Thursday, December 07, 2006
A message from Garth Turner:
I need your help.
Some visitors to the site will notice that, on the brink of the same-sex vote, we gave more coverage to Charles McVety’s press conference than any mainstream media. He is the crusading televangelist and force behind Defend Marriage Canada, which is fighting to stop gay marriages. He is also my avowed political enemy.
But that did not stop my sending MPtv cameras and staff to his presser Wednesday, and then uploading pictures and sound, so you can make your own decisions about the guy and his cause.
In fact, in the last few days, MPtv has given you McVety and his friends, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, a whole mess of citizens from the streets of Ottawa, some Liberal and NDP MPs, action from the foyer of the House of Commons, highlights of Question Period, analysis by national experts like economist Mike McCracken and the voices of various lobby groups.
MPtv is produced at absolutely no cost to taxpayers over my basic MP’s budget, and on equipment I bought with my own money. It is the only daily news-oriented political webcasting in Canada, and the videos are downloaded by up to 70,000 people a day. Nobody has tried before to open up Parliament to Canadians in this fashion and, frankly, I expected more than a slap on the puss for going to the effort.
And this is where I need you.
At the McVety media conflab this morning, our MPtv guy tried to ask a question along with all the other reporters, and was shut down (very rudely, I might add) by the press gallery poohbah running the show. Not content with embarrassing us in front of the national media, the gallery guys then threatened to kick us out of the scrum area in front of the House of Commons – you know, where the MPs stream out after QP.
In fact, a week ago I was doing a standup in the foyer and was asked by the Parliamentary Press Gallery president to move along. He suggested we relocate our operation into an area full of coat racks down the hall. Yeah, coat racks. Now, I am told, the same media meanie is writing to the Speaker of the House to have us blackballed.
Hey, maybe the people who populate Parliament just don’t know how to handle us. Maybe the MSM guys are nervous about the power of the web, the unfiltered nature of this broadcasting and the potential of this content. Maybe the whole damn place just doesn’t like this effort of mine to take you as deep inside our political system as possible. Maybe it’s the awesome power of two middle-aged guys with a second-hand camera, some used TV lights and an old-fashioned microphone with two yards of black wire attached.
Whatever. We ain’t moving. And when the inevitable confrontation comes, it would be good to have a few words of support from our viewers. So, if you can send me a comment to use when the Speaker dumps on me, please do so: email@example.com.
I need to go now and remind my wife why I got back into politics.
MPtv incurs wrath of Parliamentary Press Gallery person
Who owns the Parliament buildings?
Who owns the space in it?
And who gets to give media credentials to an MP?
Halton MP Garth Turner, who is not shy with words, has been running a fairly popular vid-blog (video blog) for his constituents along with his text blog. The vid-blog is called MPtv. The two times I’ve chosen to watch it, it’s been really interesting, timely and gave me the information I wanted.
Now it appears someone in the Parliamentary Press Gallery has taken exception to the concept. I suppose the Gallery doesn’t want every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jacque and Pierre with a blog and video camera romping around Parliament Hill and press conferences. But then again, every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jacque and Pierre probably doesn’t care to romp around Parliament Hill and blog about it. I doubt Tom Dick, Harry, Jacque and Pierre have 70 thousand dollars to throw into video blogging anyway.
I think it would be great if my MP was this innovative, but he isn’t, and I doubt the 303 other MP’s in the House are likely to be either.
Now will the Irvings take action against Chris Arsenault for his column???
Click below for the on line Irving paper of HERE -
One of these phone calls was Chris Arsenault. This was funny because the first thing I said - ARE YOU CALLING ME TO GIVE ME AN AWARD? You can read the biog. by clicking below -
Anyway, he did a story and I must admit that I really agitated the guy for working for the Irvings! He took a lot of abuse from me during the interview.
I’m surprise the Irving printed his story. I might add that Chris knows personally that I took more than one picture because I met the guy outside Atlantica Conference and took his picture but sadly the Saint John Police Force deleted this nice souvenir. Too bad.....
Chris writes as I always said- These employees of the Irving media cannot write cortical stories of the Irvings because they would be fired on the spot and since the Irvings owns 95% of the newspapers in this province?
They would be fired on the spot!!!! Therefore forcing to the Province. Very sad indeed.
