CBC by writing a few words into the back of his omnibus budget, Bill C-60? But what's the difference between a public broadcaster and a state broadcaster? I've worked for both. So I can tell you what's the difference.
As more self-appointed music critics are able to get their quickly-cobbled thoughts across to a readership/viewership that scrolls and skims more than actually reads, Frank Zappa's famous quote about music journalism becomes ever so appropriate: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."
I couldn't help but wonder what kind of individual downloads a photo of a cute little girl running a race, then, with the full knowledge that what they're doing is fraud, fobs it off as the victim of a heinous attack? Was it not tragic enough that we knew three people had died, dozens were seriously injured and thousands profoundly affected? It made me angry.
Within milliseconds of the explosions, #BostonMarathon and #PrayForBoston were trending topics on Twitter. This is today's reality when it comes to tragedy. We live in a day and age where news finds us, we don't need to even look for it. Online, in the midst of tragedy, it's easy to spot those who care... those who don't... and those who would and do dare to make some sort of joke or cast blame before all of the facts have been sorted. While this online always-connected life exposes us to tragedy faster and with more detail and impact than ever before... it also allows us to feel connected, to reach out and support one another like never before.
Anything that there is a demand for on the Internet, will exist on the Internet. If the old news media is unprofitable and disappears, it will be replaced by something new and probably better. It is true that the Internet is changing the media, very rapidly but those who claim that it is "killing the media" or any part of it are generally those who haven't been able to adapt.