Newspapers report and investigate
Gary Harrod’s letter entitled “Paper should report news, not make it,” shows that he fails to understand the history and purpose of newspapers in this country and abroad.
Newspapers report the news but should also investigate what is behind the stories. It is called investigative journalism and coupled to that concept is taking editorial positions on issues facing the community by providing analysis of events and policy positions espoused by politicians. Too often they fall short. Reporting on Ford’s propaganda news machine but failing to do the same in the past is a legitimate criticism but does not mean that they shouldn’t start now. Just like they have failed on some things I will describe below.
Newspapers have also been concerned about making money to pay their bills. As their advertising revenue has declined they have increasingly faced difficulties funding investigations and not antagonizing advertisers.
This means that the editorials and reporting are usuallly tepid and an attempt at balance. For example on climate change. Concerned about balance, editors and reporters gave equal weight to the deniers and scientists. The public noticed and stopped supporting newspapers. Yes social media and the internet were factors but not the only ones. But balance is lacking in other areas such as the propaganda dispensed by organizations designed to manufacture our consent for the Libertarian inspired Neoliberal Age of Austerity in which we now live.
Other than the occasional letter to the editor, when have you seen a story or reference in a column in the Examiner about Neoliberalism? An example is the Fraser Institute funded in part by the American Koch brothers and where Mike Harris is now a fellow. Because they are listed as a registered charitable organization, our tax dollars also partly fund the Fraser but the news media go along with the fiction that they are a think tank producing allegedly objective reports. It is described in Wikipedia as a “public policy think tank” both “politically Conservative and Libertarian.”
Ford and his ilk do not want to spend tax dollars on social programmes but do not mind spending it on their propaganda.
Ford, emulating his hero, Donald Trump, likely does not trust the media after it exposed his early drug dealing and his brother’s addictions and driving while under the influence.
He has also said that his support for Trump is “unwavering.” So he creates his own propaganda Ontario News Now to please his Libertarian and Conservative base.
Locally, the decision to sell PDI is also from the Neoliberal Playbook. Mayor Bennett accused me of being ideological because I opposed its sale on the grounds it was a public asset and part of the commons. But a prime tenet of Neoliberalism is the private ownership of public goods so that they are removed from political influence and community control. The Examiner should have reported that the councillors voting for the sale of the PDI (Parnell, Haacke, Beamer, Clarke and McWilliams) were following neoliberal ideology but alleging the existence of undisclosed Fraser Institute-like “facts” to justify their position. Neoliberals also disregard democracy and the will of the people because they believe that elections should not change economic policy. Leal and Wynn were also following the Neoliberal playbook when they sold off part of Hydro One. Harris selling the 407 is another example.
Newspapers have a responsibility to report both news AND the ideology behind political decisions. Herb Wiseman Peterborough