Media’s Achilles Heel: CBC Example

CBC News likes to cultivate the image of “telling it like it is”. “Just the facts mam, just the facts” is what you will purportedly  get from the CBC. And then you get the interview  today on CBC NewsWorld on why Prime Minister  Stephen Harper, having opposed Senate appointments, is making 18 of his own. In a slowpitch interview with newly appointed $135,000 per year Senator Nancy Greene (of Olympic skiing gold medal winning  fame), Heather Hiscox commiserated with Nancy over the fact that Stepen Harper had to compromise yet again on his plans for better government, and make appointments to the Senate rather than have the Senators elected. Both parties agreed that this was the only way to get government working effectively.  And then they chit chatted about skiing in Gatineau, yada, yada, yada yah.

No questions from Ms. Hiscox on what specific plans the Harper government had to bring about Senate elections – and so in effect use these apointments to the Senate to be the last ones as the government changed from appointed Senators to elected ones. No need for such government embarrassing folly because there are no such plans. Instead we heard an interview that might have been scripted by the Prime Ministers Office. So much for”telling it like it is”.

Maybe the price of access to the Prime Minister Office and government thinking has become very high indeed. Perhaps 10-20 slow pitch, propaganda-like interviews per year will ensure that the CBC will have access to government leaders and ministers on a regular basis. Given that Question period in the House of Commons is now Politics on Charade with almost no value to the Public  for the huge sideshow that has become the Main Event – review of Canadian Government Policymaking needs much better Press coverage. And so the CBC delivers up some sloppy slow pitch interviews. Is it a wonder that people are looking for better coverage elsewhere on the Web, Blogs, and other media?

James Gleick and  Daniel Kahneman  (among many  others) have both described in their own ways a)how time limited modern life has become and b)how much time has to be invested in good decisionmaking, c)how risky and misleading some of the common  info-gathering and decision making  shortcuts are on individual’s decisions and d)the general social hazards of collective poor decision making – (think George Bush getting elected in 2000 and  re-elected in 2004). What will be interesting to see is which media will prevail as people look for better information. Ted Turners CNN, Wikipedia and the meteoric  rise of Web blogs has proved there is a market for timely and less-biased information. Or is this my own checkout counter, National-Enquirer wishful thinking on the general caliber of  the publics demand for “better information”.