Saturday, June 07, 2008

Why We Must Remain Vigilant

Just when I thought the entire Kangaroo Court fiasco of last week was over, we get this vitriolic diatribe from none other than Ryerson University Journalism professor, John Miller. I had long been told by many that our higher institutions had been infested with ultra left-wing activists but didn't realize how bad it was.

This man "spent most of his 20-year career in newspapers as an editor, mostly at the Toronto Star, where he was deputy managing editor, foreign editor and founding editor of the Sunday Star." That quotation comes directly from his Ryerson web page bio. Don't forget his employer, as it is very prescient further on.

I'm not even going to argue against his points concerning Mark Steyn's article in Maclean's. Some may be accurate, while I know for a fact that others are being shot down at lightning speed by fact checking bloggers as I type these very words. All of his argument is completely moot because Steyn's article in Maclean's was an opinion piece. It is very telling though that John Miller quotes Johann Hari, a British writer, who is well known to have an ongoing tete-a-tete dispute with Steyn, always referring to him with some variation of "an uneducated former disc jockey turned pundit". You just know you're going to get a factual, unbiased comment after that intro!

The most delicious irony of all is that by quoting Hari as a prime source to support his points, Miller violates the very journalistic principles he states in his article! It would be like a foreign reporter wanting to write a fair & balanced article on Stephen Harper and then going to Stephane Dion for an unbiased opinion.

Incidentally, Mr. Hari is not without controversy either, so while Miller may be quoting from the Gospel of Johann, not everyone is as much a fervent disciple.


Further to John Miller's aforementioned journalistic principles, which he claims he holds dear and insinuates that Mark Steyn violates like a Toronto Star put at the bottom of a bird cage (my metaphor, not his), I would like to draw your attention to this part of his article:

Steyn and Maclean’s also appear to violate a great many of the principles and guidelines for reporting that the CAJ adopted in 2002. They include (to name only the most obvious ones):

Fairness:

  • Our reporting must be fair, accurate and comprehensive. When we make mistakes we must correct them.
  • We respect the rights of people involved in the news and will be accountable to the public for the fairness and reliability of our reporting.
  • We will not allow our own biases to influence fair and accurate reporting.
  • We will report all relevant facts in coverage of controversies or disputes.
Accuracy:
  • Reporters are responsible for the accuracy of their work. Editors must confirm the accuracy of stories before publication or broadcast. Editors must know in detail the documentation to support stories and the reliability of the sources.
Yikes! Anyone following my blog today knows what I wrote about just over 12 hours ago. What an amazing coincidence. More on this a bit later.

After reading Miller's piece, I then read this rebuttal by Mark Bourrie, from his excellent Ottawa Watch blog. To him I wrote this detailed comment:

Mark,

Excellent points throughout! Perhaps the most important words of all were these two: "Who decides?"

John Miller? No way. His bias is as thick as maple syrup on a Northern Ontario winter day. The 3 jokers on the BCHRT who think of themselves as judges? We now have multiple reports from several independent people (reporters and others) of what a fiasco that was last week. Even as late as this evening, I'm still getting new first-hand accounts sent to me.

As I explain in my letter to BC's AG, Wally Oppal, Section 7.1 MUST be removed and the 3 employees presiding last week MUST also be removed. Their actions under the "Reasonable Man" test don't hold water. Just because they got themselves appointed to those jobs through some persuasive networking, doesn't at all guarantee that they have any competency.

As for Mr. Miller's long winded argument, I have a scenario for him to think about. As I explain in detail here I have strong reason to believe that the Toronto Star's Petti Fong deliberately slanted her recent news story in order to stir up conflict, fear, & hatred between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. I actually downloaded and studied the BCHRT complaint form earlier today.

Based on *my* feelings that this is precisely what such strongly biased news stories actually do, I fully believe I have a strong case to haul her in front of the BCHRT and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Why the latter? Because her paper is based there and the majority of its readers are based there as well.

I would take great satisfaction in intuitively knowing that my case is much stronger than the recent one brought against Maclean's. I have absolutely no doubt that I can find numerous history and political science professors who can provide countless examples of how inciteful news stories have stirred up violence around the world.

Now, would Mr. Miller support my efforts to try banning Ms. Fong from ever writing another article? Somehow I doubt it. Why? Starts with an "h", ends with a "y".

And that, in a nutshell, is "why we must protect free speech, especially amongst those we most vehemently disagree". Hmmmm, I wonder who said those wise words. Ahhh yes, now I recall, a Mr. Mark Steyn of New Hampshire, USA. You may have heard of him. He's written a few things in his time.

Robert W.


You want to know the most amazing part of all this? When I wrote what I did to Mark Bourrie, I did not know who exactly John Miller was. Only while preparing this posting did I find out. When I saw the words "Toronto Star" as the bulk of his work experience, I burst out laughing!

