Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is Freedom Of The Press Being Eroded

Oh my goodness. I may have hold my nose and stand up for the Windsor Star.

Just look how politicians are using the media to enhance themselves and their point of view and to circumvent the 4th Estate!
  • "Obama to Urge Students to Work Hard in Back-to-School Speech

    President Barack Obama is to urge students to work hard, listen to their teachers, and set their own education goals - in an upcoming speech that has been criticized by conservatives.

    President Obama is to deliver the back-to-school address Tuesday at a high school in Virginia's Arlington County, just outside Washington. It will be broadcast live on the White House Web site and the C-SPAN cable network.

    Some conservatives say Mr. Obama is seeking to indoctrinate children into what they call a socialist agenda. School districts in several states will not show the speech in classrooms after objections from some administrators and parents.

    The White House has characterized the uproar over the speech as "silly," saying the president's message simply aims to motivate students to take their education more seriously.

    Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs Monday said it is a "sad, sad day" when politics intrude on anyone speaking to school children and teachers about the responsibilities they have as a new school year begins.
    An innocent action? A sad day? Hrrumph. How about this as getting them while they are young:

    "While it is not unusual for presidents to visit schools, or even give national speeches to students, Tuesday's speech raised the ire of conservative organizations and some parents. They accused the president of using the platform to sell his political initiatives to the nation's youth at best, and at worst, accused him of wanting to indoctrinate children with his "Marxist" ideas.

    The White House was at least partly to blame for the unexpected controversy. The Obama administration released a lesson plan for teachers in advance of the speech that encouraged students to "help the president," -- a line that was later changed."

Pshaw, that is nothing. A one time TV appearance that most kids will not remember after recess or their lunch break. The Americans need a lesson from our Conservative Government if they want to learn how to manage the media.

Tell me that this is not extremely clever but ought to put a chill into the hearts of newspaper publishers.

  • "Watson: $17.7 million for 3 local projects

    St. Clair College received more than $5 million in federal funding for an enhanced journalism program Wednesday...

    The $17.7 million in funding, taken from the new Southern Ontario Community Adjustment Fund, was announced by Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson just one day after federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff triggered talk of a fall election...

    Veronique Mandal, a former Star reporter and the current director of the college's journalism program, said the $5 million in funding would be used to purchase cutting edge equipment so her students could learn practical skills that would help them land jobs in the rapidly changing world of journalism. The program will place an emphasis on convergence, which means reporters will be trained in multiple mediums using the latest gear.

    "We will have a state of the art newsroom, classrooms and equipment, all of which will give students a broad base of experience," she said. "We will also be expanding and developing innovative new components for the program."

The whole thing is bizarre.

Overstating it am I? Oh ye of little journalistic faith. Read on about the Government program itself because I have a quiz for you afterwards:

  • "The Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) is a national two-year, $1-billion economic stimulus measure announced as part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan...

    The Community Adjustment Fund was designed because the Government of Canada saw the challenges facing communities hit hardest by the economic downturn. Canada’s manufacturing and resource-based sectors have suffered from drops in both demand and prices. Resulting job losses in sectors such as forestry, mining and manufacturing have been significant...

    Many communities across Canada rely on industrial sectors that have been hit hard by current economic conditions, including forestry, mining, agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing...

    Examples of eligible activities include those that seek to attract new business or retain existing enterprises and jobs, improve market access, develop value-added opportunities, develop and improve municipal infrastructure, build community capacity and support the development of economic strategies, adjustment and growth. Activities that support “green” strategies and technologies could also be eligible..."

Here's the quiz. Good for St. Clair getting the cash for their existing program and more power to them. But you explain to me how what is being done at St. Clair fits into this program. I am having a lot of trouble trying to rationalize it.

The question that should be raised now by the media is why is it being done.

Where is the Windsor Star in all of this? Why aren't the Editors fuming about this? Where are the Star columnists frothing at the mouth about this direct investment by Government crossing of the line separating journalists and the Government? Where are Joe and Brian for heaven's sake or even IGGY?

Can you imagine if this new program teaches students how to use the new media so that the power of the press is weakened! No more pesky journalists in the Parliamentary Press gallery to ask embarrassing questions. No more journalists to uncover government waste or scandal. No more truth seeking and reporting. We would be at the mercy of Government press release journalism.

We know already that many newspapers in North America and elsewhere are in serious financial shape, including the parent of the Star. The result has been a decline in the number of reporters covering the Governments. Now the Canadian Government could be weakening the media further.

Read this story from the New York Times if you think I am kidding:

"Big News in Washington, but Far Fewer Cover It"

The Star should be denouncing the Government initiative. They should be demanding that the Government back off immediately. The Star must support journalist integrity and independence. Heck their Parent Company and its Chair should be at the forefront considering what is happening in Windsor.

This is nothing more than the thin edge of the wedge. Where will money be granted next and for what purpose?

It must be stopped immediately. I do not object to money being given to the School with no strings attached but not to this program directly.

Notwithstanding what I think of the Star, newspapers need our protection.