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Chris Selley: Canada’s two solitudes starkly apparent on issue of media independence – National Post

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In a way you have to hand it to the Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel. Freedom-loving Canadians were well prepared for many of its terrible and unnecessary ideas — notably forcing streaming companies like Netflix to invest in Canadian content, which they’re already doing because people actually want to watch it. If a positive outcome hasn’t been achieved by regulatory fiat, the panelists seem to believe, it hasn’t been achieved at all.

The notion of government-subsidized print journalism having won such favour in Liberal Ottawa, perhaps it’s also not surprising the panel proposed taking money from internet giants like Facebook and Google and using it to establish an (ahem) “independent arm’s length program … to support the production of news,” with membership open to any outlet meeting unstated standards of “ethical journalism” and (double-ahem) “editorial independence.”

But even the most keyed-in observers seem to have been staggered by Recommendation 73: To have the CRTC draw up a list of “accurate, trusted, reliable” Canadian news sources, and to force “media aggregation and media sharing undertakings” — that’s everything from Yahoo! News to YouTube — to link to those sites in such a way as “to ensure visibility.”

No one seemed to anticipate recommendations to “license” Yahoo! News or Breitbart or MSN News, extract “levies” from them and regulate their hyperlinks. Because, well, that would be crazy.

Or at least, that’s the dominant anglophone view.

On Sunday, when CTV’s Evan Solomon pushed Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault on the issue of issuing journalism licences to foreign media outlets, Guilbeault eventually just shrugged: “I’m not sure I see what the big deal is.”

The minister tried to walk it back on Monday, but the fact is many of his fellow Quebecers will also struggle to discern a big deal. There is simply much more tolerance of this sort of cultural gatekeeping among francophone Quebecers than in the Rest of Canada, and the tolerance extends well into the realm of journalism.

“In reading the (report’s) 260 pages and 97 recommendations, one word comes to mind” Sunday’s editorial in La Presse gushed: “Finally!”


Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault speaks to reporters on Parliament Hill, Feb. 3, 2020.

Blair Gable/Reuters

Opposition to government regulation of journalism is firmly entrenched not just in anglophone Canada, but across the anglosphere. When the 2011 Leveson Inquiry proposed the British government create a powerful new press regulator, nearly every major outlet rejected the idea. Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, famously vowed the magazine “will not attend its meetings, pay its fines nor heed its menaces.”

The same year, Laval University professor Dominique Payette’s report into Quebec’s struggling news media recommended the government legislate a “professional journalist” designation. The province’s largest journalists’ trade organization and the Quebec Press Council happily sat down with the government to bash out a power-sharing agreement on deciding who’s a proper journalist and who isn’t.

The English-language Montreal Gazette was dead-set against the idea, but Le Devoir called it a “logical outcome.” (The power-sharing discussions eventually fell apart, and the idea died a merciful death.)

Freedom-loving Canadians were well prepared for many of the panel’s terrible and unnecessary ideas

Meanwhile the head of the press council, retired Justice John Gomery, suggested the government pass legislation forcing the Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec to rejoin the organization. Owner Pierre Karl Péladeau had pulled them out a year earlier alleging bias in its decisions, and when Péladeau said he would challenge any such legislation in court, a La Presse editorial accused him of disrespect for the rule of law.

On this issue, Canada’s two solitudes could hardly be more starkly apparent. But Conservatives are quite rightly tearing the report to pieces, Quebec MPs included. “You’d think you were in North Korea,” heritage critic Steven Blaney told reporters in Ottawa. He suggested that the $600 million “carrot,” in the form of financial aid to struggling print outlets, was now being followed with the “stick” of regulation.

This is potentially dangerous territory for the party: Not only is government regulation of journalism more popular in Quebec than the Rest of Canada, so is government bailing out struggling media outlets. A 2018 Nanos survey found 65 per cent of Quebecers support “additional government funding to keep local news sources open,” versus 37 per cent in the Prairie provinces.

It may carry some risk of sounding unhinged to those who don’t already despise Justin Trudeau

Mind you, pandering to Quebec’s peculiarities has gotten the Conservatives precisely nowhere. Perhaps they’re finally over it.

Indeed, leadership candidate Erin O’Toole has used the media bailout as a major part of his “real conservative” branding exercise. He has promised to repeal it. And now he’s using the panel report to his advantage. “Trudeau wants to control what you see on Netflix,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Trudeau wants to control news you read online. This is wrong. This is dangerous.”

That’s entirely fair play, but it may carry some risk of sounding unhinged to those who don’t already despise Justin Trudeau — which is more people than Conservatives sometimes seem to realize — and who don’t understand just how unhinged this report actually is. He might do better focusing on this unimpeachable message, delivered on Twitter the next day: “An independent press is essential to freedom and democracy. Government licensing of the media has no place in a free country.”

