Lifestyle Friday, May 21st, 2010

Tangled Thinking

Some pretty curious assertions over on The Tangled Web of late. Specifically, that failure to break the Tori Stafford publication ban is “proof that the world needs the mainstream media.”

If the mainstream media is so credible, then why does Canoe insist that I have a Canoe Passport before I can leave a comment on LFPress? And why does LFPress close comments on so many of it’s stories so quickly? What are they afraid that people are going to tell them? That they’re full of “it”?

Kate probably pontificates from the perspective of somebody who’s being paid fairly well to report the news and who has the luxury of scooting around in an LFPress vehicle using LFPress gas, or hopping in a limo using an LFPress expense account. Many citizen journalists, on the other hand, do what they do for less commercial reasons and with fewer (or non-existent) resources. So their opportunity is somewhat more restricted.

In my own case, I not only don’t get paid for what I do, I do it on a sub-poverty disability income. I provide the news that I can, the best that I can, and it costs me money to do it. If Kate weren’t being paid to do what she does, would she still be doing it?

On my limited income you won’t soon see me scooting over to Woodstock or anyplace else to cover a story for you. But as LFPress editor Paul Berton recently pointed out, I’m all over what’s going on at City Hall.

LFPress journalists like to put their spin on stories. IOW, their “news” is sometimes presented to you through the filter of their personal opinion. And their interpretation of what’s going on isn’t always 100% correct. OnlineLondon provides the community with unfiltered coverage of what’s going on, so that viewers can make up their own intelligent minds about what to think.

Would I sometimes cover stories at the local courthouse if something was happening that interested me? You bet I would. But finding out what’s happening there is difficult. Recently I responded to an (Ontario Attorney General) Chris Bentley tweet by asking him if the court docket was electronically available yet. Typically, there was no response (in my experience, Liberal MPPs are mostly all about self-promotion and not so much about service to their constituents). There isn’t too much chance that I’m going to trek down to the courthouse every morning and go through a security check and trudge up to the 2nd floor just to check what’s posted on the bulletin board there. Maybe when our province finally wakes up to our changing world and starts to subscribe to concepts like #opengov I’ll visit the place more often.

And as for the ridiculous nonsense that citizen journalists might not be up to “the threat of being held in contempt of court” (as opposed to the inference that mainstream journalists are braver?) what does Kate call the way in which I refused to stop recording LTC meetings even after being threatened with arrest? And yes, I have been arrested for principled reasons (most recently, but some years ago, to protest the inadequate Legal Aid situation that exists in this province).

Hey folks, just because you read it in the LFPress doesn’t mean that it isn’t a pile of “it.”

  • 2 Comments
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2 Responses to “Tangled Thinking”

  • First of all, the quote that appears in your column is from my response to someone’s comment. If I were to amend the quote to summarize the point of the blog, it would be “That failure to break the ban is proof that the new media/citizen journalist world needs the mainstream media.”
    I’m not sure what in the world having to sign in to comment on a blog has to do with an organization’s credibility. Curious: why don’t you just get a Canoe passport?
    Because the Free Press’s comments are not moderated, we close them when the people who get alerts about bad comments have gone home for the day, lest there be something libelous (or breaking of a pub ban) posted and no one around to get the alert/take down the comment. This is common practice for media organizations.
    I assure everyone that while I do get paid fairly, I have no access to a limo, an expense account, a company vehicle or a special Free Press gas station. And I have to pay my own parking tickets. And yes, I would like to think that if I wasn’t being paid, I would still be doing what I’m doing. It’s in my blood.
    Greg, I apologize for not including a link to your city hall live streams in my original post or subsequent comments – I couldn’t remember the link, and didn’t hear back from you when I asked you on Twitter.
    The Free Press (and, arguably all) journalists try to disengage their personal opinions from stories. That’s one big fear about citizen journalists – that while you might know where a paper like the Free Press or Star or Globe or Post is coming from, you don’t know what motivates Greg or Sally or Billy or Mindy when he/she is reporting on issues. I think Online London is great, but the Free Press strives to put context to the unfiltered coverage – people are more likely to read about a council decision than to spend hours watching a stream of it.
    Your aside about Liberal MPPs is noted but smacks of the unbiased filter you accuse Free Press journalists of having and serves to prove my point. You’d never see something like that in the Free Press.
    You personally might not want to trudge to the courtroom every day to check the second floor docket posting, again proving my point: we do do that, every day. And no citizen journalist has come to give our court reporter a run for her money.
    I’m not maligning your bravery; you misconstrued what I said about contempt of court. I’m not saying we’re braver or you’re braver. I was speculating about why the ban hasn’t been broken. Either citizen journalists have the information and are choosing not to break the ban or, as Randy and I suggest, people are simply waiting for us to report it legally, thus proving the need for the mainstream media.
    Although I don’t know any of the details of the controversy of you recording LTC meetings, I applaud your fight and would defend your right to do so.
    Thanks for letting me respond,
    Kate

  • Greg Fowler says:

    Kate,

    It doesn’t matter which one of you said it. You put it out there for public consumption, so I felt obliged to respond.

    I understand that at least some of you who are in the mainstream media are feeling threatened by some “citizen journalists.”

    The way that the term is bandied about it encompasses a pretty wide spectrum of behaviour. AM980 seems to think that it’s anybody who picks up the telephone to report a traffic slowdown.

    It’s also still just in it’s infancy. As is the technology that supports it. It will mature.

    The only thing that I care to add about the LFPress comments is that they should be moderated. There’s no reason why you couldn’t allow people to comment all weekend long and hold them in a queue until somebody comes in and reviews them on Monday. The way you’re doing it, it looks like you’re trying to limit your exposure to what the community has to say to you. That’s what I meant about credibility.

    Sorry that I missed your question on Twitter. It’s too bad that you didn’t DM the question to me because then I’d have seen it. I get a lot of traffic in my public feeds and TweetDeck limits how far back you can scroll to see what you’ve missed.

    There was nothing unbiased about my aside re area Liberal MPPs. LOL. I’m willing to admit it. I take a poke at them on FMBS whenever I can, and for good reason. But I need to point out to you that FMBS is my blog. An opinion blog. The fact that I’ve also been publishing news from it may have confused that. But this is a learning process for me. I’d like to think that I’m making some progress, and that creating Online London will help to differentiate the news reporting from the personal opinion. Suggestions are always welcome.

    Thanks for responding. You may have missed it at the time, but I tweeted my observation during the controversy over the LFPress reporting of the Stiller Centre issue that controversy seems to be a tactic that’s often employed by LFPress (and other traditional news outlets) to sell their product, and that it appears to work, and that perhaps I ought to take lessons. That was the primary reason for my post, to test out that theory. You may be interested to know that Tangled Thinking has generated more traffic to FMBS, and faster, then anything else that I’ve ever posted.

    Lesson learned.

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