One of the crime scenes

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Journalism & Ethics!

This post could be considered my response to Kirk LaPointe, Managing Editor of the Vancouver Sun. While it is a response to his personal e-mail to yours truly - me, it is also a response to his general attitude, his disrespect for BC Mary, his disrespect for the truth and an expression of my total lack of respect for the Vancouver Sun and the rest of the Canned West/GlowBall empire, or should I say..."the E! Everything Entertainment network?" As the Salt Spring News points out in "....Why we don't know much..."

"It's makeover time at Vancouver Island's CH TV station. Anchors are switching desks, fresh sets are being built. It's all in anticipation of today, when the station, along with other CanWest Global affiliates across Canada, becomes part of the E! Everything Entertainment network".........snip

"It will be more upbeat, positive, friendly and approachable.........The newscast might seem slightly more informal, more like news over the fence."

Whatever happened to the Press/Media being the fourth estate and having a responsibility to serve the "public interest?" Silly me, once upon a time that was also the function of government....but I digress. News is now just another form of "entertainment" and a means of selling advertising, and we all know advertisers do not like to be embarrassed or exposed to ridicule or criminal/civil action.

This whole dustup with Mr. LaPointe began simply enough when BC Mary wrote an email to his Editor-ship inquiring on behalf of herself and the readers of her blog whether or not the Vancouver Stunned would be covering the court proceedings that "apparently" took place on August 21. His Editor-ship answered that indeed a piece was in the works and if we were patient we would be able to read the word from on high in Canned WestLand in two or three days. Mary thinking she was passing on good news and encouraging her readers to watch upcoming issues of his Editor-ship's paper published Mr. LaPointe's short informative missive in full, rather than risking misquoting or otherwise mis-representing such a powerful and impotent important beacon of journalism. Well this is when the legendary matter and the fans got simultaneously involved and for those who aren't familiar with these events check out Mary's posting - i-asked-for-basi-virk-bc-rail-news.
over at her fine blog The Legislature Raids, which has been covering the BC Rail Trial, a job which Canned West/GlowBall, for whatever reason, seems unwilling to do.

We are now about three weeks past the date of the promised article with another (maybe) court appearance scheduled for Monday, September 17 and still not a peep out of the Stunned One. Mr. LaPointe lambasted Mary for her lack of etiquette and professionalism and basically acted like a spoiled child and told her and us all that we couldn't expect to receive any information from him in the future. Woweee, who would have ever expected any information from any Canned West/Glowball rag or TV outlet to begin with?

Of course the etiquette issue is totally irrelevant to this matter as far as I am concerned, we are way beyond manners and politeness here. We are dealing with possible criminal activity at the highest levels of government and the questionable disposal of the public's assets and Canned West doesn't think it rises to the level of some Bollywood actress' latest body piercing. I'm sorry Mr. LaPointe, manners are meaningless when people are dying in the Kootenays thanks to Gordo's closures of surgical facilities and hospital beds. Manners are meaningless when OUR railroad is sold via a questionable bidding process to people who apparently don't even know how to keep trains on tracks. These things are AT LEAST as important as say the deck shown at right that was virtually imprinted on the retinas of the people of BC as it , Glen pacing by the kitchen window and the Soprano lookalikes exiting the card club in North Burnaby were nightly force fed to the watchers of the evening news. We need informed discourse and an informed electorate to solve the problems facing the province today and for the flagship newspaper and all the rest to ignore issues that might embarrass the government of the day is simply unacceptable and much worse than any breach of ettiquette.

Yesterday I got to the point where I couldn't restrain myself anymore and took pen in hand, well put fingers over keyboard, and sent a personal message to Mr. LaPointe or his Editor-ship. To be fair I will just re-print the message here and then (risking a terrible lapse of manners) I am going to dissect his Editor-ship's response. I think I'm allowed to give myself permission to quote myself, though maybe I should ask his Editor-ship.

Dear Mr. Kirk LaPointe,

I know my thoughts or feelings or facts in general are totally irrelevant to
you, as I occasionally subject myself to reading your excuse for a paper. I
seem to remember a good newspaper named the Vancouver Sun, but that was long
ago in a world I may have idealized in my mind.

I think your little petulant pose over "professionalism" with BC Mary is
completely absurd and shows what a disgrace you and your publication are to
journalism. Your statement.....

"Correspondence by email isn't grist for blogs without first seeking
permission. Any polite person, and any professional blogger, knows that.
Best of luck with your work, but there is nothing further to discuss. " so lame as to be almost below my consideration. You imply that you are
"professional" unlike Mary. I can only wonder what profession it is you
claim to practice. I know it isn't the one called the "oldest profession"
because it is so much more honorable than whatever it is you do. So are you
a professional imformation suppressor, infotainment dispenser, damage
control specialist for the Campbell Crime Family, or just general all around
lap dog.

You imply to Mary that you and your paper will be of no more help to those
of us who think the Raid on the Legislature, the BC Rail Trial and Sale are
more important than Britney Spears or the latest Bollywood occurance. Well
we're not too terribly saddened to hear that as you were never much help to
begin with. If anything Canned West is an obstacle to access to information
and as much as anything your failure to serve the public interest has been
the motivation for Mary's blog and my own.

I like to think your message to Mary sounded so childish and churlish
because you felt frustrated NOT BEING ALLOWED to follow up and actually
publish the story like you had promised Mary.

Be forewarned, you are in contention for the next Leaden Gyro or Vac award
upcoming soon at the House of Infamy.

Have a Nice Day, eh?

A reader of the Stun less and less.......and my bird won't even poop on
it.......unless I hide the masthead.

of the
House of Infamy

I will be quoting his Editor-ship and others, thus I will point out I feel I have the right to do so under the fair-dealing provision of the Copyright Act, the Canadian version of the more widely known Fair Use. Specifically
The Copyright Act states that the fair dealing defence may be used only in the following cases: private study, research, criticism, review and newspaper summary.

