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Friggin' journalists

June 25th, 2008 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Personal

I have a lot of complaints about the media – though I will defend them to the day I die, for whatever reason.

It is a very hard job to do and I respect most who devote their lives to information, but sometimes they report the story in a way that’s just not right and that hurts the profession more than it helps anyone.

I have seen it happen so many times since I started watching the news for a living – reporters go into a press conference. . .Sorry, media conference (I got yelled at by a broadcast journalist once for calling them press conferences, as that apparently shows a bias to the print media). . .Yeah, I know. . .They expect one story, they ask their questions and report on the story and get it wrong, reporting their expectations rather than the actual facts. The government’s announcement on BPA was the most painful example. For a week before the announcement the rumours were that the government would be banning BPA (potentially cancer-causing chemical used in hard plastics, food cans, etc.). After the announcement almost every outlet reported it differently – That the chemical had been banned, that it would be banned at the end of the year, etc.

The actual story was that the chemical would be banned in plastic baby bottles if no new evidence was found after 60 days of public consultation, but there was not sufficient evidence that it was really all that dangerous for adults – in fact, banning it in baby bottles was the government being “better safe than sorry.”

CP was the only outlet that told the story as the press conference presented it.

Today I watched the Cabinet shuffle (or re-alignment as CBC has dubbed it). There weren’t any real surprises and there was very little to talk about, especially since none of the three who attended the swearing in made any sort of real comment when they left Rideau Hall. The Prime Minister himself only made one comment as he got into his car: “We’re on the right track, we’re going to stay on the right track. I hope to see you at the garden party.”

That was what he said, that’s all he said. I was watching it live.

A few minutes later Mike Duffy reported on CTV that Harper had said (this is from the transcript): “Mike: As the Prime Minister left, Jaqueline, he said this is a minimalist cabinet shuffle that gets us back on track.”

Please note that this is not, in fact, what the Prime Minister said at all. Duffy went on to say that the statement he misquoted showed that the PM knows just how far off-track his cabinet went in the last session. Seeing as the actual quote indicated that he thinks they are on the right track and staying on the right track, I would argue that his statement does not indicate this at all.

My husband this that this occurs because veteran journalists decide what the story will be before anything even happens, and none of the facts can change it. Whatever the cause, it’s a pretty bad way to inform people.

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