A whole lot of panelists disagree. Ideally, they will very soon be very bitterly disappointed.

• Email: cselley@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Humanity's Biggest Problems Require a Whole New Media Mode – WIRED

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Humanity’s Biggest Problems Require a Whole New Media Mode  WIRED



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Medical Matters Weekly welcomes Director of Institute of Digital Media and Child Development Kris Perry – Vermont Biz

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Vermont Business Magazine Kris Perry is a social worker, a child advocate, the director of the Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, and the next  guest on Medical Matters Weekly at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17.

The show is produced by Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) with cooperation from Catamount Access Television (CAT-TV). Viewers can view on facebook.com/svmedicalcenter and facebook.com/CATTVBennington. The show is also available to view or download as a podcast on svhealthcare.org/medicalmatters.

Perry holds a bachelor’s in sociology and psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a master’s in social work from San Francisco State University. She made her career as a child advocate within several organizations starting with the Alameda County Social Services Agency, where she worked in child protective services. She pivoted to leading systems change as executive director of First Five San Mateo and later as executive director of First Five in California and nationally in Washington, D.C. She served as president of Save the Children Action Network.

Perry returned to California to serve as senior advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and as Deputy Secretary of California Health and Human Services Agency. There she led the development of the California Master Plan for Early Learning and Care and was instrumental in the expansion of access to high-quality early childhood programs. In her current role as director of the Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, she works to fund and disseminate scientific research focused on the impact of digital media on child development and the translation of those findings into programs and policies that promote child wellness.

Medical Matters Weekly features the innovative personalities who drive positive change within health care and related professions. The show addresses all aspects of creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for all, including food and nutrition, housing, diversity and inclusion, groundbreaking medical care, exercise, mental health, the environment, research, and government. The show is broadcast on Facebook Live, YouTube, and all podcast platforms.

After the program, the video is available on area public access television stations CAT-TV (Comcast channel 1075) and GNAT-TV’s (Comcast channel 1074), as well as on public access stations throughout the United States.
 
About SVHC:
Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent, healthcare system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC includes 25 primary and specialty care practices.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care is among the most lauded small rural health systems in the nation. It is the recipient of the American Hospital Association’s 2020 Rural Hospital Leadership Award. In addition, SVMC ranked fourth nationwide for the value of care it provides by the Lown Institute Hospital Index in 2020 and is a five-time recipient of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence. The health system is fortunate to have the support of platinum-level corporate sponsor Mack, a leading supplier of contract manufacturing services and injection molded plastic parts based in Arlington, VT.

BENNINGTON, VT—August 9, 2022—Southwestern Vermont Medical Center 

 

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Alex Jones Begs The Question, What's More Expensive For Media: Lies, Or The Truth? – Forbes

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We are having a Goldilocks moment in American media. We simply can’t decide how much truth we really want. Too many lies can lead to expensive lawsuits, as Alex Jones proved this week with a $49M verdict for spreading misinformation about Sandy Hook. Too much truth, on the other hand, can lead to lawsuits by special interests afraid to have infamous stories made famous, as hundreds of writers have learned (including this author).

Is a healthy midpoint actually possible, or would the news simply lose all meaning? Or can we as consumers bend the news back towards the truth? Jones’ story should be a clarion call for both the right and the left to demand more truth from their storytellers. The future of democracy depends on it.

Too Many Lies

Last week, Alex Jones was caught lying about the Sandy Hook massacre . On December 14th, 2012, 26 people were killed by a mass shooter, including 20 children between 6 and 7-years-old. Before families could even take a moment to grieve their profound loss, Jones had already gone on air to deny the mass shooting, saying “why does government stage these things, to get our guns.” and referring to grieving parents as “crisis actors.”

It’s hard to know if his motivation was earning money, but certainly, that was an outcome. InfoWars was already a relatively successful media business, with 4 million unique views a month in 2010, and in 2013 estimated revenues of $10M a year. By 2018 he had 10 million unique views a month, more than mainstream publications like Newsweek and the Economist. During the trial, it was estimated that Jones’ businesses were collectively worth somewhere between $135M and $270M.

His bread and butter are what is sometimes politely referred to as “conspiracy theories,” a term that implies that stories like PizzaGate could actually be true. But a theory can ultimately be scientifically tested, and those peddled by Alex Jones have come up false. He is often known for spreading “misinformation,” a sanitized way to say “lying.” His site is aptly named InfoWars—it is a provider of information in deep war with the truth.

Given the strength of defamation law in this country protecting people from damaging speech, the parents were ultimately awarded $49M by a Texas court (which they may not fully receive given state limits in Texas). However, with more rulings likely to come from states like Connecticut without such a cap this upcoming year, it is likely that figure will rise substantially and send a very strong message to those who aim to manipulate people’s understanding of the truth for political gain.

