Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trust The Media

Some really fascinating discussions coming out of the whole Vic Toews story. What we know or don't know, what is discussed or buried, seems to boil down to judgement calls, ethical considerations, standards, a whole series of arbitrary decisions based on a pre-determined set of values, which are particular and closed in development. The Canadian public has never voted on, or formulated any rules governing journalism, that is left to publications and a subjective standard which has developed based on this closed discussion. Essentially, we are left to "trust the media", what information you are privy to is decided by a group of people who have no outside validation, the public simply has no voice in the thought process, the decisions, we only enter the equation after the fact, commenting on what has been deemed of use to us.

In my own formal training, we were taught about sourcing and how the observer attempts to ascertain truth, even though the actor is inherently biased- the lens never clear- the attempt of a flawed actor to accurately disseminate an objective reality. The conclusion of the philosophical exercise, there is no "idealist school" in the practical realm, any writer, researcher that delves into an topic will be impacted by personal experience and bias, it will "lead" the observer, he/she can only hope to minimize bias, but never fully eliminate it.

I do trust in certain journalists, no problem giving them certain latitude in weighing very complex decisions and issues, when determining "newsworthy". However, individual exceptions aside, that is really irrelevant to the wider discussion of entrusting an entire medium with "gatekeeper" status. As Stephen Maher points out in his balanced column, the press is not a "monolith", and he lists various political slants to support the diversity. But, therein lies the rub, there is no "standard" that applies equally throughout the medium, subjectivity again reigns supreme, rendering any sense of duty or standard a purely isolated consideration.

I don't trust the National Post editorial board to give me the straight goods, just as a right winger may be uncomfortable with the Toronto Star deciding what "deserves" consideration. If you review any polling done in the last decade, you'll see overwhelming opinion from the public that reveals serious, pervasive DISTRUST of the media, which is a learned reality. Given this circumstance, there is something refreshing and revolutionary, democratic and inclusive, about the role of social media to breakthrough the "arbiter" role, to pierce an almost star chamber editorial board thought process, a world where it's all just puked out and THEN we all participate in moral judgement, rejecting or accepting, highlighting or ignoring, sanctioning or scorn. What is wrong with empowering everyone, is it really any different than all the notions we champion about our democracy? The alternative is a closed room, made of individuals none of us have give license, arbitrarily deciding what is fit for our consumption, what is "important". Anything less than full disclosure amounts to dictation, it just does, that's the nature of the relationship, apart from after the fact inputs, which are reactive rather than participatory.

Perhaps it's time for "in camera" editorial boards, and when people say "but we're not elected", I say "exactly". I didn't follow Vikileaks30, others did, that's how it should work in a truly interactive media world.


Jerry Prager said...

When over 80% of Canadian media is owned by 3 right wing corporations (including the company that owns the Star and its newspaper network) journalism is dead, and spin is everything, try however individual journalists might, to do their jobs. Objectivity was always a lie, which is why Ayun Rand's absurd ideology is called Objectivism, the lie is dangerous to public discourse, which why blogging is more honest than journalism, people aren't pretending to be what they are. In the old days newspapers were Tory, or Liberal or whatever, now they are false fronts for corporatism.

Jerry Prager said...

argh "Ayn Rand"