LAST WEEK I received two emails, and coincidentally they were both on the same topic…. the News Media.
The first was from Leah who said to me … PLEASE DO A BLOG ON THIS!!!
Then there was the second email. It came from Conservative Party of Canada Ontario MP Peter Kent who stated:
I would like to apologize sincerely for suggesting yesterday that – based on government messaging – the Liberals were going to offer legacy media organizations a $50 million bailout package in an election year. I was wrong – they are actually giving them a $595 million bailout package.
It is highly unlikely Peter Kent is going to read this piece, but Leah likely will. Likely because my response to her yesterday was to say, “So much has been written on this; and I agree that at the very least there is an impression of the media being bought off. I don’t know what more I might add?”
I have changed my mind because there is something I believe can be said, which is different to what has already been stated.
There are now very few areas of life that the government has not intruded – that, to the point where there is so much reliance on government, nothing that might question the motives of what they do, can safely be questioned.
Years ago, government carved off many areas in social services that they dealt with. For example … direct services to the vulnerable … mental health services … youth services … those dealing with the homeless … substance abuse problems … life skills programs … new immigrants … community groups and clubs. On and on the list goes.
The societies, and agencies, that deal with these and many other important support services in our communities do valuable work … but they are all vulnerable to the whims of government. In fact, their very continued existence is dependent on continuing to receiving funding for the services they provide … each and every year.
I know from personal experience in writing this blog, that questions many times go unanswered — they do for one reason, and one reason only. A fear of losing funding should the very government agencies I, and others, ask questions about, decide they don’t like what they hear.
Is that a real fear, or a perceived fear? Honestly, in my opinion it does not matter. The fear alone is enough to make many with stories to tell, and issues that need being uncovered, clam up.
That brings me back around to Leah’s email to … PLEASE DO A BLOG ON THIS!!!
IF government does end up providing funding to the very media outlets that report on them, the same real – or perceived – fears will surface there as well. After all, what Editor or Publisher is going to risk have a reporter or Op / Ed commentator say something that ruffles the feathers of government. As the old saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” certainly comes to mind.
IF, media is going to survive as a true Fourth Estate (or Fourth Power), then it MUST remain free of political interference. The ability to truly advocate for those who need advocacy … to frame political issues in ways that may not being pleasing to government … or to try and shape, questions, and influence you and I in a way that is contrary to where government want us to think and look … will otherwise be forever lost.
Throughout history time has continued to march on, and the ways in which we do things have changed. That is certainly happening right now in the news media industry.
It is up to the news media industry to figure out how to make themselves relevant again, in a way they can continue to be viable. That way however, must not, and cannot, depend on a financial bailout from government.
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada and the B.C. Reform Party, and a past and current member of the BC Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.