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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:33 pm    Post subject: On 'Ethics' in Journalism ... Reply with quote

The media are going a little bit nuts over the firing of Evan Solomon. Somehow, the heavy ethical burdens of journalism seem to figure in the picture.

Evan Solomon saga highlights ethical pitfalls for journalists

[....]From suspended NBC-TV anchor Brian Williams (reportedly a pedlar of imaginary tales), to fired former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi (now facing five charges of sexual assault), to ex-Global TV News anchor Leslie Roberts (who invited clients of his own PR firm to appear on his show), revelations of journalistic misdeeds keep spreading like a bad odour in TV land.

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, another rat pops out of his hole. The latest example of alleged professional misconduct in Toronto’s hothouse media world may be the most baffling of all.

The abrupt firing Tuesday of high-profile CBC host Evan Solomon — the award-winning 47-year-old broadcast journalist who anchored CBC-TV’s Power and Politics program and CBC Radio’s The House — came just hours after a damaging expose in a Toronto newspaper.


So what are we to make of such an apparently tawdry display of money-grubbing behaviour by a high-profile national TV journalist? Whatever happened to ethics and integrity in journalism? And why are so many TV journalists or former TV journalists (let’s not forget Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin) apparently so eager to use their positions as a way to line their own pockets?

Good question. I have a better one ... what have "ethics" got to do with Ghomeshi? Would you say that he has an ethical problem, or a criminal problem?

If the 'ethical standards' of journalism have even a remote relationship to 'objectivity', there might be a problem, but the CBC, in particular, has thrown that idea out long ago.

Solomon erred — but CBC could use ethics shakeup

.... [A]ccording to Toronto Star investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, Solomon’s instincts for making an easy buck appear to be much more highly developed than his sense of journalistic ethics.

Canada’s public broadcaster, which has had a spate of ethics-related crises in the last couple of years, says in its ethics policy that employees must not use their positions “to further their personal interests.”

The Star report alleges that Solomon was helping an art dealer friend sell expensive artwork to the movers and shakers the TV host met on the job without telling purchasers like RIM founder Jim Balsillie that he was getting a commission on the sale.

Solomon broke one of the paramount rules of journalism: you can’t credibly grill the powerful about conflict of interest if a big conflict-of-interest elephant is hiding at the bottom of your desk drawer.

Nor is it enough for a journalist to say, “It didn’t really affect my work. I can still be balanced, fair and objective in my reporting or writing.”

Fact is, you can’t — not if you have a financial relationship with or stand to make money from someone you’re interviewing. Solomon might think he can separate his private life from his professional one, but many others don’t. Nor should Canadians be expected to.

While I agree Solomon did wrong, the CBC itself doesn’t always get it right when it comes to ethics.

Now it's the 'ethics' of the CBC? Is somebody going to pretend that the CBC has the kind of professional standards that they maintained back in the days of Lloyd Robertson and Rex Henderson. (Mansbridge isn't even a journalist -- he was 'discovered' when he was announcing plane arrivals and departures at the airport in Churchill, Manitoba.)

The CBC actively lied, and does so to this day, in its coverage of the Caledonia event. That I know from first-hand experience. (It was never a land dispute.) Personally, I wouldn't mind whatever their 'ethics' are if they maintained some professional standards having to do with objective reporting! But they don't. They play 'narrative journalism' to the hilt.

The CBC has no ethics.

Evan Solomon latest in line of journalists under fire

[....]Objectivity and integrity are considered sacrosanct in journalism. Winning the public’s trust is already a tough job — it’s hopeless if you’re moonlighting on the side with the very people you’re covering.

Through his lawyer, Solomon denied the accusations, insisting the CBC knew about his sideline and that he had only the two clients. “I did not view the art business as a conflict with my political journalism at the CBC and never intentionally used my position at the CBC to promote the business,” he said in a statement.

But still reeling from a year of bad publicity, the public broadcaster wasn’t buying it and Solomon got the axe. “We moved extremely quickly and decisively because Canadians have to trust the integrity of our journalism,” CBC president Hubert Lacroix said Wednesday.