There's very little that bothers me more than a hypocrite. The points that Miller stated so righteously are very similar to those provided by BusinessWeek magazine here. Earlier this year one of their writers, David Kiley, referred to one of Mark Steyn's colleagues, Michelle Malkin, as being "intellectually suspect". To most people that term would mean any of the following: unintelligent, stupid, idiotic, etc.

I wrote and asked him how he could use such a term to describe a fellow journalist and yet subscribe to the rules his employer assures the public they follow. To his credit Kiley did write me back. He said: "While Businessweek's ethics policy extends to all of our product(s), there is more leeway in what reporters write in the blogs." Sure. Who's kidding who? If you're going to profess to follow certain rules then follow them. If you're not, then don't have them in the first place. B.S. might make the world go round, but it doesn't cut it with me.

It's especially galling to me that on the same day that Miller goes on his tirade against Steyn that his "esteemed colleague" at his workplace of record, Petti Fong, publishes such a twisted news story. I would strongly recommend both of them to carefully read this Respectable Professions poll, released earlier this year by Angus Reid Strategies. Let me quote one point they highlighted:

Journalists see biggest drop in level of respect (73% in 1994; 49% in 2008)

Canadians don't really expect that much from journalists. But what we do expect and rarely seem to get are non-biased news stories. To quote John Miller, they may indeed "avoid thoughtless stereotypes of race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status" but there seems to be little attention paid to removing the bias of the reporter and/or editor. If journalists fix this problem then they'll gain back the respect they once had and deserved. Don't believe me? Get Angus Reid to do a poll and I'm absolutely positive it'll prove me correct. Journalists have lost our trust and the two published pieces discussed here are prime examples why.

I don't at all object to John Miller expressing his opinion. Nor anyone else for that matter. But I vehemently object to him trying to stifle Mark Steyn's free speech and to actually support the notion that The State should wrestle away control of Maclean's magazine from its publisher. It's one thing to get such extreme viewpoints from an unaccountable "Progressive" blogger and his anonymous comrades. But to hear such a thing demanded by a Ryerson Journalism Professor, on no less than the eve of the 64th Anniversary of D-Day?! Shame on you, John Miller, shame on you! Can we assume this is also the official policy of Ryerson?

8 comments:

Ottawa Watch said...

Great post. Thanks for the positive comment about my blog and your thoughtful post to it.

Dr.Dawg said...

I vehemently object to him trying to stifle Mark Steyn's free speech and to actually support the notion that The State should wrestle away control of Maclean's magazine from its publisher. It's one thing to get such extreme viewpoints from an unaccountable "Progressive" blogger

You people just can't stop lying, can you?

I'm on the record as opposing the complaint as well as the attempt to control Maclean's editorial content by the students involved.

Needless to say, I don't expect an apology for your mischaracterizations. In fact, based on experience, you won't even have the courage to leave my comment up. It suffices that you know that I know that you, like so many of your allies, have no qualms about lying through your teeth to support your agenda.

The Radical Center said...

Just what exactly does Ryerson not understand about the word "opinion"? No one, not Steyn, not Macleans, not even Ryerson has ever averred that the piece was a straightforward piece of news reportage. It was an OPINION piece--period and consequently not subject to Ryerson's beloved rules. Funny thing though. How often does even the most stringent news reporting follows Ryerson's rules to the letter? Sample a thousand newspapers and you'll find a thousand different takes on any given event. By Ryerson's rules every newspaper, magazine, and blog in North America should be in the dock before some Human Rights Commission or other state arbiter of "truth".

PelaLusa said...

To Mark and the commenter from Topeka, thank you!

To our greatly "Englightened Doctor", I leave it up to readers to read your piece that I referenced, as well as your growing army of commenters, at least one of whom used the term "Free Speecher" as a pejorative. Brilliant!

The problem for you, sir, is that you won't be able to slander me as some sort of religious nut or far-right neo-con, because I'm neither.

I welcome all immigrants to Canada, just like my father was one almost 60 years ago. But you come here and start spewing your hate and propaganda and expect an apology from me?! That's rich. Buy a mirror, my friend.

Dr.Dawg said...

"Hate and propaganda?" The mirror is yours. As noted, I'm on the record on all of this. Which makes you a publicly-documented liar.

PelaLusa said...

Spin, spin, spin. Joseph Stalin would be so proud of you!

Tim Paquette said...

"Free Speecher" as a pejorative...WTF? That might be the most apt summation of the total lack of sanity coming from some on the left on this issue. Scary. My apologies for dropping the f-bomb acronymously, but what else can you say to something like that? Keep up the good work.

Islander said...

Thanks for your great work on this. I came over for Thursday's session. The whole thing is a travesty. It should have been dismissed out of hand.

I will write to the AG and premier requesting that they fire the people responsible, issue an apology to Mclean's and Mark Steyn, and offer to pay their expenses.

Islander