Many have suggested that his motivation in the case of Sandy Hook was not in fact money, but a desire to push back against gun control efforts. It’s reasonable that in the wake of mass shootings, communities start to think long and hard about greater gun control, and that those who believe that more guns are good for America (like some Republicans proposing to further arm teachers) are troubled to see what they view as an infringement on their rights. But even that debate can happen on the basis of truth—that mass shooters exist, that they are 98% men, and that children have died in these shootings causing infinite devastation on the part of their families.

The Truth Hurts, but Its Negation Hurts More

Most parents at some point will suffer their very own version of an info war, as their children deliberately twist facts for personal gain. Jones’s actions are not unlike those of a child who breaks a beloved porcelain vase and quickly blames their younger sibling. The parents are not mad necessarily about the vase—they are mad about being lied to, and the lack of empathy that implies.

But children generally grow out of such deflection and blame games, whereas Jones apparently did not. It wasn’t just a vase that broke—the lives and hearts of parents were cracked open not just once in the initial mass shooting, but countless times as Jones followers harassed them and negated their truth.

I believe Jones knew he was inflicting real harm—like watching his little sibling get spanked for that broken vase—and took no action to stop it. What’s upsetting about his actions is that in saying that Sandy Hook was “100% real” on the stand, he presumably knew he was lying to his listeners; episode after episode.

Infowars viewers should be outraged. Jones treated them as ignorant pawns ripe for his political objectives. The right deserves to hear conservative perspectives based on the truth. And so does the left. Fighting fair means starting from the same playing field, which in the court of ideas has to be objective fact. As Scarlett Lewis, a mourning parent who lost her son at Sandy Hook noted from the stand in her testimony, “Truth — truth is so vital to our world. Truth is what we base our reality on, and we have to agree on that to have a civil society.”

When the Truth Hurts Someone with Power, It’s Extra Costly

On the other hand, the truth can be costly, too. Corporations have increasingly learned that suing people in media for sharing the truth about the impact of their business practices can be an incredibly effective way of getting such whistleblowers to stop—simply because of their inability to keep up on legal costs vs any actual assessment as to whether their statements are true or not.

In 2019 I was personally sued by private prison company CoreCivic
CXW
, in the wake of the family separation crisis, for saying that prisons and immigrant detention centers separate families. On a simply mechanical basis, when one family member goes behind bars for any reason and their child or mother or husband is no longer with them, it seems like a prudent use of the English language to refer to this family as “separated.” Claiming otherwise is negating the suffering of these detained parents who deeply missed their children in the same way that Jones attempted to negate the suffering of the Sandy Hook parents.

The Business and Human Rights Centre has referred to this CoreCivic lawsuit as a SLAPP suit, a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. They further define SLAPPs as “one tactic used by unscrupulous business actors to stop people raising concerns about their practices.” SLAPPs can take the form of criminal or civil lawsuits brought to intimidate, bankrupt and silence critics.” It is just one of 355 lawsuits that they’ve identified globally in a 2021 report, including by companies like Chevron
CVX
, Unilever and Walmart
WMT
, targeting both writers and activists. And as media rooms shrink internationally, it makes it hard for investigative journalism not only to thrive but to afford the level of legal protection required to tell hard truths. And yet, if we don’t, we lose our ability to shape the world we all want to live in.

Do we need $150M lawsuits to determine the truth? Or can we simply ask for more from media?

Let’s face it—no one likes a lawsuit. Certainly not grieving parents. “It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, to punish you — to get you to stop lying,” Lewis told Jones from the stand. “You don’t understand, and you won’t understand unless there is some form of punishment that would make you understand.”

There is a hope that the hefty price Jones will pay will discourage others who seek benefit, whether monetary or political, on the basis of lies. But it’s a cautionary tale that simply shouldn’t be necessary. All of us can become more conscious consumers before spreading information, whether on the right or the left. We can let conspiracy theories die on the vine rather than fueling them with likes and shares. The average person is unlikely to sue, but we can still take responsibility for the information we spread. We can punish such lairs with their marginalization. And we can commit to protecting those who dare to tell the truth.

Full disclosures related to my work available here. This post does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice, and the author is not responsible for any actions taken based on the information provided herein. Certain information referenced in this article is provided via third-party sources and while such information is believed to be reliable, the author and Candide Group assume no responsibility for such information.

CoreCivic filed a lawsuit in March of 2020 against author Morgan Simon and her firm Candide Group, claiming that certain of her prior statements on Forbes.com regarding their involvement in family detention and lobbying activities are “defamatory.” While we won dismissal of the case in November of 2020, CoreCivic has appealed such that the lawsuit is still active.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

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