The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 14

Multinational corporations are selling war toys to dictators so that they can destabilize the countries around them, a case in point is the Yemen catastrophe, where children and their families are being bombed and starved to death12. This is shocking and disturbing and an anathema to our idea of a democracy. The ‘first estate’ (our governments) are failing the ‘third estate’ (us and the people of other countries), despite the best efforts of the ‘fourth estate” (the media). Are front line reporters who reveal these facts putting their lives on the line? Yes they are.

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12 Walsh, Declan. “Amal Hussain, Yemeni girl who turned world’s eyes to famine, has died”. The Globe

and Mail, 1 Nov. 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-amal-hussain-yemeni-girl-who- turned-worlds-eyes-to-famine-has-died/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2018.

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The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 13

    The ongoing potential problem with our “democratic” government and the media is a continuous challenge for power. The government of the day wants to stay in power and the owners of the consolidated media franchises (who have having many hooks into multinational endeavours) want the government to do their bidding and are willing to shape public opinion so that the multinational corporations will continue to have clout.

The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 12

     Another issue to be dealt with is when the members of the media don’t co-operate or becomes critical of the ‘first estate’ and it is costs them their lives. As noted by Arik Ligeti, “Journalists are being killed with impunity around the world”10. The most notable was the recent incident of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi who was critical of the Saudi Government. His demise was not only premeditated, it was calculatingly brutal in its execution. This case is only one of dozens of journalists who have died to

bring the truth to the people, the ‘third estate’. The CEO of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, Vincent Peyrègne states that, “Attacks on journalists worldwide are becoming more common, undermining the media’s role and creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of press freedom and impeding our right to be informed”11

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10 Ligeti, Arik. “Morning Update: The stories of journalists being killed with impunity”. The Globe and Mail,2 Nov. 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-morning-update-the-stories-of-journalists- killed-with-impunity/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2018.

11 The Globe and Mail. “Journalists are being killed around the world with impunity. Remember their stories”. 2 Nov. 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-journalists-are-being-killed-with- impunity-around-the-world-remember/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2018.

The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 11

     To some, the revelations of the “whistleblowers” are considered a betrayal of state secrets. In other words, these men are traitors. However, the knowledge that what is being done under the guise of a “so called” democracy is worse than treason. It is under such situations that a democracy disintegrates into tyranny. In a democracy the real power still is supposed to reside with the people. Balance of power can be achieved with this premise because neither government nor the media tend to delve into the minutiae of the individual. However, with the Wikileaks and Snowden revelations it looks like the minutiae of each and every individual is being mined for whatever reason to denounce those who dare to defy the current “order of the day”.

The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 10

Now we have ready access to information from the ‘fifth estate’, in other words, the outliers or whistleblowers. The Internet is a rich medium to reveal the missteps of our government and the debasement of the democracy we thought we had. In the past, journalists have held a gatekeeping or mediator role between confidential or private information sources and the public realm7. However, as new media such as Twitter and other tools gain prevalence, individuals can directly share data with a worldwide audience8. The role of journalists and the media then changes from ‘gatekeeper’ to ‘data manager’ and the mode of work becomes one of narration and contextualization9. They may not publish data that is leaked but filter and curate it for mass consumption.

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7 Koc-Michalska, Karolina, Darren G. Lilleker and Thierry Vedel. “Civil political engagement and social change in the new digital age”. New Media and Society, vol. 18, no. 9, 2016, pp. 1807 – 1816.

8 Landert, Daniela and Gianluca Miscione. “Narrating the stories of leaked data: The changing role of journalists after Wikileaks and Snowden”. Discourse, Context and Media, vol. 19, no.1, 2017, pp. 13 – 21.

9 Ibid.

 

 

The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 9

However, in this era of “Fake News”, anyone can put forth an opinion on whatever topic they would like and it can be difficult to verify. As well, in large corporate online ecosystems (such as Facebook), people receive news that is tailored to their own biases, making a truly democratic and vibrant political discussion challenging to say the least. The Internet is the one area where the oversight of the C.R.T.C. has not been established. So this leaves it in a veritable no-man’s land.

The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 8

       With the digital age upon us we have a whole slew of new issues.
If the Internet is to be considered part of the media, and I think it is, there is much to be researched and learned about its power and influence on democracy. As suggested by Chadwick, there is a “notion that anyone with a connection to the Internet can “do” politics in some form, some scholars propose, makes for a more vibrant, chaotic, and non-hierarchical political communication environment”6.


4 Ibid.5 Ibid.

6 Chadwick, Andrew. “Web 2.0: new challenges for the study of e-democracy in an era of informational exuberance”. I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, vol. 5, no. 1, 2009, pp. 9 – 41.

 

The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 7

Herman and Chomsky argue that government and media linkages can be so subtle and pervasive that they distort and influence how, what and when journalists report about events3. They can selectively omit, suppress or underreport important details, such as minimizing civilian casualties or activist protests4. This can mean that dissent is marginalized and private interests and governments are given free reign to broadcast their own agendas5. In instances like this we should be concerned that the media link with the ‘first estate’ our government, (and sometimes the ‘second estate’) is less than ideal because the public is not fully informed and government and private interests are not held fully accountable for their actions.

3 Herman, Edward S. and Noam Chomsky. Manufacturing consent: The political economy of the mass media, Pantheon, 1988.

 

 

The Link: Democracy and the Media in Canada and the Estates of the Realm – Part 6

     It has been suggested that, “the media link with the ‘first estate’ our government, is less than ideal”2. An example of this less than ideal co- existence is evident when one considers, retrospectively, the media coverage regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Although there are some stellar media representatives and reporters who provided insights from the front lines, the media was (and in some cases continues to be) complicit in the dehumanization of large proportions of the world’s populations through characterizations of the ‘War on Terror’ and the ‘enemy-Other’, simply because of faith. When the media is dominated by a few, those few can shape the thinking and feed the biases of many. Power rests with the governing bodies, but also, a lot of power rests with the media. In this situation, not only is there complicity, there can be a blatant disregard for the truth and promotion of fear mongering. This could be construed as collusion with the media supporting our government’s military involvement and justifying its actions. It also flies negatively in the face of the Canadian mantra of “inclusion and multiculturalism”.

1 Geist, Michael. “The CRTC’s fundamental mistake: It thinks it can rule the Internet”. The Globe and Mail, 7 Jun. 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-the-crtcs-fundamental- mistake-broadcasting-is-the-internet-but-the/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2018.

2 Steuter, Erin and Deborah Wills. “Discourses of dehumanization: Enemy construction and Canadian media complicity in the framing of the War on Terror”. Global Media Journal — Canadian Edition, vol. 2,

no. 2, 2009, pp. 7 – 24.

 

 

THE LINK: DEMOCRACY AND THE MEDIA IN CANADA AND THE ESTATES OF THE REALM – PART 5 BY LESLIE MARTEL

In Canada the media is dominated by a small number of large entities, Bell, Corus, Rogers, Quebecor, Shaw and the government owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (C.B.C.). Fortunately, Canadian Radio- Television and Telecommunication Commission (C.R.T.C.) oversees these broadcasting and telecommunications entities. However, the C.R.T.C. doesn’t regulate the newspapers or the Internet in Canada even though it might want to1.

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1 Geist, Michael. “The CRTC’s fundamental mistake: It thinks it can rule the Internet”. The Globe and Mail, 7 Jun. 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-the-crtcs-fundamental- mistake-broadcasting-is-the-internet-but-the/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2018.

As an aside, I have approached the CRTC with a complaint and was pleasantly surprised with the result. So they are indeed effective.