Here’s his story -
By Chris Arsenault
Acquitting an enemy of objectivity
The trial of blogger Charles LeBlanc should prompt journalistic self-examination.
It's not everyday that a 'scruffy' New Brunswicker on social assistance makes the New York Times. But Charles LeBlanc isn't exactly a regular guy, and with a host of benefactors and plenty of detractors, everyone seems to be paying attention to the man who calls himself the "grandfather of New Brunswick Bloggers."
Last week, LeBlanc won his day in court. Over the summer, he was arrested and charged with obstructing justice while covering a protest outside Atlantica, a conference of businesspeople and right wing economists, in Saint John.
The trial generated national and even international interest because it raised fundamental questions about media organization, namely: should bloggers have the same access and rights as mainstream journalists?
"LeBlanc was never advised by the police that he would be arrested if he did certain things. He was simply plying his trade, photographing the demonstration for inclusion in his blog when he was arrested," wrote Judge William McCarroll in his 20 page acquittal decision.
LeBlanc has ascended to international acclaim - or at least provincial notoriety - because he has followed one of the most basic and under-appreciated rules of political journalism.
The responsibility of the journalist is to "monitor the centres of power," according to the courageous Israeli reporter Amira Hass. While lacking a newspaper, a salary, a decent camera and sometimes even proper syntax, LeBlanc has fulfilled that basic journalistic duty with uncanny accuracy.
"This blogger (LeBlanc) can't be sued and he can't be bought," said activist Tim Smith.
Leblanc is anything but 'objective', the word typically associated with good journalism. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. "The only thing I ever saw that came close to objective journalism was a closed-circuit TV setup that watched shoplifters in the general store at Woody Creek, Colorado," wrote the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
It is possible to be fair, giving equal voice to multiple sides of an issue, without standing in the glass house of objectivity. If objectivity is a false journalistic construct, it certainly doesn't mean it's OK to marginalize unconventional voices or lie. That's where we come to the Saint John Police Department and the courtroom antics of one Sgt. John Parks, the officer who arrested LeBlanc last summer.
According to CBC, "Parks testified that he arrested LeBlanc partly because he was "scruffy" looking and carrying an unprofessional-looking digital camera. Parks also testified that LeBlanc challenged police authority at the event, and resisted arrest."
Parks' testimony was contradicted by CBC video tape from the event, an objective source if ever there was one, which showed LeBlanc was not obstructing police and was simply shooting pictures with other journalists.
Thus Sgt. Parks obviously and willfully lied on the stand. LeBlanc has lodged a complaint.
"As far as Sgt. Parks goes, his testimony was totally the opposite of what happened," said LeBlanc. "Someone will have to be held responsible for this." Ironically, members of Saint John police admitted to frequently checking LeBlanc's blog in the days preceding the Atlantica protest.
Whatever one thinks of blogs as a mode of communication and bloggers as the new journalists, they are becoming increasingly popular in a media world dominated by a relatively small cabal of companies.
According to Enn Raudsepp, head of Concordia University's journalism program (in 2003) 84 per cent of Canadian media is owned by the five largest media companies, resulting in "increasingly homogeneous perspectives." CanWest Global, the largest Canadian media company, controls over 30 per cent of the Canadian media market, including 14 metropolitan daily newspapers and hundreds of community papers (these figures are based on 2003 numbers, and newspapers often change hands like baseball cards, so current ownership demographics could be slightly different). With the Irvings controlling every major paper in New Brunswick, including this one, average people are asking questions about corporate control.
"There is a prevailing feeling among some journalists in Atlantic Canada of self-censorship, that some are afraid to actually write what they think is right because they work in an environment where there's one dominant player," said Senator Jim Munson who helped write a 2006 report on Canadian media concentration for Senate Committee on Transportation and Communications.
Self-censorship clearly isn't a problem faced by bloggers like LeBlanc.
Maybe journalists themselves need take an objective look at the state of media in this province? It's high time we start holding our own centres of power to account.
Despite the lousy pay, Chris Arsenault doesn't mind working for the Irvings. Visit him at www.chrisarsenault.ca
Anyone interested in starting an entry. You may or may not like Charles, what he stands for or how he reports on stories but he certainly is a personality in this small province.
Someone take the lead and we can all pitch in with our two cents...
Someone take the lead and we can all pitch in with our two cents...