The poor girl ... thinking the CBC -- or Ryerson's journalism school, either -- give a rat's ass about 'objectivity'. They don't. But she makes a point -- the CBC fired Solomon because they have allowed so much lax behavior go on before. He's an example.

The last thing this is about is 'ethics'. This is about closing the door after the horses have left the barn.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many years of complaints did the CBC tolerate during Ghomeshi time with them?
Whereas Evan Solomon gets fired within days of the Toronto Star article.

Bugs you said it well;
This is about closing the door to the barn after the horses are gone.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This article identifies what I fear about 'narrative journalism', but says it better and with more authority that I could possibly muster.

Snowden, Putin, Greece: It’s All The Same Story

Submitted by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

Through the last decades, as we have been getting ever more occupied trying to be what society tells us is defined as successful, we all missed out on a lot of changes in our world. Or perhaps we should be gentle to ourselves and say we’re simply slow to catch up.

Which is somewhat curious since we’ve also been getting bombarded with fast increasing amounts of what we’re told is information, so you’d think it might have become easier to keep up. It was not.

While we were busy being busy we for instance were largely oblivious to the fact the US is no longer a beneficial force in the world, and that it doesn’t spread democracy or freedom. Now you may argue to what extent that has ever been true, and you should, but the perception was arguably much closer to the truth 70 years ago, at the end of WWII, then it is today.

Another change we really can’t get our heads around is how the media have turned from a source of information to a source of – pre-fabricated – narratives. We’ll all say to some extent or another that we know our press feeds us propaganda, but, again arguably, few of us are capable of pinpointing to what extent that is true. Perhaps no big surprise given the overdose of what passes for information, but duly noted.

So far so good, you’re not as smart as you think. Bummer. But still an easy one to deny in the private space of your own head. If you get undressed and stand in front of the mirror, though, maybe not as easy.

What ails us is, I was going to say perfectly human, but let’s stick with just human, and leave perfection alone. What makes us human is that it feels good to be protected, safe, and prosperous. Protected from evil and from hard times, by a military force, by a monetary fund, by a monetary union. It feels so good in fact that we don’t notice when what’s supposed to keep us safe turns against us.

But it is what happens, time and again, and, once again arguably, ever more so. What we think the world looks like is increasingly shaped by fiction. Perhaps that means we live in dreamtime. Or nightmare time. Whatever you call it, it’s not real. Pinching yourself is not going to help. Reading Orwell might.

The Sunday Times ran a story today -which the entire world press parroted quasi verbatim- that claimed MI6 had felt compelled to call back some of its operatives from the ‘field’ because Russia and China had allegedly hacked into the encrypted files Edward Snowden allegedly carried with him to Russia (something Snowden denied on multiple occasions).

Glenn Greenwald’s take down of the whole thing is – for good reasons- far better than I could provide, and it’s blistering, it leaves not a single shred of the article. Problem is, the die’s been cast, and many more people read the Times and all the media who’ve reprinted its fiction, than do read Greenwald:

The Sunday Times’ Snowden Story Is Journalism At Its Worst -- and filled with falsehoods

Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it’s hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they’ve learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major US and British media outlets “report,” especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials – laundered through their media – as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting.

We now have one of the purest examples of this dynamic. Last night, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times published their lead front-page Sunday article, headlined “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.” Just as the conventional media narrative was shifting to pro-Snowden sentiment in the wake of a key court ruling and a new surveillance law, the article claims in the first paragraph that these two adversaries “have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.”

Please read Greenwald’s piece. It’s excellent. Turns out the Times made it all up. At the same time, it’s just one example of something much more expansive: the entire world view of the vast majority of Americans and Europeans, and that means you too, is weaved together from a smorgasbord of made-up stories, narratives concocted to make you see what someone else wants you to see.

Last week, the Pew Research Center did a survey that was centered around the question what ‘we’ should do if a NATO ally were attacked by Russia. How Pew dare hold such a survey is for most people not even a valid question anymore, since the Putin as bogeyman tale, after a year and change, has taken root in 99% of western brains.
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On 'Ethics' in Journalism ...

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