I got a text from my teen at 8:52 yesterday morning. It was that text; the one you read about in news reports that usually come from the U.S. It doesn't come from one of your own children. The ones you promised yourself you would always protect. "Lockdown at school," then "Someone pulled a knife." Not much to go on, but enough to send that infamous chill down your spine. I wasn't far from school, so I raced over, my muddy dog still in the back seat, dreading what I knew I would find.
Media managers are wondering what went wrong. They are asking why journalism doesn't pay any more. If the solutions are hard to discern, they have only to look at the technology they so eagerly embrace. It's the digital technology. It has spread throughout many industries including journalism, like a virus.
At a time when our consumption of the news is at an all-time high, the very institutions at the heart of our news media are in crisis -- and demanding the attention of our political leaders. Postmedia combined newsrooms in Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver in a move that not only saw many talented and dedicated journalists pushed out the door, but also saw distinctive voices quieted.
The true test of the Trudeau team's openness will come when actual decisions are being made, when real people start to object, when the human beings running the place start making mistakes. The national press gallery may be charmed for now, grateful that the Harper years of cold war are over. It will not last. Parliament Hill reporters are top professionals who will be ready to pounce when things inevitably go off the rails. When that happens, will the smiling ministers of day one remain available to be interrogated, challenged, or even hectored?
The CBC is facing significant challenges. There is the continued rise of the Internet and digital services like Netflix that are changing the broadcasting landscape. More and more content is consumed online. There are also long-standing challenges of competing against the U.S. entertainment giant to our south. With these challenges in mind, here is what I propose. It is important to have a strong and vibrant CBC, to tell our stories, to entertain and inform us as Canadians.
For the last 30 years or so, Canadians have repeatedly flagged healthcare as the most important national concern and the issue they want their political leaders to prioritize. Surveys and studies and polls and panels -- there have been plenty -- all come up with the same finding: Canadians care about healthcare.
Since teenage brains are literally neurobiologically different from adults, coupled with their fluctuating hormones, the way they process information also differs greatly from how we may process the very same things. This creates a situation where, when told not to wear something deemed inappropriate for that particular environment, while an adult may understand that it is simply a fashion issue within that specific circumstance, a teenager may perceive it on a chemical level as a personal threat to their entire identity and independence. As a result, they can become fiercely protective and hypersensitive to any potential threats made to their autonomy and are more likely to push the limits in response.
While we should be shocked that these atrocities are committed, we should not be so shocked that they are committed within our borders, because this violence really is not as much of a "lone wolf" attack as we think. We are far more entrenched in this barbarous violence than we would have ourselves believe.
There will be others after Stewart, just like there have been others during Stewart. But it's not enough to be an activist, or to be annoying, or to be loud, or to just only occasionally hit the nail on the head, or whatever. Stewart was often left of someone on the right, often right of someone on the left.
Most high-profile NCR patients -- that is, sufferers of mental illness who have committed horrific acts of violence and have been declared "not criminally responsible" by the courts -- are usually kept well-hidden from public view. But on Wednesday, October 8, another high-profile NCR patient, Sean Clifton, who tried his best to stab to death a complete stranger because his psychosis led him to believe he had to kill "the prettiest girl in the mall," will bravely step on stage to face the public after the screening of my documentary NCR: Not Criminally Responsible, in which he is featured.