(bolding kc)

Much to my surprise his Editor-ship replied to my message fairly promptly. I will share his reply and point out the inanity of it line by line. He didn't include any greeting or salutation, probably because ANONYMITY pisses him off so much. So he just jumped right in with:

It's always quite courageous to send anonymous e-mail. I'm sure you're very proud.

For starters Lord Editor-ship Sir, wizard of all things wordly anonymity and pseudonymity are two distinct things. Also since I am somewhat critical of our current government and definitely have no faith in their ethical restraint from trying to harm me for my criticism if given a chance, I choose to use a pseudonym or Nom de Plume an old and honorable tradition used by such as Mark Twain and George Sand. If it is important enough anyone can be tracked online, however by using a pseudonym I have essentially erected an idiot barrier. Anyone smart enough to get beyond that is probably also smart enough to not do something stupid to either myself or a relative with the misfortune of sharing names and initials.

I will let Kendyl Salcito, Editor, Journalism Ethics at UBC have the last word on this.

......there is a great deal of respect and tolerance in the blogosphere for anonymity/pseudonymity among certain groups of people whose confidentiality is considered justifiable by the citizen journalism community. Those include political dissidents, corporate whistleblowers, victims and potential targets of hate crimes, and domestic violence victims. Complaints directed at these individuals are much more limited, and readers tend to judge the content, credibility, and value of the blogs without raising a red flag over the blogger’s identity.

Next his Editdictatorial Highness hits me hard with:

Stop hypothesizing motives or inferring what my messages mean about our paper's intent. You are wrong on both counts.

What planet are you living on Mr. Editor, I said nothing about your motives or your paper's intent. I merely questioned YOUR professionalism, since you brought it up, and wondered in which profession YOU considered yourself to hold membership. I don't have to know anything about your intent or motives to notice that your paper and all your sister publications and media outlets prefer to waste your time on fluff and sensational stories, bright shiney objects, rather than issues of importance to all British Columbians, but what else is new? AND I am right (as in correct) about your content, or lack of same! The only time I got close to even mentioning YOUR motives was with:
I like to think your message to Mary sounded
so childish and churlish because you felt
frustrated NOT BEING ALLOWED to follow up
and actually publish the story
like you had promised Mary.

Here I was merely trying to give you the benefit of the doubt and consider the possibility that you hadn't originally LIED to us all about the forthcoming article, but in the end had been unable to publish it, due to circumstances beyond your control. Sorry about that your Editor-ship, I will hold you personally accountable for everything in (or not in) the Sun in future.

Thanks to you most British Columbians think that the Legislature Raids case was resolved long ago, if they remember it even happened. Well, I'm not actually thanking you, I'm actually accusing you of failure to exercise your responsibility and of betraying the public interest. You have more coverage of the Pickton trial - WHEN IT IS IN RECESS - than you do of this immeasurably more important legal matter - namely the BC Rail Trial. (Notice I repeat, cause I noticed you didn't understand my email to you, so I'm trying to keep it simpler and emphasize the important stuff).

His Editor-ship closes with the ever so hurtful threat to not be my buddy anymore, or something:

When you're prepared to say who you are, I'm prepared to have a real conversation. Otherwise, bark up another tree. I don't waste time with people who call themselves KootCoot.

Well, I think I covered the anon/pseudon issue above, so we don't need to go there again. I know if I was submitting a letter to the editor in the Sun I would need to identify myself, however I like to write for people too intelligent to waste a dollar on your sorry excuse for a news(cough,cough)paper. If you don't understand this, re-read the critique of your first line.

I've read and re-read my message to you, and I can't find the part where I expressed the slightest interest in having a conversation with you. I merely wanted to express to you how little I think of your newspaper and how childish I felt your responses to BC Mary were. Now if you had responded to my admittedly harsh email in a mature non-petulant manner, indicating a genuine interest in discourse and the dissemination of information you would probably be knowing my actual name by now and who knows even on my list to get a picture. This has happened with other journalists and scholars whose shoes you wouldn't be qualified to clean dog stuff from, but hey, we am who we am and you are the Managing Editor of something that pretends to be a newspaper.

To close I would like to point out that KootCoot doesn't like to waste time with "pretend" newspapers, that even my bird has no use for. Have you heard there's a whole other type of writing out there? It's called FICTION, it's a lot like the Vancouver Sun, except it doesn't pretend to be true or factual.


Blogger G West said...

Very nicely put koot - and polite almost to a fault as well.

I hope it gets a wide circulation...even wider than M.LaPointe intended for his little letter to Mary.

Folks in the news biz don't seem to like the actual 'news' very much anymore do they?

Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 3:05:00 PM PDT  
Blogger BC Mary said...

"Polite almost to a fault" ... g west almost took the words right out of my mouth.

Thank you, Koot, for your gentlemanly restraint even while galloping like Clint Eastwood to the defence of the semi-pseudonymed BC Mary.

Altogether, it sorta gets us limbered up for Monday, when they blow the cobwebs out of Courtroom 54 and get the B.C. Rail Case rolling again ... don't you think??

I hope you'll write to Kirk again. Like, maybe on Tuesday after we see that Vancouver Sun hasn't wasted any of their valuable resources covering this umpteenth pre-trial Basi Virk hearing.


Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 4:03:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous lynx said...

Yes, thanks, kootcoot, done with both restraint and patience. ;-)

Strange days in this province where "stranger than fiction" has now become commonplace - and quite predictable.

Hardly a non-fiction book to be found on the msm bookshelf.

Friday, September 14, 2007 at 4:50:00 PM PDT  

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